Blog KPIs (aka Key Performance Indicators) are metrics that measure how successful you are in achieving your goals and objectives. As a content creator, you know how important it is to keep track of your blog KPIs. With so many metrics to consider, it can be overwhelming – if you even know where to start.
When some hear KPIs, 1 of 2 things happen.
- Their eyes glaze over & think about how they should be looking into that.
- They get all giddy and show me their spreadsheets of over-the-top & usually unnecessary grids of numbers.
The goal here is to simplify the process while recognizing that each business is unique and monetization strategy impacts the KPIs important to staying on track. The key is to track what YOU find important for your strategy for your blog. By doing so, you’ll gain valuable insights into your blog’s success and areas for improvement.
So grab a cold brew or whatever gets you going & let’s get into how you can use blog KPIs for blog success over the next 12 months.
- Traffic Sources
- Engagement Metrics for Blog KPIs
- Conversion Rate
- Revenue Tracking
- Audience Insights
- FAQs in Relation to Blog Kpis
Blog KPIs Explained
Understanding KPIs is the first step to rocking a clear picture of your progress, so pat yourself on the back!
KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator. A metric is a data point of a summarized dataset to represent a point in time. For example, the number of visitors to your site is a metric. KPIs are a fairly standard term in corporate-speak to represent an important metric that aligns to a strategic goal. It’s in that vein of measuring what matters because as Peter Drucker says, “What gets measured, gets managed.”
So if you log into Google Analytics, you see a lot of metrics, but not everything you see will be a KPI for your set up.
The goal is to have 3-7 max clearly defined KPIs to track to & look at over time. If you’re managing 5 departments, you might have 5 departments with their own 3-7 KPIs, but the overall business would still have 3-7 primary for to track to. The point is that you do NOT need to boil the ocean & call every possible report with a bajillion metrics a KPI. Be strategic with what you’re looking, how often & WHY, and you’ve got this KPIs conversation down.
Use the term ‘KPI’ only for metrics that align to your goals.
As we move through KPI options specific to blogs, think about them in terms of if they will specifically help you evaluate the blog’s performance. If traffic in general is a key to strategy, then by all means – defining your traffic metric is an excellent KPI to throw on your list of possibilities.
Some version of a traffic measure or 2 should definitely be blog metrics to make your short list of KPI potential.
When you log into tools to help you understand how your blog is performing, you’ll be bombarded with a lot of information like visitors, top 10 pages, keyword ranking, backlinks, and so much more. This can all be important to use as part of your content strategy and effectiveness measures, but right now we’re talking blog KPIs & what’s the ONE, maybe 2, that tells you you’re getting the right amount of traffic month over month?
Remember, if you need to dig further into what is going on, other data and reports can help, but your KPI is what is driving your goals – be it traffic for display ads or if your blog leads to sales of a product or service you offer.
Traffic is usually a leading indicator of revenue, so which traffic measures do that for your unique business & how the blog plays into it?
Traffic 101: You want to measure the number of people that visit the site.
- Pages per Session
- # of Posts Published
- Average Views per Post
When you’re looking at Google Analytics in particular, users are a person, sessions encompass 1 visit that recognizes they may have visited multiple pages on the site, and pageviews is a count of all the pages they visit. These are the 3 most common metrics that Google uses as default traffic information in their reporting.
If having a high quantity of visitors is key for display ads, pageviews might be your traffic metric of choice. If you are more concerned with providing a lot of value & keeping someone on your site to help with the brand awareness & help the visitor move to a cold to a warmer lead for a product sell, sessions might be the better traffic metric for a focus on important KPIs.
The number of posts published is intended to be leading indicator for a lagging indicator (traffic). Yes, traffic should improve as the algorithms push content over time, but new posts keep this momentum going.
Average views per post is an indicator of how the site is doing at bringing in visitors per piece of blog content offered up. When I first got into blogging, the course I took said that 1,000 pageviews per post was what you were shooting for. Well, now that I’ve had experience working with other bloggers, that isn’t necessarily the norm. It can be, but the important thing is that if you decided to track this that you assess where you are & go from there. If you’re averaging 300 per post & depend on display ads, a 10% increase in views could be a 10% revenue increase. Content optimization? Content clean-up? You get to decide.
Once you define the right metric, you can see this information down to the page-level of a blog, so you’ll be able to answer questions around what content is popular to your audience right now & where there are gaps in relation to what you’re looking to grow, as well.
All of this information is helpful, but sticking to 3 to 7 overarching KPIs will help you determine the next best action to devote time or resources to. If your KPIs don’t result in action, you’re not looking at the right ones!
