7 Free Tools for Tracking Blog Post Performance

Blogging Tips via abeautifulmess.comHey, there. Trey here, again. Given that so many of you have some kind of website or blog yourself, I figured I’d share some of the tools I’ve come across for keeping up with individual posts’ performances. It’s incredibly useful information if you’re considering starting or building a sponsorship program or if you’re just looking to grow your blog and want to see which posts perform the best. But it’s also just kind of fun to see the numbers—if you’re into, like, counting and stuff.

For those of you working for or running a small business, you’ve probably noticed there is no shortage of figuring it out as you go. Actually, I think that’s probably true of any size company. I always think a company’s infrastructure must be so advanced and thorough, until I start working there. It’s actually kind of relieving to realize, “Oh, you’re all just doing your best here too? Cool, I can do that.”

The point is, when E+E wanted me to reshape and rebuild their sponsorship program, the first thing I needed was numbers, but the structure in place was pretty limited. They already had Google Analytics, which I’ll talk a little about below, but it wasn’t giving them a clear view of individual post pageviews, and tracking clicks felt incredibly tedious. 

The only view of social activity we had was BlogLovin likes and checking the live feed of pins coming from our site. And to be clear, that pin feed doesn’t tell us how many pins or anything, so we were just guessing based on how dense it would get with one post or another. 

So I researched (googled) and researched (more googling + a few clueless emails) for anything I could find that would help us keep track more accurately. Here are some of my favorite free tools:

SOCIAL MEDIA SHARES

Anymore, without some sort of social media activity around your post, it’s unlikely it’ll see much long-term attention. So here are some tools to keep an eye on:

Pin Count: We’re very much a Pinterest blog, so this is an especially important number for us. If you drop your link into this tool, it’ll tell you how many pins (including repins) your post got. This was the first social counting tool we found.

SharedCount: Like ShareTally, it aggregates shares across multiple social networks, though it only tracks 6 vs. 21. But to be fair, it tracks the 6 most used. So you can add a share counter on your blog using data this site pulls, BUT they charge for that functionality.

AddThis: Unlike the rest, this won’t simply let you input a link and output social totals for you. It’s a tool you can add to your site to track your social activity. We use AddThis for the social counters you see at the bottom of each post. It has some pretty narrow free options that make it possible to add a share total to the bottom of your posts. The catch is that you have to use their designs, unless you’ve got someone very code savvy. And the most useful tools they offer require that you purchase a pro package.

Track blog post performance! (click through for more information)TRACKING INDIVIDUAL POST PAGEVIEWS

If you’ve got any kind of site, chances are your backend has some sort of built-in tool to track total pageviews for your site, maybe a little more. And hopefully you’ve installed Google Analytics (super free and super awesome) to dive even deeper. But the catch with most popular blog formats (no jumps) is that you can’t really get an accurate count of pageviews for an individual post. While Google Analytics will let you see how many pageviews a specific URL is getting, readers can see your post a few ways: homepage, page 2/page 3/etc., and the individual URL itself. And there’s no easy way to add all that together, UNLESS you use a tracking pixel.

Beak: From my searching, this is the only tool I’d recommend, because everything else I found was either miserably complicated or charging way too much. And for its base functionality, Beak is completely free (they have more in-depth reporting for a small fee). So here’s how it works:

    1. You click “Create Tracker” and go through the prompts until it gives you your tracking pixel link, which is just an image link, but that image is only a 1×1 transparent pixel.
(link looks like: https://beakit.com/ppe289pl) 
    2. You just need a little html here to code it as an image:
<img src=”http://BEAKIT LINK HERE” alt=”track” />
    3. Then, drop that code into the bottom of your post in the HTML view.
    4. Once your post is published, every time that 1×1 pixel loads, it counts one view. So ultimately, every time your post loads, it starts counting—giving you pageviews for your individual posts. You can track those results by dropping your WebBeak link into the “Track Results” section of the site.

