May 30, 2012

Etsy Analytics: Further Reading

Congratulations, you've reached the end of the Etsy Analytics series! Miss any of the steps along the way? Here's the complete series:

Want to read this series offline instead? This entire series is available in free ebook format via Readlists! Read it on your Kindle, your iPad/iPod/iPhone, or e-reader.

After all that, you're ready to measure your shop traffic like an entry-level boss. But, there's a whole lot more to learn about analytics! Let me set you up with some more resources for getting the most out of Google Analytics and Etsy Shop Stats.

Google Analytics

Etsy Shop Stats

  • Etsy Shop Stats at Handmadeology. A quick rundown on how to use Shop Stats for Etsy strategizing.
  • Shop Stats Beta Team Any Etsy seller can join this group to preview new Shop Stats features and provide feedback on them before they go "live".

Analytics in General

If all this data-gathering and stats talk made you realize you're intrigued by analytics in general, do check out:

  • Avinash Kaushik's blog. This blog helps you hone your analytics though process. Start with the Beginner's Guide to Web Data Analysis, and then read...well, everything else on the blog. The author also has a very pleasant twitter presence; he tweets about analytics, but also frequently posts through-provoking and entertaining links on other subjects.
  • Justin Cutroni's blog. This guy is an analytics wizard. If you want to dig deeply into using and understanding Google Analytics, this dude is your spirit guide.

May 29, 2012

Etsy Analytics: Putting it All Together

If you've been following along with this tutorial series, you've added Google Analytics to your Etsy account, taken a tour of Etsy Shop Stats, and set up campaign tags for your social media and advertising links. Nice job! You've laid the foundation for some serious data crunching!

Today we're going to talk about using your Google Analytics and Shop Stats data together to get a clear picture of what is (and isn't) bringing customers to your Etsy shop, and what your customers do when they get there.

First, one quick, important thing about using Google Analytics and Etsy Shop Stats together:

Don't Get Hung Up on Pageviews

Your pageview and visitor counts will be different in Shop Stats and Google Analytics. This is not a sign that anything's wrong; the two services measure visits in different ways.

They also handle your visits to your own shop differently. Etsy's Shop Stats automatically filters out your logged-in visits to your shop. If you visit your shop when you're not logged in, Shop Stats will record your visit.

Google Analytics will record all of your visits, logged in or not. You can filter yourself out by IP address if you have a static IP address, however if you have a dynamic IP address, IP filtering won't work.

These discrepancies alone aren't the only reason to relax about pageviews. Pageviews are not quite as important to a shop as they are to a blog or website that relies on pageviews to sell advertising. What matters in your shop is not how many people visit, but how many buy. When you're developing your promotional strategies, you need to make sure you're focusing on bringing in shoppers, not just visitors. That's where analytics can help!

What Shop Stats Can Show You

Visitor Reactions

Shop Stats gives you a personal, almost emotional, view of how your visitors interact with your shop. It literally shows you their "hearts"!

Shop Stats tells you which of your items get favorited or added to treasuries, which can help you identify which of your products to promote more heavily. Patterns in favoriting or treasury-ing can also give you an idea of which of your photos are your best.

Study your most popular products and compare them critically with your least popular — you may discover things you can change to boost the attractiveness of your more neglected products by comparing them with your most popular.

Sales Data

Only Shop Stats can tell you exactly what has sold in your shop; Google Analytics can't access this information. This information alone is useful, since it can help you identify your best sales seasons and give you a general idea of what shop promotions increase sales. When it's used in concert with data from Google Analytics, though, it becomes priceless. You can match sales data with your Google Analytics traffic to determine with certainty which campaigns, links, and promotions brought in the most sales.

What Google Analytics Can Show You

Repeat Visits

Often, your customers won't buy on their first visit to a shop. In Google Analytics, you can find out how many of your visitors have been to your shop before, and if you're using campaign tags, you can find out which campaign sent them, even after their first visit.

To view your repeat visitors, go to Audience > Behavior > New vs Returning. You'll see a summary of your total visits broken down into new visitors and returning visitors.

