5 Goals Every Blogger Should Set Up in Google Analytics

This guest post is by Eugen Oprea of

Do you want to build a successful business online?

I bet you do. Now that I have your attention, what is the first and most important step that will help you achieve that?

It’s important to know your audience and to build an awesome website that is fast and secure. It’s also important to have a social media presence and to write engaging articles.

But all of these come after you set up your business objectives and goals.

Setting up your business objectives and goals is the first and most important step towards your success online. Without them, you might as well not start it at all.

Set up goals for your blog

Like business goals, you also need to have goals for your website.

Whether they are simple goals like attracting readers and engaging visitors, or bigger goals, like increasing conversion rate, you need to have them on paper.

Then, once you are aware of what you want to achieve with your website, it’s time to start measuring those goals.

The simplest way to do this is by using Google Analytics. Google Analytics helps you not only see stats about your visitors, but also lets you create and measure your website goals and objectives.

Getting started

If you are just getting started with Google Analytics, you may want to read more about reviewing your offer, revisiting your conversion funnel, and revamping your communications, or get a handle on the basics of Google Analytics.

But, you likely already have a Google Analytics account, so let’s just dive in to creating the first goals for your website.

For starters, I would recommend you measure:

  • Engaged visitors: visitors who stay on your website longer than the average
  • Readers: visitors who read more pages on your website that the average
  • Email subscribers: visitors who sign up for your newsletters or freebies
  • Customers: visitors who purchase a product
  • Ad performance: clicks on ads to see which one is performing best, and who sent the traffic that clicks on your ads.

Before diving into each of these stats, let’s see how you can create a Google Analytics goal.

Log into Google Analytics and from your Account Home select the website for which you want to set up goals.

On the next screen you should see the Visitors Overview—this is a good opportunity to check your Pages/Visit and Avg. Visit Duration stats. You will use them later.


Then, select[Admin from the top-right menu, select your website profile, and click the Goals tab.


Now, here’s how you can create the goals outlined above:

1. Measure your engaged visitors

Start with the Goals set 1, and click on the +1 Goal. You will be directed to a window that will help you set up your first goal.

First, type in a name for your goal and make it active.

The you will see a list of Goal Type options. You will learn about all of them in this article, but select Visit Duration for this goal. This will help you measure how engaged your visitors are, and who is sending you those engaged visitors, among other things.

Next, on Goal Details, select visits with Visit Duration greater than your Avg. Visit Duration. For my websites, I use one minute as the duration.

Additionally, you can add a value for your goal, but if you are not sure about this, add 1.


2. Measure your readers

Now, it’s time to set up the next goal and see who are the readers of our website, and which visitors read more articles.

Just like for the first goal, you need to give this one a name and make it active.

Then, select Pages/Visit as a Goal Type, and enter as the Goal Details visits with Pages/Visit greater than your average Pages/Visit.

I use 2 for my websites. Add a value for your goal and you are done with this.


3. Measure your email subscribers

Next, we get to the exciting part: measuring your email subscribers.

Even though it’s fairly easy to set this goal up, it will give you so many insights that can help you increase your conversion rates.

First, though, you will need to have a Thank you page set up to send visitors to after they confirm their email address for you. You are going to use this page when setting up your goal so set it up on your website first. Once that’s done, set up your email marketing provider to direct visitors there after they confirm their email address.

Now, you can create the goal. This time you need to select URL Destination as the goal type and on the Goal Details, you need to set these options:

  • The Goal URL: If your thank you page is then type in /thank-you/.
  • Match Type: select Exact Match.
  • If your URL is case-sensitive then select the Case Sensitive option.
  • Add a goal value.

Additionally, you can set up a Goal Funnel, which is essentially a series of pages that lead to your conversion or thank you page. You can use this option if, for example, you have a landing page for your newsletter.

In this case you can select / as the URL, name it Index and /your-landing-page/, and add a name for it.

This will let you see where your visitors dropped out on their way to subscribe for your newsletter.


4. Measure your customers

Setting up a goal to measure your customers is essentially the same as for your subscribers. All you have to do is create a conversion page where you can send people after they purchase your product.

Then, you need to set up a goal for it in Google Analytics in exactly the same way you did for subscribers.

5. Measure your ads’ performance

Before setting up a goal for measuring your ads’ performance, you need to have a good idea about what event tracking means and how you can implement it.

