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How I Use BuySellAds to Monitor Blog Traffic and Goals

This guest post is by Kevin Muldoon of WordPress Mods.

One of the biggest mistakes new bloggers and webmasters make is to check traffic stats and affiliate reports too often—often enough for it to stop them doing real work on their projects. That being said, it is still important to check stats from time to time.

A quick review once a week, and a slightly longer recap once a month, is more than sufficient for most bloggers (affiliate marketers will obviously check stats much more because of how closely their income is tied to converting campaigns). It’s very important to check your blog’s progress, particularly within the first year or two of its life. Tracking important metrics can not only show you how your blog is progressing, it can also highlight what needs to be addressed in order for your site to grow.

Tracking can also be a fantastic motivational device. By tracking your site correctly and setting achievable goals, you can spur yourself to work harder and make things happen.

Everyone uses different scripts and services to track traffic. Here, I’ll show you the metrics I track for a blog I’m developing, and how BuySellAds indirectly helps me achieve my goals.

What to track

The BuySellAds ad network lists the following information for websites that sell banners ads through them:

  • Alexa Rank
  • Compete Score
  • number of Delicious bookmarks
  • number of Yahoo inbound links
  • number of RSS subscribers
  • Twitter followers
  • Facebook Fans
  • Page Rank.

Basic metrics

It is possible to add your blog to the BuySellAds network without adding any banner zones to your pages; if you do, you can automatically track these metrics with ease.

These stats are useful for two reasons. Firstly, by keeping note of your own score on a regular basis (e.g. via a spreadsheet), you can see the progress your site is making over time and predict future growth.

Secondly, by tracking metrics which are publicly listed in a directory, you can quickly and fairly accurately compare your blog to hundreds of competitors within your niche.

The BuySellAds metrics can be divided into three types:

It’s really up to you which metrics you track for your site. For example, if you are actively trying to increase the number of inbound links then you would track your Yahoo inbound links score.

I like Alexa and Compete to give me an external view on how my traffic is growing. Their figures can be quite erratic and unrealistic for low-traffic websites, however these are reliable metrics for established blogs. RSS subscribers is a metric which I also like to track. Like any metric, it’s not 100% accurate, however it’s one of the best ways of seeing how popular your blog is and how fast it is growing.

I don’t feel so strongly about some other metrics, though—search engine presence, for example. I do try and make sure that my blog design is SEO friendly, and link internally and externally frequently, however I strongly believe that for most bloggers it takes care of itself. That is, if traffic and readership grows, and you continue to write good content, your inbound links will increase. This is also true for social media bookmarks. Every single post on high-traffic blogs gets shared, dugg, retweeted, and stumbled; therefore it’s not something I believe you need to actively check (I know social media junkies will disagree with me on this, though).

I have, however, come to the conclusion that while I may value some metrics more than others, it’s worth tracking everything, as over time these values may prove incredibly useful and highlight areas which need to be addressed.

Another metric which I always track for myself is the number of daily uniques. For this I use Google Analytics and Webalizer (a traffic script which most hosting packages offer).

Once you have decided on what you are going to track every week or month, you should create a spreadsheet to store all this info. Spreadsheets are better than simply noting details down, as you can compare figures from month to month more easily, and you can import the data into charts for further analysis.

How I use BuySellAds advertisers to set my goals

You can of course track all of the metrics mentioned above without using BuySellAds (though adding your site to the directory will save you some hassle). What their marketplace does give you, though, is access to a lot of useful information on other blogs and websites within your niche. Not only can you easily view any website’s traffic, social media, and SEO presence, you can also see exactly how much they are making.

The BuySellAds marketplace has websites from a number of different niches including automotive, business, gaming, and travel. A high percentage of publishers are from the design and development niche, however everyone should be able to find at least a few websites within their own niche.

If you look at their advertising information page or a website you will see a description of the site, some traffic stats, and information about where you can advertise.