Track blog post performance! (click through for more information)TRACKING LINKS

If you’re working with sponsors at all, they always want to know how many clicks they’ve gotten from working with you. There are a lot of ways you can pull this off, and Google Analytics has a built-in system for it, but it can get a little complicated if all you’re looking for is the total number of clicks. The easiest way to get that information in my opinion is using the link shortening services:

goo.gl: This is Google’s link shortener, and it’s what we use any time we need a tracking link in a pinch. It tells you exactly how many clicks the link got and where in the world the clicks are coming from.

bitly: You’ve no doubt heard of bitly, as their links are everywhere. They also happen to have a pretty robust amount of data on the links you create, a little more socially in depth than goo.gl. Which you use really just depends on how much information you need.

Hmm…

Welp, that was a whole lot of words next to each other. Sorry to anyone with absolutely no interest in blog metrics who I just bored into a coma, so here’s an old picture from my phone, because lol. 

Track blog post performance! (click through for more information)Anyway, those are some of our go-to free tools for tracking our blog posts. Like I said, even if you aren’t necessarily looking to start an ad program or anything, it’s still fun to see how those numbers play out. I get into more specifics about starting a sponsorship program (pricing, etc.) in our Blog Life course if you’re more interested in that side of it.

Of course, if you’ve got any questions about the tools above, let me know, and I’ll try to answer to the best of my understanding. –Trey

Credits // Author and Pug Photography: Trey George, Other Photography: Elsie Larson

  • Okay, I NEEDED this! I just launched my new blog this month and was looking for free tracking options! Thank you so very much, Trey, you saved me lots of time.

    Circus & Bloom
    ♥♥♥

  • Okay, I NEEDED this! I just launched my new blog this month and was looking for free tracking options! Thank you so very much, Trey, you saved me lots of time.

    Circus & Bloom
    ♥♥♥

  • Wow, this is awesome! I work in social media marketing and I still haven’t heard of most of these. It’s so rewarding to be able to track what of your content is doing well, isn’t it?

    Cat
    http://oddlylovely.com

  • I feel like this post was an answer to my prayers! I’ve been trying to figure out how to track exactly what you are discussing, but get so overwhelmed whenever I try to google and look into it. Thank you for putting this together in an easy to understand way for analytics dummies like myself! 🙂 xo,D

  • This is a super good resource. I’m considering taking the blog-life course it’s cool that you guys talk about this type of stuff too!

  • I’d recommend StatCounter for website stats. It’s free, super easy to use, and they also have a free WordPress plugin. I’ve been using it on my blog for years.

  • Brilliant links and advice! I have been looking for a pinterest stat website for a while now and don’t know how I overlooked sharetalley! It sounds brilliant!

    Jenna || Jennafifi.co.uk

  • My husband and I both work in advertising sales operations/planning. I always share your posts with him, Trey, and then we nerd out and go on forever about our opinions, what’s applicable to what we’re doing, etc. Since we’re coming at it from an ad angle, the numbers are the best part! We love counting and stuff! You gotta be able to project what kind of reach and to what demo(s) your adspace/promotion provides in order to set a rate in order to sell it. (so. much. work.) We work primarily in audio (radio and podcasts) so learning the world of web content ad sales is fascinating. Thanks, Trey!

  • I hadn’t even thought about the fact that individual posts on my site didn’t have their own tracking, but a pixel is so easy to implement. Thank you for this!

  • Trey – I LITERALLY was just messing around with researching tracking tools for my new blog and decided to take a “mental break” from work and come to ABM (which I do every day!). Wouldn’t you believe I laughed out loud when I saw that this was the most current post. THANK YOU.

    Sara, from theinspiredliving.com

    🙂

  • Thankyou so much for this info, the timing is perfect! I have a question about Webbeak, do I need to put the code into every post from now on or will the one time be sufficient? Probably a silly question, but I’m not too cluey on code.
    Thanks
    SaltyBug

  • guys, this is super helpful! I hope you don’t mind if I share it with readers at my blog, of course I will link it back to you 🙂
    hugs!!

  • So helpfull your post…i tried to use the Google one but i funk it quite complicated…Maybe i should try and some of the others that you recommend ^_^

    BubblyBeauty

  • I love these kind of posts! It’s so helpful, and not that your recipe posts are helpful too, but I love reading about the little things you do to run your blog so successfully! Thanks for sharing, Trey!

