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Ten Tips for Stats Addicts

Posted By Darren Rowse 30th of November 2008 Blog Promotion 0 Comments

Today Dr. Nicole from Kitchen Table Medicine shares her story of overcoming her Stats Addiction and gives some tips on what to do with your time to build your blog instead of checking stats.

Do you obsessively check your blog traffic stats throughout the day? Do you optimistically expect your Alexa ranking to drop every four hours? Do you frequently fret over your Google Page Rank? Do you watch your Adsense account like a hawk throughout the day? Well as much as these statistical markers may be helpful in understanding the success of your blog, they may also be interfering with the long term growth of your website.

Not only is checking stats a total time kill, but it can be a real buzz kill too when it doesn’t turn out the way we want.

In a month’s time, I stopped checking my stats only to return and find that my page views had doubled if not tripled, and my Alexa ranking had dropped from it’s consistent 252K to 151K! WOW!

So what happened? Had I actually changed anything I was doing…no not really I had just freed up a few extra hours to spend doing something more productive for my blog then obsessing over my stats.

First of all as a recovering stats addict I can’t stand before you all pure and pristine that I actually decided to give up stats all on my own, I never stopped obsessing over my stats intentionally. Actually, I was locked out of my stats program when my website crashed from hitting the front page of Digg! When I upgraded to a better host, their stats program was down for maintenance.

I WAS LOCKED OUT OF CHECKING MY STATS! OH THE TRAUMA!!!

Do you feel my pain?

For the entire month of October I was unable to check my stats! Only those of you obsessed with the constant joyful reassurance that checking stats brings can even begin to understand the frustration!!!

In an attempt to just “go with the flow” I decided to give up worrying about stats and start spending my time on marketing, writing, and building my readership….you know those things I should have been doing all day instead of wondering about my readers in Zimbabwe and if more people read my blog through IE7 or FF?

So you can only imagine my extreme paranoia when I finally could log back in to my site statistics and see if I was meeting my goals. You can only imagine my shock when I logged back in to see 10,000 page views a day!

Previously I would freak out if I hadn’t hit my goal of 3500 page views daily. Previously I liked considered 3500 pv’s my “fighting weight”.

So I was SHOCKED to find in just one month’s time that my baseline was bumped up to 7000-10,000 page views a day!

WOW! Maybe there really is something to this…

For most of us bloggers checking stats is the immediate reward we need for our day. However, checking stats can also be discouraging when we log in to find that a post was not as successful as we hoped.

So can you do it? Can you stop checking your stats? Are you fit for the challenge to completely give up obsessing over your stats for an entire month? Can you stop doing it every day and sit down for an hour once a week to go over it all? In hindsight the following ten traffic building tips are what I unintentionally ended up doing to build up traffic, and for just 20-30 freed up minutes a day, you can likely double your traffic flow in a month as well:

1. Stop checking your stats and stop writing for stats!

Write from your heart. I know we hear this over and over and OVER again, but readers really don’t “care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Keep it fresh, keep it live, and let it flow right through you. Say what is on your mind and be passionate about your beliefs. You may lose a few readers occasionally with some extreme viewpoints, but it ensures everyone else that you are at least always giving your honest opinion. When I couldn’t check in to my stats after a while I suddenly found myself not writing for stats but instead remembering all the things I always wanted to write about…and then writing about them.

2. Instead of checking stats, help out a fellow blogger!

Offering newbie bloggers in your field guidance and feedback for instance is a great POSITIVE way to spend a bit of free time. One day out of severe boredom while my site was down I started a forum thread offering help to people about their blog. It was a fun project for me and a valuable learning opportunity for those brand new to blogging. Pay it forward instead of obsessing on your latest stats. People quickly pick up on your kindness and will link to you like crazy. Please don’t go about this with the intention to gain backlinks. Don’t be fake, just sincerely make an effort to help out those folks you see with a great deal of potential, because it feels really good and truly is SO much more rewarding than checking stats. Honestly I think this is what helped my traffic out the most. The fact that I found myself a bit bored from not checking stats and so started just checking in on other bloggers.

3. Interview other bloggers.

In just FIVE MINUTES you can put together a fantastic set of FIVE interview questions that will not only promote another blogger, but will hopefully bring along some of their following. Find someone that specializes in a niche within your niche and you instantly have a free SEO friendly page perfectly made for your website….by an expert! Don’t forget to ask them for all their favorite links to add as resources, readers love it, and it easily connects you to other like minded bloggers.

