Welcome to episode 220 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, we’re focusing on growth, and you’ll learn about tribes, growing your social following, and tracking your growth with different tools.
Last week on the podcast, we focused on things you might believe when you first start your blog, how to choose a solid host, and why we recommend WordPress for food bloggers. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
If you have a blog, chances are you’re interested in extending your reach and growing your audience. Luckily for you, that’s exactly what this episode of the Food Blogger Pro Podcast is all about!
First, Lindsay will talk about finding the Pinch of Yum “tribe” and publishing content specifically for that group of people. Finding your tribe is an important part of the growth puzzle because they’re the people who are your “super fans” of you and your content.
Then, Abby, our Social Media Manager, talks about social media growth. She talks about how your growth strategies can differ from social media platform to social media platform, and she’ll walk you through some of the growth strategies that have worked for us on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.
And last, Bjork talks about tracking your growth and understanding how your content is performing. It’s important to understand where you’re starting and how far you’ve come, and these tools make tracking your progress super simple.
Excited for you to dive into this episode and implement some of these growth strategies – enjoy!
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- What a “tribe” is
- Why it’s important to have a tribe
- How to find your tribe or super-friends
- Strategies for growing your Instagram account
- How engagement works on Instagram
- How to optimize for repins on Pinterest
- How to grow your following on Facebook using Facebook Groups
- What annotations do in Google Analytics
- How Google Search Console can help you figure out how your posts are performing
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].
If you’d like to jump to the comments section, click here.
Bjork Ostrom: Hello. Hello. Hello. My name is Bjork Ostrom. You are listening to the Food Blogger Pro Podcast and we are so happy to have you here. This is episode number 220. We’re going to be talking about All Things Growth Related. That is the theme for today grow and we’re going to be having some great conversations with Pinch of Yum team members about their tips and tricks for growing their online audience, for growing your online audience in some of the ways that we’re thinking about doing that as well. I’m going to be chatting a little bit as well about some of my favorite tools for promoting and or tracking growth. We’re going to be talking about that in a little bit. But one of the things that I want to talk about before we jump into some of the tools, tips and tactics is what it means to have a growth mindset and the type of growth mindset that I think about it actually ties into this idea of 1% infinity that we talk about all the time on the podcast.
Bjork Ostrom: When you get into business building, especially online, one of the things that you hear people talk a lot about is this idea of growth hacks and how do you grow quickly and what does it look like to scale and how do you get that hockey stick type of growth. While I think that’s really important and there are definitely ways to figure out how to hack growth, a really important mindset for growth. Another important mindset for growth is the daily grind. I think it doesn’t get enough credit when you put it up against some of the growth hacks that a lot of people talk about. My reference, when I think about growth is to combine those two things.
Bjork Ostrom: What does it look like to think creatively about ways that you can kind of have growth hacks, marketing, things that you can be doing that are new and on the edge and creative as it relates to growth, while also knowing that a huge part of growing is showing up every day and doing the work. When you combine to those two things, some really cool stuff can happen over a long period of time. I would say to those of you that are in the early stages, or maybe those of you who have been doing this for a long time, to combine those two things, think about what it looks like to think creatively. It’s not just doing the same thing every day showing up and doing the grind because you need to be creative. You need to think about new ways to approach what you’re doing.
Bjork Ostrom: That could be some of the growth hacky type stuff. Lean into that, but also don’t look for the quick fix. Don’t have that be the only thing that you want to do as it relates to growth, is to find the new latest and greatest hack for increasing Pinterest followers or getting more traffic from search. It has to be both of those things. Intentional, continual learning around how you can grow and maybe there are some tips, tricks, and hacks that relate to that along with showing up every day and actually doing the work over a sustainable, over a long period of time and making that sustainable.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s both of those things together. If you do that, if you’re intentional with that, I think that you’ll find growth over time. You might have some periods where it is a hockey stick type growth, but my guess is you’ll have little periods of growth, maybe a plateau, another period of growth, some more plateau. The trick is figuring out how you break through those plateaus, to introduce a new step, a new leveling up along the way. That’s what we’re going to be talking about today. We’re going to be talking about growth and really excited to hear from some Pinch of Yum team members, all about tips, tricks, advice about how you can grow your following, your traffic, and all of those important metrics as it relates to growth.