Knowing where your blog visits are coming from in relation to the blog’s strategy to attract visitors literally tells you if your blogging efforts are working across the difference sources.
- Paid ads
- Ratio of traffic sources
- Inbound links (backlinks)
- Inbound links per post
Organic search indicates how many visitors find your content through search engines like Google or Bing. While it takes effort to attract this traffic, it’s the closest thing to free traffic you’ll get! Optimizing for search engines can help with overall visibility, but don’t lose sight of what you’re trying to do with the blog. Providing value to PEOPLE and layering in the search engine optimization (SEO) strategies is the key to making everyone happy – visitors & search engines (*cough, cough* I’m looking at you Google).
Referral traffic is traffic that comes from another location on web – YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook, and more. If you have a social media strategy, knowing what traffic it is driving to your site can be helpful to your ROI conversations or a KPI to monitor depending on your priorities. Plus, knowing your audience is hot coming from Facebook is a completely different audience than traffic coming in hot from Instagram. It’s another data point to understanding the PEOPLE finding value in your content.
Direct visits are when someone types in the site name or URL directly into their browser, rather than clicking on a link from another site (e.g., search engine results). These types of visits often indicate that someone has heard about your blog through word-of-mouth marketing or other offline channels such as radio ads or print publications, making them especially valuable for gauging overall awareness levels among potential customers, readers, and followers.
Links back to your site are gold to some bloggers. The blog content is good enough to get the ‘social proof’ that tells search engines like Google that you’re serving up quality content. Tracking this as a source specifically could be a good KPI if this is part of your current strategy.
Traffic sources provide valuable insights into how content is being consumed, and it’s important to understand these metrics in order to maximize growth and is a MUST for all blog KPIs measurements.
Social media can play an important role in helping bloggers reach new audiences. As the online publishing space continues to change, having a presence outside of organic traffic is a recommended method of diversifying traffic sources.
Analyzing metrics such as followers, likes, shares and blog comments can offer insight into the success of posts in terms of reach and engagement. While this activity doesn’t always lead directly to traffic, it can serve as lead generation to paid offers and provide a way to get to know your audience. This has the potential to convert viewers to becoming a warm audience more receptive to paid offers that serve their needs down the line.
So tracking is key, but in the context of your blog, it is common to have referral links to direct readers to your site. Referral links from your social media efforts are best tracked using Google Tag Manager, but even Google Analytics gives you a window to understanding the direction of our reach via social media.
If you’re investing funds or time heavy into social media, this becomes even more important to keep a pulse on – even if it isn’t quite the level of making it to your 3-7 blog KPIs
Key Takeaway: Traffic is usually a key to a bottom line revenue driver & is likely a good choice for one of the KPIs to consider & even traffic sources could be helpful for a diversified visitor strategy.
As we move into engagement, know that the 2 are related. Good engagement signals to search engines that they found value in your content & improves the likelihood of serving your content up for similar content to a similar audience.
Engagement measures are indicators of how engaged readers are with the content. Is it resonating with your target audience?
- Average session duration
- Average time on page
- Bounce Rate
- # of Comments / Comments per Post
- # of Shares
- Click-Through Rates (CTR)
- Returning visitor rates
- Inbound links (backlinks)
Not everything in the list of options would be a KPI for a blog, but they are a picture of how much interest there is in what you’re writing about.
Remember – good engagement is a sign to Google that good things are happening on your site & has the potential to improve traffic to the site. Plus, an engaged visitor is more likely to revisit your site when a fresh, related question comes up.
Knowing what is doing well can also help direct what new content to produce.
Metrics that measure the time spent on a page or on the site overall give you a sense of what visitors are doing. Are readers skimming or fully reading the content? Longer times hanging around your pages indicate interesting content or at least relevant enough to stick around.
Bounce Rates tell you if the reader is getting what they need or leaving too soon because the content isn’t what they expected or even that content isn’t loading fast enough.
Comments are direct feedback on what you wrote & can be excellent for content strategy, but a single value makes up a KPI. Looking at the number of comments or number of comments averaged across the total posts could be a KPI to consider.
Shares indicate the content is so good that they have to share. The number of shares it the metric opportunity here.
Click-through rates measure the number of clicks received in relation to the total impressions served up across various channels, such as organic search, paid ads and email campaigns. This metric provides an indication of how effective those campaigns have been at driving traffic back to your site
Optimizing headlines can help increase click-through rates since they often act as gateways between potential readers and actual readers who take action based on them; using words like ‘free’ or ‘exclusive’ can also encourage more clicks than generic phrases like ‘check out our new article’.