  • I am a media planner/buyer and just wanted to say you did an excellent job at this post, Trey. Bravo!

  • have you played around with statcounter at all? it’s what i have used for awhile. i’m not super tech savvy, so i’m not sure of all it’s capabilities, but it is easy for me to use and seems to offer a lot of info. mainly, i can tell that probably only my mom and best friends read my blog.. 😉 haha

  • Yeah, it’s weird. I’ve been tasked with tracking social media for a lot of clients at my previous jobs, and you’d think there’d be a more (Google Analytics-esque) ubiquitous solution to this. But nope. There are just a whole bunch of random free sites that stay on top of the social APIs. Who knew?

    -Trey

  • What’s nice about WordPress is you can always add new plugins. With us being on Typepad, we needed tools that worked independent of plugins. That said, if you do a little searching, you can find some WordPress plugins that’ll track this information on the backend for you—at least the social stuff.

    -Trey

  • Radio and podcast advertising has always fascinated me. Truth be told, I primarily listen to comedian podcasts (WTF, You Made it Weird, etc.), but their ad programs seem really interesting. On websites, there’s a whole page to look at, you can easily skim past a post or an ad, or just visually block out banner ads (not to mention AdBlock). But with podcasts, and radio, you essentially have 1 stream of media the listener can’t really deviate from (outside fast-forwarding, changing the channel, etc.), so in theory you’ve got one the most engaged audiences. Anyway, sorry to ramble.

    tl;dr. Your jobs sound cool.
    -Trey

  • Interesting. I sat on a call with someone from ClickTale a while back, which sounds very similar to this. But it was just waaaay too much money for the service it was providing. This seems to be a little bit more fairly priced.

    Thanks for passing on,
    Trey

  • It’s weird that something as seemingly easy as googling can just start melting your brain. I can’t tell you how many various search combinations I tried before finally landing on the right terms to find the stuff I needed. Anyway, hope this helps you out!

    -Trey

  • So I’ve only done a little bit of research on StatCounter and haven’t actually used it, so take this with a huge grain of salt. That said, my understanding is that’s very similar to Google Analytics with a few minor differences (StatCounter can track users with javascript disabled and can provide of a log of traffic, including IP addresses—Google Analytics doesn’t). Other than that, it’s more of a top-level traffic tool and can run into the same limitations as Google Analytics: individual post pageviews, clicks, social.

    In short, StatCounter is great! I would just recommend using it in addition to some of the tools listed above to supplement any data you’re not getting from StatCounter.

    -Trey

  • I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS POST. It has been so helpful to me in so many ways. Thank you!

    Also, that pic on the bottom. Stahp. so cute.

  • Fun fact: some of the most widely listened to podcasts are from ex wrestlers. I had NO idea before I started that there was so much overlap between “podcast listeners” and “wrestler fans.” Blows my mind.

    I can’t even imagine having to account for RSS feeds, adblocker, readers who may visit abeautifulmess.com, but don’t click onto a specific post, etc. So many variables! Sounds really hard. And I’m super impressed by the number of advertisers and tastefully done promotional content on this site. So kudos to you!

  • Share tally sounds amazing, I will have to try it out, thanks for the recommendation!

    xx Kelly
    Sparkles and Shoes

  • I tried Pin Count and Share Tally, but neither one was remotely accurate based on when I actually go into pinterest and see all of the pins (also see all the traffic from pinterest), etc. It basically said that I had zero or fewer than 4 shares across each platform, when I’ve seen on specific facebook post be shared 400+ times.

    Kind of weird…

  • I think StatCounter kick but it is also a very useful and complete much better than Google Analytics tool. I’ll advise. Best regards¡¡ 🙂

  • Squarespace offers an iPhone app and SEO section that lets you monitor the metrics as well. It helps me a lot as a beginner since I just launched my new blog 🙂 this would be good for the future though

  • I use both shorteners – goo.gl and bitly, but bitly seems to be more comfortable to me and I use it more often than goo.gl. I will definitely try the other tools you mentioned, especially WebBeak and ShareTally! Thank you the info, I’m sure it was helpful for many bloggers!