Bjork Ostrom: Lindsay, welcome back to the podcast.
Lindsay Ostrom: Well, thank you.
Bjork Ostrom: We’re going to be talking about growth today, and that is the focus we’re really interested in growing things because the more followers we have, the more attention we have, the more successful our business can be, especially when we are in the business of building something that gets eyeballs, right? Content, content marketing and creating content. That’s what we’re in the business that we’re in. So in order to grow, you have to have people who are following along with what you’re doing. Some people call that a tribe. We don’t use that language a ton, but I think it’s a universally understood word for people to say, “Oh, a tribe.” Like that’s the people that follow along with what you’re doing. When you think of Pinch of Yum, when you think of followers, when you think of building a tribe, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is tribe the word that you would use when you talk about building a following?
Lindsay Ostrom: When I hear the word tribe, I guess what I think about is just people that are not finding the content on a one off Pinterest or Google search but they are… they’ve been following and they know my name and they know your name and they know our story even if it’s just on a high level. There are people that maybe found a post once and then decided to read a little bit more and then decided to like really actually follow more closely. I don’t know, I guess the terminology that I think of is more like, well this is kind of maybe weird to say because it’s like saying it about yourself and your content but it’s like-
Bjork Ostrom: We can use it for Food Blogger Pro if that’s easier.
Lindsay Ostrom: Okay. Let’s use Food Blogger Pro, like your super fans, right? Your people who are not just here for the single piece of content that they need and then they’re out the like they are here and they know your stuff and they are going to be… they’re going to be your champion if they’re in a conversation with someone, they’re the person that’s like, “Oh my gosh, I love this blog. I love this resource. I love this thing. You guys got to follow along.” And they’re able to tell more of the story as opposed to like, “Hey, I found this one great recipe or this one great blog post.”
Bjork Ostrom: I think… go ahead and then I’ll share it.
Lindsay Ostrom: Oh yeah, that’s, I was pretty much done just that I think of it as like the people who are like front row seats, they are there and they’re there for all of it.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I was going to as a example of a really specific way that you might be able to delineate or understand who these people are, would be people that you could meet for the first time, but be able to have an inside joke with based on their understanding of things that have happened, like recently for you. Or like for us, it might be somebody who we meet and they’re like, “Hey, give Sage a scratch for us or where is Sage sleeping right now? This inside joke about Sage being a lazy dog, like they know Sage because they follow along enough on Instagram or whatever it’d be on the blog that they’d be able to have that kind of ability to quickly have an inside joke.
Bjork Ostrom: I think that would also be true. I’ve met people who follow along closely with the podcast and they’d be able to mention that they may be able to call back to a previous episode we recorded when I used the word decisions as an example for an inside joke. Why is it important to have people like this if you’re building a blog or a following on social media, why is it important to have the kind of the super fans with the true fans?
Lindsay Ostrom: Well, I think that if you’re in the business of creating content, there’s a whole wide world of people out there that you could create content for. But when you’ve got people in the front row seats, your super fans in the front row seats who are like here for every single thing that you do, then it becomes about them. They are the people that you’re serving and they are the people that you’re connecting with and their opinions matter the most. I think it’s just important to be developing that so that you can be in touch with, with what type of content you would best serve them and what their needs are and how you can help solve their problems. That’s kind of how I view that group of people.
Lindsay Ostrom: For Pinch of Yum and ensure we could do a post and we could think like, “This is going to go viral on Pinterest or Instagram.” Are we going to hope that at least? But there are pieces of content that I write on Pinch of Yum that don’t go anywhere. I only write them for the super fans. I do that, I create that content specifically for those people to keep them connected, to show them love, to say like, “I’m so glad you’re here. I want to connect you with you. I want to continue delivering value to you.” That’s how I view it and how I approach that group of people in terms of how like I develop content and how the business is structured.
Bjork Ostrom: I like that. One of the things that I was thinking about as you were talking about that was I think as a content creator and somebody who has a platform on social, it’s a little bit different than let’s say a musician going and playing a song where a bunch of people show up and watch. There is a little element of conversation. Not always, there’s some people who just consume. So I have coined a new phrase super friends-
Lindsay Ostrom: Somehow I like that.
