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Use Feedburner Statistics to Interpret Reader Habits

Posted By Darren Rowse 10th of November 2007 RSS, Writing Content 0 Comments

Can your Feedburner stats reveal habits of your readers that could help you make your blogging more effective at reaching them? Guest poster Max Pool finds out.

As we know FeedBurner counts can naturally fluctuate.

But what about when they fluctuate unnaturally? Can we find trends in our statistics? Interestingly, your FeedBurner stats can tell stories about your readers’ habits.

During the first few months of my first blog, I attempted to try and notice trends and patterns as seen below:


I immediately found 3 points of interest as highlighted on the chart.

  1. Readers were most active at the beginning and end of work weeks
  2. Weekend reading was minimal
  3. A new pattern during a holiday week

After finding some patterns in the charts, I started to hypothesize what caused this pattern to occur. Was it my posting frequency? Was I posting on the wrong days? I started to think about my personal feed reading habits and was able to produce some reasoning.

1. Start and end of week was most active

Most bloggers have been told that Mondays tend to be the best day for readers. It is not hard to imagine your readers, spread out with their coffee mug plowing through weekend feeds. The opposite holds equally as true, readers want to digest all of their feeds before they leave for the weekend.

2. Minimal weekend reading

This will not surprise anyone; people are away from their computers and are doing very little reading. The consistency between Saturday and Sunday is caused from the web-based readers reporting in and the exclusion of the on-demand readers.

3. New holiday pattern

The inverted ‘U’ comes from a recent American holiday – July 4th. Iexpected numbers to be down this week, so low counts were not surprising. I expected Wednesday, July 4th to be the slowest day, instead the opposite held true and a number of readers returned. I will post these next holidays and anxiously await to see the trends during Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

There are many reasons why readers unsubscribe, but remembering that external human factors are involved can help you rationalize fluctuating counts and react accordingly.

This is a guest post by Max Pool, a software engineer by day – aspiring SEO expert by night. More ideas can be found at his blog codesqueeze.com.

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 and LinkedIn.
  1. Is 4th of july really that recent? ;)

  2. Interesting points, it is always good to get into the header of our subscribers and work out why things happen…

  3. I have noticed the same thing. This is why most people do not blog on weekends since they think no one will read anything until Monday anyways.

    I blog anyways! :)

  4. Great topic, something I have actually been watching closely lately on my own blog.

    I also try and use reader subscription to determine which articles my visitors likes, or even better what kind of articles they like. The feed statistics seems more valuable then just traffic alone. Hits are nothing with out conversion.

  5. Hm.. Something it not happen at my blog..
    My readers like to read on Saturday or Sunday…
    Maybe that’s their boring day..

  6. Weekends are bad for me too, down 10% or so, but it tends to be Wednesday that peaks, although there’s barely 5% difference between the best and the worst weekdays.

    BTW, Thursday’s stats seem to be missing Google again…

  7. I am not sure that the time of the data is very reliable. If you are using Google reader, the fetch time(the time when the google bot fetches the feed) is what counts – not the time you read the blog.

  8. I look at these trends in my own feed numbers, but I’m curious as to exactly how I should react.

    Lately, I’ve changed my posting schedule and frequency to match the demands of life a little better, so I tend to do a post on Saturday and Sunday mornings (in addition to Tuesday and Thursday evening).

    The way I see it, the Monday morning reader will have both of those fresh and ready to go in their reader.

    Same thing for a person who might only check in on their reader a few times a week. Whenever they’re moved to read my posts, everything since their last reader session will be there to peruse.

    Am I missing a big bit of blogging optimization technique?

  9. Mondays and Fridays are usually the days that I get the most readers page view wise and on the RSS side of things.

  10. I’ve found the same trend, albeit on a much smaller scale, on my blogs. I have had some bigger hits on the weekend when it comes to sports blogs, but that makes sense. I tend to peak on fridays.

  11. Darren…

    do you ever get anyone who disagrees with what you say, or basically tells you you’re full of it?

    I’ve noticed for a long time that 99% of comments on your blog are people telling you your points are interesting/excellent/well thought out etc yadda yadda.

