It took me some time to figure out statsand analytics. In fact, I blogged for several months before even looking at my stats. My hesitation to embrace statistical details was the result of a combination of naivete, not being sure how to decipher it all, and, also, not really knowing why this was important. Now, years later, I realize that my analytics are one of my most important blogging tools.
Why Stats are Important
Your stats tell you who comes to your blog, why they come, where they come from and what methods they use to get there. The right program will also tell you who is coming, how long they hang out, and which content your community respond to best and least. This is all important because:
- It helps you to know the types of content people like best. In fact, writing the content your that interests your community the most is the single most important thing you can do to encourage traffic to your blog.
- It helps you understand what people are searching for
- Without knowing about your community you can’t properly monetize your blog.
- You can see how well your social media or advertising campaigns are working.
- You’ll know where people tend to gravitate when they visit your blog.
- It will help you to better design and optimize your blog
- You’ll know how many people are reading your blog via RSS, traditional traffic, email campaigns, newsletters, Facebook’s networked blogs, and more.
- You’ll know if people stick around to read blog posts or leave seconds after showing up.
- You will know where your readers come from – city, state, and country.
Making Sense of Stats and Analytics
When I first began blogging, I had no clue of what all those fancy technical terms meant. However, anything I didn’t understand, I looked up, or I asked another more experienced blogger. Now, I think I have a good grasp of it. If there’s ever anything I’m not sure of, I’ll research it to see how to use it to my benefit. Here are some of the terms you’ll come across the most for many stats and analytics tools.
- Visitors – The amount of people who physically visit your blog each day. This isn’t the amount of people who read your blog via RSS feed, email or Facebook’s networked blogs. They have to physically land on your blog to have their visit logged.
- Unique Visitors -These are your newbies. They supposedly never visited your blog before. However, unique visitors aren’t always unique. They could be regulars visiting from a different IP, computer or even browser. Also, they could have cleared their cookies, which makes your stats tool read them as first time visitors. Still, advertisers and potential buyers will want to know your uniques to ensure you’re receiving new traffic each day.
- Bounce Rate – This is how quickly folks land on and exit your site. Basically you want a low number here – a bounce rate of 35% is way better than a bounce rate of 75%. A low bounce rate number means people like what they see and instead of leaving right away, they stick around to see what else you’re offering.
- Page Views – The amount of pages (blog posts) viewed each day. Different from traffic because traffic measure the amount of people who visit each day while page views apply to how many individual pages are read each day.
- Referring Traffic – These are the places that link to you, whether it’s your own Tweet, a Facebook page or links from other bloggers. Referring traffic is an outside link to your blog.
- Search Traffic – Traffic from search engines. Your stats tool should also break down how much of your traffic comes from Google, Yahoo, etc.
- Top Traffic – These are the top referrers to your blog. For most bloggers it’s from search engines.
- Top Landng Pages – These are the pages most searchers land on when they visit your blog.
- Top Exit Pages – Exactly what it sounds like. The page most visitors are on when they’ve decided they’ve had enough.
- Time on Site -This is the amount of time the average person spend on your blog. You want the highest number possible here.
What Does it All Mean?
So how does all this stuff help you to bring in traffic, anyway?
Simple. Because if you know why people are coming to your blog, you’ll know how to give them what they want. If you know the top search terms and the top content, you’ll know the most popular topics to write about. This is what your community is most looking for. That isn’t to say that every topic should be the same but it shows you where your communities interests lie. For example, I get a lot of traffic from my foursquare posts which tells me there are plenty of people searching for information regarding foursquare. Thus, I want to write posts about the benefits of fourquare and how to use it properly.
Pay attention to your search traffic, especially. People are searching for these topics for a reason. Do you want them to come one time and leave? Of course not. Give them a reason to not only stop at your blog, but to subscribe or bookmark it so they can come back often. If you notice people leave when they hit a certain page, you’ll want to know why. If they land on a certain page and it encourages to read more pages, you’re on the right track.
Knowing about the content your community best responds to will also help you to monetize your blog. If they don’t resp0nd well to sponsored posts or product reviews, your affiliate sales probably won’t do well. If they respond well to educational content, you might have a better time working with more educational affiliates, for instance those who create courses or sell ebooks. You can’t truly monetize or optimize your blog without knowing the wants and needs of your community.
This post only covered the basics, and over time I hope to cover more of these topics in depth. I hope this post gives you a good idea how to read your stats tools and why it’s important to know all this stuff. However, there’s a chance that this post didn’t answer your questions. If this is the case, please feel free to use the comments to ask away. Also, if there’s anything else you’d like to discuss in our “technically challenged” series, do let me know. I may not have all the answers, I’m technically challenged afterall, but maybe we can figure it all out together.