Bjork Ostrom: … because some people that you have a connection with and you interact with and you are sharing with, there’s a back and forth as maybe different than a a fan at like a sports game or there’s a little bit more of a relationship element. Not that it’s somebody you’re hanging out with and getting coffee with because it’s at scale. So I’m going to refer to them at least for the next six minutes of recording this podcast as super friends-
Lindsay Ostrom: I like it. I like it a lot.
Bjork Ostrom: … and not just super fans. What does that look like for somebody who is building their thing to start to think about creating content that will be most helpful to people? Like how do you, what does that look like to whether it be a tribe or a super friends, what does that look like to be intentional about going about connecting with those people and creating things that are helpful for those people? And even just considering the idea of a super friend?
Lindsay Ostrom: Can you word, can you say the question again?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. So I think another way to say it would be how do you find super friends?
Lindsay Ostrom: How do you find them?
Bjork Ostrom: How do you get super friends? Yeah, super friends, super fans, a tribe. How do you do that?
Lindsay Ostrom: Yeah, I think that you do that by… I feel like at the core is like dripping out a little, imagine it as like leaving a crumb trail somewhere and seeing which ones people are excited about, which trails do people like. I feel like that helps you to be able to find and create that super friend try. I think we can use that term. So like, here’s an example from Pinch of Yum is I started doing these coffee date posts like two years ago, a year ago. They were just, it was just really random. It was like, “Hey, here’s what’s going on in the month, during the month.” I wrote them in part because I started to include less of that stuff in the recipe blog posts. I was not including as many details about our personal lives in the the recipe posts.
Lindsay Ostrom: But I knew that we probably had some people who had been following for a long enough time. And so I started writing these coffee date posts, and they got a ton of comments, and it was like, “What?” They’re not going viral, they’re not getting a lot of traffic. They’re like our lowest traffic, lowest socially. We don’t even put them on social a lot of times. But they got so many comments and so many people wanted to talk about the stuff that we were talking about or that I was talking about. I think for me that was like the crumb trail that people were like excited about those crumbs. There are other crumb trails that, I might’ve left and that were like less exciting to people, but for whatever reason, this one or another one is like, I did this, what I ate Wednesday thing, and I started at during sugar free January and it was actually my sister.
Lindsay Ostrom: I had a couple people that I know in real life that were like, “Oh, why aren’t you doing those anymore? I really liked those.” And it’s like, “Okay.” These are my super friend people and this might not be the most important content for us from like oh my gosh, it’s going to break the internet perspective. But this is really important because it keeps our connections alive with the people that love Pinch of Yum the most. When I think about who do I want to feel most connected, like it’s them, it’s those people. I think as much as you can like maybe explore different niches or many niches within your content and kind of pay attention, like become a detective of people, where do people… what questions do people ask you about, what are they coming to for advice on or what kind of personal connections do they want to make with you?
Lindsay Ostrom: I think that’s where there’s a lot of potential to kind of build up this group of super friends.
Bjork Ostrom: Love it. We have coined a new term as well. So we’re coming to the end. Lindsay, thank you so much for coming on and talking about this idea of tribes which turned into super fans, which turned into super friends and the basic idea of how do you grow a group of people who know they can trust you and what does that look like to continue to create content for those people. Thank you for coming on. Appreciate it. Any last parting words that you’d have about the concept of super friends?
Lindsay Ostrom: Oh, I just think those are your people. Those are the people that you want to do your best work for. I just think I’m a big believer that like even if sometimes it might mean creating content that’s a little off of the beaten path or isn’t your most popular viral content, but stuff that is engaging for the people that are there and are like most excited about what you’re doing. I think that’s a big win.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. Next step, we’re going to be talking to Abby about growing your audience on social media.
Bjork Ostrom: Abby, welcome back to the podcast.
