Link building with Dixon Jones (Majestic)

“If nobody writes about it, then the content is a tree falling in the forest without anyone there to listen.” That’s how Dixon Jones, Marketing Director of Majestic, illustrates the importance of getting the right links to your content. We proudly announce that Dixon will be speaking at YoastCon 2017 on November 2!

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Dixon Jones has worked at the forefront of search marketing since 1999. He became the Marketing Director of the world’s largest link analysis engine, Majestic, in 2009, transforming the SEO industry by providing link intelligence on a scale not previously open to the industry. Here, you can discover what he has to say about link building in 2017.

Majestic is all about links. If you compare links to other ranking factors, like content on a page or technical optimization, how would you rate the importance of links? Any examples to illustrate this?

In March 2016 Google’s Andry Lipattsev revealed that links remained one of Google top three ranking factors. In February 2017 Google’s Gary Illyes confirmed that the PageRank algorithm that made Google what it is today was still part of the algorithm. So yes – links are highly important, but these days there is a big difference between “a link” and “a link that counts”. Most links are hardly worth the screen they are written on.

Over the years link building changed a lot. Obviously, buying links is not the way to go. But what do you advise site owners if they want to get valuable links?

In a white hat world, you really should be considering the nature of the people that will be reading the page that the link is on. Are they real people? Is it a real story that relates to them? Does the link add to the story and is it a continuation of the user’s quest for knowledge? Is your content the END POINT for that quest?

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Some site owners might find it easier to get links from Facebook or Twitter than from other websites. How do social links compare to links from other websites? What would you invest in more?

Facebook and Twitter create short term noise, but unless that noise translates into others writing evergreen content that links to your site, the benefits are transitory on social. But I think of Social links as a stepping stone to long term success. They give you a tannoy to broadcast a new message… but if the wrong people listen, then nobody will write about what you have to say. If nobody writes about it, then the content is a tree falling in the forest without anyone there to listen… does it make a sound?

When a site owner analyzes their site with Majestic SEO they’ll get a trust and citation flow score. How can they put these metrics to use to help them optimize their site?

Understanding how we create those metrics really helps. The data is not simply scraping Google or looking for some sort of reverse engineering of Search Visibility. Trust Flow really is a score that relates at scale to the quality of a page. The simple workflow is:

  • Find candidate sites for getting links to your content.
  • Find the influencers on these sites.
  • Convince them of the merits of your business and content.

You can start by just typing in a keyword into Majestic to find the candidate sites or you can look at up to 10 competitors and find the hubs of authority for your niche. Both strategies can work well.

Majestic is often used for competitor analysis. Is there a set workflow in Majestic that you can recommend to a new Majestic user who wants to analyze the competition?

Yes. Many people use the “Clique Hunter” to look at sites that link to three or four or more competitors but not to themselves. For some businesses, this creates quite a list, but re-sorting the list can put the best candidates near the top. To the right of each domain is a little cog. Use the cog to select candidate sites to approach and select the “add to bucket” button. You can do this all day, and when you are ready, click on the bucket icon at the top of the screen and you can export all the sites out as a .csv file to approach the influencers for these sites.

Alternatively (and indeed – in addition) I strongly urge users to set up a campaign dashboard as soon as they have an account on Majestic. This starts tracking their niche and from these dashboards, you can easily analyze the sites in any of Majestic’s tools by using the “Export Sites To…” button.

We assume this interview has convinced people to go see your presentation at YoastCon on November 2! In the unlikely case someone is still in doubt, what’s the main reason they shouldn’t miss it?

The chart below shows how our Gamification system has distributed 1 Million “badges” on Majestic. Only 3% of all badges were for areas of our site related to comparing websites. This tells us that most users are really only scratching the surface of what Majestic can do for them. Yoast’s conference is a chance to go deeper. You’ll find out things about links analysis you never knew was possible.

Read more: ‘YoastCon 2017: Practical SEO’ »

Google Tag Manager: an introduction

Perhaps you’ve heard about it: Google Tag Manager. Google introduced this tool 5 years ago, a tool that would make marketers less dependent on developers and that would, therefore, speed up your marketing process. Google Tag Manager has evolved over the years becoming a more complete and easy to use tool. Here I want to explain why you should sign up today, if you aren’t using Google Tag Manager already. 

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Before I go on to introduce Tag Manager, I do want to say a word of warning. Tag Manager is a powerful tool, and like any power tool, it should be used with care. Don’t just add tags that look appealing to you but you don’t fully understand. For instance, you might bring in a tag that could harm your site because the code is not safe. Or use a tag that influences your data tracking. If you’re not sure or in doubt of a certain tag, have someone who knows JavaScript take a look at it. Luckily, Tag Manager has a great Preview and Debug mode that lets you validate code before you publish.

What is Google Tag Manager?

If you have closer look at the term Google Tag Manager, you can guess what it’s about. It’s a tool developed by Google to manage your tags. But then the next question arises: what’s a tag? A tag is a snippet of code. There’s a whole bunch of analytics and marketing tools out there that work with JavaScript code. For instance, the Google Analytics tracking code – the one you add to your site to track your site’s traffic with Google Analytics – is JavaScript code.

Did you ever had to wait for a developer to add a piece of JavaScript to your site? Or to test whether that code wasn’t harming your website? Then you know how much valuable time that can take. With Google Tag Manager you can add these pieces of JavaScript or tags yourself. Google Tag Manager even has the ability to test whether you’ve implemented the tag correctly.

Running every tag from Google Tag Manager has two big advantages. First of all, you’ll have an overview of the tags you’ve added. Secondly, you’re in full control of measuring the effects of your marketing efforts.

What can you use it for?

Because Google Tag Manager allows you to add JavaScript to your site, you can use it for a lot of things. You can use it to get more insight in the behaviour of visitors on your site – ‘events’ like clicking on a button – but also to get tags of third party tools on your site. It will even help you to add structured data to your pages!

Google Analytics and Tag Manager

One of the most used tags that’s managed in Google Tag Manager is the Google Analytics tag. Not only can you add the Google Analytics tracking code. You can use Google Tag Manager to create, for instance, custom dimensions, events or content grouping. This means that you can track if people click on your buttons, if they scroll down to a certain point on your page, if they watch your videos and so on. All the cool things you can do with Google Analytics events, can now be managed in Google Tag Manager. And you won’t need a developer for it!

