Tracking Your Blog Post SEO Meta Tag Data

by Sherryl Perry on February 6, 2013

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Tracking and measuring is very important to running a successful business. If you don’t know what you’ve done and when you’ve done it, how else do you know what’s working and not working? For example, if you suddenly see an increase or decrease in sales or leads, will you know what the cause of it is? Was it a particular promotion or a new source of traffic to your website? Was it a traditional marketing strategy or an online strategy? Arming yourself with data can provide the insight that you need to make strategic decisions as well as provide help with normal daily operations.

Last week, I covered the basics of how to enter SEO meta-tag data and how to optimize your images before you publish your blog posts. At the end of that article, I promised to share tips with you on how I keep track of my SEO data for my articles. Tracking my data (while I’m creating my post in the WordPress admin screen), ensures that I don’t miss entering any important information. It also provides me with an overall snapshot of the content on my blog. I can easily see which categories, tags and keywords I’ve used and it helps me to avoid overusing keywords in my meta tags. After I’ve published my post and I’m ready to submit it to sites like BizSugar, I have quick access to the description, tags, etc. and I can easily copy and paste them.

Which Software Program Should You Use?

I like to keep it simple and I tend to use either a spreadsheet or a word processing program to keep track of information. To track the changes that I make to my blog and my social media strategy, I use an Excel spreadsheet. The reason I chose a spreadsheet is because I often use the “sort” and “search” functions when I’m analyzing a tactic or strategy.

For example, in the column that I’ve labeled “subject”, I’ll enter the name of any plugin that I’ve activated, deactivated or updated along with the date and the specifics. If a new error or issue pops up, I can look at my spreadsheet to help determine the most likely cause (of course I immediately suspect that a plugin is involved). If my Google Analytics shows an increase or decrease in traffic from a specific referral site, I can use the search function to find any changes I’ve made regarding that particular site.

However, I do not use Excel to track my SEO data for my blog posts. Instead, I use a word processing program because I have access to a spellchecker and the “word count” tool.  Word count comes in handy because only a limited amount of characters display in the search engine results. For example your “title” field should only contain 70 characters and your “description” should be 155 characters or less. It’s much easier to enter this in Word first and then copy and paste the data into WordPress. Also, it’s important to not overuse the same keywords and to not repeat the same text in each field. By maintaining this data in a document, you can see at a glance which keywords you’ve used and where.

What Does My SEO Data Tracking Document Look Like?

It’s a simple 8 column table in landscape format. The heading/information that I key are:

  • The number of the post: (I refer to this number in a worksheet that I maintain to track changes for this blog and in a separate worksheet that tracks the sites that I’ve submitted it to.)
  • The blog title: (70 characters including spaces)
  • The meta-tag data for the images: (I include the file name, alternate text and description. If I used captions, I would include those too.)
  • The description for the article: (150 characters including spaces)
  • Keywords
  • Category
  • Tags
  • Date Published

I hope some of you find this helpful. Writing and publishing blog posts can be time consuming but I find that tools like this help me to organize my thoughts and stay on track. Do you use documents and worksheets to manage your business? What works best for you?

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Megan Hargreaves
Twitter:
May 1, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Tracking blog post SEO is not new to me anymore as I’ve been doing it years already. I have also heard and learned about Meta tag data already, but not that thoroughly. More detailed information about this concern is first provided to me through your post. You have just widened my knowledge on metadata.

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Sherryl Perry May 1, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Megan,
Thanks for letting me know that you learned something new about metadata from reading my article.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..How Many Social Networking Sites Should You Join?My Profile

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Diana
Twitter:
April 29, 2013 at 12:23 pm

This is a nice tactic – to keep track of your post the way you described. I used to do it for my first blog but with blog posts piling up and time never being enough, i caught myself i hardly ever look back on those… So now i have a new approach.

For my first blog, i still keep this file (i too do it in a word doc – ha-ha! simple is good :-D) but for my newer blogs i use yoast plugin for wordpress – it has a built-in counter for the characters (both for page titles and meta descriptions) and has a import/export option (for back-up). And for the balance in different categories – i have a blog editorial calendar. I lay down the topics for the next 2-3 months and this way – i make sure i do have balance in my blog and write on different topics along the way. I don’t write opportunistic blog posts (yet) but even if i did – i think it’s easy enough to insert a new topic in the blog editorial calendar and bump the rest for later. Hope this helps :-)
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Sherryl Perry April 30, 2013 at 9:22 pm

Thanks for sharing your methods of tracking data with us Diana. Yoast’s plugin is excellent and I’ve recommended it several times on this blog. Unfortunately, his plugin does not work with the Thesis theme which is what I use here. Thesis and some other premium plugins have their own SEO built in.