Abby Bayatpour: Thank you. I’m really happy to be here again.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it’s been fun to have you on the series giving a little sneak peek on some of the behind the scenes for things that are happening in Food Blogger Pro, Pinch of Yum, all the different social accounts that we do. As a fun side note, when I say sneak peek and also ties into social media here, I way back in the day had tweeted something and I tweeted this, by the way, it has nothing to do with what we’re going to be talking about, but I tweeted I said, “There’s going to be a sneak peek.” I spelt it like the peak of a mountain. So I spelled it wrong and there’s a Twitter robot that anytime that somebody misspelled sneak peek would automatically respond and it was called sneak peek mountain or something like that and it was a picture of a mountain and it responded back and it said, “Hey, notice you said sneak peak. I think you met sneak peek.
Bjork Ostrom: It had like thousands and thousands of followers. I was just like, “This is brilliant.” So-
Abby Bayatpour: That’s amazing.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. So it’s not a sneak peak like a mountain. This is a sneak peek behind the scenes for Pinch of Yum, Food Blogger Pro and the things that are happening all around growth. And it’s something that people are so interested in. How do we grow? We have numbers. We want to build a following, we want to build engagement. How do we grow? So we’re going to talk about that in three different areas. One area we’re going to talk about is Instagram. So Instagram is a really important platform. People talk about it a lot. There’s a lot of people using it, millions of people using it. What are your… somebody comes up to you, they say, “Hey, you know, social media, how do I grow my account on Instagram?” It’s that big wide open question. What is your response to them?
Abby Bayatpour: Usually my first response is quality over quantity and content is king. This is one of the big things that we found just in combing through metrics for Food Blogger Pro and Pinch of Yum is that the quality of content really has an impact on growth and engagement and all of the important pieces of Instagram. So a lot of times people are worried that they can’t post once, even like once a day or twice day. My advice for that is if you can post three really high quality, great photos with awesome captions that are really bringing your followers in and enticing them to engage with it, that is way better than trying to post… just trying to post once a day just because that’s what you think you should be doing.
Abby Bayatpour: Having something that maybe is not, not what you’re wanting out of your caption, not as passionate or showing how much you love this recipe or anything like that. I think content is super key just because people can sense when you are passionate about something or consents when it’s a really high quality piece of content. That’s always my first, first thought as well.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. The idea of heart behind what you’re doing and quality. We keep coming back to that on the podcast. We talk about that a lot, but I think it’s so, so true. People, it’s easy to talk about and think about like, “Hey, how much should I be posting?” It’s like, “Well, you should be posting as much as you have something really good and quality to say.” That might not be every day.
Abby Bayatpour: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Exactly. I think that ties into my second fold of piece of advice usually is engagement. So engaging not only if they count to follow, but with other hashtags in your niche or when people comment on your posts, I would say it’s kind of disappointing if you go and you kind of on someone’s photo and you took the time to comment and then that you never hear back from them. Especially if you’re trying to grow your account or really find your true, true followers and true fans. It’s nice to just engage back, even if it’s just with a few of emojis or a short little comment back. I think that’s a really great way to connect with your audience and have people more likely to come back to engage again. And yeah, to me that is, that ties into also finding your true fans.
Abby Bayatpour: So you might have 5,000 or 10,000 followers on Instagram and that’s great, but everyone wants to always want more and more and more, which is the name of the game with Instagram. But it’s nice to think about having a hundred people who really love what you’re saying versus a thousand people who are just so and so and aren’t as excited about what you’re saying. I think changing a mindset too is really important and knowing that, yeah, it’s great to grow your Instagram following and that’s totally important and a lot of people’s top goals but I think it’s also important to realize that the people who are following you are really excited about what you’re posting are the ones that you are really wanting to hone in on.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it’s the social side of social media. I think sometimes we can think of it as the promo side of social media where we’re promoting our thing, and we forget about the social side and and I think that’s such a awesome reminder to think about, hey, the fact that these are other people on the other side that are interested in what you’re doing that are following along and just like, it would be nice if somebody waved at you that you wave back on the street like the same as true on social media. It feels really good to have that reciprocated. So some great takeaways there.
Bjork Ostrom: How about Pinterest? So one of the things that’s important for Pinterest is this idea of, obviously again, quality content and quality content that gets shared. The more that you have content that’s shared, the more exposure it gets in, the more potential there is for growth. So do you have any tips or advice around Pinterest as it relates to getting re-pins and getting exposure to that content so you can grow your accounts?
