Summer of Live: Rocking Google Analytics with Sherry Smothermon-Short

Do you speak the Google Analytics lingo or are you in the “I can find pageviews and that’s about all” camp?

Whether you’re here, there or somewhere in between, Sherry Smothermon-Short of Cub Scout Ideas and Painless Blog Analytics is here to help. She stopped by the Summer of Live with Mediavine’s Director of Marketing Jenny Guy to help you unlock this wealth of information. Plus learn how GA + the new Mediavine Dashboard = BIG EARNINGS.

Find content ideas, optimize for income, identify your replicable successes and avoid the 7 potential data pitfalls. (Originally aired 7/2/20)

Watch the video here or check out the transcript below.

Rocking Google Analytics

JENNY GUY: All righty. Hi, everybody. It is Thursday, July 2. If you’re wondering why it looks like I’m in a cave, it’s because a massive summer storm blew in and knocked out the power a little bit. It’s back on now, but if you hear thunder, that’s what it is. And I’ve got light put right up in my face so you can see me.

Welcome to the Mediavine Summer of Live. I’m Jenny Guy. I do marketing and host the show. I have quarantine here, but I’ve come to peace with it. So that’s where we are. It is hot everywhere across the country,’rona is still raging but we have moved past murder hornets and into the Saharan dust clouds and place of locusts. So we’re in a good spot.
But Hamilton is coming to Disney Plus this weekend. We were just talking about that. And we will cling to whatever bright spots we can find in the wasteland of 2020. So how are you guys doing? Again, post in the comments. Say hey, and tell us what you’re doing for the 4th of July with a GIF if you want to.

And speaking of bright spots, my guest today is absolutely a wonderful one for me and for so many of us in the blogging world. She is here to share her expertise on the often misunderstood and underutilized free tool for content creators, Google Analytics. Let’s meet her and greet her.

Sherry Smothermon-Short is the owner and founder of Cub Scout Ideas and Painless Blog Analytics. Her seven years of experience has taught her how to use data to grow and improve her blog. She loves sharing what she learned with other bloggers by providing information, resources, training, and services. Sherry lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and two sons. In her spare time, Sherry is usually reading or watching mysteries or volunteering for her son’s wrestling team. I got to meet one of her sons just a hot second ago. Hi, Sherry. Welcome.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: Hi there. Thanks for having me.

JENNY GUY: Thank you so much for coming and for everything you provided. Guys, if you are with us and you love Sherry, which I know you do, go ahead and put in the comments now– rank your expertise with Google Analytics on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being an expert. How do you feel about the analytics? Tell us what you think.

OK, and guys, those of you that are regular viewers– and so many of you are, and we are very grateful– the screen sharing options with our Facebook Live tool and with Facebook Live in general are somewhat limited. So usually we don’t talk about topics that are in need of visual aids. However, we pivoted, as is the norm for 2020, our Summer of Live to feature our conference speakers from the canceled Baltimore conference. And some of those awesome topics like Sherry’s definitely benefit from a presentation.

So we’re going to share right now in the comments the link to Sherry’s slides so you can open in another tab and follow along or bookmark or download later. The slides are numbered, so I’m going to do my best to let you guys know when she’s talking about what so you can follow along and stay on the same page.

She also put together a follow-up PDF for our audience on avoiding data pitfalls in Google Analytics. So we’ll share that for you as well in that link. So click on the link, follow along, let us know if you questions as we go. And a huge thank you to Sherry for providing everything. She’s the best. OK, Sherry, let’s start. Let’s do these questions.

We always start out more general and with backstory. So what got you into Google Analytics? You started out your blog, Cub Scout Ideas. And your love of analytics started you branching out into your consulting coaching business, which you named Painless Blog Analytics. Tell us about the journey.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: Well, before I was a blogger, I actually worked for an auto insurance company. I was with that company for about 17 years. And so I never really thought of myself as being a data person or an analytical person. But I guess I picked up some of that by osmosis.

But one of the big things I learned is that you don’t have to be a numbers person, like you don’t have to have the skills, that you don’t have to know how to do everything that you can do in Excel to be able to analyze the data that you have. That’s helpful if you’re calculating some crazy stuff. But you can still have somebody else do that number crunching for you or can look at a little bit more simplified version and still figure out things that you could do with your blog.

JENNY GUY: It’s really exciting. What I was going to have you talk about here is– today, we’re going to talk about getting content ideas from Google Analytics, using Google Analytics to optimize your income, finding blog promotional ideas by doing a deep dive, and then we’re going to marry the new Mediavine Dashboard, which offers page-level RPM data with Google Analytics data. So we’re going to talk about that too. But first, let’s just kick things off by talking about your very favorite report in Google Analytics. It’s your personal fave. Guys, if you’re following along on the slides, this is slide 3.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: Yes. My absolute favorite thing to look at in Google Analytics is the All Pages report. It is under– if you look under Behavior, Site Content and then All Pages.

And then what I like to do is add a secondary dimension that adds the source and medium so that I know not only what pages are being visited, how many people have visited them, and where the people are coming from. Did they come from Pinterest? Did they come– is it organic search? Where are they coming from? So that is actually my favorite report because I think it gives you quite a bit of information just in one view. Jenny, if you’ll go ahead and switch over to page 4. There we go.

So you can see– like, this is just a blown-up, kind of cut-out version there. But you can see some of the things that you can look at when you’re looking at this report. So one of the big things that stands out to me is that I have– so a lot of my top 10 blog posts are coming from Google Analytics. And so if I’m getting traffic from Google to these pages, I should be getting traffic from Pinterest as well.

And so this is one of the things that you can do with this report, is go in and say, you know what? I need to really work on my Pinterest game on these that are coming from Analytics. Or the second highest on there is most of the traffic is coming from Pinterest, so just do the opposite there. Jenny, if you’ll go to page 5.

