17 Statistics to Monitor on Your Blog [Day 30 – 31DBBB]

Posted By Darren Rowse 5th of May 2009 Other Income Streams 0 Comments

blog-statistics.pngToday your task in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Challenge is to spend some time looking at your blog’s statistics/metrics package to see what you can learn from it.

I encouraged participants in 31DBBB to make sure they had a metrics package installed on their blog before they started so I hope you have at least a month’s worth of stats to look at. If you’ve not got a stats package installed yet you should get one on your blog ASAP as it’ll help you track how it is performing.

Take some time out today to do a little analysis of your blog’s statistics. There is a wealth of information in them that can be incredibly useful.

Important Note: this exercise tends to become more useful over time. If this is the first time you do it then hopefully it’ll be illuminating – but the longer you have been collecting metrics on your blog the more useful it can become as you track trends and see patterns over time. As a result – this type of exercise should be something you build into your regular blogging routine (I try to do an in depth review each month).

Some of you will be used to doing this type of analysis so you won’t need a lot of help in doing it – but if you’re new to this here are a few metrics to pay particular attention to:

  1. Overall Visitors – this is the metric most of us probably look at the most so I’ll start with it. Are visitor numbers on the increase or decrease? What might be the reasons for these changes (ie could it be tied to frequency of posting, topics, other sites links etc).
  2. Most Popular Posts – what posts are being read more than other posts? Knowing this is important for a couple of reasons. For starters it gives you a hint of what topics you could write more on – but secondly it gives you some key pages on your site to optimize (ie think about how you can drive people from these posts deeper into your blog).
  3. Referral Stats – what sites are sending you the most traffic? If it’s another blog or site, perhaps you could develop a relationship with them to see this increase. If it’s Search Engines, how can you adapt the posts to see it rise even more using on page SEO techniques).
  4. What Questions are being asked? – what questions are readers typing into search engines to find your blog? These could make great future posts (learn more about how to do this here).
  5. What Keywords are sending traffic? – knowing the keywords that people search for to find your site is very useful. It helps you to know how to optimize your blog for SEO even better and can give hints on what content to write more of.
  6. What seasonal traffic is there? – are there any seasonal trends that you should be aware of and could use to capture more traffic? What caused the bumps in traffic and how can you prepare yourself better for next time those conditions might happen again (read more on seasonal traffic and how to capture it).
  7. Daily/Weekly Trends – another trend to watch is what traffic does over different periods of time. What are the most popular times of day? What days of the week are most popular? Knowing this gives you ammunition in planning when to release new posts.
  8. What’s Your Bounce Rate? – metrics packages like Google Analytics provide you with a ‘bounce rate’ stat which measures how many people arrive at your site and then leave again without viewing any extra pages. I find this a key metric to watch and attempt to change. Set yourself some goals to get this rate down and the page views viewed per visitor up by making your blog sticky.
  9. Page Views Per Visit – Similarly to ‘Bounce Rate’ – This is a good one to watch over time as it shows you whether those coming to your blog are going deep into your blog’s content or simply looking at the page they arrive on. My goal on my blogs is to see this number increase over time. For tips on how to increase page views also check out 4 Quick and Simple Ways to Increase Page Views on Your Blog.
  10. Time on Site – Another stat that can give you a sense on whether readers are engaging with your content is to look at how long they stay on your blog. The longer they are staying the more likely it is that they’re reading, commenting and interacting (or that they forgot to close their browser).
  11. New vs Returning Visitors – This one gives you a sense of whether you’re succeeding in converting people to loyal visitors.
  12. RSS Stats – If you’re using a tool like Feedburner to manage your RSS feeds you’ll have access to more useful information. Feedburner provides you with the number of subscribers but also what posts people are reading most of (again showing you what content people are engaging with most which gives you some good information on what type of content is working best).
  13. Outbound Clicks – Not every metrics package will give you this type of information but if you have access to it knowing what links on your blog people are clicking to leave it can be very useful. It’s not that you want to stop people clicking links – but knowing what links they click on can give you some useful information on what motivates your readers to click a link and what type of information they want more of.
  14. Where are People Clicking on Your Page – not all stats packages track this but some like Google Analytics or packages specifically for it like CrazyEgg will create heatmaps or visual pictures of what people click on when they visit your blog. I find CrazyEgg’s heatmaps better than Google Analytics but you do need to set it up on specific pages of your blog to be able to see them. This is very useful information when thinking about the design and layout of your blog but also can help you test how to layout posts to see where people click.
  15. Exit Pages – A similar metric is knowing what page on your blog people are leaving from. A couple of years ago I checked my stats and noticed that the % of people leaving a particular page on my blog was triple other pages. When I investigated I found that the page had some very bad formatting issues on it that made the page almost unreadable – I was able to fix the problem and keep more readers engaged as a result.
  16. Monetization Stats – many of you are looking to make money from your blogs so it’s also important to pay attention to any stats you have at your disposal on how your blog is performing in this way. The metrics you have at your disposal will vary from income stream to income stream but if possible try to work out where on your blog the income is coming from specifically. For example if you use Google Analytics and AdSense you’ll be able to see what specific pages are earning more than others. Otherwise – use what ever channel or tracking options your ad network or affiliate program gives you to help you work out which posts are performing.
  17. Other Stats – There are plenty of other stats that can be revealing when you dig into them. Knowing the Geographic regions of your readers can be helpful as you think about content but also is useful if you’re dealing with advertisers, knowing the screen resolution and browsers people are using to view your site is good from a design perspective etc. Also worth doing from time to time is looking at other stats like how many posts you’ve done over time (post frequency can help you monitor how you’re performing personally) and how many comments you’ve had on your blog over a period of time and on which posts (which can be a great indicator of what kind of posts are working best on your blog and how reader engagement is going).

