I feel kind of uncomfortable mentioning the topic of tracking this late. After all, we’re guest blogging to get specific results out of it, so it’s only natural that we learn how to measure these results as soon as possible.
That being said, measuring guest blogging results is a rather complex topic. That’s mainly because it involves many variables and the events that are part of it take place in a number of different places/websites (for instance, the blog that hosts your guest post, your blog, your email newsletter provider’s websites and so on).
So let’s not lose any time and get into the topic right away. Here’s what’s worth tracking and why.
1. Tracking traffic
This is probably the most obvious thing to measure when it comes to all kinds of online marketing and promotion.
Direct traffic is usually one of the main things we want to get out of our guest posts. And even if traffic itself is not the end goal we’re after, it’s always one of the necessary steps along the way.
Luckily for us, traffic is easy to measure these days. With tools like Google Analytics or Clicky, the task becomes as simple as clicking a couple of buttons and then embedding a piece of HTML code in the footer of our site.
In your analytics panel, pay attention to the referrals section. This is where you will get the exact number of visitors that hopped over to your site from a given guest post. Both Google Analytics and Clicky will give you this sort of insight.
One of the possibilities of what to do with this data is to go to Google Docs and build a spreadsheet where you will keep a record of the number of visits coming from each guest post. Over time, this spreadsheet will become a great tool for assessing the promotional power of the blogs in your niche.
2. Tracking links individually
Although SEO shouldn’t be the end goal for a guest blogging campaign (Google is sure to continue cracking down on this), links are still important nonetheless. More than that, links are often your only tool through which you can achieve your goals.
One of the main problems in the guest blogging space these days is that, over time, some blog owners will take your links down. It just happens, and there’s no way to prevent it from happening.
The interesting part is that they still try to keep your content – they won’t take it down entirely. The only thing that will go down are the links themselves. So what you should do is keep monitoring your live backlinks, and then if anything goes down, contact the blogger and politely ask them to re-enable the link or to take the whole article down.
Now, the big challenge here is that tracking the links you’ve gotten from guest posts is impossible to do by hand. At least not if you don’t want to spend every morning going through tens (or hundreds) of posts.
To make this easier on your daily schedule, you can check out a tool like Linkody. Unlike most SEO tools out there, it does not offer a load of features, and instead it focuses just on tracking backlinks. But that’s a good thing. The main advantage is that it costs just $10-$30 a month (not the usual $100 like other SEO tools do).
After submitting your domain, Linkody will monitor your links every 24 hours and send you email reports should anything change. Cool, hands-off solution.
3. Tracking email signups
Although generating leads or email signups is among the most popular guest blogging goals, tracking individual signups is a tough thing to do. The whole difficulty lies in the highly technical nature of the problem.
Granted, you can usually notice a sudden spike in signups after a guest post goes live. Then, by comparing it to your average day results you can get the approximate number of signups that resulted from the guest post. But this solution has its flaws.
Firstly, you can’t pinpoint the specific people to the source they came from. And secondly, what if you have more than one guest post working for you? In such a case you have no way of telling which post accounts for the results.
There are two effective ways to solve this:
- Use a hidden field in your email signup form to store the referral site that the new subscriber is coming from. This does require some PHP programming skill though, and there seems to be no automated solution for this at the moment. Feel free to visit this post on the MailChimp blog for half of the how-to.
- Use the goal tracking feature in Google Analytics. This is most likely the better way out and it gives you much more possibilities in terms of reporting and the overall number of parameters you can look into. There’s a very good tutorial on the GetResponse blog. This will take a good half an hour to implement, so be warned.
4. Tracking social media exposure
Growing social media profiles is usually one of the side-goals for most guest blogging campaigns. Therefore, you should keep your finger on the pulse and monitor the exposure you’re getting when a new guest post of yours goes live.
The good part is that this is an easy thing to do. Most blogs offer social media counters displayed alongside their posts, and even if they don’t, you can use a tool like ShareTally to quickly check the numbers yourself.
You can then take this data and put it in your Google spreadsheet. Over time, just like with traffic, the data will become a valuable resource to assess the social media power of various blogs in your niche.
Note. The important thing to keep in mind is to ask the blogger who’s publishing your post to include your Twitter @handle in the pre-formatted tweet for the post. That way, you will be able to witness the individual shares you’re getting in your Twitter dashboard. As a bonus, this will also help you grow your following.
5. Tracking your SEO results
I’ve said it a number of times before, but let me just re-emphasize that SEO shouldn’t be your main goal for guest blogging. It’s only a matter of time before Google finds an effective way of devaluing links from guest posts, at which point you will lose all the link juice that has built up over time.
Nevertheless, that day is still to come, so if you want to continue capitalizing on the opportunity while it’s still there, keep in mind that SEO doesn’t happen immediately.
For example, picture the following scenario. You get a guest post published on Tuesday. Your rankings go up on Wednesday. Does this mean that the guest post is the cause of this rise? Maybe. But not necessarily.
The way Google builds and updates their index is a big mystery and drawing any short-term conclusions is a bad idea. It can easily get your actions sidetracked and convince you to go in an entirely wrong direction.
If you want to track any sort of guest blogging results for SEO, you need to do it over the long haul (over a couple of months at a minimum). Look at the overall trends and try to connect them to the guest posts you’ve landed. Look for correlations and patterns.
(Of course, this isn’t something you can do by hand, a solution like Moz or Raven Tools will be handy.)
The role of tracking guest blogging results
Tracking results is crucial for any kind of marketing or promotional campaign (including guest blogging). Without it, you will quite possibly end up saying something like this at some point:
“Half the money I spend on guest blogging is wasted, and the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
Not a good situation to be in.
So please don’t hesitate to share, how do you go about tracking your guest blogging results right now?