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

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.

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Comments

  1. Forgot to say, that the days I post new blog posts, I really get a boom of visitors….

    So I must be doing something right when I promote them!! :-)

    Claus D Jensen

  2. Tracking the effectiveness of any marketing campaign is vital, but being overly concerned with numbers can be quite detrimental.

    I like to track where people come from and how long they stay around. I tend to stop putting a lot of effort into traffic generation techniques that have a very high bounce rate and low time on site!

  3. Jarlin says:

    Yes, it helps

  4. Andy says:

    I had the same problem as Jennifer, but after a short time, then it works.

  5. Liz Hover says:

    Since I started this blog challenge my traffic has significantly increased. My bounce rate has totally dropped (was once as high as 90% and has dropped to 40%) and folks are spending something like an average of 3 minutes on my site which rocks! I think it has a lot to do with regularly adding new content. This challenge has stopped me from being a lazy blogger.

    Oh, and I’m addicted to checking my web stats. Have been for years.

    I use: IceRocket Blog Tracker, Google Analytics and Feedburner.

  6. @ jennifer is your wordpress blog hosted by wordpress over at wordpress.com or are you hosting it yourself (the wordpress.org option).

    if its the former you cant install the google analytics tracking code. if its the latter the advise from Mario is spot on

  7. This is probably just me being an idiot, but I don’t believe in that “time spent” stat. Does it even get calculated if people view one page and then close their browser window/tab? I see a lot of 0:00 visits that seem ridiculous. Like, they’re clearly not bots, and the people are almost certainly actually reading the page, even if they’re closing it without browsing on the site further.

  8. Mario says:

    @needmoney.com

    They arrive and hit the backbutton after the first glance. This is what in my opinion happens.

  9. Caden Grant says:

    I use Google Analytics to check the traffic on my blog. I love Google Analyitcs it works great.

  10. themaphabit says:

    I think this is the best piece of advise from today’s post: “I try to do an in depth review each month”.

    It is very easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated on the stats.

    Especially when it comes to beginners and less technically skilled bloggers it is best to focus on the content first and get to this down the road. Also get help from someone you trust that knows what they are doing – there are tons of books out there that will do little more than take your money and waste your time.

  11. Me too use Google Analytics, I think google analytics is the best.

  12. Marie says:

    I’ve been using site meter as well as checking feedburner. I’m not seeing the feedburner stats go up as high as I’d like, but then again, my site isn’t about twitter, blogging or many of hose popular subjects.

    I do wonder about the accuracy of sitemeter though. Has anyone else wondered if their stats are accurate?

  13. This is a great help. I’ve been following my stats but to be honest, I haven’t really done anything with the info. This has given me much more direction. Thanks!

  14. David Eedle says:

    Darren, really liked this post. I’ve been using Analytics plus paid services like Nielsen for years. I know from experience it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the data, and have trouble focussing on the metrics that matter. Your post is a great and concise list – I might have to pin it up at my desk to ensure I check off each item in order.

    It can also be easy to obsess over statistics, I always advocate scheduling time each week to specifically research the numbers. I find dipping in and out randomly to be pretty counter-productive.

    Cheers….David

    http://www.NicheContentMillionaire.com

  15. Hexum says:

    As you’ve stated here, blog stats are are an integral part of creating a successful blog. One of the most important points you presented in your post happens to be the point that got covered the least – the warning about becoming a stat addict.

    I’ve heard about it from other bloggers and I fell into this in the beginning as well. As you become addicted with checking stats, you tend to start writing post with stats and keywords in mind first and readers second. It should be the other way around.

    New bloggers also tend to become focused on obtaining a PageRank. If I’m not mistaken, PageRank changes only about 3 or 4 times a year so content should always be the number one focus.

    As far as what stats to check, you covered the key basics so once again, great job!