4. Participate in discussion forums.

I always participate in the threads that catch my interest and the threads that are within my niche. Participating in your community is a million times more beneficial than obsessively obsessing over you your stats.

5. Check in on your readers instead of your stats!

Pay a visit to your latest commenter’s, thank them for stopping by your blog and read their latest article. Being a successful blogger means being part of a community. Are there any top bloggers that are an island within themselves on the internet? Not that I know of. Chances are if you have the time to fritter away checking stats, you are better off using that precious time to build your community.

6. Sign up for a new social network each day instead of obsessing over stats.

The more websites your blog is featured on, the more enmeshed in the internet you become. It only takes a few minutes to get signed up. I just copy and paste my info from Blog Catalog consistently in to each new site. If you are seriously obsessed with stats you may need to be prescribed two to three social networks a day to fill the void!

7. Write a scintillating guest post such as this one (well hopefully).

Translate those moments obsessing over stats into something productive like guest posting. Ask to be interviewed. A great guest post can be done in a matter of minutes. Many bloggers are just looking for a quick basic bit on your area of expertise. Write up a list of tips and tricks that reference longer posts on your site to generate new interest to old content. A great guest post can typically be done in a matter of twenty minutes. You know the basics about your field. Don’t waste your research time on a guest post. Talk about the stuff that constantly rattles out of you. You will sound more like an expert that way anyways. Save writing longer articles for your own site, and then write guest post “press releases” using them as a reference. Whatever you do, just keep writing, you got in to this business because you love to write—right?

8. Reach out to new friends at Stumbleupon, Digg, Reddit, and Mixx.

These social news sites are fantastic places for promoting your news and the more friends you have the better. I spend about 15 minutes on intentional time per day per social network and it is plenty. You don’t have to be on the front page, don’t digg your life away. Remember the best way to have a friend is to BE a friend. Spend a few minutes each day voting for your favorite articles and finding like minded authors and readers in your field. Now write some articles intended for the front pages of these sites. I know I know…Ignore my previous recommendation to write from your heart. Suck it up and write some REAL newsworthy piece of journalism for your niche. Spend some time on the front pages of Digg and Stumbleupon in your category to see what becomes popular. When you learn to consistently craft posts that are eye catching and intriguing they will inevitably hit the front pages. For Digg and Mixx I write brief journalistic newsworthy features on the latest in alternative medicine research, and for stumbleupon it is all about the simple numbered lists of tips and tricks, quizzes, and photos. I’m sure right at this moment you can easily go through your categories and find a theme for some numbered posts such as my article “21 Free Preventative Medicine Tips” .

I actually now create categories for certain tips and do a post a month on this topic until I have enough for a great viral link post.

9. Keep a stats journal.

Instead of obsessing about your stats on your computer make a stats journal. Write a log of the post title’s for each day, the time you posted them, what you did to promote them, if they became popular on any social media sites, etc. Then sit down with your stats journal for a couple hours at a time once a week and try to make REAL sense over your page traffic instead of just obsessing over numbers and feeling destroyed if today wasn’t as popular as yesterday. Looking at the big picture is the best way to address stats. Is it really worth all your time to spend your day on Digg when 90% of your socialnetworking traffic comes from Stumbleupon? Hmmm…Maybe not.

10. Read Problogger.net!

Ha…you all know that Darren did not edit this in because I made it the last tip and not the very first ;) But really we always save the best tip for last and the most important thing you can do to improve your page traffic is become a better blogger. You are far better off reading Problogger or your other favorite blog improvement blog 15 minutes four times a day then you are obsessing over stats. I remember a post a while back here on ProBlogger on how to be a “Meta” blogger. Some people hated the post, but I took it to heart and the advice has rung true on many frustrating occasions. The message behind “meta” is that you don’t have to be the very best each and every day. You just have to be a little bit better than we were yesterday. That is why Meta is bettah.

In all honesty, if you are on the internet to write, if you are passionate about blogging, I hope you will be inspired by my little stats success story to focus on your readers and your writing, and not use stats to determine the success of your blogging endeavor. Instead of obsessing over your traffic, obsess over ways to improve it.

Could you give up checking your stats for an entire month? A week? One day? Two hours?

What else would you recommend to increase traffic instead of checking stats?

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. Excellent post, Nicole.

    The addiction is even worse when you use a live stats program such as Woopra, and it even worse than that if that program pops up alerts each time you receive a new visitor. I often find myself looking at Woopra and watching navigational paths of my visitors when I should be doing something far more productive.