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Clara February 20, 2013 at 5:09 am

This topic is something new to me but I love reading this article. I think I need to learn a lot first about SEO meta tag before I start blogging.

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Sherryl Perry February 22, 2013 at 11:45 pm

Hi Clara,
Thanks for letting me know that you found my article helpful. My general rule is if there’s a spot to enter meta-tag description, I try to not leave it blank. In my post “Tips for Bloggers | Before You Press that Publish Button” I mentioned the “WordPress SEO by Yoast” plugin. That plugin can be very helpful when it comes to filling in meta-tags.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Tips for Bloggers | Before You Press that Publish ButtonMy Profile

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Veronica February 19, 2013 at 2:25 am

I also plot my blog posts in Microsoft Word. I rely on their word count feature and the grammar and spell check too. It’s much easier that way, than plotting an article directly on wordpress or any other website directly.

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Sherryl Perry February 22, 2013 at 11:41 pm

It’s good to know that you use Word too Veronica. I have Word, Excel, Firefox and Outlook open constantly. (Well, I close Outlook if it’s causing too many distractions.) They’re all productivity tools that I depend upon daily.
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Bruce Langford February 16, 2013 at 11:16 am

I also find that using Word can really help when creating blog posts – it gives you a familiar environment to create blog posts (and it even has a word count!).The hard part is actually writing the content.

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Sherryl Perry February 17, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Bruce,
The word count feature is great. I especially find it handy when I’m writing meta-tag data and titles. I also find the thesaurus comes in handy too.

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Ana Hoffman
Twitter:
February 12, 2013 at 11:29 pm

This sounds so simple, Sherryl, and makes so much sense, yet it’s one of those things that I know I’ll never get to. LOL
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Sherryl Perry February 13, 2013 at 6:11 pm

I have a list of things that I know I’ll never get to too Ana. Honestly, once you get in the habit of keeping documents like these, you’ll wonder how you ever survived without it. They end up saving more time than they take to maintain.
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Carolyn
Twitter:
February 8, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Hi Sherryl, This is very interesting. Do you track stats according to your meta tags? For example, do you track if your SEO articles are getting more traffic than your coding articles?

I hadn’t thought of this kind of tracking before. I might find out that my articles about apps are the most popular, or that my How To articles are readers’ favorites. But I wouldn’t want to write only one type of tech article either.

Very interesting analysis, Sherryl!
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Sherryl Perry February 10, 2013 at 9:13 pm

Carolyn,
I don’t track stats usually unless I’m trying a new tactic or strategy and I want a snapshot of where I stood the day I started it. As for which meta-tags are returning the best results, for me, they sort of stand out on their own and they tie very closely to the major categories and keywords that I generally optimize my posts for. (If you saw my master blog post document, you’d see that I use the same long-tail

I drive quite a bit of traffic to my site via Twitter and I believe that using hashtags for those categories/keywords contributes to it. (I can’t actually prove it but I believe it helps.) I also try to use those same hashtags when I RT for others and I believe that is helping also. I often see that people have added me to lists and I recognize the hashtags as ones that I’m trying to incorporate into my brand.

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Steve February 8, 2013 at 5:57 am

I put a detail track record of the work I have done, I can easily see my work status & later I do the changes if required. I have never used this kind of tool before, will definitely try it in the future, thanks for the post.

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Sherryl Perry February 10, 2013 at 9:04 pm

Hi Steve,
If you’re already tracking some things, you’re ahead of the game and can probably just expand on it. The most valuable worksheet that I keep is the one where I track changes that I make and any specific activity that could have some sort of impact. (I keep a similar worksheet for each of my clients.) Those worksheets have saved me countless hours trying to figure out how I did something or what caused a particular issue. Lots of times, some obscure error will happen and I’ll remember dealing with it before. Most of the time, I’ll have no recollection of how I fixed it but 99% of the time, I tracked it (along with the solution). :)
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Top 6 SEO and Social Media How-To Posts of 2012My Profile

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abdelrhman February 7, 2013 at 9:43 am

Great content Tracking your business is as important thing for as long as i wanted to do it but i didn’t find the appropriate strategy i loved your article its easy to follow steps .. Thanks for share :)