What Would You Add?

There are many other types of metrics that most statistics packages will provide you with. Feel free to share the metrics that you check most often and how you use them to improve your blog in comments below. Also let us know what tools you are using to check your blog’s metrics.

Warning: Don’t become a stats addict. Most new bloggers go through a period where they are checking their stats every hour. This is pretty normal but over time can add up to a lot of wasted time.

I personally try to do a quick check of stats throughout the day 2-3 times (just looking at traffic numbers mainly to see if there’s any spike in traffic that I need to know about) and then month put aside an hour or two to go deeper and look at some of the above statistics.

Further Reading: Using Google Analytics to Compare Traffic from Different Periods of Time – in this post I use the ‘compare’ feature on Google Analytics to track how my blog is going over time by comparing it to other periods.

Want More?

This task is a sample of one of the tasks in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook – a downloadable resource designed to reinvigorate and revitalize blogs.

Join over 14,000 other bloggers and Get your Copy Today.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. I have tried to do most of the things you have suggested for the past 30 days. I have seen traffic spikes when I have left comments here on your blog, and I do feel more focused.

    This post got the most traffic and most comments the post on “Finding Your Ceiling”. I wish I could tell you it was some magic bullet, but the reason is because it is the most profound thing I wrote all month.

    http://thomsinger.blogspot.com/2009/04/finding-your-ceiling.html

  2. Tracking your performance is very important and the only way to really see if you are doing the right thing or not. This post is very interesting and complementary to a Guest Post I did recently on Blogussion on all the different ways to Track and Monitor your SEO Performance.

    http://www.blogussion.com/blog/seo/tracking-seo-performance

    The purpose of this post was to show people that there’s more than just looking at your ranking in the Search Engines.

  3. I often check stats but I have not done much with them. For example since I wrote it my Maslows Hierarchy of Needs (the article that I tried to get as a guest post on here but Darren declined :p) has been my most visited. So this week I am going to do a sequal to the post!

  4. Is there a some stat to shoot for with all of this? Some stat that shows success in the making?

    A concrete something to look for based on how long a blog has been up?

  5. I know I fall victim to checking stats too frequently. Sometimes it only serves to distract me and enables me to avoid the real work that needs to be done!

    That being said, I do understand the value of being able to interpret them. I’ve also found that it’s important to track where your visitors are coming from. I’ve gotten several larger links that I was able to pick up on early. Because of this, I’ve been able to customize a welcome message which I believe has helped me retain a higher percentage of these new visitors.

  6. I use Google analytics and Site meter to know about stats for my blog,it is very useful indeed.

  7. I do this way too much and waste a lot of time with it. However it gives me insightful information and my goal is always to get all this numbers higher every month.

    I like Statcounter more than Google Analytics.

    When it comes to the browserverisons, this is also very interesting to see if hackers are visiting your blog. When I see a visit with the ‘Ripper 0’ or any other unusual browser, I’m going to block the visitors IP-adress in my IP deny manager.

  8. Tracking your statistics can be an eye opening experience. I was surprised at which posts were popular with readers. I have a personal finance blog but my affordable diner party series has been something people really enjoyed.

    I realized I need to include practical series once in a while on topics that my readers could print out and use.