To see which of your visitors came in through one of your promotional campaigns, use the "Secondary Dimension" dropdown menu to select Traffic Sources > Campaign.

The page will refresh with an updated breakdown, showing you new visitors, returning visitors that came from non-campaign sources, as well as new and returning visitors referred by your individual campaigns.

This information is useful because it helps you measure the long-range value of social media links and advertising. It can be discouraging to tweet your heart out about your shop, then feel like you tweeted in vain when you don't get any sales that day. If you've campaign tagged your tweets, and match that info up with your Shop Stats, you may realize that a tweet from weeks ago caught the attention of a customer who came back today to buy!

Visitor Regions

When you sell online, it's important to know where in the world your visitors come from. For this example, let's say you ship all over North America, but don't ship outside of the continent.

Using Google Analytics and campaign tagging, you may discover that some of your campaigns are receiving a lot of attention in Europe. With this information, you might decide to expand your shipping area, which could be a great opportunity to increase sales! If it's not possible to add new delivery regions, this info can help you make changes to to your promotional campaign to ensure that you're reaching an audience within your shipping area. This might mean adjusting your tweeting schedule to better suit the right time zone. Or, you may realize that you need to advertise on different blogs if the blogs you advertise on now are skewing outside of your shipping area.

Stats for More Shop Pages

Shop Stats lumps all of your non-product pages into a general category of "Your Shop". Google Analytics can show you how many of your visitors looked at your shop's feedback, your circles, your favorites, your shop policies, etc.

This is good to know because you may discover that your shoppers are missing out on important information by skipping the shop policies page or your profile page. With this data, you can go from saying "It seems like nobody ever reads my policy page!" to "I know nobody ever reads my policy page, so I'm going to put this important info in my shop announcement/convo confirmations/product descriptions". This might help you head off customer service convos before they happen, and make it easier to close sales!

The Next Step

You've learned a lot about using the analytics tools available for your Etsy shop! Next, let me put a big long reading list in your hands to help you put the information you'll gather to good work.

Read Part Five: Further Reading

Want to read this series offline instead? This entire series is available in free ebook format via Readlists! Read it on your Kindle, your iPad/iPod/iPhone, or e-reader.

If you have any questions, please let me know in comments, Tweet at me, or email me!

May 24, 2012

Etsy Analytics: Using Campaign Tags

So, you've set up Google Analytics for your Etsy store, toured Etsy's Shop Stats, and had a few days to look around at all the features. By now you're probably wondering how we're going to use all these tools to increase your Etsy sales! Today we're going to talk about using campaign tags to track the value of your social media links and online advertising. Identifying the best campaigns will not only save you time (and advertising cash!), it will help you concentrate your promotional efforts on the audiences most likely to buy.

What Are Campaign Tags?

You've probably seen campaign tags in action before. Ever click on a link in an email from your favorite shop and see a bunch of extra letters in the address bar? Like this:

http://www.codeitpretty.com/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=spring

Everything after the codeitpretty.com in that link is a campaign tag component. Campaign tags make it easy to determine which of your links brought the most shoppers to your Etsy store.

When Should I Use Campaign Tags?

Campaign tags are handy any time you want to track the response to a link or group of related links. Let's use a hypothetical shop campaign as an example. Pretend you sell organic cloth diapers, and you want to promote a 15% off special on all your bamboo diapers through the month of July. We'll call that your july_special campaign. You're going to promote that special on your blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, in your email newsletter, and on a banner ad on another blog.

Phew! That's a lot of links.

Use campaign tags and you can track response to those links at a glance in Google Analytics.

Preparing Campaign Links

Google makes it super easy to create campaign links. Just go to the URL Builder and fill in the blanks. Exactly what to put in those blanks takes a little planning, and we'll do that now!

Let's build the first link for your july_special campaign. Let's say that you've planned four separate promotional posts for your blog during the month of the sale, with each post highlighting a diaper in one of four different colors. Here's how you'd set up a campaign link promoting your baby blue diapers:

screenshot of completed url builder form

There are 5 campaign fields you can fill in, but only 3 are required (source, medium, and name). We've filled out this form with my_blog as the Campaign Source (since you'll be using this link on your own blog), blog as the Campaign Medium, baby_blues as the Campaign Content since the link promotes baby blue diapers, and july_special as the Campaign Name. We've skipped Campaign Term because it's designed for use with keyword advertising, and doesn't apply here.

