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A Dash of Analytics Takes the Guess Work Out of Guest Posting

This guest post is by Joe of the New Customer Workshop.

Guest posting is a great way to market your brand. When you guest post you are able to demonstrate you expertise to a new audience. The short term benefits are a bump in traffic to your website. Longer term benefits are sees through quality backlinks which will help with search engine optimization.

One of the questions that comes up when guest posting is “Where should I post?” For me, the answer is often “Whoever will take me!”

As you begin to build a reputation you may become more selective on where you guest post. Part of your process might include research to find sites that are aligned with your brand.

Let’s say you’ve done the research and authored some guest posts. Now what? Well, like any good marketer, you must measure the results of your campaign. If you have Google Analytics installed, this is a snap.

Google Analytics

All of you should be running some analytics software on your website. If you’re not, stop reading and go install Google Analytics.

If you aren’t running Google Analytics, the fundamentals of what I’m explaining are the same even if the mechanics are different.

The secret sauce: campaign variables

When you insert the link back to your website you are going to add some extra information tags on the end of the link. This data will help you classify the traffic. Google calls these tags campaign variables.

Using campaign variables you can add extra information to your posts which will help you to answer questions like:

  1. Which guest posts drove the most traffic to my site?
  2. Which websites with guest posts drove the most traffic to to my site?
  3. Which posts resulted in opt-ins to my email list?
  4. Which websites gave me more opt-ins to my email list?
  5. Which source of traffic is better for me? Facebook, guest posting or search engines?

This is really just the tip of the iceberg. Once you start using campaign variables on your guest posts you will come up with all sorts of cool ways to look at the data.

Tag your links

Google provides a number of campaign variables that you can use when you tag your links.

The following tags are available:

  • Source: utm_src
  • Medium: utm_medium
  • Campaign: utm_campaign
  • Term: utm _term
  • Content: -tm_content

There isn’t a hard set of rules for what to put in these tags. What I’m going to show you is how I use the variables.

  • utm_src: I set this to the website I’m posting on. In this case it would be problogger.net. Once I do this, then I can compare problogger.net to my other traffic sources, not just other site’s I’ve posted on but also Facebook, and Twitter.
  • utm_medium: I set this to guestpost. Then, I can compare guest posting as a whole to my other marketing efforts.
  • utm_campaign: I use the name of the article. If I post a couple of articles on problogger.net I can see how they compare to each other.

I can also look at all of the articles across multiple sites to see which ones are more effective. You might want to abbreviate your post title but that’s up to you.

I don’t use utm_content or utm_term.

Put together, the tags look like this:

?utm_src=SITENAME&utm_medium=guestpost&utm_campaign=POST-TITLE

I then apply this to each link back to my website:

http://www.newcustomerworkshop.com/about?utm_src=problogger.net&utm_medium=guestpost&utm_campaign=dash-of-analytics

If you don’t want to do this by hand each time Google provides a link building tool that will take care of all the messy work for you.

Check your data

After you publish your guest post, you’re going to want to look at your analytics dashboard to see what type of traffic the post is giving you. If you are using the new Analytics dashboard, you can find the information under Traffic Sources > All Traffic.

Select All Traffic, and you will see a report that shows visits by Source/Medium.

This will show you traffic from all referring sites and uses the value set in utm_source.

Select Medium to the right of Viewing, and you can see all of your guest posts.

This allows you to roll up your reports and compare guest posts as a group with your other traffic sources.

If you want to see what articles drove the most traffic, it’s easy. Click Other and then type Campaign in the Traffic Sources box.

This is just a very high-level overview of the kinds of reports you can create. Check out the book Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics if you want to learn more.

Conclusion

Google Analytics is a great free resource that, when used effectively, will help you zero in on the effectiveness of your guest posting efforts.

Armed with this knowledge, you will understand which articles and websites drive the most traffic to your website.

I’d love to learn how you measure your guest posting efforts. Please share them in the comments.

Joe writes at New Customer Workshop and offers training for small business owners who want to increase their business through Internet marketing. Visit his blog for more information.

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This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above. If you'd like to guest post for ProBlogger check out our Write for ProBlogger page for details about how YOU can share your tips with our community.

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Comments

  1. ferdian says:

    Great tips, particularly about staff and motivating them. Happy employees will always make a better work environment for everyone!

  2. Greg says:

    This is an often overlooked method to gauge guest posting effectiveness, I wonder what other smart tricks we can use Google Analytics for. This one was definitely a surprise.

    With the many guest articles I have written on the web, this tip would have come in handy months ago. But since I still write guest posts regularly, I will try the method described above and track my efforts better.

    Cheers,
    Greg

  3. Great instructions.

    You can also look for the referrals in the standard reports of Google Analytics. Ofcourse making your own custom reports is also possible. You can even make special segments based on your website data.

    Don’t forget to add goals to your ga account so you know what traffic sources are most valuable.

  4. joe mckean says:

    Like with all things web related…don’t forget the analytics!