  9. I’m a statsaholic and this is something that I do regularly. The keywords that send me the most traffic are the same as my site title, which is handy. I know which posts are popular (and also monitor these with the WP Stats and Popularity Contest plugins. Although I have paid attention to bounce rate, I haven’t done much with exit pages, so thanks for the tip on analyzing those.

  10. I’m glad that the “checking stats every hour” phase is normal. Hopefully I’ll move past it soon :)

    Google Analytics is good, but I also like sitemeter.

  11. I check my stats once a day and even that is probably more often than is necessary. :)

    For me the most important stats by far are popular posts and google keywords. All the rest don’t really help improve the blog so much as create self-bragging rights.

    Everyone who uses wordpress should install ‘wordpress stats’ plugin… So much more concise than google analytics!

    Cheers,

    Sam

  12. I love Google Analytics. I check general stats once or twice a day. I need to dive into reading my stats more. Thanks for sharing. Greg Ellison

  13. This is SO helpful. I have Google Analytics, but as a new blogger I wasn’t sure what I should be looking at or what is important. Some of the information here about keywords and bounce rate is particularly helpful.

    I can definitely see that over time, as I have more information, and as more people visit my blog (hopefully) the information will become more and more valuable.

    Thanks, too, for the warning about not becoming obsessed with stats. I can already see that it would be very easy to do that. I’m trying to force myself to check just once a day. It’s a very pleasant surprise when I can see a little spike.

  14. I think I got a bit of a head start with the project somehow. I posted 20 Blogs I Wish Were Around When I Started Teaching the day before the challenge began, and I was able to comment early on the very first day’s List Post article.

    As a result of that, some marketing of that post on Twitter, the forums here, and some Blog Carnivals, it has become in one month the 13th most popular post from my blog (with over two years of stats).

    After floating somewhere between 600 and 700 hits a day, the entire month of April had my blog averaging nearly 1,100. I have recently started a four-week series Total Teacher Transformation: Classroom Management Techniques For Greatness and will be posting some solid content every single day for at least the next four weeks. Definitely going to keep watching the stats.

    Another things that I saw happen this past month was a growth in RSS subscribers from around 725 to pushing 900 this morning. Not bad growth for a month!

    I’m also going to recommend http://www.hittail.com to measure some keyword visits and give you suggestions of topics that people are searching for. I’ve written a few posts based on its suggestions and seen some good results.

  15. As usual…. another wonderful list on analytics this time… thanks very much Darren. Now it is the last day of the 31 days challenge, I am wondering if we have learn t enough in these 31days.

    Thanks a ton

  16. I use Statpress and Google Analytics and though they often show different numbers, it’s the trend that’s more important. Google Analytics provides a wealth of information so I can definitely recommend it.

    Great post Darren!

  17. Numbers do tell a story. Upon checking my stats, I found out there’s a sudden spike on traffic few days back when I published the Facebook & Twitter: Holding Hands in Seesmic post. Also, regular organic traffic still continues for my Excel file tutorial as well.

    I’m glad the course has helped me to be more observant. And hopefully will maximize the use of Analytics in generating better ideas and tactics in future postings.

    @wchingya
    Social Media/Blogging

  18. I find #3, #4, and #5 most useful, but I’m a writer, first and foremost. Anything that acts as a springboard for new ideas is crunchy goodness in my book. Traffic and stats are secondary, for me. I do have a high number of new visitors vs. repeat visitors. To me, that’s the downside of being a bit inconsistent in my blogging – some posts appeal to the serious-minded readers, some are funnier than others, some are just pure silliness. Some are upbeat, some are rants.

    What’s a girl to do? Change to suit strangers, or say “Take me as I am, or leave me?” ;) (Yeah, I just saw RENT this afternoon, why do you ask?)

  19. Idren Darrren,

    Peaceful greetings from Jamaica. I have looked at the Google Analytics page for my blog several times over the past two years. I just never knew what most of the numbers meant. Now I know more than I did before.

    There’s an old Jamaican saying, “Each one, teach one.” With blogging, you reach and teach so many more!

    I appreci-love the knowledge you’ve shared so generously.

    Bless Up,
    Lady Roots

  20. i use Google Analytics and Sitemeter, but still can’t understand exactly they work.Both of them show me a different number. So I a bit confuse about this stat.

  21. Hi Darren,

    Very useful task again.

    Just one wee thing though, you didn’t tell us what’s good, what’s not. What should bounce rate be, more or less, how much time on the site is good, average, not great?

    Having something to measure against would be really very helpful as often I stare at the stats and have no idea what they “really” mean ;-)

    For a specialized niche blog, is 3.5 mins average, good, terrible? Is 2.043 pages worrying? What should I be hoping for?