BuySellAds stats

Above is a screenshot from the AngryBirdsNest information page. The page confirms that the site has two ad zones: a 260 x 125-pixel banner area on the right-hand side of the page, and a 75 x 75-pixel banner area to the right of that.

BuySellAds ad information

The 260 x 125-pixel banner costs $300 for 30 days whereas the 75 x 75-pixel banner costs $50 for 30 days. There are six slots available for the larger banner area and seven slots available for the smaller one. All advertising inventory has been sold; therefore the ad zones bring in $1,800 and $350 respectively for a total of $2,150 per month. BuySellAds takes a cut of 25% of any advertisements sold, so we know that the owners of AngryBirdsNest make $1,612.5 every month through the two banner positions on their sidebar.

This information is incredibly useful. For every website listed on BuySellAds you can find out the approximate traffic levels and the money generated from ad zones (though most sites generate income from other sources too). If you also track your own traffic levels regularly you are in a great position to work how much money your blog could potentially earn once it reaches a certain point.

Bear in mind, though, that websites with similar traffic levels cannot always charge the same rates, so reaching a certain traffic level isn’t a guarantee that you will make a given amount of money. The more sites in your niche there are on BuySellAds, the more accurate your estimate is likely to be.

For example, let’s say you start a brand new blog and want to get a rough idea of the sort of income you can expect in the future. You could track competitors through a number of metrics, but the most reliable is number of impressions. If you looked at 30 websites within your niche and noted their monthly impressions and the money they earn through BuySellAds (using the method I noted above), you may find:

  • Those with an 50,000 impressions earn around $100 per month.
  • Those with an 250,000 impressions earn around $800 per month.
  • Those with an 1,000,000 impressions earn around $5,000 per month.

Once again, I remind you that stats from one source only tell you one part of the story, so it’s important to look at each website individually and see why some sites are selling ads and others aren’t.

Monitor your progress

It’s very difficult to gauge when your blog will start making good money, particularly if it’s in a niche you don’t have experience with. We should all be setting goals and tracking our blogs’ growth over time. What the BuySellAds marketplace does is give us an idea of the right time to start selling ads, and an indication of how much we could potentially earn at certain levels (BuySellAds could obviously be substituted with any ad network that displays ads and confirms the rates publishers are being paid).

It isn’t 100% accurate, but it’s a great way of monitoring your blog’s progress and I believe anyone who is still developing their blog will find this useful. It gives you a a tangible target that you can aim towards, which should inspire you and keep you focused on what you need to do to make your blog a success.

Kevin Muldoon is a webmaster and blogger from Scotland. His current project is WordPress Mods; a blog which focuses on WordPress Themes, Plugins, Tutorials, News and Modifications.

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Comments

  1. Justin Dupre says:

    Great information regarding BuySellAds. I’m sure those involved with affiliate marketing who happen to have blogs will find this useful. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Tom says:

    BuySellAds offers a lot. I’ll have to check them out. Thx for the good write-up.

  3. Hi Kevin,

    Great information about BuySellAds! I haven’t had a closer look at it and love to test out a few campaign with it. In addition, it is certainly a great way to monitor the stats from it as it saves you lots of time.

    By the way, I find that the stats of unique visits from Google Analytics, webalizer or Awstats differ quite a lot. Do you find it too?

    Cheers,
    Ming

    • Yes. Webalizer tends to show the most traffic, then awstats and then Google Analytics. They all track traffic in different ways. Google Analytics is the most in depth traffic service out of the three but I’d be lying if I said I knew which service reported the most accurate traffic levels.

  4. Thanks for sharing, was not aware BuySellAds had all these features useful for analyzing stats of our websites.

  5. Awesome Kevin! Quite an innovative approach…

    Finding out the most important metrics about my site at one place itself is good. On top of that, the ideas you have suggested for competition analysis and income estimation are simply awesome!

    Thanks – I am heading to BuySellAds straightaway!

  6. Melvin says:

    This is something new for me. I’m impressed, this is really informative.Great job!