So, first learn about how you can use event tracking and what it means for measuring your ads’ effectiveness.

Now, once you setup event tracking on your website, you can go and create a goal for each event you’ve set up. To do that select Event as the Goal Type and fill in the Category, Action, Label, and Value for your goal. These values are the same ones you used when you set up event tracking for your calls to action.

You can set up goals for all your events, your most important events or none of them. It’s your choice if you want to see them only in the Events section, or get more insights about how different traffic sources are sending you visitors that complete actions differently.


How to measure your Google Analytics goals

Here comes the most interesting part of this article: measuring the outcomes for the goals you set up.

After you se tup these goals, you will be able to see your engaged visitors, your most loyal readers, your subscribers, your customers or how your ads are performing.

But what do you do if you want to discover who is sending you traffic that converts? And by “converts,” I mean simple visitors becoming engaged visitors, loyal readers, subscribers, customers, or people who click on you ads.

To do that, you need to navigate to Standard Reporting > Traffic Sources > Sources > All Traffic. Then click on Goal Set 1, just above the graphic, and you will see conversion data about your traffic sources.

This will tell you which websites are sending you visitors that convert, and you will know where you need to leverage your presence. For example, you can learn:

  • what kind of traffic you receive from a guest post
  • which social media outlet sends you quality traffic
  • if your press release did a good job
  • if the ad you’re paying for is worth it
  • and much more…

Finally, you can apply this technique to check most of the reports in Google Analytics. Go ahead and discover more about how your visitors convert.

Back to you

Now that you finished reading, it’s time to take action. Go and set up the goals you learned about and then come back and share with us:

  1. how much time it took you to complete this
  2. other goals that you want to measure, or already measuring, in Google Analytics
  3. what else you want to learn about this tool.

Eugen Oprea helps people convert more traffic into loyal customers using proven techniques that grow your business. Get his Google Analytics course for free to learn more and check his new WordPress plugin Elevatr.

8 Non-writing Apps for Writers

This guest post is by Ben Ellis of

A lot of “app talk” in the world of writing revolves around the main applications used to compose your piece of writing, such as Scrivener, iA Writer, and my weapon of choice, MOApps’ Write, plus a whole load of others too.

I use a few additional apps to help me research and record things when I’m out and my notebook or laptop are at home. These assistant apps are ones you can fire up on your phone or tablet when a moment of inspiration hits you or you need to double-check something. Now you don’t need to worry about always remembering a pen and paper … just keep your battery charged.

Dictionary & Thesaurus

My poor spelling of words longer than five letters demands I use this app on a very regular basis. It’s easy to use, very well designed and the Thesaurus is great too. Although I only use it to find words that have slipped my memory—it’s no good filling your MS with a myriad of grandiloquent words you, your peers, or characters would never use in normal everyday life. This app’s free with ads and paid without.

Rhyme Source

The basic design means it’s not the most attractive app on your device, but it is one of the easiest to use. For someone who doesn’t write poetry I use this surprsingly often. It comes at a small cost.


Everyone should have a backup in the Cloud. This is the Big Daddy of the services available out there, but there are others. The main, fundamental point is: back up your stuff. Also, handy if you’re out and about and you want to review or add to a document of yours—you can access it and make an amendment to the live document from anywhere at anytime. Free for a basic account.


Now, you could use Mac’s native Notes app to record your story ideas, but that would be boring, right? So check out Nebulous. It’s especially built for writers, coders, and others to record ideas.

I only use it to note down ideas but it’s better than Notes, allowing a better filing system, plus it’s integrated with Dropbox so once you enter an idea, it automatically creates a backup in the cloud via your Dropbox account. Free and paid versions are available.


I’m glad I started writing during the Age of Wikipedia because I can’t imagine it any other way! This app gives you an intuitive way to navigate Wikipedia along with some added features such as a search history and related articles. It’s an effective and enjoyable research tool. Free but you’ll have to switch to the US store to get it (if you’re not already there).

MacFreedom and TV Guide

TV, along with the internet, is probably the worst enemy of a writer’s productivity. Vegging in front of a reality show or scrolling aimlessly through Twitter or an exe’s Facebook profile doesn’t get the next great novel of a generation written!

