First off, when it comes to blogging, there’s no “right” way to do it (or wrong way to eat a Reese’s.)
There’s no secret key to writing content and sharing it that will bring you millions of readers or a ton more engagement over night. (At least not that I’m aware of… if you’re a member of a secret society of master bloggers, let me know. I want in.)
However, I have learned over time that there are tiny tips and tricks you can use to improve the experience for your readers and to connect with them on a deeper level. Over the past few years of blogging, I have continued to try and pick up these little nuggets along the way that will help me do just that – and now I’d love to share some of those insights with you!
To kick things off, today I wanted to introduce to you an incredibly simple, but incredibly helpful tool for keeping tabs on some of your posts and for understanding your readers better: trackable links.
Why are trackable links important?
Do you offer up free downloads like desktop wallpapers, design resources or printables on your blog? Or do you have a specific product that you try to link to in certain posts – maybe an ebook, ecourse or even design service? In all of these cases you have links that you’re trying to get readers to interact with (read: click). So, quite simply, you’re going to want to understand how many people actually take that action or click that link.
This information is helpful for a number of reasons.
First, it can help you understand the taste or preferences of your audience. For example, you may have seen my Free Printable Valentine’s Day Mad Lib that I posted on Monday. I had four different download links I added tracking info to in that post – one for each color variation and one for the phrases. Why did I do that? Well, down the road I would love to actually develop some greeting cards or prints for my shop and I was curious which color combo you guys would gravitate toward most. Would they be favored equally or would one “win” over the others? By adding tracking info to those links, I now know which card was overwhelmingly favored by you guys. In the future that will help inform decisions I make when I create products or future printables. (Side note: due to a couple popular DIY blogs pinning my image causing a huge spike in traffic to the post, I was also able to see that my files have been downloaded over 3,000 times! Say WHAT?! If I didn’t track clicks from the beginning I would have had no idea!)
Click-through info is also helpful for running copy tests. Maybe you have a new product that you’ve added to your shop and want to see if introducing it one way versus another has an effect on the click-through. This is an especially important tool if you use your blog as a marketing engine for your business.
I’ve also seen fellow bloggers use shortened, trackable links for sharing posts on Facebook, though I personally have found more people click through when they can see my full link title and I can easily track this through referrals on Google Analytics anyway.
How do you make links trackable?
Great question. Now, I’m aware that there are probably ways to accomplish this by deep-diving into your Google Analytics and going over your content flow with a fine-tooth comb. However, in the words of the great Sweet Brown, “Ain't Nobody Got Time For That.”
Instead, I use a link-shortening service like bitly.com because it takes almost no time at all and it keeps all the data in one easy-to-access place for me.
Bitly not only allows you to shorten links (a feature you might need for, say, sharing on Twitter) but with every link you shorten, it gives you click-through data to accompany it. At any time you can visit your free account and see how many people clicked on your link and – even cooler – when those people clicked through.
How do you use a bitly link on your blog?
Take your desired destination link and copy it to your clipboard, then paste it into the link shortener at the top of the Bitly page:
You’ll get the pop-up below letting you know it’s been saved. Then just click that “COPY” button, and now your custom bitly link has been added to your clipboard.
Go back to your blog and where you would have added the destination link, instead add the bitly link. When someone clicks, they’ll still reach the destination you wanted, but the bitly will track that click for you.
Listen, I’ll be the first one to tell you that analytics are not the end-all, be-all key to the success of your blog. I think people get overly obsessed with analytics at times and forget that the most important thing in building any audience is being yourself and delivering value. However, I do believe that in certain circumstances, especially when adding tracking info is as easy as I described above, it would be silly NOT to learn more about your audience and their behavior.
My goal is always to deliver better, more valuable content to you, the reader, so that’s why I appreciate tips like this.
What do you think? Do you have any other methods (or better methods) for tracking click-throughs? Do you include tracking info in your links? Why or why not? Let’s chat about it in the comments! I’d love to hear what you think!
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