And now what I did with this report– just because I love it so much and I got a little tired of having to go through and click everything and add that secondary dimension, that I actually saved this report. And so that’s something that you might not know that you can do, is if you have a report that you like, you can save it, give it a name, and then you just go up to the top and click on your saved reports. And it saves you a few clicks, especially if you’ve added some things like that secondary dimension.

JENNY GUY: Super exciting. All righty. Helpful. We all have favorite reports. That’s one of the best things, is finding out your favorite little tricks and tips when you get when you familiarize with something. And how did you become a Google Analytics guru? What was that process for you?

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: You know, I just kept going in there and playing around with it and spent a lot of time googling and what Google meant. You know, what does that term mean? And how is that calculated? And why is that number not matching this other number? So just– it’s, again, I think because of having worked at an insurance company, which is– everybody I knew as a numbers person. I think it sort of rubbed off on me. And that’s what caused me to kind of want to dig in and just played around with it and just kept playing with it.

JENNY GUY: Can you give us a little bit of insight on what results you’ve seen from Google Analytics in terms of when you go in there and do some of the things that we’re going to be talking about today, what results have you seen from yourself or from your clients?

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: You know, there’s– it’s amazing some of the things that you can do. Like, one of the things that I do with– or one of the services that I offer is that I’ll go in and take a look not just at your Google Analytics, your Google Search Console and will try to figure out ways that people can improve their click-through ratio.

Because I think that that’s pretty important. You know, if you’re– that’s one of the ways you can improve your blog and get more traffic. And so I’ve seen some– my tongue just quit working there– some substantial increases in traffic. There’s one example from my own blog, something that I did not long ago. And my impressions tripled or went up by 300%, so–

JENNY GUY: That’s insa– is that the armpit fudge that we’re going to be talking about later?

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: Yeah.

JENNY GUY: OK, we’ll get into it. Spoiler alert, armpit fudge– if you’re not sticking around for any other reason other than Sherry’s awesome and armpit fudge, go. All right, Leah Ingram– “so saved reports means it saves the filters, not the results from that filter the last time you used it. So it’s constantly updating whenever you click on it so you can see the most recent data?”

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: That’s correct.

JENNY GUY: All right, fantastic. You’re not saving results. You’re saving the filters that you like to do. Fantastic, OK. All right, we’ve got some responses on people talking about their Google Analytics level of expertise. Michelle Price says, “A 7 until I learned from Sherry exactly how much I don’t know.” We’re always learning what we don’t know. And we’re glad to help you with that, Michelle.

Leah Ingram says, “In Google Analytics, maybe a 3.” Linda McDonald says, “I am thinking about a 5 or 6 too because of you.” Lisa says, “Gosh, I so need this because Google Analytics really has me confused.” Girl, same. Kelly Pugliano says, “I’m on a solid 5, but after following Sherry’s tips, I feel like I’m a 7.” Yay. Fantastic. Love to hear it.

OK, we know that Google Analytics provides all of the metrics that anyone could need or want. I don’t think there’s anyone out there who would say they don’t believe it’s a powerful tool. It is. There’s so much there, but it is overwhelming. So I’d like hearing about the more nontraditional uses, beyond just looking at just data for data, say, like, these are my pageviews. This is my sessions. These are my users. But talk to us about getting content ideas. So let’s start with how you isolate the helpful data to do that.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: OK. And one comment I want to throw out, because I think this is helpful in understanding why Google Analytics is so– can be so overwhelming for bloggers is it’s really built for any website. And e-commerce sites– like, a lot of the numbers that we have absolutely no need to know are really there for e-commerce sites. So I think that that’s why it can be a little bit overwhelming with people. But there are some ways that you can dig in and find out stuff again without really needing to know any kind of numbers. And so if you want to hop on over to page 7.

JENNY GUY: I got you.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: Awesome. So one of my favorite things to do is to find new content ideas based on what’s popular on my blog now. And the way that we’re going to do that is to go through it. And you can see you go over to Behavior, Site Content, All Pages. I usually look at about the last 30 days because that tells me what’s popular right now.

But you can also look at the same time frame a year ago. So what was popular last July on my blog? So you can kind of look at this either way there. Look at the top 25 and I’m going to write down the type and the topic of each of my posts.

And if you’ll go on over to slide 8, that– and this kind of shows you where you need to click. And I’ve put it in the order of where you’ll click. And then once you have those top 25 blog posts, you’re going to start looking at the type of posts they are.

And if you go over to page 9, the blog post can be– that can be inspirational. They can be some kind of tutorial or a how-to. It can be a list. It can be some resources, a checklist. It can be a review. It could be a problem and a solution. So there, you– so, kind of go down through your blog posts and, in your mind, say, what kind of blog post is this?

OK, go ahead. And I’ll show you an example in just a minute. But I want to tell you a little bit about the post topics. So you have to kind of look at what kind of blogs you have and then sort of see what kinds of blog post topics that you have.

So a lifestyle blog, you may see that in your top 25, you have a lot of travel or a lot of organizational posts or posts about kids crafts. If you’ve got a food blog, it may be that your vegan recipes are the ones that are most popular, or your Greek recipes or maybe the ones that you cook in an air fryer. Or maybe it’s your desserts that are really popular. So you’re going to kind of go through and look at that.

And let’s see, go ahead and go to page 10, Jenny. Oh, I’m sorry, 11. We’re on 10. Page 11, OK.

So this is what I did with my own blog. And so if you look at it– now, this is kind of small. So hopefully, you guys can see it on the actual PDF. If you look, I have taken colored rectangles and kind of shown you where some of the different topics are.

So, like, in row 2 and 24, there’s red rectangles because it’s talking about Cub Scout patches. Rows 7 and 13 are blue rectangles. They’re talking about Cub Scout ceremonies. The purple rectangles in lines 10 and 11 are about Cub Scout whittling. That’s where they’re teaching the little kids how to use pocket knives without them cutting the fingers off.

And then with the ovals– so that kind of gives you some ideas about topics for me. You know, I need to maybe write some more things about patches or ceremonies or whittling. And then look at the types of posts that have, and those are circled with ovals. They’re all how-to’s. You know, you’ve got everything from how to make a Cub Scout robot out of a toothbrush to how to make the infamous armpit fudge. So they’re not all Cub Scout-specific too. That’s the other kind of takeaway that I got from here.