  16. Maddie Grant says:

    I use Google Analytics and Lijit for this, and Lijit in particular sends me weekly stats so I don’t forget to check them out. Now, I do have an issue with having no idea how to monitor my subscriber count now that I had serious Feedburner problems and reverted to the boring old Blogger feed. If anyone knows how to find out how many subscribers I have through that, please let me know!!

  17. alone says:

    nice list. i’ll see through it one by one. thanks.

    the important thing is to put the readers longer in our site.

  18. elizof says:

    This is actually a fascinating assignment because, as a matter of choice, I have not spent an enormous amount of time obsessing over stats and such.
    Yes, Word Press gives me some pretty good information and I have looked at it especially today for this challenge…
    However, I made a decision early in the game to truly focus on the fact that it takes time, effort and many of the wonderful bits of advice you have shared in the last 30 days to grow a winning blog.
    I definitely appreciate the additional tips and insights you shared above and I will use the information to learn and grow.
    I just didn’t want the extra pressure of fretting over stats because I am confident that over time, as I apply the fantastic advice you have given us, and develop a rhythm, it will all come together.
    The diligence and cumulative effort we develop beyond the 31 Day Challenge will help us in the long run. I am in this for the long haul – no quick fixes for me!
    Thanks again Darren for everything. I am really curious to find out what the last assignment will be…
    Please let us know when the workbook is ready. I’m in.
    Cheers!

  19. Nice list. But only the factors, not many examples for tracking solutions. I miss examples.

  20. MABeagle says:

    Hi Darren. We’re coming to the end of one of the best learning sessions I’ve had about blogging. This issue is not in your line up but relevant to many bloggers.

    LEGAL ACTION AGAINST BLOGGERS FOR DEFAMATION OR LIBEL.

    I know the law may differ from country to country, but many bloggers when using their right to freedom of speech are faced with law suites from companies or individuals.
    What would your advice be to us bloggers about this?

    http://chatswithmydog.blogspot.com,

  21. Becki says:

    I don’t have a lot of readers yet, so my data set is small, but here is what I’ve learned:

    1. The people who come to my site from search engines stay longer and read more pages. Referrals stay for a very short time and read one post.

    2. The people that do stay read several posts (> 4 posts) and stay a long time (>8 minutes).

    3. From this information I believe I need to do a better job of showing up in search engines and to get referrals from sites closer to my niche.

    4. Darren has taught us what we need to know to improve our blogs and our readership. We just need to apply it.

    Thank you Darren for the challenge and for sharing so much of what you learned the hard way.

  22. Jason says:

    Yes, tracking the statistics of our site is essential to note our progress in understanding online marketing.
    I use google analytics and it has been helpful.

  23. Coolwired says:

    Thanks Darren, for this course!
    I do love to check statistics,and am seeing more hits, on my blog.My work with keywords, tags, and categories, is also helping,( as well as frequent,good quality posts). I love meeting interesting new people in the forums.
    Like I keep saying:
    “So much to learn, so little time!” ;-)
    Best regards,
    Coolwired

  24. Hi Darren
    Thanks for the great info.
    One of the things that I like to do is to compare the different traffic sources for my blog and how the stats differ for each traffic source.
    For example if I get traffic from Stumbleupon, I get a lot of it but it is hard to make it sticky and so I have a high bounce rate.
    Whereas if I get traffic from the search engines it tends to stay longer and look at more pages.
    Thanks for all your help
    Steve

  25. I haven’t been as consistent as I would have liked through out the program, but the results are strong. I hit a record high on visitor traffic in April, and my subscriber list is growing slowly. ( I discovered the original RSS feed button on my site didn’t work as a result of this program)

    More than the traffic improvement, the biggest benefit of the program has been how much easier it is to generate content. Thanks for a wonderful experience!

  26. I love statistics. I probably refresh Statpress about 100+ times a day for my ezfs.us site.

  27. Tom says:

    Thank for the tips and advise.