  • That is weird. Both tools are just using the same APIs the share counters that you’re using at the bottom of your posts currently, so you’ll find those counts line up about the same. There are a lot of variables that can keep shares from accurately getting associated with a certain link. It’s just a limitation on the social networks’ APIs, so no tool can compensate.

    A big one for us, not using jumps, we get a lot of a pins referencing a specific post but linking to our homepage (abeautifulmess.com) or abeautifulmess.com/page/2/. Sadly there’s no tool out there that can compensate that, so you just have to optimize your share buttons the best you can ensuring they share the specific URL.

    -Trey

  • Anne – how did you find out about Jetpacks? I have a WP blog and have been asking for stats by post – they’re still looking in to it (via forums) but sounds like there is a tool?

    I want to try this blog’s rec of WebBeak, but need to self host – not quite there yet. Inching toward it each and every day – plus my URL is taken hoping it will be released as it’s just a parked domain right now.

    Great input and fairly easy to understand.
    TAF

  • Question… I commented earlier but am now looking seriously at WebBeak as WP said I could absolutely use it.
    Can you insert it in a previously viewed post or ONLY NEW ones? I looked at WebBeak’s FAQs, but they’re sparse and not that support is only given to subscribers.
    Thought you may know this by chance?

  • Great tips – thanks for sharing! Sometimes it’s so overwhelming because of the sheer volume of tools out there, but it’s really helpful to know what the pros (yeah, you guys are pros) are doing!

  • This is more for full blog views, but I really love briefmetrics.com – i’m often too busy to check analytics (or forget entirely) and this sends me an email overview each week. Really handy. Not free though, but totally worth it because otherwise I’d never remember to check my stats!

  • Sorry, I’m just now seeing this comment. WebBeak can be inserted on any post. But it will only count the impressions from the time it was inserted moving forward. So it wouldn’t be able to tell you all the pageviews a post got prior to inserting the WebBeak.

    Does that make sense?
    -Trey

  • Hi Trey,

    Love your detailed explanation! I’ve been using the bitly and Google shortener links for quite a while now. But lately it has been really messy, I just have too many links to keep a proper overview and me Excel sheet is overflowing, literally…I have hundreds of links. I’ve been looking for a paid click tracking tool. So far the only trustworthy tool I’ve found was https://deberoo.com/clickmagick-review/. Basically, this guy had the same issue as me. But I think it might be a bit too high end for my blog it also has a monthly commitment and I rather just pay once. Do you by any chance have a recommend paid link tracking software, like a little professional but not too much.

    Love,

    James

  • Love your detailed explanation! I’ve been using the bitly and Google shortener links for quite a while now. But lately it has been really messy, I just have too many links to keep a proper overview and me Excel sheet is overflowing, literally…I have hundreds of links. I’ve been looking for a paid click tracking tool. So far the only trustworthy tool I’ve found was >
    Basically, this guy had the same issue as me. But I think it might be a bit too high end for my blog it also has a monthly commitment and I rather just pay once. Do you by any chance have a recommend paid link tracking software, like a little professional but not too much.

  • Link shorteners can work well for tracking the number of clicks however you should use a real tracking software solution such as clickmagick for your day to day marketing. It’s very easy to lose money if you’re purchasing paid traffic with PPC and it’s very important to know your numbers at all times.

  • Great info you have here Trey! Blogging is outstanding amongst other approaches to develop your business on the web. Blogs give you the opportunity to showcase your brand as an authority, publish consistent content and get more traffic to your website. However, creating, sorting out, distributing and promoting content can take a lot of time. Fortunately, there are some awesome blogging tools that help make the procedure simpler for advertisers who need to execute blogging into their content marketing strategy. The most ideal approach to track your blog is to figure out how to check blog activity. Tracking blog traffic early and frequently implies you can stop focusing on topics that don’t acquire perusers and deliver more of the content that works. I enjoyed reading your article Trey!

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