On Tuesday the team here at Digital Services started rolling out an analytics dashboard for Core Publisher. There's a lot of data displayed (beautifully displayed, we should say) and we're going to take a minute to explain why we chose these numbers and how they can help you in your day-to-day editorial process.
A Two-way Street
What follows is a quick overview of the dashboard and how you can use it in your newsroom. Your audience is there because they like what you're doing. But use these metrics to help find a bigger audience. This analytics snapshot, if nothing else, is a reminder that every site can build more traffic. Don't create content in a vacuum. Look at what visitors are doing and respond to them.
So let's go through each category, shall we?
My Current Visitors
You want people on your site at all times and this is a good way to know who is there and measure it against your high from the last 30 days. You need to see what's happening because you want this number to go up. We threw in the 30-day high underneath just to give you something to work toward—and, of course, crush!
This is a great benchmarking metric when viewed against current visitors because it lets you know if there is a pattern of growth. You'll see two lines on the screen. Let's compare them. The orange one is live data, as in that day, let's say a Tuesday. The gray line is an average of the previous four Tuesdays. We chose to average out the same day of the week so that you can get a sense of what happens on your site on that given day over the course of a month. It's another piece in the puzzle of audience growth.
Today's Visitors also lets you know when people visit. Take that time-specific knowledge and use it to help guide decisions about when to publish content. If you have 1,000 visitors on the site at 1 p.m. everyday, you need to give them fresh content to keep them coming back. That means don't publish at 3 p.m. Stay ahead of your visitors.
A quick aside, Today's Visitors combines both mobile and desktop visitors. We don't differentiate in this dashboard because it's not as important in the present. Distinguishing between the two user groups is very important though when looking at your metrics over, say, a month.
Top posts covers a range of 24 hours. The number on the left is page views and the text on the right is the headline. It's front and center on the dashboard. Why? Because this tells you what's working. It's a snapshot of what your audience is reading. The top posts should be where you look for patterns. For instance, do you see subjects that are always performing well? Are there types of headlines working better than others? Top Posts will become a proving ground for your news team. How? Have reporters experiment with headlines to learn what boosts traffic. You'll see the data right there.
This category covers your site's top 10 referrers from the previous 24 hours. We decided to show the top 10 instead of five or three, because it's likely your top five won't change that much. But once you go a little further down the list, you'll discover a variety of places sending traffic your way. And you can use that information to build relationships with other sites or work on your SEO approach.
The Referrers page can help you test several strategies including partnerships on content, social media and outreach. If you're putting a lot of effort into using Twitter, but not seeing it as a referrer you can tweak how you're presenting stories there or try a different social media outlet and see if the results differ.
Here's another tip: If Facebook or Google is not in your top 10, dig in and find out why. These two sources are major traffic drivers to any site, especially news sites. If they're not there, it could be something as simple as having forgotten to post to Facebook. Or it could be reflective of headlines and content that aren't engaging your audience.
Here's the basic takeaway: These numbers tell you what is happening on your site right now. You can still get long-term analytics from Google Analytics and additional real-time information from Chartbeat, but when you're in the trenches building a post, this dashboard will help you take a collective pulse of your audience and maybe tweak a headline or assign a follow-up article for a popular story.