Other third party tools

Google Tag Manager supports a lot of third party tags, like: Adwords, Adobe Analytics, Bing ads, Hotjar, Crazyegg and so on. You can find the complete list on the Google Google Tag Manager support forum. You can use Hotjar tags to finally get those heatmaps – a visual representation of where people click on your site – you wanted to have. Or run surveys and A/B tests on your site. Getting data like that can help you bring your conversion rate to the next level.

Google Tag Manager and structured data

But there’s more! You can also use Google Tag Manager to implement structured data on your site. Structured data is extra information you add to your page in a specific format. Google can show this information in the search results, which makes it more likely people click on your result and engage with your page.

At the moment, we’re working on a new and practical course about structured data. In this course, you’ll learn how structured data works and how to implement it with Google Tag Manager yourself. Don’t miss the launch and keep an eye on our newsletter!

Where to find Google Tag Manager?

Google is ubiquitous with its tools. If you visit:  you can see all tools Google has developed to help you with your marketing strategy. In addition to Google Analytics, there are tools to help you boost conversion or perform customer surveys. And, of course, there’s Google Tag Manager. You can sign up for free! Wait! Free, you say? Yes, free!! So what’s stopping you?

After you’ve signed up, you can create an account for your website, your iOS or Android app or your AMP pages:

Create a container in Google Tag Manager

Just provide the URL of your site as the container name and then select web – if you want to implement it on your website. After you’ve created this container, Google Tag Manager will ask you to add a piece of code in the <head> and <body> of the page. I promise, this is one of the few things you might need a developer for, when it comes to using Google Tag Manager.

install Google Tag manager on your site

Luckily, if you’re using WordPress, you can easily add the Google Tag Manager code using a plugin called DuracellTomi’s Google Tag Manager for WordPress. Please note that you only have to use the GTM-XXXX code.

If you’re using another CMS, please check out the quick install guide for more information on how to get started.

After you’ve inserted the Google Tag Manager code to your pages, you’re ready to create your own tags. This can be done in a so called workspace that looks like this:

So now you’re all set up and ready to add those tags to your site.

And now?

We’ll be doing more posts on Google Tag Manager soon. Explaining the practical side of things like how to create variables, triggers and tags, and how to implement structured data with it. We’ll also help you understand how to combine Google Tag Manager with Google Analytics to use it to its full extent. So stay tuned!

Read more: ‘How to use Custom Dimensions in Google Analytics’ »

Understanding bounce rate in Google Analytics

“I came, I puked, I left” is a very famous definition of the bounce rate by Avinash Kaushik. But what does it mean exactly? When does a visitor bounce? Is it purely a visitor that hits the back button or is there more to it? And what can you tell by looking at the bounce rate of a webpage? In this post, I want to show you what it is, what it means and how you can improve your bounce rate. 

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What’s bounce rate?

Bounce rate is a metric that measures the percentage of people who land on your website, and do completely nothing on the page they entered. So they don’t click on a menu item, a ‘read more’ link, or any other internal links on the page. This means that the Google Analytics server doesn’t receive a trigger from the visitor. A user bounces when there has been no engagement with the landing page and the visit ends with a single-page visit. You can use bounce rate as a metric that indicates the quality of a webpage and/or the “quality” of your audience. By quality of your audience I mean whether the audience fits the purpose of your site.

How does Google Analytics calculate bounce rate?

According to Google bounce rate is calculated in the following way:

Bounce rate is single-page sessions divided by all sessions, or the percentage of all sessions on your site in which users viewed only a single page and triggered only a single request to the Analytics server.

In other words, it collects all sessions where a visitor only visited one page and divides it by all sessions.

Having a high bounce rate can mean three things:
1. The quality of the page is low. There’s nothing inviting to engage with.
2. Your audience doesn’t match the purpose of the page, as they won’t engage with your page.
3. Visitors have found the information that they were looking for.

I’ll get back to the meaning of bounce rate further below.

Bounce rate and SEO

In this post, I’m talking about bounce rate in Google Analytics. There’s been a lot of discussion about whether bounce rate is an SEO ranking factor. I can hardly imagine that Google takes Google Analytics’ data as a ranking factor, because if Google Analytics isn’t implemented correctly, then the data isn’t reliable. Moreover, you can easily manipulate the bounce rate.

Luckily, several Googlers say the same thing: Google doesn’t use Google Analytics’ data in their search algorithm. But, of course, you need to make sure that when people come from a search engine to your site, they don’t bounce back to the search results, since that kind of bouncing probably is a ranking factor. It might be measured in a different way than the bounce rate we see in Google Analytics, though.

From a holistic SEO perspective, you need to optimize every aspect of your site. So, looking closely at your bounce rate can help you optimize your website even further, which contributes to your SEO.

How to interpret bounce rates?

The height of your bounce rate and whether that’s a good or a bad thing, really depends on the purpose of the page. If the purpose of the page is purely to inform, then a high bounce rate isn’t a bad thing per se. Of course, you’d like people to read more articles on your website, subscribe to your newsletter and so on. But when they’ve only visited a page to, for instance, read a post or find an address, then it isn’t surprising that they close the tab after they’re done reading. Mind you, even in this case, there’s no trigger sent to the Google Analytics server, so it’s a bounce.

A clever thing to do, when you own a blog, is creating a segment that only contains ‘New visitors’. If the bounce rate amongst new visitors is high, think about how you could improve their engagement with your site. Because you do want new visitors to engage with your site.

If the purpose of a page is to actively engage with your site, then a high bounce rate is a bad thing. Let’s say you have a page that has one goal: get visitors to subscribe to your newsletter. If that page has a high bounce rate, then you might need to optimize the page itself. By adding a clear call-to-action, a ‘Subscribe to our newsletter’ button, for instance, you could lower that bounce rate.

But there can be other causes for a high bounce rate on a newsletter subscription page. In case you’ve lured visitors in under false pretenses, you shouldn’t be surprised when these visitors don’t engage with your page. They probably expected something else when landing on your subscription page. On the other hand, if you’ve been very clear from the start about what visitors could expect on the subscription page, a low bounce rate could say something about the quality of the visitors – they could be very motivated to get the newsletter – and not necessarily about the quality of the page.