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Sherryl Perry February 7, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Hi Abderlhman,
Thanks for letting me know that you found my article helpful. Sometimes, tracking can seem like one more thing to do but it becomes a habit and it will almost always save you time in the long run.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Will Documenting Something Now Save You Time Later?My Profile

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chiru
Twitter:
February 7, 2013 at 3:16 am

Hi Sherryl ,
good post..
i like to follow the tools you have mentioned..
i used to write my articles in between 250 to 350 words….
is there any max limit for meta tags and keywords?
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Jeannette Paladino
Twitter:
February 7, 2013 at 12:34 am

Sherryl — I must confess I don’t track my posts the way you do and I probably should. Having written several hundred posts I won’t go back to the beginning but I like the idea. I keep an editorial calendar — a list of potential posts. But I do like to write opportunistic posts — I’ll piggyback on to something in the news or a conference as I did recently when I wrote a post about content marketing on the day an online conference started with that topic.

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Sherryl Perry February 7, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Jeannette,
I like that you write opportunistic posts. I’m often surprised by your topics especially when they’re timely and I’m learning about something that’s new to me. So, I hope you keep up what you’re doing. :)

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Jeannette Paladino
Twitter:
February 7, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Thanks, Sherryl. I just published a post with the infographic in today’s Copyblogger with 64 Google+ content strategies. As you may know, Brian Clark is an evangelist for Google+ and I was able to link to the article, his bio, the author’s and also invite people to join my G+ circles.
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Carolyn
Twitter:
February 8, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Hi Jeanette, That’s exactly what I do. I just started using an editorial calendar (in an Excel spreadsheet to plan my topics, but my schedule is often disrupted by opportunistic posts. Tech news comes out daily so if there is breaking news that my readers should learn, I will redo my calendar. Similarly, if I get an interview with a CEO of a tech company or get a guest post, I will change my calendar. But I’m now scheduled into mid-March because I keep bumping my articles.
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Jeannette Paladino
Twitter:
February 9, 2013 at 1:22 am

Carolyn – Great that you have posts lined up through mid-March. I also find it so much easier to write opportunistic posts, usually because I also have a personal interest in the topic so I’m not struggling with the content.
Jeannette Paladino recently posted..64 Branding Strategies for Google+ From CopybloggerMy Profile

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Sherryl Perry February 10, 2013 at 9:26 pm

Carolyn & Jeannette,
That’s wonderful that you both write opportunistic posts. I confess that I don’t use an editorial calendar at all. I often don’t know what I’m going to write about until I sit down to write. The closest I come to this is to save my replies from my comments (both here and on other blogs). These often act as fodder for a new post. If the comment was one that I left on someone else’s blog, I’ll often link to their article. The other habit that I’ve been trying to develop is to capture screenshots when I’m doing something new with the thought of someday writing about it.

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Mariya February 6, 2013 at 11:32 pm

I think it is very important to keep track of your work, like you have already mentioned it gives you a fair knowledge of your work status and what steps you need to take. However I have never used this kind of tool before but maybe i will try them in future. Thanks for the post.

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Sherryl Perry February 7, 2013 at 10:51 pm

You’re welcome Mariya. It will probably seem like one more task when you first start using a worksheet or document to track changes and your SEO but it will quickly become a habit. Of the two main spreadsheets/document that I maintain, I’ve found the spreadsheet where I track daily activities (like plugin updates, a new Twitter tactic etc.) to be the most useful. It has bailed me out more than once. As for the document where I track my SEO, it’s one piece of my SEO strategy. So, it’s a little harder to measure the direct impact. I can attest that it does keep me from forgetting key meta tag information which is helping me drive more organic search traffic. Good luck! I hope you try it. :)
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Tips to Organize & Manage Your Documents and EmailMy Profile

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Ray February 6, 2013 at 11:02 pm

I used to do a much better job at keeping track of all the details, but the past few years it just seems like I don’t have as much time as I used to for everything.

I usually don’t use a description tag. I just let the search engines pull whatever snippet they want. I know it doesn’t look so nice sometimes, but other times the exact phrase someone is searching for is displayed in a search result and I think maybe they will see that and click it. So it’s kind of a toss up for me.

