How to use Google Analytics’ Trackbacks to create a killer content strategy

As you craft your content strategy, this new tool can provide essential information about online cross-pollination.

Google Analytics has added a Trackbacks section to its social analytics data.

Though bloggers will know all about trackbacks and why it’s nice to get them, businesses may not be aware of their importance. Yet as the social Web in particular continues to be graded, trackbacks could become even more important, especially in the eyes of Google, as they look to rank the authority of content and that content’s creators.

So why is this new Trackbacks addition to Google Analytics important, and how can you use it to build your content strategy?

The validation factor

Here’s a definition from Webopedia:

TrackBack is a type of peer-to-peer communication system that was designed to send notification of updates between two websites via a trackback ping. Ping in reference to TrackBack refers to a small message sent from one Web server to another. TrackBacks are useful for informing a website that you have referenced its website within your own website, and is popular with bloggers. TrackBack was first released as an open specification in August 2002.

If I write a post and reference content elsewhere, I’m providing a trackback to the article. The reason bloggers like trackbacks is simple: A trackback offers validation that your content is seen as informative enough that someone else wants to share with their readers.

The potential results of that share, or trackback, are numerous.

  • New readers or subscribers;
  • New potential customers;
  • Growth of influence;
  • Identified as a thought leader in your industry;
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) benefits.

These are just some immediate effects; however, by understanding what trackbacks are and the potential they offer, you can identify opportunities for your business to use the new Google Analytics feature in your content strategy.

Using Trackbacks in your content strategy

As brand reps begin to understand the importance of content as part of their marketing strategy, using every tool in the toolbox becomes essential to outshining competitors and attracting eyeballs.

There are many ways to do this. For example, being part of Google+ Communities or Linkedin Groups, where you can share your content with regards a topic of discussion (in a non-spammy, relevant way, of course).

You can also encourage social sharing via Twitter, Facebook, employee accounts, etc., or you could join a blog aggregator service such as Triberr to increase your content’s visibility.

You can use the additional information available on Trackbacks in your Google Analytics dashboard to build a content strategy into the bigger picture.

  • Head over to the blog or article in question, and thank the author, giving you more visibility to their audience, and showing you appreciate these referrals. It gives a good impression of how you do business.
  • Identify the most popular content when it comes to Trackbacks, and use those data to build a series (or a series of series) around these topics.
  • Identify the type of blogs that are sending readers your way, and determine whether there’s a partnership opportunity.
  • Identify blogs that send a lot of new traffic via Trackbacks, and link to them as opposed to their competitors, building a relationship that could turn into business.
  • Offer a value-added service to clients by filtering where they could improve their content and what type of information they could start to produce.

These are quick, simple changes to help improve your own content strategy (and that of your clients). As the new Trackbacks service solidifies, expect more examples to become clear.

When you tie that into the information available from the Data Activity Hub (click image to expand), that shows where your content is creating conversations elsewhere across the Web, you can see the advantages for your brand.

Understanding your traffic and how you can utilize that is crucial for bloggers and brands alike. Google understands this and is giving you all the tools you need to make better judgment calls, as well as strategic decisions.

Are you taking sufficient advantage of these tools?

Danny Brown is vice president of product intelligence at Jugnoo, Inc. He blogs at, where a version of this article originally ran. (Image via)

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