Bounce rate and conversion

If you look at bounce rate from a conversion perspective, then bounce rate can be used as a metric to measure success. For instance, let’s say you’ve changed the design of your page hoping that it will convert better, then make sure to keep an eye on the bounce rate of that page. If you’re seeing an increase in bounces, the change in design you’ve made might have been the wrong change and it could explain the low conversion rate you have.

You could also check the bounce rate of your most popular pages. Which pages have a low and which pages have a high bounce rate? Compare the two, then learn from the pages with low bounce rates.

Another way of looking at your bounce rate, is from a traffic sources perspective. Which traffic sources lead to a high or a low bounce rate? Your newsletter for instance? Or a referral website that sends a lot of traffic? Can you figure out what causes this bounce rate? And if you’re running an AdWords campaign, you should keep an eye on the bounce rate of that traffic source as well.

Be careful with drawing conclusions though…

We’ve seen loads of clients with a bounce rate that was unnaturally low. In that case, all alarm bells should go off, especially if you don’t expect low bounce rates. Because that probably means that Google Analytics isn’t implemented correctly. There are several things that influence bounce rate, because they send a trigger to the Google Analytics server and Google Analytics falsely recognizes it as an engagement. Usually, an unnaturally low bounce rate is caused by an event that triggers the Google Analytics server. Think of pop-ups, auto-play of videos or an event you’ve implemented that fires after 1 second.

Of course, if you’ve created an event that tracks scrolling counts, then having a low bounce rate is a good thing. It shows that people actually scroll down the page and read your content.

How to lower high bounce rates?

The only way of lowering your bounce rate is by amping up the engagement on your page. In my opinion, there are two ways of looking at bounce rate. From a traffic perspective and from a page perspective.

If certain traffic sources have high bounce rates, then you need to look at the expectations of the visitors coming to your site from those sources. Let’s say you’re running an ad on another website, and most people coming to your site via that ad bounce, then you’re not making their wish come true. You’re not living up to their expectations. Review the ad you’re running and see if it matches the page you’re showing. If not, make sure the page is a logical follow-up of the ad or vice versa.

If your page lives up to the expectations of your visitors, and the page still has a high bounce rate, then you have to look at the page itself. How’s the usability of the page? Is there a call-to-action above the fold on the page? Do you have internal links that point to related pages or posts? Do you have a menu that’s easy to use? Does the page invite people to look further on your site? These are all things you need to consider when optimizing your page.

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What about exit rate?

The bounce rate is frequently mistaken for the exit rate. Literally, the exit rate is the percentage of pageviews that were the last in the session. It says something about users deciding to end their session on your website on that particular page. Google’s support page gives some clear examples of the exit rates and bounce rates, which make the difference very clear. This comes directly from their page:

Monday: Page B > Page A > Page C > Exit
Tuesday: Page B > Exit
Wednesday: Page A > Page C > Page B > Exit
Thursday: Page C > Exit
Friday: Page B > Page C > Page A > Exit

The % Exit and Bounce Rate calculations are:

Exit Rate:
Page A: 33% (3 sessions included Page A, 1 session exited from Page A)
Page B: 50% (4 sessions included Page B, 2 sessions exited from Page B)
Page C: 50% (4 sessions included Page C, 2 sessions exited from Page C)

Bounce Rate:
Page A: 0% (one session began with Page A, but that was not a single-page session, so it has no Bounce Rate)
Page B: 33% (Bounce Rate is less than Exit Rate, because 3 sessions started with Page B, with one leading to a bounce)
Page C: 100% (one session started with Page C, and it lead to a bounce)


Bounce rate is a metric you can use to analyze your marketing efforts. You can use it to measure if you’re living up to your visitors’ expectations. As we have seen, visitors bouncing from your website don’t necessarily puke before they leave, in spite of what Avinash Kaushik says. Nevertheless, you want them to engage with your site. So you can use the bounce rate to decide which pages need more attention. Meeting your visitors’ expectations and making your pages more inviting for visitors all leads to creating an awesome website. And we all know that awesome websites rank better!

Read more: ‘Creating segments in Google Analytics’ »

Why use segments in Google Analytics?

When talking with customers about Google Analytics, you often hear the same thing: “I’m not really using Google Analytics because I don’t know what I’m looking at. It’s just too much”. And that’s a pity because you can learn a whole lot about your website and your audience with Google Analytics’ data. So, is there a simple way to use Google Analytics without getting lost? There might be, by using segments.

What’s a segment?

In Google Analytics a segment is a way to specify the data you’re seeing in every standard view. Google Analytics just throws it all in there, on one big pile of data. This means that when you’re looking at a standard view in Google Analytics you see: ‘all sessions of all visitors’, you see: total revenue, all pages, average time on page of all users, the landing pages of all visitors.

You might recognize this: You’re in the Acquisition section and you’re all happy, because you’ve created the perfect table. You’ve used the advanced filter option to include the Medium: “Organic” and you’re seeing the data you want to see. Then you think: “I’m curious to see which pages these visitors looked at, let’s take these filters to the next section of Google Analytics.” You hit the Behavior section and Poof! your filter is gone. Oh, the frustration!!!

If you want to know which pages people coming from organic search visit, you need to find another way. A segment helps you to narrow down the aggregated data Google Analytics shows, into data you want to see and need, to answer a specific question you have. You can use that segment throughout the sections, the segment doesn’t get lost when switching between sections. For instance, if we want to know which source customers who bought an eBook came from, we can create a segment of people who bought an eBook. By applying that segment and looking at the Acquisition – Source/Medium section, we can conclude that most of our eBook customers came from a newsletter. Goodbye frustration!

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Why do you need segments?

Without segmentation, all data you see is aggregated. This makes it really hard to draw conclusions. As Avinash Kaushik once said: “All data in aggregate is crap.” And I certainly agree with him. If you want to draw a valid conclusion, you need to specify your data.