To make more links from your blog, just change the Campaign Content field to reflect the content of each of your promotional posts, for example, pink_diapers, yellow_diapers, green_diapers.

You'll use the same campaign name for each of your promotional channels to keep the campaign organized, but the source, medium, and content will change based on the context of the links. For another example, let's set up the link for your paid banner ad on another blog:

screenshot of a new campaign link being generated

This time we've changed a few things: the link goes to the bamboo diaper section in your Etsy shop, instead of a specific diaper. We've changed the source to "paid_blog_name" (in real life, use the blog's real name!). We've changed medium to "banner", since it's a banner ad. We've changed content to "bamboo_overview" since the ad shows an overview of your bamboo diaper section. The campaign name stays the same since it's still part of your july_special campaign.

By the way, you don't need to set up campaign links for your Adwords advertisements when you use Adwords' auto-tagging feature, which Google strongly recommends for Adwords.

Using this pattern, you can create tagged links for all of your promotional channels so you can determine which gets the biggest response.

A Quick Note on Using Campaign Tags on Pinterest (Updated 7/16/12)

Pinterest has recently started removing campaign tags from Pins, so campaign tags no longer work for Pinterest. Bummer, I know!

The use of most campaign links is self-explanatory; you just create the link and use it in your post, tweet, or ad. But with Pinterest, you have to create the campaign URL, visit that URL, and then create a pin from that URL. An extra step, yes, but it's worth it!

Tracking Link Response

The day after your first campaign links have run, go to Traffic Sources > Sources > Campaigns. You'll see a summary of your campaigns and the visits they brought to your store.

Even if you've never set up a campaign before, you'll find some campaigns listed in here already. Don't worry, that's normal! Unknown campaigns will appear in the analytics for any Etsy shop. Google Analytics will report every campaign tag that lead to a visit to your store, including campaigns run by Etsy.

Campaign tagging helps you track your customers' response to the campaign in general, and their response to individual links and ads in specific. Here's how:

Campaign in general: When you land on the campaigns page, you'll see a list of your campaigns and a breakdown of the visits they sent. In the diaper shop example, you'd see july_special listed as a campaign.

Links in specific: Click on the campaign name and you'll see the visits broken down further by Source/Medium. Using our diaper shop example, you'd see my_blog, paid_blog_name, and the names you gave to social media channels and your email newsletter. At a glance, you can quickly determine which links in your campaign brought the most traffic to your shop.

The Next Step

Ready to move on? Read Etsy Analytics: Putting it All Together.

Want to read this series offline instead? This entire series is available in free ebook format via Readlists! Read it on your Kindle, your iPad/iPod/iPhone, or e-reader.

May 22, 2012

Etsy Analytics: Using Shop Stats

Etsy Analytics - Using shop stats

This is Part Two in my Etsy Analytics series. Need to get caught up? Check out Part One.

Now that you've installed Google Analytics for your Etsy shop, we're going to talk about Etsy's built-in Shop Stats. You won't need to install anything to use Shop Stats; Etsy automatically collects stats for you. Today we'll take a tour through the stats interface to familiarize you with all its features.

Let's go take a look at your Shop Stats!

Getting Started with Shop Stats

To visit your shop's stats, go to Your Shop > Shop Stats. That will take you to your Shop Stats dashboard, where you can view all the data Etsy has gathered for you.

On the Shop Stats page you'll find a tabbed graph. As a default the graph shows you page views by date, with general shop views separated from individual item views. The other tabs will show you favorites, orders, and total revenue over the date range you select. You can set the date range to specific dates or use one of the many date options from the dropdown menu.

top half of the Etsy shop stats page

These Etsy shop screenshots come from a very generous client of mine who is just getting started with Etsy. She's a little shy about her newbie stats so I've blurred out or removed some identifying info at her request.

Scroll down a little to see even more detail about your Etsy shop!