Inbound links are an important signal to search engines that other PEOPLE think the content is good – good enough to link back to your site for. This is an indicator for SEO & your traffic over time. Quality links are key, so if this is a KPI metric of choice, you may need to consider the sources of the links, as well.
Engagement metrics provide valuable insight into how your content is being received, allowing you to make informed decisions about what strategies are working and connecting to PEOPLE.
Conversions can apply to a wide-range of topics but are a good measure of the effectiveness of marketing efforts. You want to encourage someone to take an action. Examples would be to click on the link to your content whether that be through a Google search or the ‘Link in bio’ from social media. Sign-up for my newsletter. Buy this product. All of these instances are conversion. Someone is at point A, and how well are you converting to the point B you’re focused on.
Measuring conversion in the context of your blog, allows you to optimize the site, test different elements & understand how the market is changing before it hits the news (well, the news in content creator land).
- Click-Through Rates (CTR)
- # of Newsletter subscribers / signups conversion rates
- Sales conversion rates
- New leads from the blog
- # of posts driving leads
So conversions measure how many PEOPLE take a desired action. Then Click Through Rate (CTR) is a metric that measures the fraction of PEOPLE that progress from one page to the next. Conversion rates are calculated by dividing the amount of conversions (people who took action) by the total number of views or impressions (those who viewed it & are the potential total number of people that COULD have taken the action), and you’ll have your conversion rate.
If 100 people are presented with your title and meta description in search engine results, how many click through to your site? If your site-wide conversion rate is 3%, then knowing if this drops to 2% is an indicator that revenue is a problem or will be a problem depending on how your blog drives revenue.
You can also use this to optimize content. If the site average is 3%, but you’ve got 5 articles at 15%, what is happening there? Is it the content itself? That would lead to potentially building out a bigger cluster of articles on the topic with good linking between them. Do you have some articles that are well below the site average? Could the title be enhanced to mimic those that are better performing?
You have options when you’re measuring things, but again – if CTR isn’t worth of being a full-on KPI, this is just data to have in your back pocket. After all, good CTR leads to traffic (which is likely on the KPI list).
If your business model depends heavily on a newsletter, though, CTR as it relates to a newsletter signup or just the number of signups might be a strong enough call to be put onto your KPI list.
Knowing what is and isn’t converting will guide any experimentation you or your team has in the works. A/B testing titles, copy, images, full-on blog posts to focus on traffic generation, buttons… So many options that data serves as the key component whether operationally important or full-on blog KPI important.
By evaluating and monitoring your blog’s conversion rate, you can detect areas of progress and center on amplifying the efficacy of your material to optimize returns. Now let’s look at how to track revenue for your blog.
Key Takeaway: Defining what action you want the visitor to take & then measuring the percentage that take that action is a blog KPI worth tracking when improving marketing is a goal for how the blog contributes to the overall business.
Revenue tracking is an important part of any content creator’s business, and I mean beyond the standard accounting solution you’re using. Income sources and amounts earned can be beneficial in terms of optimization, as well as guiding decisions concerning what type of content to create.
More on the different types of blog monetization options are discussed here
They key thing about revenue metrics is to understand the sources & how it is trending in order to better forecast and plan. However you track revenue, you’ll want to track at least these elements depending on your revenue strategy. The goal is to understand what percent of your income is coming from where – diversification and stable cash flows is the goal here.
- Display Ad Revenue
- Affiliate Revenue
- Sponsored Posts
- Revenue per Page
- Revenue by Product
- Revenue by Source
How your blog earns money or COULD earn money is what you’re aiming to solve for in deciding what is important for a KPI specifically. If you are heavily focused on display ad revenue, but the new year rolls over & you’d like to improve your affiliate revenue, a KPI around this would be the value of the affiliate revenue & a percentage of the total revenue across the sources.
Inversely, you could be just looking to ramp up revenue by offering a service instead of more content specifically for traffic with monetization primarily through display ads. On the posts where you’re looking to convert someone to a customer or newsletter subscriber as part of the customer journey in mind, you will want to make sure ads are not on a conversion page. If you’ve been using ads, this is definitely going to change things up. Revenue/Profit is likely one of your 3-7 KPIs. You’ll track the overall revenue, but then assessing how successful the new service is to the revenue bottom line with the ads revenue decreasing is something you’ll want to make sure you’re driving strategy around.
Cautious risk taking.
You can even consider looking at Revenue per Page to guide content optimization or Revenue by Product as a simplification strategy to hone in on 3 of the 10 current products that are best converting & solving problems for your visitors.