Abby Bayatpour: Yeah. So one of the things that we’ve talked about in the past up though too is hashtags. Hashtags are more of an SEO sort of friendly way to have to make sure people are finding your content. So using those three to five or six hashtags that are specific to that pin and making sure you’re it becomes really easy to compete, making sure you’re making it really easy for people to find your content is important. Using the proper size of pins. So that is right now 2:3 ratio with a dimension of 1000 by 1500 and this is important because if you are not using the proper size or if you have really, really long pins that are getting cut off, the interest is going to be less likely to show them in the feed.
Abby Bayatpour: Then people are just not going to see it as often. So you’re not really going to see those re-pins or those shares or that kind of snowball effect where people are seeing your content and sharing it and being able to engage with it. So that is another really important piece of the puzzle as well.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s great. It’s interesting because Pinterest so often is changing that like for a long time you could have these really long pins and then they’d come off and then there’s, you know, different dimensions that they would recommend. But two by three is a really good place to start. So you think of a TV screen, 1920 by 1080, right? So it’s horizontal. You can think of two by three, which translates to an example of a two by three ratio would be 1000 pixel with and then 1500 pixel height. So if you need a default stock place to go for your images, 1000 by 1500 is a good place to start for that, for a image that will fit into essentially the little box that you get for displaying a Pinterest image. Is that right?
Abby Bayatpour: Correct. Yep, that’s right. Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. So crafting good content, we always start with that. Making sure to include hashtags to make your content more discoverable. So it’s included in different groupings as people. Let’s say if somebody’s interested in blueberry pancakes, they’d be looking maybe in that hashtag and they could see that and that content would be grouped together. And then making sure that your image size is the correct size that will all help to… all of those things will help increase the likelihood of your content being re-pinned being shared. And that will help not only grow your traffic but also followers that you have on Pinterest. Anything else that you add on the Pinterest side of things as we think about growth as it relates to Pinterest?
Abby Bayatpour: Yeah. So just a couple other quick things. One of them is pinning your most popular content. So I think one of the big rules of thumb for social is pin or post the best and lose the rest. Not necessarily lose it forever, but it just means that maybe your top 10 or 20 posts, you can pin those pretty frequently not overly spammy but just in a way that people are able to see it and see that it’s most popular content for a reason. So making sure it’s out there circulating and regularly getting pinned out to all of your boards, group boards, all of the above is a really great, great way to get that out there and make sure people are seeing it. Then one of the other things that’s just kind of been a game changer for us at Pinch of Yum is if you aren’t doing video, making sure that you’re uploading those videos to Pinterest and using those regularly as well because we saw a really great engagement on those and continue to and it’s just another great way to utilize that video footage if you’re making them already.
Abby Bayatpour: Uploading them to Pinterest is just a really quick win to be able to pop them in there and make sure people are seeing it and there’s more and more videos continuing to show up on the Pinterest feeds. So I think it’ll only continue to grow even more.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. Yeah. And it’s interesting to see that shift for Pinterest. Obviously it didn’t use to be possible. Now there, there was a time where they were kind of playing with it and I forget what it was that we even had to do is like we had to sign up to be an advertiser in order to get access to the video area, even though we wouldn’t necessarily be doing video ads, but it was just like this thing. Pinterest is like, here’s how you do it. But now it’s becoming more and more popular and they’re placing a bigger emphasis on that. So it’s a great thing to be aware of as you think about video and Pinterest together.
Bjork Ostrom: Last area that we want to focus on is Facebook. I thought it’d be interesting to talk about how you can grow a following on Facebook and in a little different way, not with a page necessarily, but with a group. Can you talk about the difference between a page and a group and why people might want to consider groups over pages?
Abby Bayatpour: Sure. So a Facebook page is typically anything that is going to show up in your newsfeed. So when you have your Facebook page, you have posts that will go out to all of the people who have liked the page or anyone that was is within that network as well. It’s kind of more of a static sort of way to push out your content, I would say. So you are pushing it out and giving people a chance to engage. People can like, comment, share all the usual stuff. But a group is a little bit more engaging and a little bit more of a conversational place. So people usually will have groups that are closed or you have to get approved to get into or something of the sort. Then you get into the group and you have a little bit more of a tighter knit community.