The "Traffic Sources" column on the left will give you a general idea of where your visitors came from. You can't see specific details about linking sites, though. For example, if a blog post sent you some shoppers, you'll see the blog's domain name (example.com), but not the link to the exact post that mentioned your shop. That's info you can find in Google Analytics -- we'll get into how to do that later in this series.

Moving down below the traffic sources you'll find the keywords section. You can see the search terms your visitors used in Etsy, Google, and other search engines to find your shop or your items. If you click on each keyword, you'll see which page(s) your visitors landed on with each search term.

This access to Etsy search terms is very, very valuable. Often, internal Etsy searches drive more traffic to your shop than any other source, so it's very important to know what search terms customers used to reach your shop. Use this data to determine if you've selected appropriate tags for your products.

Below the keywords section, you'll find "Pages Viewed" and "Listing Favorites". "Pages Viewed" shows you how many times your listings and sections have been viewed. Other pages in your shop, like the main page or your policies page, are counted all together as "Your Shop"; they are not listed individually.

"Listing Favorites" are the items in your shop that have been favorited by Etsy shoppers. This little slice of warm fuzzy data will not only boost your mood, it can help you get a feel for which of your items might sell soon! For example, if you start to see a bunch of favorites on your Halloween bibs in September, you might want to make a few more!

Finding Views from Treasuries

You can find out which treasuries have sent visitors to your store in the past 30 days from the Shop Stats interface.

Under "Traffic Sources", click "Treasury" (you may need to page through the traffic sources to find it). On the resulting page, scroll to the bottom to see the items that were viewed from a treasury. Click the link for each item to view more detail. At the bottom of that page you'll see any treasury the item has been in over the past 30 days.

Etsy Stats vs. Google Analytics

Some of the information you'll get from Google Analytics and Etsy Shop Stats will overlap, of course. But each has its unique strengths, and they complement each other beautifully. To get the best available data about your shop, you really need to use both.

Here's the main thing Etsy Shop Stats has that Google Analytics doesn't: inside information about how your visitors are interacting with your items. Through Shop Stats, you can view actual sales data, which you can't track in analytics. You can also see how many people have favorited items in your shop, and any treasuries that include your items. This is a direct "finger on the pulse" of the Etsy community, and a valuable tool for determining which of your items are getting serious attention.

Google Analytics is much more customizable tool, and it will give you a different perspective on your visitors and the parts of your shop that are attracting customers. We'll cover that in more details in upcoming posts.

Take a Break!

Ok, that's been a lot to cover in two days, hasn't it? Take a little break, let some data gather, and then move on to the next post, where we'll talk about measuring the traffic generated by social media, blog posts, and advertising.

Ready to move on? Read Part Three: Using Campaign Tags

Want to read this series offline instead? This entire series is available in free ebook format via Readlists! Read it on your Kindle, your iPad/iPod/iPhone, or e-reader.

May 21, 2012

Getting Started with Etsy Analytics

Etsy analytics - getting started

This is the first post in a series to help you use analytics to increase your Etsy sales. We'll use a combination of Google Analytics for Etsy and Etsy's built-in Shop Stats to access all the analytics data available to you as an Etsy seller.

In this installment, I'll show you how to enable Google Analytics for your Etsy shop, and I'll introduce you to the Google Analytics interface.

Every Etsy Shop Needs Analytics

Even the smallest Etsy shop can benefit from analytics data. With Google Analytics you can figure out:

  • How your visitors are finding out about you
  • What they look at in your shop
  • Where in the world they are
  • What visitors like about your shop, and what they don't

...And really, that's just a small sample of what you can learn with analytics data.

Even if you're new and only getting a few visitors a day, you should set up analytics now to start measuring visitor stats. The sooner you add it, the sooner you can begin to learn from it. Get it set up now, and you'll be so glad you did when your shop gets busier.

In fact, you'll be able to use the analytics data to find out how your shop got busier, which can help you get even busier!

