Before we start looking at specific tools, we should define what metrics are relevant for us. These are metrics I look at with my own blogs and blogs where I contribute content. Depending on your goals you may need to look at different things.
How engaging is my content?
I define engagement through comments, shares, subscriptions, likes and mails. Reading time may be relevant too but it often gives wrong numbers depending on the style of the blog. Similarly you properly get wrong numbers from shares if you mostly publish linkebaits. It is important to understand how your content works to properly measure it through numbers. And you need good numbers to better understand how your content works. Crazy.
Who are my readers?
Some blogs want a very focused readership, others want it as broad as possible. Niches are mostly easier to address but there are enough topics that engage whole populations because of the mix (think mass media) or because of “nice to know” topics (“lifehacks” etc.).
I would love to know their social profiles, but that’s in most cases not possible. Therefore I settle for basics like language, location and the likes. Also how often the are here and so on.
Where do they come from?
You probably want a good mix because if one source of readers dies away (eg. facebook page suspended) you still want other ways to reach them.
Where do they go?
I love sending readers to more interesting things than my own blog. Do they actually go there?
How do they read my content?
Device, OS, screen size, connection speed, reader,….
Top Down vs. Bottom Up
I want the big picture and drill down (most shared, most comments, most whatever) and the little one to look up (where was it shared how often, who interacted with it, and so on).
These are those I use. They aren’t perfect and don’t offer everything needed.
Thanks to filters it top down and bottom up. But ignores what happens outside.
as a great self hosted alternative. Or Clicky
These are the essentials and they are quite good if you look only at the basics. What’s popular, where do readers come from and where do they go in general. Only top down.
SumAll combines different metrics but they are too complicated and unflexible at the moment to be used properly. But they can add an important perspective on the things that happen outside the blog. But neither a properly top down nor a bottom up look is possible.
In the end I often combine the engagement things in my head. Not the best tool for longtime analysis but great for bottom up. Take a blogpost, look at the comments, got to different social sharing platforms and see how well it has done. Compare it to other posts.
For WordPress there is a plugin
, that gets the sharing numbers through APIs but I prefer to actually see how the content got shared.