Most of the things I keep track of are done with simple notepad text documents. I guess I like to keep it simple.
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Sherryl Perry February 7, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Hi Ray,
I like to fill out the description field because in addition to the search engines some of the sites that I submit to (like BlogEngage) pull that info. Also, I believe that the search engines are likely to return a sentence or two from my first paragraph. I write for my readers but when I write my meta-tags, I keep the search engines in mind. So, I may double up on keywords in my descriptions like “blog website”. (Blogs are websites but not all readers are aware of that.) So, for search purposes, I would pack the 2 words together. I sometimes spend a couple of minutes tweaking a description so that it will read well while packing an SEO punch.

I use Notepad++ for coding but you can’t wrestle Word and Excel away from me when it comes to the specialized functions that I rely on. :)
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Susan Oakes
Twitter:
February 6, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Thanks to you Sherryl, I set up a spreadsheet to track what I have done. I also include the title tag, description and a column for the key points in each article in case I forget what I wrote a month ago. One thing I like with excel which you mentioned is search and I use it to find other articles I can add for internal linking.

You are probably aware of this, I have read a couple of articles that now say for the title tag pixels is key. One said to still keep it to 70 characters and another article said you can go to over 90 I think. What is your take?

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Sherryl Perry February 7, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Sounds like you have a good system in place Susan. I use Excel for the majority of my tracking worksheets but I do maintain my SEO data in Word because that word count tool is so handy. (I try to incorporate as many long-tail keywords in a meta-tag as I can.)

Your tip on internal linking is a good one. Oddly enough, I don’t track that but I can understand how it would be very helpful to you.

As for the length of the title, my Thesis theme suggests 70 characters and I verified it with my go-to resource for SEO http://www.seomoz.org/learn-seo/title-tag. Actually seomoz.org says the length of your description can be 155 but I suggested 150 because that’s what Thesis suggests.

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Roberta Budvietas
Twitter:
February 6, 2013 at 4:14 pm

How ever can one manage all the paper war. I think this is one service for a good VA? What do you think?

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Sherryl Perry February 7, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Roberta,
I personally wouldn’t outsource this task. To me, it’s an extension of the writing process.

After I’ve written my draft and I’m ready to publish it in WP, I open my master blog post Word document and my Excel daily tracking sheet. I start by copying and pasting the 5 or 6 steps (that I follow for each post) into my Excel sheet. Then, I create a new entry in my Word document. After I paste my article into WP, I start assigning the category, tags, keywords etc. while updating my Word doc. It’s really a seamless process for me that takes less time than it sounds.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Will Documenting Something Now Save You Time Later?My Profile

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Roberta Budvietas
Twitter:
February 7, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Now you really have me thinking about the KPIs and performance of the blogs. Will work on setting this up as I really value the suggestions

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Catarina Alexon
Twitter:
February 6, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Sherryl, you remind me of something I should do:-)

The Google Plus about Author plugin has made a difference for me. However, what I getmost traffic from is the subjects I write about + keywords and tags I use for my articles. Was looking at recent keyword activity a few days ago and on some of them I was #1 on Google.

Will try to get my act together and use a spreadsheet to record what I do:-)
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Sherryl Perry February 7, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Hi Catarina,
I’m glad my article helped. I think you’ll find that tracking your keywords and tags will provide you with a clear snapshot of the words that you’re optimizing for. I know it’s helped me.

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Evan February 6, 2013 at 10:39 am

I dont track my blog either. But relying to you wise reasons I think I should start! Thanks for the clue!
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Sherryl Perry February 6, 2013 at 11:19 am

Evan,
At first, it may seem like one more thing to do but it quickly becomes a habit and it’s made my life easier. It’s so easy to tweak your descriptions and alt-tags in a word processor. It’s also helped me to be consistent about the keywords I’m optimizing for because I can quickly see what I entered for related posts.

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
February 6, 2013 at 9:13 am

This is yet another new concept for me. I don’t track in the way you are describing, but I see the merit. Your concrete examples were very helpful. This SEO world demands a lot of on-going learning–thanks for providing so much instruction.

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Sherryl Perry February 6, 2013 at 11:03 am

Hi Judy,
I started my SEO worksheet (I call mine the “Blog Post Master Worksheet”) early on as a way to organize my workflow. (I accidentally published a post once and I forgot to enter keywords.) It’s so important to have that SEO data there when that page is indexed. Once glance at my worksheet now and I know if I’ve left anything blank. Thanks for letting me know that you found my post helpful.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Top 6 SEO and Social Media How-To Posts of 2012My Profile

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