MacFreedom (for Mac and PC) blocks all internet activity on a laptop or desktop for a set amount of time, whilst the TV Guide app lets you see what’s on TV before you actually switch it on. MacFreedom is only $10 and the TV Guide is free. Your writing time is precious, protect it!

The National Geographic HD Atlas

Yes, you could use Google Maps or Google Earth, but for a small cost you could immerse yourself into a beautifully rendered HD atlas and let your imagination travel the seven seas!

Baby Names

Gives you ideas and inspiration for names and the meanings and origins behind them. Anyone seeing you use it may have some questions for you, especially your other half. Free.

You can probably achieve the same results with most of these apps by just using a web browser on your phone, but where’s the fun in that?! Also, if you really like an app then go ahead and pay for the full version to encourage the developer to spend time on updating and improving it for you.

Do you use any of these apps? Or others we should know about? Share them in the comments.

Ben Ellis has completed his second novel, ‘Broken Branches’ a dystopian tale of controlled procreation, and is currently looking for an agent or publisher.  You can find him online at and on Twitter at!/b3n3llis.

5 Big Hosting Mistakes Bloggers Don’t Know They’re Making

This guest post is by the Blog Tyrant.

If you take your blogging seriously you’ll know that you have to wear a lot of different hats. We are content marketers, SEO students, social media savants, and sometimes web designers.

But what a lot of bloggers seem to forget is that our blog hosting setup is an extremely crucial piece in the puzzle. Yet it often gets overlooked because it is scary, boring or just too darn hard.

It is really complicated stuff. I certainly couldn’t cover everything in one post—some people spend their whole careers figuring it out!

What I am going to show you, however, is a few big mistakes that you need to make sure you avoid. If you know any others please leave a comment and let me know. It might really help someone.

1. Setting up on a free host instead of your own

I’ve talked about this a lot on my blog and so have writers here on ProBlogger but it is a mistake that many new bloggers continue to make.

Now don’t get me wrong, services like Tumblr are a really cool way to get your word out there and blog socially but if you want to take it to the next level and go pro, you need to get your own domain name, and install WordPress on your own host.

Here’s why I don’t like freely hosted blogs:

  • Lack of control: On a free blog, you don’t have total control over the theme, settings, back end, or hosting environment. You are essentially leasing a space from the owners.
  • You don’t own it: The big concern for me is that on a lot of free platforms you don’t own the blog! This is a really big problem if you are trying to go professional or if you ever want to sell the blog down the track.
  • Google doesn’t rank them as well: The last big clincher for me is that many SEOs will tell you that Google doesn’t rank these free domains as well in the search results. If you want to step up and compete in a very competitive niche, you’ll need your own domain name and a solid permalink structure.

And it’s important that you switch sooner rather than later if you are planning on doing it. You see, when you change from free to paid hosting, there’s a whole host of other issues to sort out, like a loss of current rankings if your link structure changes.

It’s very important that you weigh up the pros and cons of a migration like this as soon as possible.

2. Not choosing a host with live support

As I mentioned at the start, this stuff is really confusing. And things often go wrong. When they do, it is really important that you have live support staff that can help you out and get the problem fixed fast, without hassle.

Part of the reason I recommended Blue Host in my post on the best host for new WordPress bloggers was because they have live, 24/7 support staff that are incredibly helpful. I am no longer with Blue Host as I outgrew the service, but for the years that I was there, I had countless life-saving, middle-of-the-night, brilliant support sessions from staff who really know their stuff.

Live chat

A screenshot of the live support wait time at Blue Host recently

I have noticed that it is really common to get stressed and panicked when you don’t understand something fully. And because hosting is so complicated, it is really easy to lose your cool when something goes wrong. It is a massive advantage to know there are people there 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in case something goes wrong.

3. Thinking that “unlimited domains” actually means unlimited domains

Something that I learned only recently is that when most hosts say that you get unlimited domains, unlimited hosting, and unlimited databases, they don’t actually mean it.

If you dig deeper into the terms of service you will find that most hosts (not all) have an excessive storage policy which basically says that if you abuse your “unlimited” space, your service will be affected.

Some of the things they might do include:

  • Throttling: This is where your site gets slowed down in order to help cope with the strain on the servers. This might happen if you have a bunch of sites that are taking up too much bandwidth for your hosting environment.
  • Stopped backups: Most good hosts perform a daily backup of your entire server to re-install if something goes wrong. But if you exceed the allowed file count by too much, you’ll find that those automatic daily backups stop pretty quickly.
  • Account suspension: If things get really bad and the host suspects that you are hosting files not related to any website activity, they will suspend your account. This is something that you really don’t want to happen.

