We often take blogs for granted, but they remain a wonderful resource for users and an essential, easy-to-use tool for communication. By now, you're probably familiar with Google Analytics and how to use it to keep tabs on your blog stats and tracking metrics, like unique and returning visitors, time on site and bounce/exit rates.
But, while services like Google Analytics are incredibly useful for analyzing and dissecting traffic patterns, they only provide a partial view at user behavior.
When a visitor comes to your blog, how much time does she spend reading a post? Are readers leaving comments or sharing links to Facebook or Twitter? Are they writing about and linking back to your original piece? The answers to these questions offer insight into the community you're building and the people you are trying to engage.
These things matter as much, if not more, than your general traffic statistics because they offer quantitative information about the quality of your engagement. Engagement is key to growing your audience, increasing your project or brand awareness and nurturing a sense of community.
One useful tool to help you get to your real engagement metrics is PostRank. PostRank is a service that helps track the sort of metrics that aren't included in most major analytic tool sets. Once you've signed up and entered your blog feed URL and other requested data, PostRank will return feedback on how users are interacting with your content. PostRank offers data on pageviews and time on site, along with the number of comments and trackbacks, social media shares and engagement "points." Ultimately, it tallies up all your information into a score based on the number of engagement events. Take a look at one of our popular Sunlight posts -
From here, you can click through the title of an individual post to will see an engagement time line, an assigned "value" to your post, the bounce rate and unique visitors. You'll also see what your readers are saying on sites like Twitter. The score of 9.9 in the top left corner indicates that the post was well received by our audience.
When viewed in the context of your other posts, you begin to see site engagement in a bigger picture. You can draw conclusions about which types of posts are popular and drive interaction, which posts are most shared on their social networks, where people are talking about your content and what they are saying. With these realizations you can decide what to focus on, what site tweaks are needed and how to better engage your audience.