    Of course, I’ve learnt a lot and improved my blog because of my close eye on visitor trends, but I’m sure I could have improved my blog much more by doing other things.

    Having said that, when a post gets Stumbled or receives high amounts of traffic from another source, it’s great fun and a huge motivational boost to see so many visitors coming in to the blog in such a short time.

    Jamie

  2. I check my stats every morning and watch affiliate network orders every hour. I need to follow your advice. Thanks

  3. Those are great tips and wonderfully timed. I’ve found myself becoming increasingly obsessive about stats on my various accounts/pages. It’s a good reminder to step away.
    Thanks!

  4. Watch out for those social networks, they can be a real time eater too!

  5. Helpful tips, thanks!

    The thing I would recommend it scheduling the stats hour, e.g. each Friday at 2 p.m. and develop a habit of working with stats by the schedule.

    It is reasonable because of statistical significance – the more data you have to make a decision on, the better.

    Especially for just started blogs, checking once a week would be enough.

    Making decisions too early is a huge mistake.

  6. Great post. People need to focus on creating value and checking stats doesn’t do it. Y0ou should always ask yourself, “is this good for my readers?” If you say no, skip it and do something that is.

  7. Nice post… I think I will give up the stat addiction for a bit. As far as helping a fellow blogger out Mr. Pro Blogger you can feel free to help me out; my blog is http://www.bigisthenewsmall.com; it doesn’t hurt to ask.

    Some of my most recent traffic is consistently coming from a post that I wrote about quotes from a movie that I took the kids to see: Madagascar 2!

  8. My stat checking was going down until I got approved for Woopra. :) Should probably uninstall it – having low traffic days can indeed get on my nerves at times. But it’s not like not checking stats will get me more time – I mostly take fast looks for few seconds.

  9. Great post, Thank you.

    I think the best time to avoid looking at stats is in the early days of a new blog; it’s too easy to think ‘no-one’s reading this – why am I bothering?’

    Unfortunately, the early days is when we addicts hit the stats the hardest

  10. I think this is an excellent post – simple, practical, so true and helpful. I used to obsessed over my starts, now I don’t (not much anyways) so I know exactly what this post is about. I also agree so much about hleping new bloggers – very important and they become your best supporters in the end :)

    Thanks!
    Liza

  11. In the context you are referring too, I agree that obsessing over site statistics is unproductive (and even destructive, if it is interfering with quality content creation). However, if you are not watching your site statistics for data points such as individual post popularity and traffic sources, then you are not fully connecting with your readers.

  12. Oh woman you know me too well. I think it’s hilarious that your addicton only responded to stats page breakage … I’ve spent two or three hours this weekend trying to get stats on wordpress to work. But I can still check them at godaddy. Not to mention adsense.

    Thanks for the inspirational post, I’m going off to read your blog!

    Sonja

  13. Jim Goldstein says: 11/30/2008 at 1:38 am

    Great post. Definitely some excellent food for thought and a much needed reminder. Thanks.

  14. Thanks for the post, Dr. Sundene,

    I’m sure it is great advice, but it is awfully hard to follow. In the first place, I carefully review my stats trying to understand where my readers are coming from and what they are looking for. So my stats help me decide what to write on next,

    Secondly, blogging without knowing who is reading your material is somewhat like an actor going through his routine without an audience. I’m no actor, but I have heard many thespians claim they perform better before a live audience; the presence of the crowd drives them to excel.

    I find it is the same in blogging. If you don’t know that people are reading your material, it is easy to get discouraged and assume “nobody’s reading this stuff.” If you craft a great post and are rewarded with a spike in readership, you are inspired to put more work into the next post…at least I am.

    Having said all that, I will admit I overdo it at times. I will attempt to follow your advice and cut down the times I review my sats each day. Going without my stats for more than a day? As long as there is electricity and an internet connection, it isn’t going to happen!

  15. But it feels too good! How can something so wrong feel so right?

    Actually this was great to hear. I am a very new blogger < 3 months. – I have so much to learn about this new world and avoiding a focus on stats would be a big help.

    But do I have to take it off my Blackberry? Can’t I have just one little peek?

    Thanks Doc.

  16. Great tips. I will now commence checking my stats less.

  17. I think we’ve all heard the old saying about three kinds of lies so I won’t repeat it here.

    I also remember some theorum that postulates that we change the behavior of what we are studying just by the fact that we are observing it. Seems like that applies here.