My best tip here would be to know exactly what your host’s policies are on file storage, and to then make sure you know exactly what your server needs are.

If your blog is getting a lot of traffic and constantly growing it might be time to move to a more advanced environment like a Virtual Private Server (VPS) or a dedicated host.

4. Mixing your experimental stuff with your money sites

If you have a website or blog that is starting to make money that you rely on, it is really important to make sure it is on its own hosting account.

You see, what often happens is that we purchase one hosting package and then start experimenting with new blogs and websites. Eventually the whole situation gets cluttered, crowded, and very unprofessional.

Blogs that are starting to get some good traffic and have good rankings and loyal subscribers need to be protected and looked after. Make sure you keep them on their own host for security and up-time reasons, and leave your experimental sites to a different hosting package and location.

5. Failing to delete old blogs, websites, and files

The last thing I want to talk about is the fact that many bloggers leave abandoned or dead files, blogs, and websites in their host not knowing that they represent a security threat.

Without going in to all the details (I don’t really know all the details!), hackers can use insecure and old files to access your account in some situations. This is especially risky if you have been using WordPress and not keeping your plugins and installations up to date. It’s a threat.

If you’re not going to use a blog any more, just delete it. It’s not the easiest process, but it’s something that is worthwhile learning. So how do you do it?

Well, in some hosting environments you can just go to Addon Domains and then remove the domain that you want to stop using. That often removes the installation and the remaning database.

Other times, you will need to use PHPMyAdmin to locate the old site and delete the corresponding database. This can be a complicated process, so it’s best to ask your own host for advice on how to proceed. As mentioned, some environments and setups are different to others.

Are you making any mistakes?

I’d love to know if you are making any of these mistakes or whether you can think of any others that we can add to the list. Please leave a comment and let me know.

The Blog Tyrant is a 26 year old Australian guy who plays video games at lunch time and sells blogs for $20,000 a pop.

Escaping from Desktop: Online Document Editing Tools for Bloggers

This guest post is by Nina Gorbunova of TeamLab.

I first faced the problem of document immobility a couple of years ago, when I was far away from my PC. I lost my flash stick and realized that I didn’t have my documents stored anywhere in the cloud. That’s what we call epic fail. Of course, “it’s not the end of the world,” you may say. But being a freelancer, sooner or later you realize the importance of round-the-clock access to your files.

Another problem I faced was appropriate document management—in terms of document creating, storing, editing and sharing. Being an active blogger, I deal with document editing almost 24/7 and have strict requirements for the software I’m using. I need it to have an intuitive interface, rich toolset, and flexible sharing features.

Microsoft Word and Pages were pretty much enough for me formerly, but since I decided to step into the world of SaaS, I needed something different.

It took me half an hour to find more than a dozen services that promised to help me with remote working in the cloud. However it took me several days to figure out that most of them were not what I was searching for.

Google Docs

The most popular online document editor deserves to be covered first. Google Docs‘ interface tends to be minimal. As for the toolset, although in comparison with desktop editors it is not that rich, I believe it can suffice for an average user.

Google docs

Your Google Docs document can be downloaded as ODT, PDF, RTF, text, Word and HTML formats. Despite its popularity I had quite a few troubles when it came to inserting an image and huge problems with editing tables.

The Sharing feature is simple enough: as well as the options shown below, you can share the document with anybody and set up access rights to let them edit, comment, or just view the document. The only hindrance that might bother your collaborator is that they’ll need to be logged into your Google account to access the document (unless you use private sharing, which is preferable).

Google sharing

As a positive, the Comments feature is amazing and appears to be a huge advantage. However, I had troubles uploading and editing large docs and docs that contained several images.

Zoho Documents

Zoho is another well-known giant in the world of collaboration software. From the first glance I was impressed by its colorful and bright interface. On the other hand, it appeared to be a little bit tangled and confusing.

Zoho docs

It has a custom dictionary, word count and Thesaurus—though I’m not sure how many people would use these features. Zoho developers did their best to put some fun into tables and even included Table Themes. Unfortunately, though, even those didn’t let me make the table look the way I wanted.

