Blog stats. So fun and fascinating, so arbitrary and superficial a way to measure ourselves! I can’t be the only one that enjoys looking at my blog stats, either through Google Analytics, WordPress, or even just checking the number of followers on Bloglovin’ or Feedly. I’m slightly ashamed of it too, though, as if it’s terribly gauche! It’s not something that people talk about a lot. I thought it would be interesting to lay it all bare and see how we are all interacting with the ability to find out just how many people read what, and when!
Since switching from Tumblr to WordPress less than a month ago, I’ve certainly become (temporarily) more stat-focused. I went from having maybe 800+ followers to having zero, and then slowly back up to perhaps 200 now. It’s been particularly fascinating and heartwarming to see the increase in traffic from all the friends who have been kind enough to mention my new blog location on their blog. (
Remember Tumblr was blocking Bloglovin’, so there was no way to tell the majority of my followers that I’d moved! Guess what? That business is all settled!) The other completely awesome part about it all is that you lovely people have been leaving as many comments as ever, which really means that all those extra followers weren’t really that into it anyway! I feel lucky to such great internet friends. Thank you!
And yet… isn’t there always the drive to expand? There are lots of ways to do that – participate in blog challenges, guest post, share aggressively on social media – but the one that fascinates me most is using feedback from my current blog stats/analytics to inform what I do next! But is that horrible and wrong? Or is it something lots of people secretly do, at least a little? I thought I’d lay out my thinking, and then hope to hear about yours!
*I’m going to share my exact stats from WordPress here – I don’t mean it to be either boasting or pity-enducing, just a way to start discussion!*
First up: Number of visitors!
WordPress really seems to focus on views (aka. number of posts/pages opened), but Google Analytics pays more attention to visitors. Either way, it’s the most basic way to see if people are reading and if a particular day’s post was popular. I don’t post on a particular schedule, but I assume these stats could be investigated to see if posts are more popular when posted on, say, a weekend or weekday.
Next, Top Posts and Pages:
This one is interesting because it lets you see which recent posts are popular, but also which older ones are still getting traffic. For example, I haven’t posted about colour palettes for a year, but I get hits on those posts daily. Strategically speaking, that tells me that coming up with some similar posts would be good. (And not just selfishly good for me and my blog stats – good in that it’s something people want to read about!)
What did people click on?
I don’t remember seeing anything like this on Google Analytics… anyone else? The “clicks” show what links in my posts people clicked through to see. I like looking at this section just because it’s feel good and democratic to know that I’m feeding traffic to other people in the same way that they are feeding traffic to me!
Referrers: Who is sending traffic my way?
I find this one really fascinating. Most of the time I know why someone might have linked from another blog to me (i.e. Threedresses and Creatinginthegap and I just did the Blog Hop together). Other times though, it’s a total mystery! I seem to get consistent traffic from Stitchesandseams and Von-mema both of whom have a “recently read” blog roll in the side bar of their blogs that includes, among many other, me. I can only guess that some people don’t use a blog reader but instead go to those blogs and click through the links? Any one get traffic like this? What’s your theory? (And if you are reading, Stitchesandseams and Von-Mema, thanks for the traffic! 🙂
Another oddity of this section is that the same blog gets listed with different national addresses, like .com, .ca, .co.uk, etc. I wonder why that happens?
One nice aspect of this type of stat is that is can be a clue someone must have mentioned you – so you can go and say thanks and carry on the conversation!
Finally, Search Terms:
People occasionally mention the hilarious search terms people had used, so I know at least some people are looking at this section! I rarely get any search terms – not sure what that means, besides the fact that clearly no one is googling me? Roisin from Dolly Clackett seems to get the BEST absurd search terms… but then again, maybe I’m happy not being googled in bizarre ways?
So how could someone be strategic about stats?
Well, here are a few ways that pop into mind…
- post more posts on topics that have been popular in the past
- continue regular post series/topics if they seem to be well-liked (ie. pattern reviews, roundups, interviews, etc)
- post at times of day or days of the week that seem to be most popular
- go back and update popular older posts, like Tilly recently did with her bow-belt tutorial
All of those seem like positive uses of the information from stats. As a teacher, you ALWAYS base what comes next on the feedback from what you’ve already done. Only a very lazy teacher teaches the same thing every year, regardless of what is needed or who they are teaching! As a blogger, nobody is forced to read my posts so maybe I don’t *have* to respond to their feedback… but if you and I have good discussions around certain topics, wouldn’t it make sense to explore them some more?
Now, if I was running a business, I’d have to be more strategic… and frankly, surely a business would be unwise not to think strategically. This is where I think the grey area starts for those of us who are in it just for pleasure. Shouldn’t we just enjoy the luxury of getting to post whatever we want? But then again, maybe you are just starting out, or really want blogging to become a bigger part of your life for whatever reason – then being strategic is the clever way to go about it!
- reach out to more popular bloggers for some kind of crossover
- get involved in pattern testing (Don’t get me wrong – people pattern test for the love of it, but if you want more readers, it can be helpful as way to gain new audiences.)
- sew popular patterns ASAP when they are released!
- post like mad on every social media community in sight
- Here’s one that drives me a bit nuts: Make your post only show a teaser in blog readers so that people have to click through to decide if they want to read it! (Because as I understand it, reading something in a blog reader doesn’t count as a click or visit. Am I right?) I’m sure there are other reasons for doing this teaser thing, but I do find it annoying…
(Interestingly, my list didn’t really end up being about using your current stats, but behaviours aimed at getting more visitors to improve your future stats… )
In truth, I think the best way to have a more popular blog is to write from the heart about what you love, take good pics and join in communities. Do what you love and life will follow, right? But I also don’t think there is anything wrong with thinking strategically, the way you would in your career or when resolving a problem, as long as it doesn’t take you away from what you love.
There have been some interesting posts lately touching on related subjects lately. Already Pretty wrote about feeling pressure to conform to her readers expectations, and Lauren Dahl wrote about making hard choices between blogging, business, and life. From a different perspective, Love Lola wrote about maximizing searches and making sure your blog gets found.
How do you feel about being so easily able to track your blogs statistics? Is it good, bad, or neutral? How often do you check in on your stats, and does it in any way inform your blogging? And… be polite but honest… would it change how you feel about a blogger if you knew they were being strategic in the same way we’d expect an indie designer or fabric store to be? (ps. People involved with the business of sewing, am I right in assume you are strategic? Correct me if I’m wrong! 😉