    I peek at my stats about once a week, out of curiosity. You’re right, if the stats were lower than what I was expecting, it puts me into a deep blue funk.

    Cheers

    George

  18. Great tips, I really need to try some of these. I think spending 15 minutes a day on social networking sites is a great idea! Thanks!

  19. This is the best article I’ve read in quite a while. Very good info! I’ve tried to place emphasis on my contributions to the community, but I’m lacking participation in a large number of social networks. Definitely something I can aim to improve upon! Thanks!

  20. Mlinar says: 11/30/2008 at 2:13 am

    Great, humorous post! :) Thank you.

  21. As a recovering stats addict who frequently falls off the wagon, or is it on the wagon, this is good stuff. It calls to question why you blog in the first place. Is it for stats or for the passion that is writing?

    Thanks for the thoughts.

  22. Great tips. I have the same problem. I keep checking stats throughout the day. Recently, I was able to stop checking my RSS Feed stats. However, I need to work hard to stop checking my regular stats.
    Cheers,
    A Dawn Journal
    http://www.adawnjournal.com

  23. Yeah. Checking stats daily consumes alot of my time in the past. But now i haven’t checked for almost a month. I don’t care anymore. I am working on a blog. I write what i want.

  24. Hello. My name is Susie and I am a stats-o-holic. Some days, I view my stats three or four times a day….After reading your tips, I will do my best to keep it down and try out some of your advice. Yup, I will. Thanks for writing such a practical and helpful article.

  25. Interesting guest post! Your questions are quite fun to answer, Dr. Nicole. I check my stats on weekly basis because I post only 3~4 times a week. Very seldom that I check them twice a week, that is if I am somehow expecting a spike on them.

    Anyway, I think your last question is very timely to me. I recently won a Problogger book from Kevin Muldoon’s contest on his Blogging Tips forum. The question was to give the best blogging tip in 140 characters or less. Incidentally, Darren Rowse himself was the judge.

    Here’s my winning piece – “Inspire others, and be useful to them. This is the best strategy so far, even better than search engines and all the social sites you can find.”

    With this, please allow me to use this space to thank Darren Rowse not only for choosing my entry but also for continuously inspiring for more than a year since I started blogging.

  26. This was a great post for me today. I am a new blogger and I’m sure that my time would be better spent writing and joining the conversation on other blogs. I’m not sure I could give it up for a month, but maybe I’ll start with trying a few days :-)

  27. Bookmarked this article…Its the best article of the month for me.
    I am happy I read it at the right time.
    Thanks Dr. Nicole & Darren.

  28. loosing visitors is not too bad either, i suspect that the watching for the stat increase is like watching a clock tick its feels good but so does getting outside

  29. Wow, how much did I need this one. I check all my stats at least every 4 hours.

    Thanks for the great tips I’ll be sure to try and put them in practice : )

  30. Hello, my name is Kyle, and I’m a stats addict.

  31. Oh my gosh…

    Did you write this about me and just for me ??

    LOL

    I guess it gets to the point where you dont even realise you are doing it until something like this post comes along and makes you sit and think !!

    Being fairly new to blogging I admit I have obsessed over stats …

    In fact I have the same problem with checking my emails for new comments on my blog

    You see my blog is just 5 weeks old but it is taking off very well ( In my opinion ) I am basically detailing my every move to build an online business with my blog and there is a great community following my moves

    I am loving every minute of it but I now realise how much more productive my time could be

    Thankyou for this, it has been a turning point for me and my business :)

    Will keep visiting here now with pleasure

    Till next time

    Dean
    http://www.Deanholland.com

  32. Yep, obsessive blog stat behaviour. I cannot say that I am obsessive, as I spend just enough time on this to keep my blogs on the right track. Thanks for pointing out the signs, as I will be sure to check myself if I find my behaviour deviating from the norm.

    Great post, by the way! I love to read about peoples success stories, especially when it truly feels like they want to help others succeed as well. And your advice is sound. Socializing is a key point to bringing popularity to true bloggers. I maintain four blogs, and my personality shows through with my various interests, and I love to watch them grow.

    Enjoy,

    Teri
    ~

  33. Wow! What a brilliant article. I thought it was just me doing this.

    No more logging on to Google stats before my morning cuppa anymore.

    Thanks

  34. I found myself highly addicted to stats for ages, and it really cut into the time I needed to build my blog. But as soon as I spent less time checking my stats – funnily ehough they started to rise because I was using the time I spend checking my stats on building them.