Zoho tables

Working with images went smoothly. One thing that was difficult me was pagination, because when I downloaded the document (you can see available formats in the screenshot), the number of pages was different from what I expected it to be.

Sharing was another feature that left me confused. The terms of sharing are standard, but the document didn’t look the same on my screen and that of my colleague; moreover, he couldn’t edit it even though I gave him “read and write” access. That’s a serious problem that might be a stumbling block for many users.

Zoho sharing

On the plus side, the toolset is extremely impressive. However, an average user would find many of the tools superfluous, besides, some of them, like tables and headers, seemed to have serious bugs.

Microsoft Office 365

Office 365 hasn’t gained as much popularity as Google Docs yet, but the service definitely looks promising. Its interface is close to what most of us are accustomed to, and the basic toolset reminds us of a desktop application.

Office 365

The number of fonts and styles significantly exceeds that available in other online editors. Furthermore, users have the ability to switch to the desktop version of the software using the Open in Word button.

What confused me most of all—and it can be seen on the screenshot—was working with images and tables—there was no drag’n’drop functionality at all. For me, this is on the “must have” list, but its implementation is probably only a question of time since Office 365 is still quite a young solution.

The application does not provide sharing capabilities, though SkyDrive by MS enables users not only to share the document with a others, but even post it directly to social networks. I’m sure this software has a bright future, being a part of such a strong suit, but for me currently it’s not functional enough—I would prefer to use SkyDrive or some alternative app.

Office 365 share

Central Desktop

The tendency of software engineers to include document management capabilities in collaboration and project management platforms has become widespread these days, and Central Desktop is an example of such a tool. A user-friendly interface and basic features, however, don’t make the service unique.

Central desktop

Document editing is inseparably linked to the other parts of the platform—Project Management, Calendar, and People, which is a benefit if you are planning to collaborate with your colleagues using this tool. If not, it may be a serious obstacle, since the sharing feature is available for system members only.

That said, the Central Desktop Document Editor can’t help but produce a good impression. The drag’n’drop deature works great, and editing tables is convenient. There does seem to be a poor number of fonts and font sizes, though.

Although I haven’t tried to collaborate with this platform, it seems to me that the opportunity of inserting Calendar and blocks of Group Activity might comes in handy especially when it comes to reporting—as you might do within a blogging team.

Central desktop 2

There’s no opportunity to use Central Desktop for free, so it’ll be a closed book for many bloggers. Prices start at $99 per month for 20 users—again reflecting its team focus. Initially you get a 15-day trial for free.

Teamlab Document Editor

This is another tool that includes an editor as a part of an online collaboration service. But I intentionally put this one to the very end of the list because—cards on the table—I work for TeamLab. Now you might say that every cook praises his own broth, so I’ll do my best to stay as impartial as possible!

Among various online document editors this one looks the most like your favorite desktop application—Office 365 is probably the only alternative that would compete with TeamLab in this realm. The toolset is also impressive—Teamlab Documents provide you with a large number of styles and fonts, using those already uploaded to your computer.

Teamlab view

Image editing is good. Images stay exactly where you put them and can be shifted easily. Tables offer the same flexibility and nice designs. The editor has its drawbacks, of course. The lack of a spell checker and drag’n’drop text pasting are the biggest issues I’ve found so far.

One of the most noticeable advantages of the application is the “document identity,” which became possible with the usage of HTML5 canvas technology. Technically, this means there are no more formatting losses when you convert your doc into another format (which is the most irritating thing about most online editing tools). You can download your document as PDF, text, DOCX, DOC, ODT, RTF, HTML, or EPUB, and it won’t change a bit.

Sharing is available for those who are registered to use the platform as well as for third parties, which means groups of collaborators aren’t dependent on the platform.

Teamlab sharing

This option also offers Dropbox, Google Docs, and integration. However, right now, Teamlab can process text documents only, as it is still in beta. Spreadsheets, PDF files and presentations are on the way, according to the developers.

Jacks of all trades, masters of none?

Though we can find a dozen services for online document editing, many users still have to admit that most solutions lack functionality and remain far behind the best offline editors, such as MS Word and Pages.

If you’re working with all document types—spreadsheets, texts and PDF files—neither Google Docs nor Central Desktop can be called a full-featured editor, though they reach the furthest of the options we’ve looked at here.