    Whilst your blogging is obviously paying off, don’t you ever wish for people to challenge you instead of agreeing with everything you say?

  12. @ryan: haha..very true. Mostly no one raises any eyebrow on Darren’s work.

    But I guess it is good to see that people agree with Darren always. It will be good if people challenge him only on one condition “if he is wrong!” But mostly he is soo right. How can I challenge him

    Mostly what I do is update his aricle with my views. What I feel and sort of things. I rarely have found times when I totally disagreed with him

    good going Darren..

  13. I have a very small readership, but I have noticed the same trend about weekends and the beginning and end of the work week. Seems to hold pretty true for large bloggers like Darren, too.

    I think that’s why nobody disagrees with him. Whatever he posts, from himself or somebody he likes, works for us podunk bloggers as well as the big dogs. :)

  14. For me the days are a bit different I peak on Sunday and have increases on wednesday and saturday. Not sure about holidays as of yet. Every blog and blogger will have different results from looking over those stats. One thing it has done for me is shown me when to post the articles I want the most people to read Such as my Q&A with Tony Platt a well known producer who has worked with AC/DC, Nemesea. By posting this right late Friday night I insured the most view of at least the link under recent posts. This helped in building credibility for me as a music blogger.

  15. During the week my pattern is completely different than that.

    After the weekend lurch, I see a steady incline from Monday till Friday, almost every week. I think your niche probably has a lot to do with RSS patterns, just like it affects your traffic patterns.

    @Ryan, CompuWorld: This is a guest post…

  16. I find that Monday is definitely the best but end of the week is bad for my blog. I guess different niche must be different! :) It is also difficult to see these types of mini-patterns on my blog because I’m in a growth stage and everyday is almost an up day. (Other than these days when I would lose a couple hundred subscribers due to feedburner malfunction)

  17. Darren does great work. Love it.

  18. I’ve been looking for patterns in my feed count forever without luck. One week the counts are highest early and late in the week and the next counts are highest midweek. There have even been times when the count is highest on the weekend.

    It doesn’t always seem to coincide with when I’ve posted either. Some of the highest counts have come after I didn’t post for a couple of days.

    I imagine the patterns are there and I’m simply not seeing them yet, but I’m still at a loss for what they are.

  19. Oh how interesting…according to my statistics, my most heavy traffic day is actually Wednesday and Thursday. Monday is pretty good but strangely, Tuesday and Friday are rather slow days. Weekends, predictably are slow as well. I guess I’m all over the place.

    The only thing that is really consistent is that weekends are generally slow…which is odd since personally, that’s the time I’m most actively reading blogs.

    I wonder if this curve trend differs for different types of blogs. Mine is more of a personal finance / investment blog rather than these “make money online blogs” I always see.


  20. I sort of paused for a moment when you said “recent American holiday – July 4th” and then I realized that this was an Australian blog.

    I guess I sometimes forget that not all blogs originate from the U.S. I think most Americans (myself included) just assume that the internet revolves around the U.S. sometimes.


  21. Heh – that FeedBurner problem with it cutting out google stats is happening again – methinks someone at the big G is sleeping on the job.

  22. Feedburner has excellent services :) You can analyse lots of data using it..

    But I noticed that the counter fluctuating has hit one of my site.. any idea what’s happening?

  23. I think this stat is very good, and I would agree Monday and Fridays are the best days of feedburner readership.

  24. There is something wrong with feedburner (again). I just checked this morning and all the google subscribers have dropped off. As they account for 1/4 of my subscribers I’m not happy LOL. Never mind I guess they will fix it

    As for fluctuations I only post Mon-Fri so I expect page views to drop off at the weekend

    Less page views in summer time?
    On my NZ reality television blog I have noticed a recent drop in page views, even though subscriber numbers are climbing. I wonder if it’s because it’s coming up to summer here and longer days. I know TV viewing drops in summer, does computer time also drop? Does anyone know?

    I do get a lot of international traffic to this page and I haven’t worked out yet where the drop is (i.e. from NZ/Australia where it is summer or UK/US winter) but I’ll get there soon!