Abby Bayatpour: You’re able to talk to your followers in a closer way because with pages you’re, like I said, you’re pushing out that content and kind of hoping someone engages with it and hoping it sort of gets picked up. But with groups people are more likely to see your content. They usually get a notification right away when something is posted or are more likely to comment on something because they know it’s a smaller than you and it just feels a little bit more of a community, like a more of a community aspect, more of a like a give and take where page is kind of a one way street. A group would be a two way street is how I would describe it.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, I kind of view it as like the difference between… so Lindsay and I went to a a Diplo concert in Hawaii when we were there. Now stick with me on this and let me know if this is accurate. So I view it as the difference between Diplo’s Facebook page where I’m like, “Hey, I’m a fan of Diplo. I’m going to follow him on Facebook.” And as many people know who have been doing social media for a long time, Facebook has kind of… has restricted the reach that a page can get. So Diplo probably has millions of followers, but there’s maybe a thousands, only thousands of people that actually see that. Whereas a group, an example of a group could be like maybe next month Diplo is coming to Minneapolis and I gather 30 of my friends and it’s our group page for like going to Diplo together, a Diplo friends page we’re like, “Hey, we’re going to go to this concert. We spin up this page, we talk about how excited we are for it. We post the Diplo’s, latest song, Spicy.
Bjork Ostrom: I think that’s what it is. I don’t know, I’m not a huge Diplo fan. It just happened to be that we went to it. But the idea is like this is, hey, this could be a really small group, but you can also have thousands of followers within a group. It’s just a bigger group, but it functions in the same way of like, “Hey, we’re all hanging out here together.” It’s less of following and more of a hangout people together doing a single thing. So what does that look like for Pinch of Yum? How does content look a little bit different in terms of the interactions and our interactions with other people within a group?
Abby Bayatpour: So for Pinch of Yum we have the Facebook group that is, like you said, it’s a little different than the Facebook page. On the Facebook page we’re typically posting Pinch of Yum recipes, any new content, popular content, pushing out that sort of content to our Facebook followers. Then within the group it’s more like I said, a community aspect. So we post twice a week within the group with prompts or just questions. Sometimes those questions are like, “Hey, do you like pie or cake better? Or where you going this summer on vacation?” Or fun things like let’s see a picture of your pet or your dog. It just feels a little bit more personal because we’re able to, I’m able to, and Lindsay is able to get in there and interact a little bit more with our followers or get to know them on a more personal level where as on the page, it’s just kind of we’re pushing out the content we have where we’re not really doing that within the group.
Abby Bayatpour: In the group it’s more of a hey, we all like food. We usually all like healthy recipes. Let’s talk about that a couple of times a week. If someone made a Pinch of Yum recipe, they post it within the group and it’s really cool just to see people interact over those as well and say that they have like a picky toddler and they love this recipe on Pinch of Yum or someone just asked the other day for recommendations on the best hand mixer or where to eat in Minneapolis. So it’s stuff like that where you don’t necessarily get that on a Facebook page because people can post to pages if you have that setting open, but it just gets a little bit lost. It’s a little bit noisier on a page and in the group it feels a little bit more like, it’s kind of like introvert, extrovert, introvert probably thrive a little bit more in a group because it’s a little bit smaller and calmer. Then on the page it’s just a lot more noise. There’s a lot more going on.
Bjork Ostrom: Yup. Got it. So if people wanted to check that out to see how that works, would there be a way that they could join the Pinch of Yum VIP group? Not only to be a part of it but also just to see kind of the inner workings of how that works?
Abby Bayatpour: Yeah, so you can just search Pinch of Yum VIP. I just double checking the page name yeah. Pinch of Yum VIP team on Facebook and I go ahead and approve everyone who’s into the group and then you can get in there and post in your questions or tell us if you made a recipe or interact with us and we post little questions in there so we’d love to have you.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. Hey, that’s great. Abby, thanks so much for coming on and talking about ways that we can be considering growth as content creators.
Abby Bayatpour: Yeah, of course.