For example, you can’t just say that most of your visitors visit your site around noon. Well okay, you can. But what does it mean? This data is so aggregated that you can’t build a strategy on it, it doesn’t provide any insight. Based on this data you might conclude that promoting a new product around noon is the way to go. But what if a large amount of your non-paying visitors visit your site around noon, but your high-potential visitors visit your site in the evening? Then you could’ve made the wrong decision based on non-specific aggregated data. So with a segment, you can zoom in on a specific part of your data. And if you do that right, you can make important business decisions that help your business move forward.

How to create a segment in Google Analytics?

First of all, creating a segment in Google Analytics isn’t dangerous. You can edit your segments, you can delete your segments, but you won’t delete the actual data you have. For me this was an important realization, because it meant that I could just ‘play’ with segments without any consequences.

The first step is thinking about what kind of segment you need. Which question do you want answered? What’s important for your business? And where can you find the data to create that segment? Do you want to segment on demographics of the user? And/or, the behavior of the user? Or, the technology the user uses to visit your website? And so on. Knowing what it’s called what you’re looking for in Google Analytics really helps when creating segments.

The second step is adding the actual segment. You can find the segment section at the top of the page in every view from Audience down to Conversions.

add a segment in Google Analytics

This means that if you’re in Dashboards, Shortcuts, Intelligence Events or Real-Time section, you can’t see the segment section.

System segments

Google Analytics offers ‘fixed’ segments which you can find in the ‘System’ section. A lot of these segments are pretty darn useful. For example, there’s an Organic Traffic segment that groups all visitors that came from an organic search result to your site. Very useful, if you want to know which landing pages these users visit. Another example: There’s a Mobile Traffic segment, that groups users that use a mobile device to visit your site. Very helpful as well, for example to find out if the ‘time on page’ is what it should be, this might say something about the mobile friendliness of your site.

Custom segments

There are more segments to think of than the system segments Google Analytics offers. For instance, you can create a segment that filters out all visitors that spend less than half a minute on your site. Or you can create a segment that focuses on the organic traffic from all visitors from the Netherlands. Or, as mentioned before, create a segment based on the products visitors bought or a certain amount of revenue a visitor yielded.

I found this video on YouTube that explains creating a custom segment pretty well:

For me, a couple of segments are really useful. I have segments for every country that’s important for our business, for every product and for every product page. And I have a segment for every medium like Organic, Newsletter and in our case: plugin traffic.

Compare segments

A nifty feature in Google Analytics is the ability to add more than one segment for the same view of data. This means you can compare different segments. For instance, if you created a segment of visitors that stayed longer than 5 minutes on your website and created a segment of visitors that stayed less than 1 minute on your website, you can compare the two and find out more about the behavior of these two groups and in which aspects these two groups differ.


If you want to know what you’re looking at, when clicking your way through Google Analytics, segmentation is the way to go. If you have questions like, “how do the visitors from California behave on my site?” Or, “what are my newsletter visitors doing on my site?” “How’s my campaign going?” Creating a segment is the easiest way to go. It’s a way to dissect your data and actually know what you’re looking at, when looking at all the different sections in Google Analytics. Say farewell to your Google Analytics frustration!

Read more: ‘Facebook Page Insights explained’ »

Ask Yoast: why connect GSC with Yoast SEO?

If you use our Yoast SEO plugin you’ve got the opportunity to connect it to Google Search Console (GSC). With GSC you can monitor the SEO health of your site, while Yoast SEO helps you to optimize your site. Connecting the two, so they can work together, will allow you to be more efficient when maintaining your site.

In this Ask Yoast we’ll give you the answer to the following question:

“How does implementing Google Search Console in Yoast SEO help me to optimize my site?”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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Google Search Console in Yoast SEO

Read this transcript to learn how you’ll benefit from connecting GSC to Yoast SEO:

“Well, honestly, connecting the two doesn’t help if you don’t make any mistakes on your site. But you’re human, right? So you’re going to make mistakes. GSC tells you when Google has found errors on your site that you should fix. 

By implementing GSC in Yoast SEO, you’ll see those errors in Yoast SEO. It makes it possible for you to very easily fix those errors and make sure that your site is as error free as possible. This is the best thing you can do for your site’s SEO.

So, if you don’t make any mistakes ever, then it’s not going to help you. If you do make some mistakes sometimes, even if it’s only a couple of mistakes over the years, it really helps to find these errors, fix them, and then be done with them.

Good luck!

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we help you with your SEO question! Did you get stuck on an SEO issue? Are you in doubt between two SEO strategies? Don’t fret, just ask us your question! You can send your question to email hidden; JavaScript is required.

Read more: ‘Google Search Console Crawl’ »

Insights in Instagram analytics

Instagram isn’t yet the traffic source Facebook is. But Instagram is growing rapidly. Just last month, the milestone of 500 million users was reached. It makes you wonder whether or not to incorporate Instagram into your default marketing mix, right? Therefore, it would be nice to have Instagram analytics.

In 2015, 33% of US teens chose Instagram as their personal number one social network. Of all the Instagram users, about 50% is male. 96 percent of US fashion brands use Instagram. Those are all impressive stats, but what about your Instagram account? What are the stats on that? For these numbers, you’d say you have to dig into Instagram analytics, right? I found no such thing. Facebook has Insights, Twitter has Analytics, Pinterest has Analytics, YouTube has Analytics, Instagram has… no such thing. There is no native analytics for Instagram. Facebook Ads for Instagram gives some insights, but that is just for the companies advertising on the social platform.

How do I get to my Instagram Analytics!?

I can’t imagine that Instagram won’t roll out Instagram Analytics (or Instagram Insights, following Facebook Insights) at some point in the future. But it won’t be rolling out as fast as Pokemon Go, that much is clear. There are some stats in business insights for advertisers, but hey, not all of us advertise on Instagram. As far as I know, these business tools are still a work in progress and not available to all. Brand Profiles will be limited to companies that have a Facebook Page (for now?). Be sure to check this article for more insights on those stats. Long story short, for the time being, we have to fall back on third-party applications. And that works pretty well, actually!