So what I’m going to do is I’m going to use some or do some keyword research not only in Google Search Console, but in a keyword tool as well– SEMrush, anything like that that you’ve got, Keysearch– and just kind of see, are there some things about patches or ceremonies or whittling that I don’t have? And I can write those posts.

I also need to write more– especially now, I need to write more generic kids’ activities that could also be used for Cub Scouts because that’s popular right now because everybody’s trying to figure out a way to entertain their kids since they’ve been home for the last however many months. So, hopefully that makes sense to you guys how I’m doing that.

JENNY GUY: Absolutely, that does make sense. And I wanted to know if you could expand a little bit beyond how this would work with different niches other than outside. Although, your niche is so specific, but that makes it, I think, easy to translate to the different niches in that. So tell me how your– tell me quickly just the distinction between topics and types.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: OK, types would be sort of the format of the blog post. So for example, maybe you’re reviewing a vacuum cleaner. So that would be a review post. It would be a review post, so that’s the type of the post. If it’s how to make– or how to use– well, I’ll use an example from Linda.

Linda has a– Life on Summerhill has a blog post about what’s in her paint tool kit. So she’s a DIY, home decor blogger. So she has a list post that talks about the different things that she’s got, tools that she uses to paint. So again, that’s kind of a list post. The topic would be painting or DIY on your home. But the type would be– you know, it’s a list. It’s a list of things. Does that make sense?

JENNY GUY: It does. And do you recommend– so, OK. This is– I’m going to try to articulate this in a way that is not confusing to myself and others. Do you recommend focusing more– like, if you have a topic that’s extremely important, do you recommend branching out and doing a ton of different types of posts for that? Or do you recommend focusing on if a type is really successful with your readers, how do you go about that, or both?

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: You know, I think you have to look at both. And that’s where you can go into your Google Search Console and really dig through and find out what are the terms that people are using. So let’s say you’re doing something about– I’ll use Linda’s blog again. So you’ve got a– you’re looking at the post that’s about the paint tools.

You need to go and see, are people saying, how do I paint? Are they saying, what tools? Or what’s the best paint brush? Or what’s the best– you know, what kinds of things do I need to have to paint my house? So you kind of look at that and then decide. You may decide from that, hey, there’s more of that– more those how-to questions or– versus the paint itself, if that makes sense. So I think you have to–

JENNY GUY: No, it does.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: –kind of pull in some other things and look at that.

JENNY GUY: That’s really interesting, and also love the idea of if you’re struggling for content ideas, you’re finding that you can take that topic, look at those different post types, and find different ways to attack that specific topic. That’s great. Or if your audience just really loves how-tos or loves lists or whatever, then give them more of that based on different topics.

Talk a little bit– you threw the term out, and we’re actually going to share a blog post about it. But Google Search Console is not Google Analytics. They’re separate. Give us a little bit of information on the two.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: OK. I love Google Search Console. It is just– I just love it. I love it so much more than I love Analytics because it just– there’s so much more– there’s a lot of actionable stuff in Google Analytics, but there is a whole lot more in Google Search Console. And I actually have a blog po– I wish I had known you were going to ask me this question. I have a blog post that talks about the difference between Analytics and Search Console that’s over on Painless Blog Analytics. So I will–

JENNY GUY: We can find it.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: –write it in. Yeah, or we– yeah–

JENNY GUY: I’ll get it for you.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: Yeah, google that and you can find it in there. There’s–

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: I have a chart in there too that I think does a pretty good job of describing what the differences are. Search Console is a little bit more about the health of your site. And it’s a lot about your search traffic. It focuses just on that search. Just on Google Search traffic, not Bing, not Yahoo, not Pinterest, not anything. It focuses just on the Google Search traffic.

JENNY GUY: I found the post and we’ll share it, my team’s got it. OK, question from Elayna Fernandez– “How do you use Google Analytics to decide whether to toss or refresh old content?”

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: That’s a good question. The first thing I would do is go and look and see how much traffic I’ve gotten from it. And I would go back not just the last 30 days. I go back as far as I can and just see, was there a time when this was a really hot topic? And then take that information and then go look at Search Console because that’s going to give you some great information about how often is this post showing up?

And then you can kind of– it’s almost like you have to have all these layers. So once you figure out what’s going on with your post, then go look at a keyword tool like SEMrush or Keysearch and see, are there lots of people searching for that? And if they are, and your post is just not answering the questions right, then I would say absolutely refresh it.

JENNY GUY: That’s fantastic. If there is search volume, then you should go ahead and re-engage, optimize your post, get it put into a place where people are finding it in Search. Fantastic. All right.

So we talked a little bit about how this can apply to all niches, topics, and types of posts. Let’s go to one of our very favorite things to discuss on the Summer of Live, which is money, money, money. How do you use Google Analytics to optimize posts and earn more? Which Elayna’s question dovetails great in there.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: Awesome. Page 13, if you don’t mind.

JENNY GUY: You got it.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: So, there– I kind of look at– you know, when you’re looking at posts, and you’re trying to figure out how to optimize them for income, there’s really kind of two ways that you can do that. You can look at your affiliate opportunities that you might have in a particular post, and then you can look at the ad opportunities.

So let’s talk about the affiliate opportunities first. Katelyn told us last week that Google Search traffic does better in terms of affiliate sales than Pinterest or some other things. So you want to kind of narrow down and look at, what are my top posts that are coming from Search. And once you know that, go and just take a look at them. Maybe you need to add some new links. Maybe there are things that you didn’t think about linking in the past. Maybe try a new program.

So just to give you an example from my blog, and I’m an affiliate for REI, the outdoor folks, and Cabela’s, the outdoor folks. So maybe I’ve linked to tent, but I’ve linked it to REI, and it’s not doing very well. I might want to swap that link out and put a Cabela’s link in there and just see, does that make any difference there?