Starting a Google Analytics Account

For new Google Analytics users: To start a new Google Analytics account, go to www.google.com/analytics, and click the "sign in" link to sign in with your Google account. If you don't have a Google account yet, click the "Create an Account" link to open one. Once you've created your Google account, you'll be sent to this analytics sign up screen:

Google Analytics signup screen

Click the "Sign Up" button. On the "Create New Account" page, you'll have to fill in a few fields. First, in the "Account Name" field enter your shop name in this format: shopname.etsy.com. For the "Website's URL" field, select http:// from the dropdown menu and enter www.etsy.com. Set the time zone dropdown to your local time.

After you've added your personal settings, review the data sharing settings and decide if you'd like to enable or disable data sharing. Then, read the user agreement. After you accept the user agreement, you're signed up! On the next page you'll get your Web Property ID number. Copy and paste that somewhere so you have it handy for our next step.

Existing Google Analytics users: If you already have a Google Analytics account (for your blog or another website), you don't need to sign up again to track your Etsy shop. Instead, you can add your Etsy shop as a new account within your Google Analytics account. To do this, click the "Admin" link in the orange stripe up top. That will take you to the "Account Administration" page. Press the "New Account" button, and follow the steps above for entering your shop information and getting your new Web Property ID.

adding a new account in Google Analytics

Adding the Tracking Code to Your Shop

Etsy makes it very easy to add your Google Analytics tracking code to your shop. Go to Shop Settings > Options, and click the "Web Analytics" tab. Enter your Web Property ID and press the Save button. That's it! Google Analytics will start collecting data from your Etsy shop within 24 hours.

web analytics tab in etsy shop settings

Getting to Know the Google Analytics Interface

Google Analytics is a massively powerful tool, and the interface can be a bit daunting if you're new to it. I'm going to introduce you to a few interesting features to help you get started, and we'll build and expand upon what you learn today in future installments.

Visitors Overview

This is usually the first page you'll see when you log into Google Analytics. On this page you'll see how many visitors you've had in your chosen date range (default is the past 30 days). You'll also see total pageviews, pages per visit, average visit duration, a pie chart representing how many of your visitors were new vs. returning, and a breakdown of what language your visitors speak (based on their browser settings).

Many analytics users never venture beyond this page. While that's understandable, those who stop here miss out on what makes Google Analytics so awesome. Like, for example, Real Time Analytics.

Real Time Analytics

Warning: Real Time analytics are addictive. Use with caution.

From the Analytics dashboard, click the "Home" link. Click the "Real Time" link in the navigation column at the left, then click "Overview". Now you'll see visitors in your shop, live! You'll see how many visitors are in your shop, where they came from, where they are in the world, and what page they're looking at. Wooo! Please promise me you'll remember to tear yourself away for dinner every now and then.

Traffic Sources

As a default, the "Traffic Sources" overview shows you a pie chart with a breakdown of the different ways your visitors found your shop. You can see some of their Google search keywords in the "Keyword" column. I say "some", because you may find that the very frustrating "Not Provided" keyword is dominating your keyword list (I'll point you to some resources for working with "not provided" results in the reading list at the end of this series).

If you click the "Referral Traffic" Source link, you'll see a breakdown of all the links around the web that sent visitors to your shop. Very handy for tracking the value of guest posts and sponsored links!

Start Gathering Some Data!

Ok, you're all set to start tracking visits to your Etsy shop, and you've had a little look around at what you can learn from your analytics.

Google Analytics usually starts working quickly, but it can sometimes take up to 24 hours to get working. Give it at least that long before you worry, but if you've gone over 24 hours without data, retrace your steps and make sure everything's in its right place.

Ready to move on to the next step? Read Part Two: .

Want to read this series offline instead? This entire series is available in free ebook format via Readlists! Read it on your Kindle, your iPad/iPod/iPhone, or e-reader.

May 14, 2012

You Can't Float Center with CSS

If you're new to web development or just starting to play around with CSS, what I'm about to say may surprise or disappoint you:

There's no way to float center in CSS. You can float left. You can float right. But you can't float center.

Yes, I'm sure.

you can't float center

Of course, this doesn't mean you can't center with CSS. Today I'll cover two basic centering methods to get you started, and I'll also point you to some resources for learning more advanced centering techniques.

Why Can't CSS Float Center?

I know, it's weird. It seems like something you should be able to do, doesn't it?