    Also what’s a good return visitor ratio?

    Thanks very much,
    Karenne

  22. As a blogger by hobby and a web analyst by profession, you hit on all of the major metrics I look at. I’ve really tried to focus on lowering the bounce rates on my most popular posts. If I have a post that’s generating a lot of traffic, but people aren’t reading further I’ll call out related posts in a number of ways to get people to more content.

    Aside from looking at the referring sites, another way that I try to find out “who” is visiting my site is with the Network Location tracking in Google Analytics. As a theme park blogger it’s useful to see which theme park companies are viewing my posts. And sometimes it’s just amusing to see what random car dealership, government agency, or college is checking out the site. Geolocation is cool too. Not actionable, but definitely interesting.

  23. This can be a confusing and indimidating topic for many coaches I know who blogs, which is why I’m glad you broke this down so well and explained each of the stats to look at and why.

    The message that I convey to the coaches who read my material is that their blog is like their online office. Imagine opening your office and being able to read stats on how and why or what brought your visitors to your office so you could attract more walk in traffic.

    The other thing I inspire them to think about as it relates to taking their blog serious for promoting their coaching solution – and that is to imagine that they’ve opened their new office (blog) and then because they’re not sure that it’s really doing them any good to have a blog, they stop showing up for business. Imagine that people come by and look in the window wondering if this coach is open for business (visitors to the blog looking for a blog post that is more current than a year ago).

    This 31DBBB series has been like boing back to school. Thank you!

  24. Just wanted to thank you for the great 31 days information.
    My stats have increased greatly (17.7%) in the past month.

    I also received the highest number of comments on my blog ever because of the increased traffic and links form comments on your posts.

    Thanks again

  25. Tracking your statistics is very important, but it is far more important if you can understand what the stats mean. If you truly “get” what you’re looking at, then they can be invaluable, but if you don’t “get it” then it’s just a bunch of numbers.

    I like to use a combination of Google Analytics, Google Webmaster, and Web CEO and a few more to examine my site’s metrics.

  26. As a self confessed stats junkie, I can really appreciate this post. Thanks for defining some of the terms most commonly used.

    I was wondering if you could (briefly) explain why the awstats used by my web hoster would be so out of whack with what GA reports.

    Finally, I’ve been lurking this entire series through rss and I have to admit I’ve learned a ton of great ideas. You should collate into an ebook!

    Cheers

    George

  27. Sometimes I just look at the visitors and skip the rest. But there is a lot of good information in the other stats collected on a site.

  28. I haven’t really been checking my stats but I know since I have joined this challenge the number of visitors and page views have increased. RSS subscribers remained relatively the same small number though.

  29. Hi, my name is Dee, and I, too, check my stats way too often. :-)

    I use Google Analytics, Lijit, and WP Blog Stats to measure different aspects of the site. It has been especially helpful to me to know which posts get the most traffic and from where the traffic is coming. For example, I recently began trying to incorporate more news items in my posts and featured updates regarding Wyland’s Earth Day mural. I received far more hits over “Earth Week” to that post than any other post, which genuinely surprised me. Most of those hits were from Google searches.

    Also, I used to send out a tweet every time I published a new blog post, but I noticed Twitter wasn’t driving a lot of traffic to my blog. So, I’ve changed the way I word my tweets and have become more selective about which posts I tweet about. I feel that this approach will help readers know, “Hey, this post is something special,” and drive traffic for my best work.

  30. I stopped giving Google Analytics that much attention when it said that the number of visitors were higher than the number of pageviews, what is just not possible.

    You could say that the visitor has left the side before the analytics code was loaded and was able to measure the pageview. But how could it then measure the visit at all?

    This is the reason why I prefer Statcounter at this moment.

  31. I have a kindof embarrassing question about Feedburner–

    If I add/change to Feedburner now, (after having many folks sign up for the straight RSS feed) will I lose the RSS folks I had originally? (I can’t find a straight answer on this and I don’t want to set up Feedburner and lose hard-won readers.) Ideas?

    Txs.

  32. It’s not easy to keep track of every statistic of your blog. But what I like to do is keep every bit of information organized in Excel separated by months in different spreadsheets.

  33. Google Analytics really works great, I’m still looking on how to use it properly though. Thanks for this lesson, now I know where to concentrate on my stats. Very well done Darren. Thanks

  34. The only thing I can think to add at this time, as you have already listed many fantastic suggestions, is perhaps checking / tracking demographics. Where are my readers coming from? Are they international or national? From exactly where? Perhaps this would have an effect on how I would change the way I wrote, change the content, change what I wrote about. The information could perhaps help me to better target a particular audience.