You might want to presell a little bit more, maybe you talk a little bit more about what you love about the tent before they actually link over. You might also want to highlight links in a different way. And, Jenny, if you’ll go to page 14 for just a second. I’ll show you an example of this.

OK, I do have to tell you that little guy is now my 6′ 2″, 250-pound wrestler. That was, you know, a minute ago when that picture was taken. But anyway, so what I did in this post– this is a post about the Blue and Gold Banquet, which is an event that Cub Scouts have every year. And so Etsy has a lot of printables that you can purchase that you can use for decorations and different things for the Blue and Gold Banquet.

So what I did with this one was that I added– you can see– and I’m pointing to my screen like y’all can see me pointing to it, but sorry about that. But you can see that little gray background. I made it a little box with a little bit of a gray background that kind of draws some attention to it. And then I threw in an affiliate link to Etsy.

And if you’re not on Gutenberg, please go get on Gutenberg, because that’s a block that I created. And I can put that block in every single one of my blog posts that are about the Blue and Gold Banquet because it’s a reusable block. So make sure you’re doing that. So, hey, Jenny. You can go back to 13, if you don’t mind.

So I said highlight your links in a different way. And then you can also use tracking IDs. So if you’re– I use this a lot, especially in things not exactly– like, if I do a– if I include an affiliate link in my email, I make sure that I indicate that so that I know, hey, that’s emails converting. Or maybe a Facebook post is converting better. So I’ll throw those in there just so that I can tell where the traffic’s coming from and/or where the business is coming from.

Now, one thing about adding new links– some of you may know Jeannine Crooks. She works at Awin. And one of the things I heard her say a couple of years ago was she said that if it is a noun, it should be an affiliate link. So any time you’re using– a lot of times, I might have craft sticks. You know, I have a lot of projects on my blog that use craft sticks. I make sure that craft sticks is a link to– every time, I want to make sure that that’s an affiliate link.

OK, So that kind of covers what you can do when you’re looking at affiliate opportunities. So now I want to tell you a little bit about what you can do with ad opportunities. First of all, do all the things that Mediavine has been telling us today– lengthen your content, make shorter paragraphs, add more images, add Create card.

And so that the thing I wanted to share with you guys about my armpit fudge recipe– and by the way, I know that sounds really gross, but Cub Scouts love it. So what happened with that post– Jenny, if you’ll go to page 15. I had written that several years ago.

And just so you know, it’s basically, like, you put all the ingredients in a Ziploc bag, and you smush them. And so where the armpit comes in is the kids can take the Ziploc bag of ingredients and put it under their arm and do them like that to make fudge. Or you can just smush it with your hands, either way.

So anyway, what I did with that post was I– it was a very short post. It didn’t have– I think it had two pictures. It didn’t have a recipe card because I’m not a food blogger, so I didn’t think I needed a recipe card. So toward the end of April, I updated this post, added pictures, lengthened it, added the recipe card and all that.

And now, mind you, the one thing to remember about this is according to SEMrush, the term “armpit fudge” and combinations thereof only gives 770 global searches around the world every month. But you can see here– I mean, my traffic or my impressions went from about 3,500 to over 11,000.

So what I did was I took– I think I updated this on April 20, so I took April 20 to whatever day I ran the report and then compared it with the same number of days before that. And you can see that the update in that post has helped with search traffic. If you’ll go on to page 16, this shows you that it has– my search traffic has increased quite a bit, so yay for that. And then if you go on to page 17, it also helped with my ad income.

Now, granted, some of the increase in my income, or a lot of it, was the fact that I’m getting a lot more traffic. But if you notice, my RPMs went up by 18%. So I don’t know if that’s the– having that recipe card and having the ads in there or what has caused that. But the fact that you can update it and lots of– update posts, and lots of good things are going to happen. Not just your traffic is going to increase, but your ad income can increase as well.

JENNY GUY: Fantastic. OK. So when we were– the next question nationally leads into this. We’ve had a lot of people– people are having some issues with sound. You guys, I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s going on. We can hear each other and everyone on the team can hear us. So I don’t think that we’re having any issues there.

It might be– at this point, any kind of technical difficulties or anything that goes wrong, I’m pretty much saying 2020, because it doesn’t matter how much we prepare, what we do– like murder hornets. Like, it’s just– you know, that makes sense. Math checks out. So we apologize if you’re having any issues. We’re not having any recording issues.
And let’s, just to get everyone caught up, keep everyone the same page, let’s share that link one more time, you guys, for the slides so everyone can be following along. And Sherry, this one actually doesn’t have a slide, so we’ll give everyone this question I’m about to ask.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: OK.

JENNY GUY: What is your philosophy about changing things that are already doing pretty well in ranking if things are good? Because we’ve had a lot of questions. Katelyn and I talked about this last week. There can be some conflicting opinions on it.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: Yes. That’s a really good question. And I think you have to really dig into your data. I thought I had written some notes about that question, but I can’t find them right away.

JENNY GUY: 2020. #2020.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: 2020. Yes, it’s #2020. So I think you have to look at it like– that’s one that I would go into maybe Google Search Console and look and see if you’re getting a– you know, if you’re getting tons of impressions, and you’ve got a click-through rate of 25% or 30%– which is crazy, but my armpit fudge has a recipe has that– so then you might not need to do anything to that post.

But if you go over, and you’re getting a 1% or 2% click-through rate, and you’ve got a fair amount of impressions, then you need to change some things. You probably need to work on your title and on your meta description. Those are usually the two things that I recommend that you look at when you’re trying to improve that click-through rate.

So look at that and see. That’s really that. And it’s a gamble, I know. But those are the things that I would look at when I was trying to– if I were trying to decide whether or not to update something that’s a little bit older.

JENNY GUY: And Katelyn actually talked about incremental changes, small, just start doing a little bit and then wait and see what happens. Give it a few days, get it crawled again, and see where you are. Then OK, that was all right. We’re still getting good traffic to it. Now I’ll do another small change.