Back to the improving affiliate marketing conversation, you could add this as a revenue goal & then use the Click-Through Rates as your operational actions to take & then you’re able to keep the short list of potential KPIs actually short enough. See how KPIs in relation to goals leads to actions? This is the magic of this exercise.
Key Takeaway: Revenue is an obvious goal, but how content leads to revenue is KPI worthy.
Importance of KPIs for Blog Success
Checking Google Analytics for your new blog was a rough period of time. When you’re new, you are looking for any signs of life – something beyond a bot looking at what you put out into the world. I’ve heard bloggers refer to this as the ghost-town phase, and it’s a lonely place of uncertainty.
But did that constant checking of data for the sake of it actually drive ACTION? Nope. Procrastination maybe. Procrastichecking? 🤣
By going through the effort of defining legitimate blogging performance indicators, you are building out a framework to make informed decisions and use it to drive action.
Procrastichecking a new blog is waiting for data simply to write. A solid blog performance indicator for a new blog would be a # of post published. That’s a metric you can track to early on.
That’s the key. Identifying the blog metrics that help you take action. Leading indicators LEAD to revenue (a lagging indicator). The number of posts might be critical early on, but a more advanced business might be looking to improve email marketing & shift to # of email subscribers. The the next year that could shift to a conversion rate from email marketing.
Creating better content is also an outcome from honing in on the right KPIs for your business. Knowing what visitors are connecting with should lead to the blogging strategy you use.
Oh! And having a set of KPIs helps you ask the right questions – even if you’re just mentally asking yourself. If you have a whole platform of just data thrown at you, it’s a much different experience to see that blog traffic is up 20% & then you can target your next steps to see which posts are driving that change.
The point is that monitoring over time drives action & gives a sense of what is working & what is not.
How to Set KPIs for Your Blog
The key to running your blog like a CEO is going to come from setting up with a good foundation. What are your goals? Your goals will look different if you use a blog to drive traffic to your brick and mortar business than if your blog is the backbone to your business.
Step 1: Identify a key set of goals or objectives.
A good set of goals will set the strategy for what you decide to measure. Ultimately this leads to the right actions as you move through the year tracking to the KPIs you identify.
Hopefully, you’ve been noodling this over as you read through potential KPIs to start., but let’s get the creative juices flowing on this:
- Financial – Revenue, profit, expenses
- Operations – # posts, operationalizing to scale, team growth
- Visibility – Driving traffic, brand awareness, new content platform
- Customer experience – improving product offerings, simplification, better communication
- Product/Services – new products, optimization, conversion activities
- Personal Growth – less hours, skillset improvements
Now I know all-of-the-things is the answer, but it really isn’t. It is like the to-do list with too many things on it. I am NOT going to get 50 things done today. You aren’t either unless you’re channeling some Flash energy.
Narrow this down to 3-7 goals. You see how this number keeps coming up? I’ve had a front-row to seat to see what works. Take this seriously & narrow down your list. Pick one from each bucket. Throw darts at a wall. Just stick to a condensed list.
Step 2: Determine Which KPIs Align With Your Goals
Your goals may not all be blog related. That’s fine. The path is still the same. What can you put a tangible number to that aligns with the goals you identified as key for your success over the next year (or so).
Note – I’ve scattered talk of leading and lagging indicators (breaking out MBA vibes), but the idea is that some metrics are measuring something that LEADS to a LAGGING one.
More traffic should LEAD to revenue.
Finding efficiencies should LEAD to reduced expenses or LEAD to a greater output.
Where your blog aligns with your overarching business goals, break out that short list of KPIs that you started working through with the example KPI opportunities.
Remember – we’re keeping this to 3-7 metrics on our 3-7 goals. All of the things you end up having to drop from the list still exists. You can still use it to answer questions in the operational part of your day. But what does your inner CEO do when faced with an unexpected decline in a KPI? Focus on the elements that will ultimately steer the company in the right direction.
That’s what I want for you.
Story time! I know a blogger that at one time focused on # of words written. I don’t know if she’d call it a KPI, but there were times when I thought she used it like one for sure. She’s a life-long fiction writer, too, so tracking to a number of words is natural. I’ve seen her reports shift to # of posts, particularly as she began to scale. Both numbers still exist in her reporting, but she tracks to what she calls a KPI these days.
You can shift your KPIs. This is not set in stone, but blogs are generally a long game. Your KPIs should really hold strong at least 3 months, but I challenge you to track to the strategy for 12 months.