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Third party Instagram Analytics apps

There are a ton of iOS and Android apps for Instagram, and a lot of these are apps that give you stats. Most provide an overview of things like new followers or most popular media. All of these apps seem centered around this information:

  • New followers
  • Lost followers
  • Users that are not following you back (called ‘non-followers’)
  • Followers that you don’t follow back (called ‘fans’)

This is the standard information every one of those apps gives for free. And to be honest, I wouldn’t waste my money on the other intel these apps provide. Although it’s quite hard to publish on Instagram from your desktop, the third party analytics apps have a way better overview than most mobile apps. Again, there are tons of desktop/browser apps available. Apps like or Quintly handle more social networks than just Instagram. These cost a nice monthly fee and will tell you more about your social efforts and the effects they have.

In this article, I’d like to focus on another tool that I find very handy for my Instagram Analytics: Iconosquare.


Iconosquare has a free trial, and after that, it costs you from $49/yr (per IG account) up to $499/yr. Key differences between the packages are these:

  • The cheapest package doesn’t allow for hashtag monitoring
  • The more expensive ones add competition monitoring
  • Comments will be tracked for the last 5, 15 or 30 media
  • The most expensive one includes photo and video contests

They all include a variety of interesting stats. Your Iconosquare dashboard will show you Instagram analytics like your follower growth and the number of lost and gained followers, much like the other apps I mentioned.

Iconosquare: overview | Instagram Analytics

It will show you the love, talk, and engagement rate of your Instagram posts:

iconosquare: love, talk and engagement rate | Instagram Analytics

  • Love rate is based on the likes given by your followers divided by the number of followers at the time of the post.
  • Talk rate is based on the comments received from your followers divided by the number of followers at the time of the post.
  • Engagement rate is based on the likes and comments received divided by the number of followers at the time of the post.

Makes sense, right? Next to that, Iconosquare will tell you what your most liked, most commented and most engaging media is. You can base your Instagram strategy on that: post more of what is popular among your audience.


For better insights in your posts, check the Engagement section of the tool. It will tell you things like average likes or comments, but also what Instagram filters work best. The one that works best for me is Aden. I have to say that that name isn’t directly ringing a bell for me, as I usually pick a filter by what it does to the photo, not the name 🙂

Furthermore, the engagement section holds tag cloud with your most-used tags, which I like as I am a heavy tag user these days. Tags simply work like a charm to trigger engagement with / market towards new people.

Best time to post

What I like as well, is the Best time to post – Engagement rate table. It will tell you when your posts trigger the most engagement with your audience. The darker the square, the better the engagement is:

Iconosquare: best time to post | Instagram Analytics

To me, that is one of the most important pieces of information Iconosquare provides. It’s good to optimize posting times, using for instance Later.


Another section in this Instagram analytics app is Community. This section provides information about your followers, like their location or the structure of your community (how many followers have your followers):

Iconosquare: location | Instagram Analytics

You can zoom that world map, by the way. Makes it a bit easier to analyze!

Another interesting section is the “Top Followers” section. It shows you the followers with the most followers, so to say. You know that you will reach the most people when you interact with these followers (comments, likes)will be seen by the most people. So be sure to do that as well, to grow your following towards their numbers.

To sum things up

Even though there is no such thing as Instagram Analytics (yet), there are lots of ways to get these valuable insights about your efforts and followers. I think Instagram will make its own analytics available, maybe even for non-business Instagram users. If that time comes, I’ll be one of the first to write the insights about that on this blog 🙂

Read more: ‘Facebook Page Insights explained’ »

A new home for our Google Analytics plugins

Today we’re announcing that our Analytics plugins are getting a new home on One of the “problems” of a quickly growing business is that you have to choose what to focus on. We’ve made that choice: we’ll focus on building best in class SEO products, from plugins to reviews, eBooks and training programs. We’re very happy to be able to get our loyal Google Analytics for WordPress users a good new home at Monster Insights.

Google Analytics by Yoast becomes Monster Insights

Meet the new owner(s)

syed-balkhi-300x300The team is managed by Syed Balkhi. You might know Syed from plugins like OptinMonster, Envira Gallery and more. Syed also runs, and is a fantastic entrepreneur. His businesses focus on conversion and business growth, which made our suite of Google Analytics plugins a nice fit.

What does this acquisition mean for existing users?

As Syed says in his post too: aside from new ownership and the new name, it’s business as usual. You can continue to use the plugin that you love without any interruptions.

MonsterInsights logo

The new name and logo for Monster Insights

With the experience Syed and team have, they’ll be adding new features and improvements to what’s now called MonsterInsights in the near future. They’ll update the plugin and give it the love it deserves. I have no doubt in my mind that this will lead to a far better plugin, very quickly.

A nostalgic moment

While I’m very happy about the decision to give this plugin a new home, I’m also feeling nostalgic. Google Analytics for WordPress was my first “major” plugin, even before WordPress SEO (now Yoast SEO) was a thing. It’s been “with me” for a very long time, but I trust Syed and team will take it to even greater heights.

I want to thank Syed for making this tough decision easier. Knowing that he’ll take care of the plugin and both our free and premium customers really made it easier to decide to do what’s right.

If you have questions, pose them in the comments and we’ll try to address them. Also, go ahead over to the new MonsterInsights site and read Syed’s welcome post.

Pinterest Analytics: a quick walk-through

Pinterest was launched in 2010 and holds a steady position in our social media landscape these days. With over 100 million active users and $11 billion reported value (2015/09), Pinterest is here to stay. I already did an article on Pinterest Marketing back in 2014, so it was definitely time to write another one. In this article, I’d like to focus on Pinterest Analytics and go over the various sections, charts and stats with you.


Pinterest Analytics

Pinterest Analytics is divided into three sections:

  1. Your Pinterest Profile
  2. Your Audience
  3. Activity from your account

This is also reflected by the dashboard:

Pinterest Analytics Dashboard

Besides these three charts, the dashboard shows the top pin impressions in the last 30 days. Now let’s go over the three sections in the image above.

Your Pinterest Profile

Next to the title of the charts in the previous image, you see a ‘More >’ link, that gets you to more detailed stats. Your Pinterest Profile is divided into some subsections: Impressions, Repins, Clicks and All-time. Impressions tell you how many views your pins get on Pinterest. This is over time, in a selected time frame. You can pick the days of this time frame yourself, or choose one of the predefined time frames (7, 14 or 30 days).

