Our Top 10 Posts from 2017 + Medium Publishing Analysis

Our before/after experience of publishing on Medium. Oh, and our top 10 posts of 2017.

Our Top 10 Posts from 2017 + Medium Publishing Analysis

A new year provides time to look back and retrospect.

I’m going to share a few actions we took in 2017 based on what I was seeing with our own content strategy along with our top 10 posts of the year.

A quick background in case you aren’t familiar with Elevar:

We’re a tool (😂) that automates data analysis & insight curation that launched into beta February 2017. We focus on eCommerce + Google Analytics + Digital Marketing. We spent ~5 months testing our beta product with eCommerce businesses and agencies from across the world. The goal was to get as much feedback as we could to validate a market and ensure we’re solving for the right problems.

So – we needed traffic, but very specific and targeted traffic – eCommerce + Google Analytics + Digital Marketing folks.

We also wanted “free” or as close to sweat equity “free” as possible.

I’ve been in eCommerce & analytics for nearly 14 years now…from my first startup in 2005 to the digital agency world building and optimizing eCommerce websites the previous six years to Elevar.

We were brainstorming and someone said “Hey – I’ve been reading Medium a lot. You should just start writing on Medium. No development needed to get going, just words.”

Perfect!

I don’t consider myself a content marketing expert, but I do enjoy the challenge of looking at the #’s and pivoting/testing strategies that I think may work.

So, on October 19th, 2016 I published our first article on Medium.

First pageviews!

The reception was amazing – 0 total pageviews! Well, maybe our GA code wasn’t setup yet on Medium so I’m sure I’m missing 1,000+ pageviews from day 1.

Fast forward to today and we’ve had steady growth even while breaking the cardinal rule of content marketing – consistency. My last post on Medium was April 25th, 2017 and next post wasn’t until late September after we launched this fancy new site you’re reading today.

Quite the gap, but 8 out of 12 months posting regularly isn’t tooooo bad.

Here’s a look at our user trendline through the end of the year.

ga users

So Why Did I Stop Posting on Medium?

Well, this was a mix of:

  1. Focusing my time on our application and talking with our customers
  2. Planning our v1
  3. I wanted to “own” our traffic
  4. I wanted to get our blog to a subfolder for improved SEO (e.g. getelevar.com/blog instead of blog.getelevar.com)
  5. Laziness?

When researching the pro’s and con’s of posting on Medium for SEO, # 3 was the biggest drawback from critics. At the time, it didn’t really matter for us since we were starting with 0 and the cost to try and test Medium was minimal.

After ~ 5-6 months of posting, and our app live in beta where we needed more users, it really started to hurt that I couldn’t retarget those users who read our content on Medium.

We tried acquiring via email signup embeds on Medium but our results were mediocre at best. So the decision was made – we have to get to blogging on our own site.

We most definitely acquired Elevar followers and paid customers via Medium so I would do the same thing again (well, almost the same thing 🙂 ).

I’ll go back to posting on Medium again by syndicating content and writing Medium-only posts however our focus is owning our content on our domain.

I do want to give big props to Medium though – they make it really easy to do as much as you can to “own” your Medium publication SEO. We even wrote about it which made our top 10 list :).

How Did the Blog Migration Go?

In short, great. Medium support was super responsive in updating our Medium hosted articles with new canonical URLs.

We launched this new blog on September 15th with a simple lift and shift of some (not all) of our old posts on Medium.

Below are the #’s from the week prior and the week after of our blog page segment only.

before-after-medium

I performed a before/after analysis via Search Console (see how to do the same here) to track our top performing queries and we actually started to improve positions within a few days of launch.

I was pretty shocked at how fast everything updated – rankings, URLs, etc. I don’t think we did anything groundbreaking, just followed best practices.

Why?

Only Google knows. But this reinforced the believe that subfolder outranks subdomain site structure. Moz had a similar experience as well. Rand quotes:

“Moz moved our Beginner’s Guide to SEO from guides.moz.com to moz.com itself. Rankings rose immediately, with no other changes. We ranked higher not only for “seo guide” (outranking Google themselves) but also for “beginners guide” a very broad phrase.”

Top Posts of 2017

Wow, that took a while to get to the original intent of this post! On to our top 10 posts of 2017 (no matter where they originated!). I included the average 100% scroll depth for each article which I setup with a combination of custom and calculated metrics for a bit of context.

100percent-scroll-depth

We also track other metrics on each post however if you’re a savvy analyst you probably already know how to view those without me telling you :).

# 10: Google Analytics Guide for Shopify (but pretty much same with Magento, etc)

This might be my longest post of the year..that based on performance could probably use some refreshing.

# 9: Campaign URL Builder Tips

The what it is and why it matters for attribution article on campaign tracking which continues to be a thorn in marketers’ side.

# 8: How to Hide UTM Parameters from URL via GTM

This post originated from trying to find a way to creatively brand URLs on social, like Instagram, while also appending campaign data so our clients know what profiles/shares drive traffic instead of using paid versions of bit.ly etc.

# 7: How to Manage SEO on Medium

Ahh, yes. Classic case of looking at what people are searching for and seeing the results out there..which was minimal. This may be a bit outdated (I should update) but spiked right away due to the amount of intent last year.

# 6: Track Net Profit and Gross Margin in Google Analytics

This is one of my personal favorites because of the #’s :). This shows how to utilize Calculated Metrics in Google Analytics to help create profitability reports for AdWords campaign and keyword reports.

# 5: How to Implement Native GTM Scroll Tracking

This showed how to implement scroll depth tracking in GTM in less than 5 minutes.

# 4: How to Use Data Highlighter in Search Console

This tutorial showed before and after effects of using the native data highlighter tool to train Google on your site architecture and content.

# 3: GTM Tutorial for Shopify and Magento

This went in depth breaking down tags, triggers, and variables and provided a pre-built container to import into GTM with examples.

# 2: How to Implement GTM in Shopify

This little post showed how to implement GTM in Shopify w/o having to edit liquid files.

# 1: Solving for the Duplicate URL in Google Analytics

This started as a quick custom filter tutorial to improve reporting in Google Analytics but morphed into a duplicate content post based on type of traffic it was generating.

So there you have it! A little bit of insight into our 2017 content marketing as well as our top 10 posts.

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Brad Redding

Brad, co-founder of Elevar, has lived in eCommerce for over 12 years. He's helped design, build, and optimize over 100 websites in his career. From new retail startups to well-known brands like Le Creuset, Signature Hardware, Rebecca Minkoff, Char-Broil and more, he specializes in data analytics and conversion optimization to help achieve business goals.

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