Bjork Ostrom: So next up we’re going to talk about a little bit about kind of some of the tools that you can use. So we’ve talked about what it looks like to grow your audience, some of the tactics, but there’s also lots of tools that you could use. So let’s jump in and talk about tools and software and all of the things that you can be doing behind the scenes to help with tracking growth.
Bjork Ostrom: So the thing that I’m going to be talking about today is actually some tools for tracking and promoting growth. And these are tools that some are free, some are paid, and all of them are tools that you should at some point in your journey consider putting in your tool belt, your virtual digital tool belt. So one of the tools that we have started to use more and more for Pinch of Yum and the other sites that we have is a tool called Ahrefs or all different variations of how people say that it’s actually a competitor to SCM or SEMrush. The basic idea is it’s a search engine tool for understanding how your content is showing up in search results. We’ve used that in a few different ways. One of the ways which we’ve talked about in the podcast before is we will look for pieces of content that we can optimize and when we find those pieces of content we’re going in and refreshing that post and then we’re oftentimes moving that up to the front of the blog.
Bjork Ostrom: So the most recent, at least as of the recording of this podcast, the most recent time that we did that was with the peach cobbler post. One of the things that we found was that was ranking kind of in position four or five, six, maybe seven. We went through the process of updating it and we put it to the front of the blog. And then it was, it bumped it spot to number two in search results. So Ahrefs helped to surface that post that we could go back and say, “Hey, if we can bring this from position six to position two or whatever it ended up being one or two, we’re going to have a lot of positive benefits that come from that and it’s going to be probably easier to get to position two with the preexisting posts that’s kind of hanging down at the bottom of a search result page.
Bjork Ostrom: Then creating a new piece of content and having that show up high at least as quickly as it would with an update and we can see those changes happen within one to two days of updating and republishing that post. Now a lot of that has to do with the age of a site like Pinch of Yum. It’s been around for a long time and so when we update a piece of content, Google is going to crawl that really quick and reflect some of those changes quickly. It’s not true across the board. If you’re early stages with your site might take a little bit longer. But the basic idea is we’re using a tool like Ahrefs to understand our content as it relates to search results in surfacing pieces of content that we can optimize, not just new pieces of content that we would create. So Ahrefs is a great tool for that.
Bjork Ostrom: Another really great tool that most bloggers are aware of, but my guess is most bloggers don’t lean into it enough, don’t use it enough, don’t dig into the all of them. The metrics and analytics that come along with it is Google analytics. A real quick takeaway, just a basic thing that you can do with Google analytics that has to do with tracking growth is using the annotation feature. Now we use this pretty often for the different sites that we have. And essentially what the annotation feature does is it’s just a way to go into Google analytics and make a note. So an example would be when we updated that peach cobbler post, we went into Google analytics, we made a little note and we said essentially updated peach cobbler post. What it does is it records the date that that annotation was made and you can have a note that’s like 160 characters long or something like that, and then you can go in and look back at the historical changes you’ve made and see the impact that that has had on the specific post or on your blog overall.
Bjork Ostrom: Another example would be if you’re changing hosts, that was a really important change for us. We went from a host called Media Temple and we switched to WP Engine, and in making that switch we wanted to know, “Hey, did this have an impact on any of these metrics that we’re tracking and that we are aware of?” We went into Google Analytics, we created an annotation, and now we can look back and say, “Hey, was there any noticeable change that happened at that point when we made the switch to a different host?” Now there’s ways that you can track in a notes app or all different sorts of ways that you can create your own kind of manual annotation. But the nice thing is that if it’s in Google Analytics, it’s available for you to see if you have other team members who you’re working with.
Bjork Ostrom: It can be a shared annotation so they can see it. So you have this kind of public or it’s private to your team but private to you, but shared place where you can have all of these notes and historical information about the changes or updates that you’ve made to your site over time. So Google Analytics is a great tool for tracking growth and the changes that you make over time. My guess is you might think you’ll remember when that happens, but once you get a few months out, it starts to get fuzzy and especially a few years out, you really start to forget a lot of those important changes that you made. So a quick tip for tracking growth would be using annotations within Google Analytics. It’s a great way to go in and then you can do comparables and you can say, “Hey, show me before and after this change was made.”