Besides that, there is a select box in the header of all three sections that allows you to display data from ‘All apps’, or just from a specific device, ranging from Android phone, via iPad to (Mobile) Web. Only the Audience section has an extra option here to show all audiences or just your followers.


Impressions tell you how many views your pins get on Pinterest. This is over time, in a selected time frame. You can pick the days of this time frame yourself, or choose one of the predefined time frames (7, 14 or 30 days). The chart itself shows the daily impressions, compared to the daily viewers, and the relative trend of these lines. Unfortunately, my personal profile lost about a quarter of its impressions over the last couple of weeks, so Pinterest gives me this smart advice: “Add more of your Pins to Pinterest to increase impressions and reach more people. Learn more.” They’re right. Pinterest should be used frequently to build an audience.

To see which pins worked best for you in the last 30 days, Pinterest Analytics also shows your top pin impressions, and, perhaps even more important for your Pinterest strategy, your best performing boards. Per Pin, Pinterest Analytics shows you the number of impressions, clicks, repins and likes, and if applicable, the type of Pin.
For Yoast, our General SEO board is by far the best-viewed one. It shows all of our latest posts and the great illustrations that accompany those posts:

Pinterest - General SEO board example

Repins and Clicks

Rich Pins

Rich Pins show metadata right on the Pin itself, giving Pinners a richer experience and increasing engagement. There are 6 types of Rich Pins: app, article, movie, place, product and recipe Pins.

All the reports in this section are set up the same way. The Repins section shows you the number of daily repins and daily repinners. The tip here is to add great images and add a useful description and Rich Pins to these images, so it’s worth saving (or: pinning) these images for later.

The Repins section in Pinterest Analytics includes an overview of the most repinned Pins from the last 30 days and the same for Pinterest boards.

The Clicks section shows the number of visits to your website from Pinterest. The chart shows daily clicks and daily visitors, the additional information shows your most clicked pins and the boards with the most clicked links. As mentioned, these sections show pretty much the same stats per data type.


This is a nice overview of all the Pins that performed well:

  • Most repinned: the Pins that got most repins since you created your Pinterest account.
  • Best in search: the Pins that rank best. Ranking is based upon a) quality descriptions b) the use of Rich Pins and c) valuable links on your Pins.
  • Power Pins: Pins that led to the most engagement from Pinners (likes, repins, comments, sends, etc).

At the time of writing, the all-time section showed no data. I assume this is a temporary glitch. It should look like this:

Pinterest Analytics: all-timeImage used with permission from

The overall conclusion is that you can use this section to find your gems, either Pins or boards, and see how you can add more similar or related pins to your Pinterest boards. You can use this section to see what works best with your current audience.

Your Audience

The Audience section has some pretty interesting information for you.


The main graph in the Demographics section shows the number of monthly viewers compared to the number of engagements. Trends are key here. See what happens and of course, try to keep a steep and up going line here.

Besides the chart, we find information about the country, the metro and language, as well as gender of your audience. For Yoast, most of our audience lives in Washington DC, New York or Los Angeles, is English-speaking, and 51% of our audience is female. Which is pretty low, actually. The average percentage of female Pinners seems to be around 70% by the way.


The nice thing about Pinterest is that it’s used for ’emotional’ things like home decoration, recipes and pets. This also means that your Pins say something about you directly. It also means this ‘Interests’ section might be a bit ‘foggy’. What I mean by that, is that when your audience is into for instance Art, Furniture, Home Decor or Recipes and you are selling SEO related products, you might want to think twice before jumping to conclusions. These are probably boards that score very high in every Interest section in Pinterest Analytics. It’s things like Drawings and Web Design that match our business:

Pinterest Analytics: Interests

Focus on these things when optimizing your Pinterest boards.

In the section below these topics, you’ll find pinner boards with lots of your Pins and businesses your audience engages with. That last one is actually pretty interesting, as you probably know your benchmarks and these should be in here, if you’re pinning the right things. For Yoast, our audience seems to engage with for instance Buzzfeed, YouTube and, so I guess we’re fine 🙂

By the way, for every page section in Pinterest Analytics, there is a Show more option that allows you to expand the number of pins/boards/businesses you see.

Activity from your account

In this section, we find subsections for Impressions, Repins, Clicks, Original Pins, All-time and Pin It button.

This section is pretty much the same as the Your Pinterest Profile, but the other way around. It deals with all the things that originate on your website and lead to Pinterest.

Pinterest Analytics: impressions from chart

On our website, we use a lot of illustrations that are pinned to Pinterest on a frequent basis. Spikes usually indicate new posts in our case. If your website is about photos, this chart might tell you what subjects work best for growing your Pinterest audience.

Pin It button exampleObviously, Pinterest Analytics recommends you to use a Pin It button on your website. This goes for all social media websites: if you want shares, likes or whatever from your own website, make it as easy as possible.

Tables below that chart mentioned above show the Top Pin impressions from the last 30 days. For, one Pin tops everything: Anatomy of a WordPress Theme. That one originated in this post from 2011. Pinterest is your to-go-to spot for infographics as well 🙂

Furthermore, the second table on that page tells us that this board by Kim Winters is a large source for the Pins on that image as well. It led to 36 repins already and that board only has about 150 followers. Nice to know and it might help you find content related to your top pins (other things pinned to a board by Pinners other than yourself).

In our case, the Repins page in this section looks almost the same as the impressions page. The more impressions, the more repins, so that makes perfect sense. The same goes for Clicks, although this page tells us that WordPress SEO: The definitive guide to higher rankings for WordPress sites also drove extra traffic to Pinterest. It’s definitely worth checking all pages and comparing the data on these pages.

Original Pins

I like the Original Pins section, by the way. It’s not an extensive section, but shows you the “unique Pins created directly from your website”. Be sure to click the Show more link here for more pins:

Pinterest Analytics: original pins table

Clicking one of the items above provides more information on the pin: who pinned what to what board.

Pin It button

The last page in this section is about the use of the Pin It button on your website. There is a graphical overview of the number of times a Pin It button is shown on your website and the number of clicks on that button. This graph also shows how many clicks resulted in the creation of a Pin. Right below this graph is a second one, displaying the activity on Pinterest from the Pin It button: “When people create Pins from your website, you’ll be able to track how they do on Pinterest.” The data in this second graph will tell you:

  • How many impressions were generated by Pins created from your website.
  • How many repins these Pins got.
  • And how many times those repins generated clicks to your website in return.