  5. I had seen those campaign variables before and wondered what they were. Now I know thanks

  6. AstroGremlin says:

    Thanks, Joe. Google Analytics is great, and if you dig into it, you can find even more info. For example, when on Content, you can click on the little tiny clock near the right side, and see what time visitors came in (rather than the total for that day). Also, if you link your GA account to your AdSense account you can learn a bit about what is getting clicked.

    But I’ve noticed GA doesn’t start showing me data until later in the day — in other words, I can’t see data for visits right after midnight or early in the morning. Is it just me?

  7. Ken Muise says:

    Geezum this blog makes me feel dumb sometimes!

    Ugh. Great post, though. I’m sure I’ll have learned something after I read it a couple more times! lol

    Thanks again.

    Ken

  8. suraj says:

    nicely explain google analytic help out most

  9. Harrison Li says:

    Interesting and useful, what about our backlinks? Would placing a piece of tracking code after the original link ruin the link authority?

    • Will Caleb says:

      Not sure about that but one thing I do know is that google analytics already shows you where backlinks come from as long as you have a code installed on the site where you want backlinks pointed to ;)

  10. Tim says:

    A famous blogger once said that you need to provide high value and submit your absolute best information as a guest post.I think this is a great idea and much easier to understand than Google Analytics and tags.

  11. Zul says:

    It’s been quite a while since I last zeroed in into my GA as I have been trying out a few other analytic tools. But this is new for me; am very much thankful to author. Indeed a new learning for me. It’s time for a revisit now.

  12. Ava Jae says:

    I have to fix my Google Analytics. For some reason it worked for a day, then stopped updating after that. I might have to reinstall it…

    Nevertheless, I think you’re absolutely right about the value of guest posting. I’ve only done it a few times so far, but I definitely intend to do more.

  13. Your method of using URL tags seems to one of the easiest ways to track your guest posts in Google analytics. Although it is also possible to use other methods such as Filters or goals. Filters in particular are a great way to track all social media traffic including guest posts. You can easily add your sources either one at a time or using the OR operator,

  14. I can see how useful this could be, but if you haven’t got an advanced knowledge in websites, html and links, it’s impossible to comprehend. For a start, I won’t know WHERE to put those tags you mentioned, much less to use them.

  15. Will Caleb says:

    The goal setting metrics like Rene mentioned pretty much gives you the data you need.

    One thing that sometimes gets in the way is how those links look to the average reader having all those weird codes attatched to the end of them…some readers see them as “deceptive” so I would suggest using googles short linking service for those links as ppl tend to recognize goog to be friendlier rather than bitly or tinyurl ;)

  16. Hey Joe,
    I have been fiddling around a lot with Google Analytics lately. It sure has helped me to track and compare what does and doesn’t work for me.

  17. Steve Scott says:

    I am a data guy. Not analyzing stats is foreign to me. There fore your analytics post is one of the best things i have seen in a while.

    So much of the advice that people give out there is simply fluff. “Write better content, make better headlines ETC!” NOt that these can’t be good articles…but they really do not help you TODAY.

    This is a post that people can immediately use and gain great improvements to their online success. Extremely Actionable! Love it!

    Steve

  18. Jack says:

    This is very interesting, I never thought that you can track your guest posts in Google Analytics. Hmm.. I wonder how accurate is?

  19. alex kyne says:

    Yes Google Analytics Really Provide a Good Info Which Is Great

  20. Andrew says:

    Thanks for posting this Joe, however I have a few questions, and I’m not sure I have found the answer.

    I’ve seen many links with the utm_source and other variables, however I was under the impression that adding variables to URL’s was bad for SEO. I’m happy to stand corrected though. I would imagine that if Google helps you to create links with those variables, that Google would recognise them and thus remove them from their rankings. How about the other search engines?

    • Joe says:

      It’s a good question. I’ve had a couple of other people ask me the same thing.

      The SEO issue you might be thinking of is duplicate content. If you have:

      sitename.com/article-name

      and

      sitename.com/article-name?utm_src=blah

      It could be considered a duplicate post which could dilute your link juice to one of the links.

      However this is not an unsolvable problem if you are using canonical tags. A canonical tag is a meta tag that tells Google and Bing which is the authoritative version of a given page.

      Rather than duplicate the content, I’ll point you to this excellent article on SEOMoz.
      http://www.seomoz.org/learn-seo/duplicate-content

      For me, the benefit of tracking outweighs any headache caused by dealing with canonical tags. Also, I use an SEO plugin for WordPress that handles all of that for me.

  21. Bryan Kerr says:

    Can we also use tagged links in the Website field when we submit comments here on ProBlogger? Seems it would be useful to know whether your comment participation is driving significant traffic to your blog.

  22. Thanks for the in depth look to analytics, I wasn’t aware of the tagging procedure (utm) even if I had seen it many times before and knew what it was for, I never knew how to implement it, and now I definitely will give it a shot!