Bjork Ostrom: And you can start to see some important trends as it relates to the changes you’re making. Related to that, another free tool from Google that we talk about often is Google Search Console and Google Analytics tells you all of the information about what’s happening on your site. So somebody comes to your site, it’s all the analytics about the information or all of the analytics about the data that’s collected from somebody that is using your site. Google Search Console is kind of the step before that as it relates to search. So Google gives you access to really insightful and interesting information as it relates to the way that people are finding your site on search. You might have some information from Google that you’re able to surface that is actionable information. We’ve talked about it before on the podcast, but you can see things like how many people are seeing a search result of yours versus actually clicking on it.
Bjork Ostrom: Or you can see the general position of a certain keyword that people are using and where it lands in search results. So that’s kind of a similar tool to Ahrefs except the great thing with Google Search Console is that data is free within Google Search Console. So Google Search Console is a great, or GSC, which I’ll use from now on to make it a little bit easier to say. So GSC is great because it’s not only is it free, but that’s data directly from Google. So you’re able to see how people are experiencing your site as it relates to a search engine. There’s super helpful information about historical changes that have happened, ranking of sites click through versus impression. But the other great thing about Google Search Console, GSC is that they will notify you about things that might be a little bit off with your site.
Bjork Ostrom: So if you have recipes, they’ll notify you, “Hey, things look a little bit off with how your recipe is displaying.” You might need to tweak your structured data or reach out to the plugin company that creates the WordPress plugin if you notice that, “Hey, this information should be displayed like cook time, but it’s not, for some reason.” GSC will allow you to kind of audit your site in a way to surface some of that actionable insightful information. So if you haven’t yet set it up, I would encourage you to as a first step, just go through the process of setting it up and getting it running until you have that data on your site. Then when you are ready, you can jump in and actually take a look at it because there’s some really cool things that you can pull from a GSC along with Google Analytics.
Bjork Ostrom: And those two things are free. They don’t cost anything. All it takes is some time and it’s an energy to really invest into understanding that information and to use that to pull out some actionable next steps as it relates to the growth for your site, both tracking it, saying, “Okay, made this change and how did that impact things.” As well as finding ways for you to to get a little bit more growth from your site. Maybe this simple example being, finding a piece of content that’s not ranking quite as well and going in and atomizing that, fixing that up and pushing it to the front of your blog. And what you’ll notice is in a tool like GSC or Ahrefs if you pay for a membership, is that a lot of times what will happen is that process of updating a piece of content, moving it to the front of your blog, will correlate to an increased position in search results.
Bjork Ostrom: So some cool tools, those kind of all relate to search and search optimization. But those are things that we have been using lately, and so I wanted to mention those as we were talking about growth and noticed there’s a little bit of a rhythm with those coming up occasionally because those are critical tools for bloggers and people who are building a business online. So that is a wrap for this episode. Talking all about growth and that is one of important things for a business that you’re building online for a blog. You want to think about how are ways that we can be improving, optimizing and growing this thing that we are doing. If you have any questions related to this or really any questions at all, we’re doing kind of a fun thing on Monday, September 23rd at 1:00 PM which is AMA Ask Me Anything and we’re going to answer questions about anything.
Bjork Ostrom: I’m going to be doing a live recording of that for the podcast and if you want to submit a question ahead of time, you can go to foodbloggerpro.com/ask and we are excited to do a little AMA. Podcast AMA where we’re going to be answering questions about all things blogging. Maybe you have a business question, maybe you have a question about a dog, Sages favorite treat. Any of those could be questions that you could ask and we will do our best to answer as many as possible. Thanks for tuning in. Thanks for listening. If you haven’t yet subscribed to the podcast, I would encourage you to do that.
Bjork Ostrom: You can do that on just about any podcast app. Just hit that subscribe button and if you would be so kind as to leave a review we would really appreciate it because that is one of the main ways that we track what we’re doing. It’s a… we don’t have a paid version of the podcast. Everything that we do podcast related is free and available to everybody. One of the only things that we consistently ask for is if you have a minute, if you have, I will call it six minutes of your day and you have gotten something from the podcast and would be so kind as to leave a review. We would really appreciate that on any podcast app that you use. That is a wrap. Thanks so much for tuning in and make it a great week. Thanks.