Note that these graphs only relate to the last 7 days, and only show data when you are using the official Pin It button.

More social stats

That rounds it up for this post on Pinterest Analytics. I hope you enjoyed reading it and are able to use Pinterest Analytics to your benefit.

Read more: ‘Facebook Insights explained’ »

If you’re interested in social stats, be sure to read my articles on these social platforms as well:

In case I missed any hidden gems in Pinterest Analytics, please let me know!

YouTube Analytics: engagement reports

Following our post on YouTube Analytics, that mainly dealt with watch time reports and all the charts and stats that are in that section, we’d like to complete our article on YouTube Analytics with this post on engagement reports.

Social media youtube analytics engagement reports

First, I’d like to thank you for your comments on our site and social media about that post. One of the comments was: “Video will change the way of content marketing”. I think that video is already an important part of content marketing, hence our recent focus on video and vlogs. It’s an easy way to make things more personal, right? And being more personal can only lead to more engagement from your readers or viewers, in my opinion. Engagement is what this second post is about.

Engagement Reports in YouTube Analytics

It’s always nice to see if you gained any new subscribers and how people engaged with your videos in terms of comments and likes. YouTube Analytics divides these stats in all kinds of different section that describe the ways that people are able to engage with your video. That varies from subscribing to your YouTube channel to how many people comment or share your video.


You win some, you lose some. That is basically what this section is about. It shows you over time, how many subscribers you gained and lost. YouTube Analytics divides this into people that subscribe at a certain video and users that subscribe without any reference to a specific video. The latter group is a lot smaller in our case. Most subscribers subscribe when/after viewing a particular video. That can be viewed per video as well:

YouTube Analytics Engagement Subscribers

You can select by hand which videos to show in the graph as well, and as mentioned in part one of this article on YouTube Analytics, there are a number of charts to choose from.

Read more: ‘YouTube Analytics: watch time reports’ »

Likes and dislikes

It’s like Facebook, but with the dislike button already present  – I heard Facebook was working on something like that as well. You’ll find these buttons here below your YouTube video:

YouTube Analytics: Likes Dislikes example

This section in YouTube Analytics will give you a nice overview (stats can be viewed per post) of all the likes and dislikes your channel got over a selected period.

YouTube Analytics - metricsI’d like to emphasize that YouTube Analytics allows you to compare a lot of metrics here.

The ‘More metrics’ link will give you a total of 30 to 40 metrics, depending on where you use this. You can compare everything from Card Teaser Impressions to Adsense Earnings (if applicable) and Favorites Added. Per period, as the ‘Daily’ select box in the image on the right will give you a set of 10 different periods in time. See what fits your needs.

YouTube Analytics: comparison optionBesides this option, there’s a much more powerful “Comparison…” button at the top that will allow you to compare two videos to each other (be sure to select ‘first 7 days’ in the date range drop down). This comparison option will also allow you to compare for instance two geo locations to each other. Or how your subscribers compare to your non-subscribers, for example. Note that it’s not at all engagement-specific, but neither is the compare metrics dropdown we discussed above, right. It does provide valuable information.

Videos in playlists

Per video, country, date or subscription status, this section will tell you exactly how many of your videos were added or removed from playlists, for instance in a bar chart:

YouTube Analytics: bar chart example

This is shown as a percentage, as absolute numbers and you are able to include a total as well. Of course, this is pretty similar to how things can be shown for other metrics.

Obviously, YouTube Analytics also allows you to view specific statistics on your own Playlists as well. Note that only a limited number of reports are available for playlists, and these are only in the Watch time reports section of YouTube Analytics.

Keep reading: ‘YouTube Analytics: watch time reports’ »


You probably get alerts for new comments one way or another, but this section shows you on which videos people commented. It would be convenient if the comment itself was also shown, of course, just to see if it was positive or negative, for instance. But that takes a few extra clicks to the video itself.

It’s a handy section to see where your commenters are coming from, and it’s nice to see which posts got most comments, but I’m not a frequent visitor of this report, to be honest.


Please note that this YouTube Analytics report “Only includes direct shares from the social media options on the YouTube watch page. Does not include shares via embedding, email or copy/pasting the generated link.”.

YouTube Analytics: sharing serviceI was under the impression that it didn’t include details on what social platform videos were shared either, but found the sharing service dimension of the report to show just that – see image on the right. Furthermore, it shows how many shares from what country, basically. For social promotion, this could be your main report. Try to align topics and services for yourself so you can focus on the right services for your business.


First thing first. Annotations:

With annotations you can layer text, links, and hotspots over your video. They help you enrich the video experience by adding information, interactivity and engagement.

Our most used annotation is “Subscribe to our YouTube channel »”. You can view the number of clicks and CTR and YouTube Analytics also shows you the number of closes and close rate. With some imagination, you could already perform a simple A/B test (simply test two annotations for a week and see what works best) with just this report. Same goes for annotation types, by the way.

Cards (BETA)

This is really interesting and not something we have been experimenting with at Yoast, to be honest. I really like the idea of Cards. It allows you to add a ‘card’ to your video, including an image, title and a call-to-action. From what I understand, you’ll be able to add up to 5 cards to a video and this section in YouTube Analytics will give you stats on these. Here’s more on YouTube Cards:

I’d be happy to share more information on this section in YouTube Analytics when we have more experience with YouTube Cards, but feel free to share your experiences in the comment section of this article! Looking forward to it.

Back to the Audience Retention report

One more thing. In my previous post on YouTube Analytics, I mentioned Audience Retention. Audience retention for individual videos, while not part of an “engagement report” is just about the best report possible for showing how engaged your viewers are as a whole by showing how much of the video they watch:

YouTube Analytics: audience retention report

Ted Hamilton handed me this example. In his words: This graph clearly shows that some of my family members are skipping to the end of this video so they can pass the test if I quiz them about what happened at the end! At least they’re rewinding to watch the beginning over and over again!

Ted, thanks again for your contribution to these posts. It is nice to get some extra insights from someone that made YouTube Analytics into his daily business. Much appreciated!