Think of it this way, though: imagine you're in a pool, floating on a raft. You paddle yourself to the very center of the pool, perfectly equidistant from the left and right sides, and you float there... for a moment. Unless you're tethered or you start paddling to keep yourself in the center, you're going to drift away from it.

Your HTML element is not relaxing in a pool, but when you tell it to float, you need to tell it which way. Left and right are real directions it can float in. "Center" isn't.

So, How Do I Center With CSS?

That depends on what you're centering, but there are two good go-to options.

Before I get to those, let me tell you one quick important thing: when you're centering an element, it centers within its container. So, for example, if you use a centering technique on a photo in your blog's sidebar, it will be centered within the sidebar. It won't jump out of its sidebar and land in the center of your page unless you do something really wacky. The same goes for anything centered within a blog post — it will be centered from the left and right edges of the post column, not necessarily at the very center of your page.

Centering Text

If you're centering text, text-align: center; will do the trick. Here's an example of the CSS styling of a simple, centered heading:

h1 { text-align: center; }

That will give you a headline centered between the left and right edges of its container.

Centering Other Elements

If you're centering something else, margin: 0 auto; will get your element centered most of the time. (Quick note: your element must have a declared width for this to work.)

The margin: 0 auto; rule is shorthand for 0 top and bottom margin, and automatic left and right margins. Automatic left and right margins work together to push the element into the center of its container.

The margin: 0 auto; setting doesn't work perfectly in every centering situation, but it works in a whole lot of them. I'll point you to some more information on advanced centering in the Further Reading at the bottom of this post.

What About Using <center> in HTML?

Short answer: No. Bad. Don't.

Long answer: The <center> tag is deprecated as of HTML 4, and using it creates a few different issues. HTML centered elements can display differently in different browsers, and using the <center> tag can increase page load time. Also, heavy use of <center> will complicate your site redesigns — removing hundreds of <center> tags takes a lot longer than changing one style rule in a stylesheet.

The <center> tag was officially deprecated many, many years ago, but it is still recognized by most browsers through their backward-compatibility features. So yeah, if you <center> something, it'll be centered. However, in the interest of future-proofing your blog — and sparing yourself (or your developer) the agony of sifting through old <center> tags — you should use modern CSS centering methods instead.

Further Reading:

Now that I've taken you through the basics of CSS centering, let me show you a selection of resources to help you step up your CSS centering game!

Absolute Center (Vertical & Horizontal) An Image, from CSS-Tricks.com. Three different ways to put an image smack dab in the center of your page.

Also from CSS-Tricks.com, "Faking Float Center". A clever CSS trick indeed, you can use this to center an image between two columns of text. Very cool.

Design Shack's "How to Center Anything with CSS"; lots of practical centering advice.

For more information on why the <center> tag was deprecated, and what to use instead of it, I recommend this Sitepoint forum thread. You'll need to skim through a bit of nerdy grouching, but there are thick slabs of good info in there.

Floating frangipani photo by Flickr user Rolfe Kolbe, used under Creative Commons license.

May 7, 2012

How to Make Big Blog Changes in Small Steps

make big changes in small steps

There comes a time in online life when you realize you have to make a massive, time-consuming change. The kind no plugin or template change can automate. Maybe you've made a change to your blog post format, and you want to make your archive match your new posts. Or, you need to add a new color chart to each of the items in your Etsy shop. Whatever the reason, you've got a big task on your hands. Figuring out where to begin, and the next steps to take once you've started, can be a complex task all on its own. So let me help!

Today, I'm going to give you a step-by-step plan of action for organizing a big change to your online presence, combining technical tools and traditional task-tackling methods.

First: Fix the Future Before You Fix the Past

(Feel free to use as the title of your next self help book. I'll just take a 10% commission.)

This may seem like an obvious step. But, sometimes a big change can be so daunting that you end up avoiding it, permanently. If you've been putting off an important change because fixing your old posts is going to be such a chore, take this step first: make a promise to yourself that you'll add your new feature to all your future posts. That way, at the very least, every new post will be a step forward. They won't land on the "someday when I have time" pile, which will just keep growing if you keep putting it off.