  25. Thanks for this post. I had no idea people don’t read blogs much on weekends. I thought that weekends is when bloggers come out of the cave. hmmm…


  26. I guess I want to say, “Yes, but . . . ” or more rudely, “So . . .”.

    Does it matter when I post? Does when readers read affect how often I post or anything else?

    So I don’t know that this kind of information tells me anything to help me improve my blog.

    I’m not meaning to rain on your parade Max and I think ProBlogger is an excellent site. But I don’t see how this kind of information helps me.

  27. @Evan: At least for my blog, the day and time of my post seems to play a major role in its success or failure.

  28. @All – The ‘recent’ July 4th holiday was because I wrote this post a few months back, it just finally found a home. Sorry for the pseudo misprint.

    @Evan –

    The point of the post was not to display my patterns and hypothesize on the reading habits of the entire internet, but rather show that you may be able to find not-so-random information to help you target your audiences better.

    After looking at my traffic and feed stats, the pattern emerged that Monday and Friday were my biggest days for both feed reading *and* direct traffic. I wanted to capture more readers so I starting experimenting. What happens if I post on my lowest weekday – Wednesday? What happens if I don’t post on Monday or Friday?

    Long story short, I was able to find my sweet spot and determine I should *always* post very early morning Monday as it helped my overall subscription count. I am hypothesizing this is because feed readers are happy to see more material (thus not dropping), and direct traffic’ers are pleased to see new material (and hopefully capturing some as new readers).

    Hope this clarifies things a bit.

  29. Never knew about the Monday trend. Thanks!

  30. I hate looking at feedburner when the subscribers are down. But for some reason, I can’t stop looking everyday!

  31. Hi darren, I wrote a post on “How to manage reading”, hope you enjoy reading it.

    Post : http://www.articlefarms.com/opinion/2007/11/08/how-to-manage-your-reading/

  32. This is good post Darren. After reading this post, I wanted to write something regarding Feedburner feed stats of my own blog.

    I agree that Monday is the best day for me as well. Though I update my blog every second day, my statistics is not as fluctuating as of Max Pool. It is increasing day by day.

    I haven’t noticed minimal feed reading during the weekend as well.

  33. Glad to see that yours fluctuates as well… I had been trying to find the trends in the ups and downs and they were pretty much what you said.

    Funny, I don’t really get why they fluctuate. I rarely remove a feed from my reader. If it is a feed I don’t really want to read I will tag it with a filter or label so I know I don’t care for this feed.

    If I just remove it, I might be adding it down the line and have to do that all over again. Thanks, Scott

  34. My stats is back up again.. I wonder what’s happening in their server?

    Probably synchronizing data between different servers worldwide?

  35. I have to agree with some of the readers. Something is up with google in feedburner on thursday again. I noticed that almost all of my readers were not there from google. I nearly died since it is one of my highest readers’ feed. (I am a fairly new blogger-but large flucs are upsetting and I know I should get a life…)

    I notice that weekends are down too especially sunday but wondered if I should post something on sunday to bring numbers up. It would be very interesting to see if your subscribers would all post something on the weekend and see if collectively we can see if people just don’t read as much on the weekend or is it a particular niche that does better on the weekend.

    Can you post an article about whether or not to include your entire article in your feed versus teasers? If you already wrote it, can you give me the url on it?

  36. This is very true. I was just thinking of the same thing. I stopped writing posts on the weekends, since most people aren’t going to read them and they usually don’t.

    I started my site just a few days shy of 3 months and have been doing fairly good. The readership has been increasing slowly. I now realize that you do have to look at trends and interpret what will happen. Trust your intuition and you will succeed.


    Richard Rinyai

  37. For me i notice that Wednesday and Thursday, i always get the most reads and traffic from my audiences, i am not sure why but that’s the trend over at my blog.

    I discovered that Sunday receives the poorest amount of visitors while the rest were average. I have gained steady visitors but not a major increase in Rss Feed readers though, trying to work on that portion since i have set my target for next month.

  38. I blog anyways! :)

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