    I believ tracking performance is key to knowing how the blog site id doing. Once thing I’m missing from Google Analytics is real time tracking or at least an acceptable delay of around 1 hour or so. Waiting 24 hours to monitor for change so not something I’m prepared to do, although I will still use Analytics. So, I’m exploring other means of tracking….

    Cheers,
    Tom
    http://iphone.jomra.com

  28. @Jennifer B – more info about getting Google Analytics to work:

    Put the Google Analytics code directly into the footer.php file. I use Dreamweaver to do this, and I open up wp-content/themes/[theme name]/footer.php.

    To use the WP Dashboard instead, go here:

    - Click on the Appearance panel on the left.
    - Click on Editor in the Appearance submenu.
    - Click on Footer in the list that appears on the far right.

    Put your Analytics code somewhere after:

    And somewhere before:

    Good luck!

  29. David Eedle says:

    There’s an even easier way to add Google Analytics – use the Google Analytics for WordPress plugin.

    Or if you use the Flexx theme, it allows you to add your Analytics tracking code via their config screen.

    David

    http://www.NicheContentMillionaire.com

  30. i always did monitoring all my blog network. Hope i can do something and create my own network. Make money from it its easy than ask money from my father money.

  31. I use Google Analytics and I have also found it very useful as it provides a wealth of information. However, checking your stat every hour is undoubtedly a waste of useful content-writing time.

    Some stats are more useful than others and of the list of 17, there are a handful that most new bloggers can safely ignore for a long time! Apart from the total number of visitors, the key stats are those that give you an indication of the user experience. These are variables like bounce rate and percentage of returning visitors. If you are only interested in mass audience that doesn’t stick, then focus on the total number of visitors but if you want a truly great blog, then look to improve on those other two first and foremost.

    The warning about not becoming obsessed with stats cannot be overstated!

  32. Clare Flynn says:

    Thanks very much for this – another very useful lesson.

    I was anyway using Google Analytics but the lesson today threw up some more useful tips and I have also set up a spread sheet to track 4 weekly stats. We have both a website and a blog – http://makeitandmendit.blogspot.com (at the mo – and I am planning to consolidate these soon) so that has made things a bit more compclicated for us.

    WHat is always very helpful with Darren’s posts is how then to improve things. As always, I now have a list of action points coming out of this for myself and my colleagues – there are not enough hours in the day or days in the week!

    I am always a late guest at this party as I started the programme about 2 or 3 weeks late so I feel a bit as though I am posting my comments into a black hole! Never mind!

  33. interesting, Darren. i do never monitor my blog cause i don’t know what’s the exact meaning fro doing this. friends ask me to use Google Analytics but it’s little bit complicated. anyway your post is excellent and many thanks~

  34. I find that the best use of analytics is to export the data and crunch the numbers to patterns that make sense for you. (e.g. compare Wednesdays to other Wednesdays). Use excel or if you are getting really serious – setup a database. Then go look for and analyze patterns.

    Have fun.

    My blog –
    http://tlv2jfk.flyerblogs.com/

  35. Film izle says:

    interesting, Darren. i do never monitor my blog cause i don’t know what’s the exact meaning fro doing this. friends ask me to use Google Analytics but it’s little bit complicated. anyway your post is excellent and many thanks~

  36. KDL says:

    I am such a beginner on all of this. I dutifully signed up for a Google Analytics account on the first day of the challenge, but didn’t realize I needed to add code to my html. I have now done this, but I’m not sure I did it right. So far I find the Google Analytics “help” pages most UNhelpful to a person like me who understands just enough of this to get by. Is there a “web metrics for dummies” resource out there for a newbie such as I? I’ll have to come back to this assignment after I give it another month with GA, but this time I’ll try to make sure it’s collecting something. My plan at the moment is to check it tomorrow when it should have _some_ data according to the little bit of info I gleaned from their help pages. Eek.

  37. sinema izle says:

    I love statistics. I probably refresh Statpress about 100+ times a day for my ezfs.us site.