    Now that we are talking specific audiences, is there anyway to know the age of your readership / commentators? Would taking a poll be the only way? Thanks!

    krissy knox :)
    follow me on twitter:
    http://www.twitter.com/iamkrissy

  35. One thing I like doing is using the stats t track down relationship possibilities on social media. I try to thank anyone who retweets @octavarius, and do some retweeting for them too, but by checking the landing pages from twitter I can see which retweets are sending the most traffic (not specifically, but we’re still small enough that I can infer from # of followers and such). It’s also a good way to learn how to phrase tweets to appeal to your audience.

    I do something similar for Facebook too.

  36. This is such a great post! I have a google analytics but to be honest all I looked at was new visitors and overall visitors. I looked at other information but had no idea what to do with it. Thank you so much for this post.

  37. All of these stats you listed are very important but like you said, don’t become addicted! I found myself checking stats a couple of times a day. I soon realized this was way too much and now I only check stats a couple of times a week and usually to see how my newest post are doing.

    The main tools I use to check my stats are from Google Analytics, a WordPress plugin called WP Blog Stats, the Alexa toolbar, and whatever affiliate network that I am working with.

  38. First of all thanks for such wonderful post. I thinks every blogger should use Google analytic for these tracking. Because to achieve your gole you should track your visitor (place, behaviors and what visiter read more). Although this is very difficult task , but every blogger should do this.

    Thanks for writing.

  39. Great post, I use most of these to track the statistics on my blog, although I follow some a lot closer than others. Keeping track of them really helps me gain a steady increase in traffic, but I think I could do an even better job of analyzing them for my blog’s benefit.

    I hope the book you had mentioned for this 31DBBB is still in thought! I didn’t get to follow it as much as I would have liked because of my busy offline schedule, but I love how the posts I did participate in helped tremendously. I’d love to get a copy for future reference!

  40. I’ve been using Google Analytics for my site for over a year. But when I switched my blog to WordPress, I was unable to install Analytics. This is extremely frustrating because the analytics that come with WordPress, although helpful, are not as comprehensive.

    Does anyone know how to add Google Analytics to a WordPress blog? When I tried doing it to each post separately, the html code kept showing up in the actual post. Not sure why.

    If you can help, please shoot me an e-mail ([email protected]). Thanks!

  41. be entertained

  42. I’m not analytical and tried to track stuff in the past… this is a great step-by-step on what and how to measure the results. Looking forward to applying your list.

    Thanks for creating it.

    Ann

  43. Hey, I see what you did there! I’m glad I got the chance to give you feedback about this on Twitter the other day. It’s nice to see a demonstration of how to research a blog topic there.

    I just finished reading your book. It’s fantastic. I plan to review it soon on my log.

    Jennifer B: I have Google Analytics running for my WordPress blog. I just signed up for Analytics, logged in, then clicked on “Add Website Profile” on the main page. This link is in the main content area, not in the left-hand column. Good luck!

  44. Great info as usual….

    Isn’t there a live school one can go to in order to learn this stuff in a more hands on mentor environment?

  45. I’m a statsaholic and use Statcounter.com. More readers when it’s raining, less in weekends, search words, the whole package. I check sometimes how they found my blog in Google and if I’m not in the top 5 I write a new article with the searchterms ….
    But the statsaholic part … It keeps me going. Like Darren wrote somewhere, blogging is sometimes preaching for an empty church. Even if readers don’t comment, I know they are reading!

  46. Agreed. Stats are important.

    Stats can guide you into the right direction.

  47. Well quite important stats to monitor. I guess one should monitor traffic and the source of traffic, experiment and the likes.

  48. Darren,
    Thanks so much for this very useful information. I use Google Analytics to track my stats. But I haven’t been getting the most out of that information because I really did not understand the terms. Now I can do a more useful review of my stats.

    Also: I have noticed a very signigicant increase in my visitors and pageviews since I have been doing the 31DBBB.

  49. Hi,
    E few days before this challenge started, I installed Google Analytics on my blog http://www.clausdjensen.com

    Perfect timing! :-)

    And now I can see some interesting results! I get visits from sources I hadn’t expected, and that gives me a good idea of new places to be more active in my promoting..

    I don’t get many visitors from searcg engines, it might be because my blog is fairly new…. Hope that will change in time!

    C ya!

    Claus :-D
    http://www.clausdjensen.com

  50. @Jennifer,

    You have to put the code into the body of your footer.