Read on: ‘Facebook Page Insights explained’ »

YouTube Analytics: watch time reports

Last year we started vlogging and overall using videos a lot more in our communication. It’s an easy way to communicate and a lot more personal than most online communication. We like it a lot and will obviously continue to focus on video this year. Following our recent posts on social media analytics (Twitter, Facebook), it only seems to make sense to go over YouTube Analytics as well. YouTube continues to be the second largest search engine in the world, and of course, you want to monitor your efforts there as well.

what you can do with youtube stats


When you visit (be sure to pick the right profile in the upper right corner), you’ll find a number of ‘channels’ in the left menu. For this post, I’ll mainly focus on the watch time section. I’ll write a second post on the engagement reports section of YouTube Analytics soon.

YouTube Analytics Overview

YouTube Analytics starts with a nice overview of watch time, average view duration and things like your top 10 videos. The page bottom shows some graphs showing countries, gender, traffic sources, and playback locations. Filters are available for uploads/playlists, subscribed/not subscribed, and live/on demand. My 2 cents? Just a nice overview, but it tells me little. I do like the top 10, but for the rest I’d like to see more details, and that is probably why Youtube Analytics is divided into many subsections, that can easily be accessed through the left sub menu.


Realtime overviews are just available for uploads, not for playlists. Makes sense, right. You can see stats for the last 48 hours and last 60 minutes:

youtube analytics realtime example

Hovering elements will give you more details. I already mentioned in an earlier post on Google Search Console that some graphs are better used for trend analysis than anything else, and that seems to be the case here as well, that is why these overviews only really matter at an event, like the start of a new campaign or when you’ve just sent out your email newsletter.

youtube analytics hover realtime exampleThere’s also a convenient overview of these stats for the last five videos you uploaded. So if traffic on that important video is low for instance, you could consider giving it some extra social media exposure or mentioning it in your upcoming newsletter. Clicking one of these specific videos will get you to a page where you’d expect more details on the video, but that isn’t the case in this Realtime section. It just shows the stats a bit larger 🙂 The hover state in the overview shows you a lot more – see image on the right (channel, date of creation, when it’s published, duration and privacy setting).

Earnings report

I’m going to skip this section, as this only works when Adsense is associated with your YouTube channel. We didn’t, as our earnings come primarily from this website and not per se from our videos on If you have associated Adsense, this section will show estimated earnings and ad performance.

Watch time reports

Now this is an interesting section. This is about how people watch your videos and analyzing this can give you new ideas for promotion and on how to organize your videos.

This section starts with this graph:

youtube analytics watch time graph

That’s a pretty dull graph, I know. The thing is that it’s packed with extras that YouTube Analytics decided to hide in the icons on the left. There is a line graph for watch time and views (filter at the top), which is what is in the screenshot, and then we have from top to bottom:

  • A multi-line chart for the videos that were viewed in the selected period (which can be selected using the slider at the bottom of the graph). This will show you your best performing videos and your underachievers. There is a filter for growth, totals and % of totals.
  • A stacked area chart for totals and how that total is divided. This isn’t my kind of chart, but hey, there’s a chart for everyone.
  • The next one is a pie chart showing basically the same information. Big difference is that this chart can’t be filtered to show data per day, rolling x days total, week, month etc. That makes this chart less useful in my opinion.
  • Then there is a bar chart, adding nothing new.
  • And then, as a total surprise, a map of the world. This maps shows where your views come from.

Next to watch time, all charts can also show average view duration, average percentage viewed, watch time in hours instead of minutes, subscriber views and/or subscriber minutes watched in that same chart.

Audience retention

Audience retention in YouTube Analytics is about how loyal your viewers are. These are actually nice graphs to play with and see how things compare to each other. It will give you a better view about the performance of certain videos.

youtube analytics audience retention chart

That’s last year on our Yoast channel. I can clearly see when we started focusing on video a lot more. The spike just before week 23 (2015) was YoastCon. In our case, that’s also reflected in the table below these charts:

youtube analytics live / on demand table

The details of the live streams (just click live in the table) show that these indeed only occurred during YoastCon, conveniently the only day we offered live streams in 2015 😉

You can see there are a few more tables to be analyzed: which country had the most watch time (including average view duration), which day had the most watch time and whether most watch time was done by subscribers or people that still have to subscribe to our Yoast Channel. Nice to see that subscribers watched a bit longer on average (even about 50% longer!).

You should definitely play around with the data in this section and see what comes in handy regarding your own videos.


It almost feels like overkill, but next to the geographic information in the previous sections, YouTube Analytics has some more geographical data in store for us:

youtube analytics geographical information

Our main YouTube audience is from the US, UK, India and the Netherlands, and these are mostly male viewers in the age of 25-44. I can think of companies where this information is very valuable, like (online) magazines and other companies that try to target a specific audience.

Playback Locations

This section gives you a nice overview of where your videos are watched:

  • Embedded in external websites and apps. This is the main location for our videos, as we share these on our website and promote them via Facebook, for instance.
  • YouTube watch page. Another important one, as a lot of viewers prefer youtube, or click from one video to the other or use the app to view videos.
  • There are two minor locations in our case, being YouTube channel page (no need to optimize that, as far as I can see that one gets little traffic), and the leftover location ‘other’.

Traffic Sources

This section starts with the alert that “Data in this report may be incomplete or missing.”(in our case, not sure whether this is a general alert), and it mentions as the main traffic sources External, Direct or unknown and Unknown – embedded player. Luckily, as with most items displayed in tables in YouTube Analytics, there is an easy click to more detailed information:

youtube analytics traffic sources overview

Unfortunately, this is as detailed as it goes, clicking the links in this table will give you (drumroll) geographical information, per country per traffic source.


I do like the devices sections, which tells me that a whopping 87% of our watch time is done on a computer, 64% on Windows and 33% on Mac. Just about 6% is done on a phone, and even less on a tablet.

Live Streaming

This section just applies to the live streams you had in a certain period. For us, this section holds little information as we only streamed videos for a day. I can imagine this section might also be interesting for certain companies.

That concludes our first post on YouTube Analytics. In an upcoming post, I will dive a bit deeper in the engagement stats YouTube provides. Keep a keen eye on our website for updates!

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