Because if you’re getting a lot of traffic on a post, you guys, and you’re not earning through ads and you’re not earning through affiliates, what difference does it make at that point? So you might as well try something. I mean, you can say that you’re ranking well on Google. But if you’re not earning on that post, who cares?

OK, Elayna Fernandez also said, “That is impressive. Did you republish the armpit fudge with a recent date or update it with the old date?” Very controversial question.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: I republished it with the– I republished it with a new date.

JENNY GUY: OK.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: It was, like, from 2013. It was one of the very first blog posts that I wrote. So yes, I gave it a new date.

JENNY GUY: OK, interesting. Do you regularly do new dates? Or do you, when you’re optimizing every time, or tell us about what you– what kind of your–

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: I don’t do it every time. I do it most of the time, though. OK, well, I’ll give you an example. I had a couple of years ago, I did a series of blog posts about an award that you can earn in Cub Scouts. And I still don’t– I think 2020 stole it. But I had one of the posts just disappeared. I still don’t know how that happened.

So luckily, I had the text and the images and all that somewhere else. So I thought, well, I need to put that back up. With that, I actually back– that’s not technically updating it, but I backdated it because I didn’t want it to show up right at the very– as the first thing that you saw when you went to my blog. So I think just kind of take that into consideration.

JENNY GUY: Every time, good to know, case-by-case basis. Michelle Price says, “Does Sherry have tips on title writing, meta descriptions to go along with the advice that you just gave?”

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: I’m trying to think if I have a blog post about that. I don’t– I can certainly– well, that’s actually one of the services that I offer is. And I love doing that.

Now, and this is a link that, if your folks can grab it– CoSchedule has a Headline Analyzer that’s free. And if you just google, “CoSchedule Headline Analyzer,” you’ll get to it. That thing is awesome. It’s– you throw in your different ideas and it scores it. It also gives you ideas for words that you can use that would increase click-throughs and some words that you probably should kind of shy away from.

It gives you a score. If you get a green– I rarely get a green score, so when I get a green score, that’s awesome. Green, I think, is about 70. You know, if you get a 70, it’s awesome. But I’m happy if I’m in the 60s. So I would definitely use that. Add numbers to your titles. Let’s say numbers. Yeah, there’s quite a few things there.

JENNY GUY: People are always all about the top 3, top 5, top 4, top 7. Yeah, it’s a thing. OK, Ellen Folkman said, “I just redid a salad that wasn’t doing well, and it’s my number 4 revenue post with Mediavine currently.” Nice.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: Awesome.

JENNY GUY: Ellen, will you link it so we can look at it? We’d love to see what– and talk a little bit more about the changes you made. We’d love it.

OK, moving on to another topic. One of the things you wanted to talk to us all about is how to replicate successes that you currently have. And I put this in other terms, I guess Oklahoma terms, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. So if you’ve got something that you know is working, how do you identify it? And how do you make it happen over and over again?

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: OK. If you’ll go to page 20–

JENNY GUY: It’s already there.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: One of the things that I’ll do a lot of times is if I have a– if I have a post that doing well and/or that’s successful– and that’s kind of a loose term. But it may be that it has high traffic. It may be that the RPMs are really high. It may be that the affiliate links– there’s a high click-through rate or high conversion on that. I’ll go back and look at the history of the post.

And so I may look at just here today, I may look at the last 12 months. Or I may actually look at the lifetime of the post from the very first time that it was published. And you just look at it. And you can see on this that I’ve got a few little spikes for– this is actually the post where you’re making robots out of toothbrushes, heads of toothbrushes. It’s pretty cool.

Anyway, so I went back and I said, OK, something happened on these days that caused my traffic to spike. And so what you can do– and if you’ll click to page 21, Jenny– is you can go through and figure out, like hover over the date and say, OK, what date was that? And so I’ll figure out, OK, that might have been June 17, 2018 was one of those spikes.

Well, I’ll look at the traffic just for that day, add your source/medium. And then it’s going to tell you– you’re going to see where the traffic came from. So on this particular example, it looks like I had sent an email. So I got lots of traffic from that email. Go ahead and go to page 22.

And so I did that on all of my– all of those little spikes to see what happened. So it was– when I first did this, I said, wait a minute. I haven’t sent out an email with this in a long time. Let me send out another email. Facebook– I need to be posting this more often on Facebook because I’m getting clicks to it when people see it.

Then you can kind of see back last fall, there was an email that I sent out. I also had some video pins that went live. And you can see kind of a little bump from there is lots of video pins. Those had seemed to be doing really well for me. And then COVID happened, and nobody has Cub Scout meetings right now. So yeah, that dropped off.

But what the point of this is if you go back and you look at the history of an individual post, you can find out information about, what did I do to promote this, and do that again. Because if it was successful once, more than likely, it’s going to be successful again.

Now, there is a big, big, big caveat about looking at this history. And Jenny, if you go on to page 23. And I would encourage you, as soon as we are done with this, for you to go and take a look at this. When you look at in your– hang on just a second. I got to get it so I can read the thing. It’s under Property. Under your tracking ID, there is something called Data Retention. And I don’t know when Google started doing this, but they defaulted it to 26 months.

So what that means is that I can still see that I got visits to a particular post well beyond further in the past than 26 months. But if I want to do that drill-down to that source/medium stuff, it’s not going to be there because they get rid of it after 26 months. So what you can do is you can go in and change this to “Do Not Automatically Expire.” And then you have all your data.

Now, when I work with clients, this is the first thing– one of the first things that I do is I’m checking if it says 26 months, I change it. You might not ever look at that information. But I’d sure rather have it if I decide to look at it than not to have it at all.

So if you flip forward to page 24, this’ll show you where to click to get to that, to where you need to make this change. You’d go click the gear icon in the bottom left to go into your admin. That center panel, click on Tracking Info. And then click Data Retention. So I would– if you’re– go change this today. It’s not going to give you past information, but it will start collecting it from today going forward.

