Turning analytics into action, part one

When I run a website, I’m in the analytics every single day.

What am I going to do with the data I find?

What’s working now

When I look at: What story is popular this week

I’m looking for: Is there logical follow-up content we should create on the same topic? Can we use the same format for another topic? As detailed in this post, it’s useful to mix in some Google Trends data, to see what other potential readers are searching for.

For example: Our first feature article on social engineering on CSOonline took off, and we rode that horse year after year (after year after year).

What’s working long-term

When I look at: What story is popular this YEAR

I’m looking for: Reset your time frame to “previous 12 months.” Sometimes you’ll discover an older article that never caught your attention, as it percolated along for months just outside of your top ten or twenty performers.

So I can do this: Maybe I should promote that content more aggressively on social or paid media. Maybe I should link to it from other articles on the site. Maybe it’s due for an update.

For example: This story started life in the 2000s as a “can you spot the clean desk mistakes” visual feature. It was crazy popular, but eventually the big CRT monitor looked too outdated. It’s been updated several times in several formats.

What’s bringing in search traffic

When I look at: What content brings viewers from Google?

I’m looking for: This may tell me what Google thinks our site “is about”.

So I can do this: Assign additional stories on related topics.

For example: When I started working with Connected Futures, most of the search traffic went to articles about digitization, digital business, digital transformation. So I used Google Trends, found another relevant phrase with an obvious story angle, and voila. The resulting article ranked #1 for “digital transformation office” for many months.

And I’m also looking for: Content that might do even better in search rankings, with a little help.

So I can do this: Double-check headlines, decks, subheads, ledes, meta-descriptions, and so on. I may be able to make small changes to labeling or metadata that improve the clarity and thus the article’s search ranking.

Obviously this is just the start of what you can do in taking analytics-based editorial actions. But it’s a good start. More ideas to follow.