Many bloggers “sponsor” other blogs to help increase their readership. I offer ads spots on my sidebar (click here for more info on that) and occasionally will buy an ad spot on another blog I enjoy reading. I do this because I feel that their readers may enjoy reading my blog. And what better/easier way for them to find out about my blog then by seeing in one they read daily?
Sponsoring blogs is not necessary or crucial, but can help increase page views and readership in some cases. Being able to track the return on your investment is something I get questions about a lot. As someone who uses good old Google Analytics a lot during my day job, I thought I’d put together a short and easy tutorial on how to calculate this. I’m going to use a recent blog I sponsored, Erin of Two Thirds Hazel, as an example.
First, log in to your Google Analytics account. If you don’t have one, make one now. It really is such a valuable tool for bloggers. And it’s free!
Then head on over to the “Acquisition” tab on the left hand side and click on “All Referrals”. This will show you all of the websites that are referring readers to your blog. For me, Pinterest is my #1 referral. This means that Pinterest drives the most traffic to my blog, and proves that people are actually clicking on pins and visiting my blog. Usually Pinterest, Google or Facebook will be your #1 referral source.
Next, we want to select a specific date range. So if you sponsored a blog for the month of November, you would make the date range say “November 1, 2013 to November 30, 2013”. Click “Apply” and your data should now change. Now you see only the websites that brought traffic to your blog during the month of November in 2013. For my example, I sponsored Erin’s blog from November 1 to December 1, so I’m entering in that date range.
Now you will type in the URL of the blog you sponsored (whether you had an ad on their site, a link in the text of their blog post, etc.) into the search box. Type the URL in without the http://www. For example, I typed in “twothirdshazel.com” without the quotation marks. The blog should show up on the list now.
Now you can see how many referrals this blog brought to yours during that time period. The “Source” column shows the exact URL that brought visitors to your page. If you click into this, it will show you each individual page and how many visits it brought you. So perhaps 50 people visited your blog on their homepage, but maybe 100 visited your blog on a specific blog post.
The graph shows the number of pages each day as well. Just hover over a certain date/data point on the graph to see the information.
You can also see lots of other helpful information across the columns. The “Visits” column shows how many visits the website brought to your blog. “% New Visits” is the percentage of those visits that had never been to your website before. “Bounce Rate” is the rate at which people land on your page and immediately exit it. A lower bounce rate is best, while a higher one means your website has a poor user experience. “Pages/Visit” shows how many different pages those users clicked on your blog. In this instance, my average was 5.32, which means that Erin’s readers didn’t just leave my site immediately, they clicked around and read different posts/pages of mine (awesome!) Then “Avg. Visit Duration” is how long the average user stayed on your website. The last few columns are only applicable if your website is an ecommerce site and is set up for conversions (most bloggers can ignore this).
So from sponsoring Erin’s blog, I can see that I got 158 new visits. 81% of those people had never been to my site before (new visitors- yay!) and their bounce rate was 0%, which is awesome. They stayed on my blog for an average of 3 minutes and 25 seconds, which means they probably read a couple blog posts while they were there. Overall, I was so pleased with these numbers that I would definitely sponsor Erin’s blog again in the future (and recommend that you do, too!)
This is a very simple way to see if you are getting what you pay for. From this exercise, you may learn that it’s not worth it to pay money to put your ad on another website. Or you may find out that one certain site brings you TONS of traffic when they mention your blog as a link in an actual post. It’s a good way to measure which types of ads and links work best and what types of websites you should be targeting when choosing one to sponsor.