    But there’s one thing that made me think about – using the stats features even you’re not going to place any banner ads in your pages. Is this legit? I mean isn’t there anything in their policy that before you can use this stats feature you have to place banner ads in any of your pages? Well, anyway I guess it’s just me, I think that this is a way of deceiving the ads network itself. Don’t get me wrong with this one.

    I better check BuySellAds for a better look. Thanks for pointing this things out.

    • Well I do sell tweets and RSS footer ads through BuySellAds. I am also planning on using the service in the future but in my experience, it isn’t worth selling there until your site reaches a certain traffic level. I wouldn’t imagine that they would have any major problem using it only for tracking. After all, you would be more inclined to use their service in the future if you were visiting their website frequently.

  7. JC says:

    wait.wait.. doesn’t buysellads works the same way as text link ads the one that google penalises? Or did I get my wires crossed big time!

  8. Looking at the estimated earnings you posted above, 50k impressions equates to $2 CPM. That’s great for publishers, but do advertisers really pay that much? I guess the stats speak for themselves, but it sounds like the ads would need to perform very well indeed to justify the CPM.

    • BSA doesn’t show how well ads are converting as far as clicks generated, however I would suspect that most sites convert the same as the rest of the web (0.3%-0.5% ). A lot of products being promoted on high traffic websites sell premium products so I’m sure most break even.

  9. That’s so cool, I never would have thought of using BuySellAds for tracking your site. Thanks for sharing. I might look into when I get some time.

  10. Karan Lugani says:

    Really seems to be a good idea. Getting an all in one output. BuySellAds really nail it when it comes to telling the analytics. I am surely gonna check it out and use it to get myself updated with my blog stats that too at a single place.

  11. good stuff Kevin – definitely a streamlined approach to monitoring and bench marking. i like the point you made about not expecting the same payout for the same traffic levels. this highly depends on the niche you are in.

    for example, one of my niche websites is in the legal industry, and i command $300 per month for an ad on the sidebar. another niche site of mine is one in the kitchen cabinets industry, for which i can only command $100. what is interesting however is that both sites have the same PR and traffic levels.

    • Yeah traffic/revenue really depends on the niche. I have a friend with a website with little more than 150 uniques and it’s making several thousand per month. It’s very difficult to build traffic to his niche though.

      :)

  12. Glynis Jolly says:

    I was wondering if I was the only one using Webalizer at my CPanel. I don’t check it all that often, about once a month but it’s how I see how I’m doing over all.

  13. Greg Kill says:

    I am still confused about using different tools to monitor your traffic. Every tools shows or give different results and different statistic which you might wonder a lot of their results are very incompatibility.

  14. I love it when others share unusual things they have found to help manage their sites. Great info and writeup, Kevin.

  15. Adrian says:

    I use BuySellAds a few months, good revenue for webmasters and good advertising for clients.

  16. jibran says:

    i love buysellads but fail to get register my website
    please help darren

  17. I heard about PR4 something a few months ago and how people are using this to monitor their website’s ranking. I tried using it but then it wasn’t as updated as it seemed. I was so disappointed at it! I think I’ll stick with Alexa Rank from now on.

    - Jack Leak

  18. Ben says:

    I registered my site and it was approved, but I cannot see any stats. BuySellAds says:
    You do not have any active ads sold for this website right now. Once you have ads sold, you will be able to see stats for the ads here.

    I wanted to see these stats without selling any ads first. Please help.

  19. Are there any similar alternatives to BSA? I have been looking, but I can’t seem to find any wgich is as good as BSA…
    Anyone know another ad network which is good to use for my blog (50 000 Impr/month)
    Thanks!

  20. Raj says:

    actually they should provide this information to advertisers as well so that they can decide appropriately. An advertiser cannot just advertise on the basis of number of impressions

  21. Thanks a million for this article! This is particularly great information for someone just starting out and wondering how much traffic is needed to make how much money. This is the best article I’ve read on answering those questions.