JENNY GUY: Very helpful, and something everyone needs to go run and do right now. You’ve got that in your slides, guys. That is all on slide 23 and 24. Go make that change right now. Yes, we’d always rather have the data than not have the data.

Ellen actually posted while we were waiting. We’ve got people that are having to run. We know this is– can be a tough day since holidays are tomorrow. But Gloria’s saving this for later. She knows it’ll be helpful. Lisa has to go, but she’ll be rewatching.

Ellen Folkman, though– she did share her post. She’s with Family Around the Table. And she said it’s from a local restaurant. She updated her photos on the post. She added a “pin this for later” blurb at the top. She created a new pin, and she lengthened the content. She did not republish, however, though. So she kind of did all of the things at once. And that’s really exciting. Yes, please go dig into the why.

And then Michelle said, they did that– she’s referring to the Google shutting off the data automatically– with GDPR. She said changing it means changing the– changing to privacy notices. She forgets exactly what it is. She just remembered that’s the why. But go in now today, guys. You can do that and change what data you’re collecting to make sure that you’re going to have everything you need in case you want it.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: Here’s the thing– I am not an a– I’ve not done research, so forgive me if I’m not telling the truth here. But I don’t think it has as much to do with GDPR as it does with just the fact that it helps to Google not have to store quite so much data. Because you’ve got it up to 26 months. So whatever you’ve done now, it– I mean, if there were a GDPR issue, they would have eliminated it altogether. So I think it’s more just a space thing or a way for them to save on that, a little bit more that than it is concerns about GDPR.

JENNY GUY: If someone’s not using it, you update it. Yeah, so absolutely. They had some– oh, Katherine Shorter just checked hers and she said it was set for 14 months.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: Yikes.

JENNY GUY: It happens, guys. So go in there and check on all those. You’ve got step-by-step instructions. I love the numbered instructions, so helpful.

All righty, let us talk about marrying all this helpful information that you’re sharing of Google Analytics with the Dashboard for Mediavine, which got a major glow up recently. And we love to see it. Audience, who out there is loving the new major dashboard? Tell us your favorite part of it out there in the comments. Come and tell us what you love about it, what you’re using the most, and anything you might like to see changed.

OK, Sherry, you tell us a little bit about what your top things are other than page-level RPM data, which we’re going to talk about on its own here in a second. Tell us what you love about it.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: I just love it. I just– it’s just– you know, in the past, we would say, oh, we’ll just work on your high traffic post because we didn’t really have a way to know which post was making us the most money. And now we do. And now you can say, OK, now that’s the one I need to promote. That’s the one I need to make sure that I’m– it’s getting scheduled on a regular basis. That’s the one I need to spend my time on. So I think just having that– I know I talked to Eric a couple of times about that. And so we’re super excited to hear that we were getting it, so yeah.

JENNY GUY: We’re really excited about it as well. And also, I mean, it’s real pretty. It’s so pretty. Our UI/UX designer, Kat, did an amazing job. Like, it’s just– it’s great. It’s got so many features and a lot easier to make updates and work feature requests in. So yes, that page RPM data and we’re going to talk a little bit about that here in a moment.

But Sue Redding Ringsdorf just said, “Oh my god, I do such a little analysis for my blog. I guess I better get on it. Help.” Sherry, let’s talk about that. If somebody really wanted help and wanted– go from no analysis to doing some analysis, doing a lot of analysis, but a quick-start guide– what would you recommend?

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: That’s a good question. I think it depends on what you want to do. So there are some times where I would point somebody in the direction of Search Console versus Analytics just to depending on what your goals are.

JENNY GUY: Sue, tell us a little bit about your goals. What are your goals? What do you– OK, what should everybody’s goals be? It should be– I mean, I would assume a big goal for everybody would probably be earning better and more traffic. But what are some of the different goals you think that people could or should have when wanting to get into Analytics?

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: Are you directing that question at me?

JENNY GUY: Yeah, it is.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: OK, OK.

JENNY GUY: Yeah, that’s for you. Sorry, sorry.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: Sorry about that.

JENNY GUY: No, don’t be sorry.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: Well, again, I think money is the big thing. One of the things that I think people sometimes do is they get hung up on the vanity metrics. And those don’t do anything for you. Like, when I go to Pinterest, and I see all these pins– and if you have one, folks, sorry. I’m going to rag on you a little bit. But if I see these pins that’ll say, I got a million monthly viewers, or what? That doesn’t give you any money.

So to me, I’m all about, let’s get the traffic over to the blog posts that are earning me money. So again, having that page-level detail, you can kind of see, OK, that’s the one that’s– you know, that RPM is really high. Traffic’s really low. Let me go see what I need to do to kind of increase that.

JENNY GUY: Definitely, love hearing it. Do you have any more vanity metrics out there that people are focusing on that they shouldn’t really?

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: Pinterest has a lot of them, so it’s that monthly viewers. It’s the followers. Followers really don’t mean anything in Pinterest anymore. And truly, followers in a lot of different places can be a vanity metric. So let me just give you– but it’s not– that depends on your goal.

So for me, I just want people to get to my website. So Instagram does not give me any traffic. So I don’t spend any time on Instagram for Cub Scout Ideas. It just– I’m not. And part of my monetization plan is not to try to get Instagram sponsor work. So there’s no need of me spending any time over there. So for me, the number of followers I have on Instagram would be just a vanity metric if I were trying to increase that.

Now, if part of your monetization plan is to do sponsored work on Instagram, then yeah, you need to get those followers. And it is absolutely not a vanity metric for you. So some of those vanity metrics can really depend on how you’re monetizing your blog.

JENNY GUY: I also think that I was mistaken the way I was asking earlier that everybody wants money for– you know, that’s an overgeneralization. Yes, everybody wants money. But what you just said make me think, you know? You have to focus– we all want all the things. We want all the things to happen for our site. We want to be great on all these different social platforms and drive the traffic to our blog and be awesome at affiliate.