  35. Very nice and interesting article!

    Thank you for sharing this with us! My favorite is tip #10 :)

  36. Did I read that right, Dr. Nicole? You recommend signing up for a new social network every day? Maybe I need to change my perception of what a social network is – I’m not aware of many outside Facebook and Myspace. Do you have a list of recommendations?

  37. Forums are always a good way to get traffic and help other people but they can be just as addicting. How about the next post be about overcoming forum addiction! lol

  38. If only I had the problem of 7000 readers per month. Oh well, onto building some content and networks.

  39. I think the main reason – at least in the beginning – that a blogger wants to check the stats is to get a sense of feedback and accomplishment. Speaking for myself, it is a struggle to keep working hard and producing your best content in the beginning and without getting any encouragement.

    However, your advice is absolutely correct. It is better to spend time building a network and finding friends in your niche. The encouragement and feedback can come from them. I am very new to this, so still trying to figure the whole social networking out.

    I did try to force myself to stay away from Google Analytics for whole week. It was tough!

    Thanks for your post.

    http://www.littlestomaks.com/about/

  40. Hi Dr. Nicole. Thanks for the advice. I don’t think I check too very often, but I do let the stats get me down at times, when I have a slump.

    I guess if I would have a suggestion for traffic, it would be to make one’s blog interactive, with lots of activities for readers to participate in, and lots of questions they can ask and answer. And of course, content is king!

    krissy :) http://sometimesithink-krissy.blogspot.com

  41. You recommend… “Sign up for a new social network each day”

    Isn’t it better we focus on just a few and get maximum results from these? I prefer this way…

  42. Most non-webmasters have the obsession to check their email. Us webmasters have the obsession of checking both stats AND email… And now with the popularity of Twitter… Perhaps we are also obsessing over twitter tweets!

  43. Terrific post. I’m not addicted to stats. Yet. Just in the planning stages for a new blog. But your ten tips work even for the non-addicted population. Just wonderful, solid recommendations.
    Thanks.

  44. Oh you are so right!!! I really need to just not look, even if is only for a week – the hours I spend waiting for my stats page to download – again and again and again… I just love seeing where everyone is looking from and where they came through… Really that is time I could be blogging all the bazillion ideas I am dying to spill out… hmmm I will take the challenge and it won’t be easy!

  45. I keep kicking myself up the backside to stop myself looking at stats, its a compulsive thing but of no use really except when selling space on the blog. Great article.

  46. Thanks Dr. Nicole, nice post!

    Count me as a stats addict too :)
    I’ll try cutting down to at most once a day, in the morning.

  47. There is a time and place for stats but spending time every single day glorifying or melancholic in statistics is not beneficial. On the other hand, statistics are an important measure of progress and a fantastic way to judge what your readers like and who your audience is.

    I used to be very anti-stats. They would do their thing in the background and I wouldn’t check them, ever. In more recent months I’ve taken to spending time once a month digging deep into the stats. Total page views isn’t significant but the trend of page views over time is, the pages viewed is, the pages pulling traffic or diverting traffic is important. It’s one thing to play a numbers game with statistics but more important to pay attention to the information beneath the numbers.

    With the knowledge gleaned from your hour or two stat haul the next month can be spent replicating what worked, avoiding what didn’t, and writing new, fresh content for that growing long-tail of your blog.

  48. Thanks for sharing. Really useful tips.

  49. Hey guys thanks for all the fun and funny comments! Will be back to read more and respond tomorrow, just got the ping back that this went live as I was running out the door….

    Glad to see I am not the only stats addict on here. Maybe I need to start a twelve step recovery blog. Maybe that is the next step. lol

    But seriously, I am finding a deeper passion for blogging by moving away from stats and focusing on other things.

    And of course the answer is NO to those people that think I was dead serious about signing up for a new social network each day. I don’t recommend participating in more than about ten regularly. I have five that I consistently work with and that is more than enough.

    I guess what I meant was more to register your blog at other blog catalog’s and networks similar to mybloglog, BC, and technorati. There are a ton of them out there.

    I remember seeing a post “The top 50 places to register your blog” if anyone can dredge that up it may help the commenter that was looking for places to further network.

    Thanks for all the great comments, it is fun to share my blogging experience with fellow bloggers.

    Glad I am not alone on this one! :D

  50. I am fairly new to blogging and this is great advice. You’re 100% right about spending more time working the business and less time watching the stats. “Watching” stats doesn’t generate traffic, make friends, or get you on any social sites.

    Thanks for the great advice!

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