That said, in Q3 into Q4 2022 there was a lot of activity that seemed to disrupt publishers. It took a few months for things to shake out, but as we moved into 2023, those same publishers were doing full-on business pivots. Traffic diversification was the name of the game with a focus on building brands over niche sites.
That business model seemingly changed overnight, so know that your performance indicators can shift with your blogging strategy when the world shuts down for a pandemic or any other big events. My challenge to keep you on 1 set of goals for ~12 months is simply to limit your shiny object syndrome or instant gratification dopamine hits.
I’m rooting for your!
Step 3: Set realistic benchmarks and goals for your KPIs
Now that you’ve identified a set of KPIs, you need to see where you’ve been.
Like that story of 1,000 average views per post I was hearing as a brand-new blogger…. that’s not a realistic benchmark for a new blogger focused on long-tail keywords with 30 articles on a niche blog. You need something that can be a big-hairy audacious goal (from Good to Great), but it can also be a 10% improvement on a metric this year.
What was realistic was setting a content production goal. A strategy on improving content for backlinks or reach-out. There was a long list of options as there likely is in your situation.
Some people operate with an incredible sense of urgency from a big goal. Some people operate with an incredible sense of pride from hitting a goal at all.
What is a good driver for your motivation & energy? If you have a team, you may need to tailor the goal to their personalities, too.
How to Use KPIs to Improve Your Blog
I can’t stress this enough. KPIs to sound all official isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. You need to track, use, and drive action from them to make this exercise worth it.
It’s like the bajillion planners we buy (or maybe you know someone that does this anyhow). We buy a new planner from a state of overwhelm. Like the planner is going to solve the problem. No. Using the planner will get you closer to solve the problem. But I get it. I love a new planner even though I swear by Click-Up.
Analyze your KPIs regularly
Decide how often you’re going to look at your KPIs & load it into your calendar. For many blog activities, monthly is fine. Some might need the weekly look, but I really lean to monthly recommendations with the bloggers I work with.
It’s not too frequent yet frequent enough to catch what’s going on with your blog & business. If your business is not centered around the blog, weekly might be the winner for you.
The point is also to look at the very clear information regularly, so that you become more comfortable with what you’re looking at. Even if numbers & math isn’t your thing, by looking regularly, the right numbers become second nature to you & you can kiss the overwhelm good-bye.
I highly recommend you automate no matter the cadence, so you don’t dread it or have this as a consideration at all when it comes to looking regularly.
Identify trends and patterns in your KPIs
Trended KPIs is where the magic happens for maximum impact. Whether you landed on weekly, monthly, or even quarterly, seeing those values side by side with a % change is an excellent data point.
Seeing that value & % change over 6 months is the magic.
Blogs can be a long game, particularly if your focus is SEO, so it could take 3 months for the KPIs to move the direction you want. Seeing how it moves, albeit slowly is still showing movement. Or not. No movement is also a good data point. Why hasn’t it started at least incrementally shifting?
Taking the time to look at how the KPIs are shifting & then asking questions of the underlying data will drive your next steps, so you can use the information to take action. It’s not vanity metrics. It’s about action.
Make changes to your blog based on your KPIs
The KPIs likely drove you to look a bit into why the biggest movers moved. Is it traffic? Did you check out the top 10 changes on popular blog posts?
That stellar email subscriber jump from an opt-in you’ve optimized over the last 2 months… can you apply a principle from that optimization to another place where conversions aren’t quite what you want?
Notice a dip from seasonality? Is there content you can create to bridge the natural gap for your audience?
Fresh content to take advantage of an industry trend impacting your audience? The war between Russia & Ukraine led to gas price increases worldwide. I had a niche blog that absolutely SURGED out of nowhere due to this.
Showing up & providing value to those that need it is key, so show up by running a data-driven blog!
Key Takeaway: Regular tracking will make it easier to identify patterns that should influence your focus. Using the information to drive actions is key to maximizing your blog’s success.
By thoughtfully creating and tracking to blog KPIs, content creators can glean a deeper understanding of their readership and refine their monetization strategies. But it’s also a circle in that the blog KPIs relevant to you also drive what you should be optimizing and to what extent.
It’s essential to keep in mind that the value of data depends on the knowledge it can bring – so take the time to look for patterns and opportunities to maximize the value of what you create for the audience showing up for it.
With the right approach, bloggers can use KPIs to drive their blog’s success and maximize revenue potential all while providing ultimate value to PEOPLE.
Are you a content creator looking for ways to maximize the success of your blog? Struggling to understand how to measure and track key performance indicators (KPIs)? Structured Creator is here to help.