Not so hard, right? Step one, done!

Next: Find Where Changes are Needed Most

After you've put processes in place to fix the future, let's move on to the past.

I'm going to cover three different ways to find where to make your first changes. Your initial instinct might be to work through your archive from your latest posts to the very first in reverse-chronological order. That's certainly one way to do it, but with a little bit of research you can prioritize your changes for the best immediate results.

Using Your Site Analytics

Ready to find the most important posts to fix first? Use your site's analytics to find your top 20 posts from the last six months.

Many blogging and e-commerce platforms have built-in analytics that give you information on your most popular content. For this example, I'm going to show you how to find it in Google Analytics, since anyone can use it, and it works the same on any website.

First, go to the "Standard Reporting" tab and set your date range to show the past 6 months. Then, go to Content > Site Content > Pages.

When you've reached the Pages list, set the Primary Dimension to Page Title.

You'll now see your top ten pages. You can page through to see your top 20, or change the "show rows" dropdown menu at the bottom of the page to see more results on the page.

Using Google's Webmaster Tools

With Webmaster Tools you can find your most-linked content. Often there is overlap with your most viewed content, but you'd be surprised by how much these two sets of pages can differ, so it's worth a look! You can also use Webmaster Tools info in place of analytics data if for some reason you don't have analytics set up on your site.

After you sign up for Webmaster Tools and verify your site, Google will begin to gather information for you. It can take a few days for the data to appear, so be patient! Once the data is available, go to "Traffic" > "Links to your site" and click the "More" link beneath "Your most linked content". This will take you to a listing of the top 25 most-linked pages on your site. Number one is probably your home page, but the rest are usually posts.


Using the Calendar

This is a very low-tech way to find the next posts to fix, and you may not even need the calendar if you happen to know what season it is. (If you don't, go to whatseasonisit.com. Or go outside.)

If you have seasonal content, fix the posts that apply to the current and upcoming seasons next. For example, if you know your vegan barbecue recipes get a lot of attention in the summer, fix those posts in the spring so they're ready for the next big wave of visitors.

Finally: Finishing the Job

Once you've freshened up your most important and popular posts and fixed up your content for the upcoming season, you may still have a lot of tidying up to do. If you break it up into manageable chunks, you'll be finished in no time!

Prioritizing the Rest

You can use the same methods you used to find your highest priority content to continue working through your posts. You can choose to go through posts in order of popularity based on your analytics. Or, if your content is heavily seasonal, it may make more sense to continue working through the seasonal cycles. If neither of those ideas really apply to your site, you can start from your latest post and work your way back through your archives. That way, visitors who page through your site chronologically have a consistent experience, at least on the first batch of pages they see.

Scheduling Changes

Scheduling is such a personal thing, but I do have a few suggestions for how to squeeze changes into your regular blogging schedule.

Schedule a "fix day". Maybe once or twice a week, maybe once or twice a month, but somewhere on your calendar, give yourself a day when you'll dedicate your blogging time to fixing your old posts. This is an especially good way to take on high-priority changes, like SEO improvements or error corrections. If you make an appointment to do it, you're less likely to forget it or blow it off.

Use your "idle" blogging time. You know that time you spend refreshing the page, waiting for a reply to your wittiest tweet at your favorite mega-blogger? Or that time you spend staring at Real Time Analytics, thinking, "I should probably be doing something useful right now..."? While you linger, open up your blog in a new tab and start fixing old posts. You can probably knock out two or three between the time you tweet and the time you get retweeted ;)

Bringing in Help

If you have a truly gigantic task ahead of you and you don't know when you'll find the time to make the changes, odds are good that it's because you have a long-running, popular blog. And a popular blog usually has an active and devoted following. If you can't realistically balance making your changes with your blogging schedule, ask your community for help! Blog tune-ups like this are perfect tasks for interns or freelancers. You'll need to be careful about who you trust, of course, but you don't need me to tell you that ;)

Do you have a big blog renovation project on the horizon? Got any task-tackling tips to share? Let me know in the comments!

Fonts in the title card: Raleway, Fredericka the Great, and Emily One from the Google Web Fonts library