As a hobby blogger trying to increase readers to my Israel blog, The Israel Situation, I have always been glued to my site traffic. What does a spike mean? How can I bring more readers? Is there anything I can do to help my blog grow?
I am currently an MBA student, and I took a statistics class this past quarter. For a class project, I tried to use statistics to prove what you can do to help your blog grow. I used a lot of technical tests including regression, chi-squared, and correlations to prove my theories. Darren gave me the opportunity to share my findings with all of you, and I have translated the findings into plain English to help you grow your blog readership.
I first tested to find a relationship between posts per day and site visitors. I started my blogging believing that the key to more visitors was more posts. Not true! A two sample test comparing site visitors to page loads proved that there is no association between the two. If you are working your tail off to post ten times a day, it might be better to focus your efforts on fewer, better quality posts.
Next up I tried to find a way to drive subscriber growth. I tested the relationship between page views and subscriber count. A two sample t-test (statistics talk for two variable relationship test) proved that again, there is no relationship. At this point, it seemed that no numbers could predict a successful blogger, but I continued my testing.
Next, I used a test called chi-squared to find if day of the week had any big impact in visitors. The test is designed to test if proportions are equal across periods. I did find a difference here. I found that there were constantly more visitors on Sunday and fewer on Friday and Saturday. This, I believe, is specific to my target audience. Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest, is from Friday night to Saturday night. As a blog that focuses on Israel, many of my visitors are Jewish. This explains the difference. If you have a blog with a niche audience, you might find this variation as well. A business blog, for example, may have a spike in readers on Monday morning at the beginning of the week and less visits on the weekend.
My next test is the one that applies to virtually every blogger. I tested page views against time. I found that time since starting the blog does correlate to an increase in page views. At first I had trouble substantiating this data. I removed outliers, or non-regular data, and was able to then prove my hypothesis. As you can see from my chart, I was able to demonstrate that days since blog inception closely related to an increase in regular visits. My spikes in traffic, caused by Reddit and hosting the Haveil Havalim blog carnival, did not cause an increase in traffic. Just to reiterate, social bookmarking and other spikes in traffic did not cause a statistically significant increase in blog viewers. You can see the five dots that stick out in the chart below. Those are my big days of social bookmarking and blog carnival hosting.
To summarize what I found and apply it to you, the most important factor in growing your blog is persistence. Sticking with it will lead to a real increase in visits. If you write good content, it is inevitable that you will gain more readers. Traffic spikes, like the one I hope to get from guest posting here, are nice. However, most people that visit in a spike don’t really care about your blog, they care about the single post. If you can pick up a few regulars, great, but don’t expect a whole lot.
If you are still starting out, do not give up from a low reader count. I almost did a few times, but decided to stick with it because Israel is something I am passionate about. If you are writing about something you love, you will have a readership increase in time. Other than that, the statistics of blogging are fairly inconclusive.