And so breaking your goals down into chunks that are manageable and actually able to focus on something and accomplish it– like, I’m going to focus on affiliates for the next three months. The offshoots of that include strengthening my email newsletter, optimizing posts that are getting traffic– things like that that actually will accomplish that goal, as opposed to, I want more money. Break it into actual chunks, manageable chunks as opposed to just general, I love money. We all love money.

OK. So Jennifer Hazel Quisenberry said, “If you’re new to Mediavine, how do we know if we have the new dashboard?” You do. Everybody does have it.

And we’ve got some great comments on the new dashboard. Brenda says, “I love the new dashboard. My favorite is how easy it is to check the data compared to last year’s data. It helps me see a big pic– helps you see the big picture on the changes I’m making now actually are making a difference.”

We’ve got– Susan [INAUDIBLE] says, “Great flow.” First, of course, she looks at the earnings for the day. Now she can check RPMs, CPM. The order of it makes sense to her. “Love all this, learning how to do it– the CPM, the RPM data.” From Leah– “Seeing individual RPMs and CPMs is very useful.” So wonderful. OK.

Marina John says, “I am exploring Google Console– Search Console and popped in one of my more popular posts. And it says, ‘Indexed, not submitted in sitemap.’ Is this something I need to fix to increase traffic?”

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: OK, so if you use Yoast, you have the Yoast plugin, you have a sitemap. Sometimes, that sitemap is not submitted to Google Search Console. What that means is that Google’s still going to find you because they’re going to find you.

But if you’ve got that sitemap, and you’ve got all of your blog posts in that sitemap, it could help Google find you just a little bit faster. So it’s not the end of the world if you don’t have it. And you could add it, and then it’d not change very much for you. But it could make things get indexed just a little bit faster.

JENNY GUY: Fantastic. Fast indexing is great. OK, we’ve got people asking for the slides. They’ve been shared a couple of times, and we’ll share it again.

Sue says, “Me again. I want to earn more, but I also just like to cook and eat and share what I like to eat. So I need to balance that, I guess. Honestly, I’m way more interested in creating and way less interested in finding out the statistics.” But she also wants us to know that she’s a finance major from back in the day. So, understood.

Leah is sharing some feedback. That’s great. We’ll have you email that in actually as well, Leah, to publishers at Mediavine.com so we can share that feedback. You might not be the only one thinking that.

OK, let’s talk page-level RPM and the Mediavine Dashboard and how we can use that and harness it with Google Analytics to make all the dollar bills.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: Yes, I love this. This is– page 26.

JENNY GUY: Not me.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: There we go. OK, so a couple of the things that I– there’s a lot of ways that I’ve used the page-level RPMs and kind of married it with Google Analytics. But one of the big ones that I’ve been working on recently is that I’m paying for a push notification service. And I want to find out, am I paying more every month than I’m earning?

So what I can do is– well, let me stop. And you can use this to figure out expenses. You can say, am I paying for a tool that isn’t paying for itself? Am I spending time doing something that’s not getting any return? If you use ads– I don’t, but if you use– like, if you boost your Facebook posts or anything like that, or you do paid Pinterest ads, are you spending money for ads that are not giving you any return? So those are some of the things that you can look at there.

It’s also great to have this information so that you can do some experiments. So for example, you might want to try to figure out, hey, I’ve got to new pin designs. I want to see which one has drawn in more money to my site. You might use this to do different social media posting times.

And so like I mentioned, I use it a lot for– or I’ve started examining, am I making any money off of this push notification thing? So what I did– and if you’ll go to page 27– is I went in, and I said, show me all the blog posts with the number of page views for the source/medium PushEngage. That’s the service that I’m using.

So once I had that information, I exported that to an Excel spreadsheet. And then I also exported my RPMs. And I did a little Excel magic over there and calculated how much money I was making on each one of those posts that was getting traffic from PushEngage.

And right now, I’m paying more than I’m getting back. But I’m not using it that much, so I’ve got to up my usage a little bit, see if it pays for itself. And if not, I’m done. I’m leaving it alone. It’s costing me money.

Now, that’s using that– with this, I use the source/medium. And you can also use a campaign to track things. So if you’ll go ahead and go to page 28, Jenny. Here, this is just an example of something that I did. I actually did this before we got page-level detail, so for our RPMs. But last fall, I thought, you know, let me track and see how much of my traffic is coming from video pins versus, I did some manual pinning.

And so I created a URL with a campaign in it so that I could pull this data. And this is going to be really important if you’re trying different things to create your URL with that campaign ID in it. You just keep track of what that is. And then you can pull information to be able to calculate are you making any money off that.

So the way you do a URL is on page 29. You can use Google’s Campaign URL Builder. And what you’re going to do– it’s going to ask you to put in the URL that you want the link to go to. Then it’s going to ask you to put in the source, the medium, and the campaign name.

You want to be really careful when you’re doing the source and medium because you want to keep it pretty much, like, if– for this, this is for a Pinterest pin. So I want to keep those two the same so that any clicks from that on that link still get counted toward the source/medium Pinterest and social.

But then I added this campaign name, which for this one, I just made something up and said, “pin12.” So when you get all that information in, you can see kind of over to the left side that it gives you another URL. So what you’re going to do is you’re going to upload your pin to Pinterest and then use this URL with that you UTM stuff in it. Use that instead of just the plain link to your website or to your post.

Then after a little bit of time, you’re going to have some data to know, how much traffic am I getting from pin12? And it’s going to be– it’s probably not just going to be traffic to that particular post. So if somebody clicks on that link, and they go to the post– maybe it’s my armpit fudge post. We’ll use that as an example.

So somebody may come over to my armpit fudge post, but then they may click over to look at something else on my site. Well, that page is going to get this you know pin12 campaign UTM. So I can see all the pages that they visited. I hope that makes sense. So, OK.

So if you’ll go on to page 30, here’s what I did. So like I mentioned, I exported stuff to Excel, and from the Google Analytics and from my Mediavine Dashboard. And I pulled in either the source/medium or campaign. Those are two ways that you can segment your traffic.

And you have to do a little– there’s a little bit of manipulation there. And I am working on a spreadsheet that hopefully will be able– that folks can just drop their information in, do a few little clicks, and it does all this for you, but I’m not quite there yet.

So once you put that in, you can see in column F is the total number of page views for that particular page. And I multiply that by the Mediavine RPM. And that’s how much money I have earned on that particular post for that particular period of time. So, and if you look on page 31, that just kind of gives you the formula that you need to use. You know, you take your number of page views, divide it by 1,000, then multiply it by your RPM, and that’s how much you made for that post. Simple, right?

JENNY GUY: Just simple, rudimentary, easy.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: Yeah, come on.

JENNY GUY: Easy peasy. All right. That is fantastic and a great way to have those things interact and drill down. I love the Campaign Builder tool. We’re actually sharing the link to that in the comments so that you guys can grab it and try it for yourself.

And then we had a couple of questions happening here. Renee wanted to know, “As we are on sitemap, do we manually go in and add the sitemap?” And you were talking a little bit about that. Basically, if Yoast is doing– if we’re using Yoast, it’s already done for us?

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: Well the sitemap is created. You do have to submit your sitemap to Google Search Console one time. And if– let’s see. If you go– I’m trying to picture Google Search Console in my mind. If you go into Search Console, kind of over on the left side, there’s a thing that says Sitemap. When you click on that, it will tell you whether or not you’ve had a sitemap submitted.

If you haven’t, go ahead and submit it. It’s a specific URL, and I don’t recall it off the top of my head. But if you google “Yoast sitemap,” you’ll find a blog post that will tell you the exact URL. Like, it’s cubscoutideas.com/ something, something, site-map or– like I said, don’t remember the exact thing. But you can figure that out and throw that into Google Search Console.

JENNY GUY: So, a final question for you here, because we’re running out of time. We’re almost done. I wanted to ask you, how do you track all these changes? How do you keep everything going? Are you a seasonal person? How often are you in Google Analytics? How often are you in Search Console? Give us kind of a play in it and a progression here.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: Well, it depends. It’s–

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: But Jamie Lee ruined tournaments, say, at the pitcher. There’s a couple of ways I keep track of things that I’ve done. I can do that in a spreadsheet, on Google Sheets or Excel. I also use Evernote as a kind of a note tool. And a lot of times, I’ll put the information there. But what I’ll do is if there’s a particular time that I want to go back and check something, like maybe I want to check it 30 days from now, I just put an entry on my calendar that says, go check this thing here.

And so, but I’m in Google Analytics and/or Search Console almost every day. That doesn’t mean that I’m taking action on the things that I’m seeing every day because sometimes– like, a lot of this stuff that I’ve learned has been because I’ve dug in and just played around and went, huh, wonder if I did this? You know, so sometimes it’s just the more you get used to things, the more that you’ll come up with ideas and topics and things that you might want to check out.

JENNY GUY: So very helpful. Sherry, tell us a little bit about the common pitfalls that people are going to find if they go to the end your email, or the end of this presentation.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: Yes, at the end of the presentation, there’s a link to a page on my blog. And on that page is where you can get the PDF of the presentation, just so that you have all the slides and everything. But there’s also a PDF called the– I think it’s the “Seven Common Pitfalls that You Need to Watch Out For.”

JENNY GUY: It is.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: And what that is, is it’s just when you’re digging around in this data, there’s some stuff that makes– that you got to just watch out for. So things like– I think one of the first ones I talk about is looking at dates. So for example, Cub Scout Ideas is seasonal. Even with no COVID, I have practically no traffic in July. But then it starts ramping up in August, and it really peaks in September, October.

So if I’m looking at my July numbers and comparing them to April or May, I might panic and go, ahh, I’m not getting any traffic. What am I going to do? But the thing is that’s OK because that’s happened every year. So I don’t worry about traffic in July because I know it’s going to pick back up. Well, we hope it is this year. But in the past, it’s always picked back up in August and September.

So there’s things like that that are in that document that are just little things to be aware of, some hopefully little helpful tips and tricks that will help you as you maneuver through the data.

JENNY GUY: And don’t panic, is usually the–

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: Yeah, don’t panic.

JENNY GUY: Yeah, that’s not– now, OK. If people want to talk to you afterwards, if they’ve got questions for you, or maybe they don’t necessarily have the bandwidth at this time to do a lot of their own analytics analysis, tell us how they can reach you.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: They can email me, sherry@painlessbloganalytics. On that page, there’s a lot of different– I show you several different things that I do as a service for other bloggers. But a lot of it really depends on, like, you might want something very specific. So I don’t list my prices on there. I just say, let me know what you want. And then I can give you a quote from there. If you’ll remind me that you’ve listened to this, I’m going to give you the special Mediavine pricing.

So anyway, so just be sure that you can email me and let me know what you’re looking for, what kind of help you need. I can do everything from creating the saved reports for you so that you’re just doing a couple of clicks. I’m creating custom dashboards– that’s one thing we didn’t talk about. But that’s something that’s in Google Analytics. I can do all that for you. And then that makes it a lot easier. And you’re not kind of muddling around, trying to find the information.

JENNY GUY: Very helpful. This has been a great presentation, guys. Check it out. We’ll share the link. Oh, we just shared it. It’s just a couple of comments up, guys. We shared it three or four times. You’ve got access to it. You’ve got the common pitfalls. Sherry, you’ve been absolutely wonderful. Thank you so much joining us.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

JENNY GUY: Always. It’s delightful. Guys, have a wonderful Fourth of July. It’s going to be a week until we see you again. But next Thursday, July 9, I am back on the Summer of Live with the VidProMom herself, Meredith Marsh. We’re going to be talking about quickly reaching a wider audience with multi-platform videos.

So please keep going. Keep creating that and figuring out how to monetize it to the best. Be safe, you guys. Follow us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don’t miss any of these. Thank you, Sherry.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: Thank you.

JENNY GUY: Be safe in Nashville. Thank you, guys. Be safe. Have a great weekend.

SHERRY SMOTHERMON-SHORT: Bye-bye.

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