Do they offer additional tools for file processing? Yes. Are they desktop editor replacments? No. Nevertheless the younger generation of editing apps already gets closer to perfection.

Do you use online document editing tools in your blogging? Why, or why not? And if you do, which ones? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments.

Nina is an active blogger, a marketing manager at TeamLab and CeBIT 2012 participant. She is interested in technology advance and believes HTML5 is the future technology.

Why I Switched Blog Hosting Companies (and Who I’m With Now)

One of the most common questions I’m asked about how I run my blogs is, “What web host do you use and recommend?”

Synthesis hosting

Over the past ten years I’ve used around eight different hosting services, ranging from the very early days of relying upon free host Blogger, through to my more recent use of Amazon’s Web Services. The challenge has always been that my blogs have constantly changed in terms of what they require, given new designs, added features, and growing traffic.

As a result, we’ve had our fair share of nightmares: numerous periods of blogs crashing due to load problems, and a couple of security issues that required a lot of time, energy, and money to resolve.

Synthesis Managed WordPress HostingIn the last six months, I’ve made a switch in the hosting of all of my blogs, which has resulted in the most stable period for my blogs in the last decade.

The switch was to move over to Synthesis—a managed hosting service created for WordPress users by the team at Copyblogger Media.

A number of things attracted me to Synthesis:

  • It’s designed for WordPress: All of the hosts I’ve used over the years were certainly WordPress-compatible, but when problems arose and I sought support it sometimes became apparent that WordPress was just one of many many platforms that they could work with. As a result, functionality and processes were sometimes were clunky, and to get set up well, I often had to bring in experts. The Synthesis team knows WordPress inside-out. Not only have they designed a service that works with it from the ground up, they’ve been very supportive in helping iron out some bugs I’d not been able to resolve previously.
  • Genesis support: I had recently moved ProBlogger over to the Genesis framework, which is also created by CopyBlogger’s StudioPress team. While they’ll host non-Genesis sites, their familiarity with it gave me confidence. I’m moving dPS to Genesis in the short term too, so I’m excited about having everything running on compatible and well-synced systems.
  • Security: I’ve had my fair share of security attacks over the years, so finding a secure host was key for me.
  • Support: I’ve got people on my team who are able to offer support on some levels, but the Sythesis team have added to this incredibly—particularly when it came to migrating from my old host to their services. Being in Australia isn’t an issue, either—their support desk is open 24/7 and their response time is super-quick.
  • Expense: This is the first server switch that I’ve done where I ended up paying less than I was with the previous service. While I’m sure you can get cheaper services, for the features you get, I find this service very reasonable in comparison to what I was paying. View their pricing plans here—plans start at $27 per month.

All in all, my blogs are now faster, more secure, and more reliable, and they’re experiencing just a fraction of the problems that they were on other system. I sleep a lot easier these days with Genesis and Synthesis!

Disclaimer: I am a proud affiliate for Synthesis and Genesis. They are two of the few services I use and have no hesitation in recommending.

A Surefire Way to Suffocate Your Blog (And Your Passion)

This guest post is by David Masters of Social Caffeine.

I’m a stats addict.

Whether it’s my Twitter feed, an email newsletter, my latest blog post, or my overall blog subscriber numbers, I’m constantly checking the stats. I’m obsessed. Comments, retweets, Likes, clickthroughs, I check them all.

Of course it’s important to check your stats. Without them, you wouldn’t know if your readers like what you’re doing. But, in a painful lesson, I’ve found out that obsessing over them is dangerous.

The dangers of obsession

I first discovered the joys of blogging in 2007 and I launched my first blog in 2008.

I did everything right. I chose a clear niche, which I had a deep passion for. I set up a self-hosted WordPress acccount and bought my own domain name. I devoted myself to following the advice of the best in the business, including ProBlogger, Entrepreneur’s Journey, and Skelliewag.

I launched my first posts, commented on other blogs, and promoted my content on social media. Within a week, I had my first comment.

I set myself a schedule to post twice a week, and my blog continued its upwards trajectory. After three months, I had over 100 subscribers, and most posts got ten or more comments.

Yet all around me I could see blogs with thousands or tens of thousands of subscribers. I compared myself to them and I felt small and stupid. What right do I have to blog, I thought, with all these amazing bloggers around me? How will I ever be as good as them? I also wanted my blog to make money, and I couldn’t see how it ever would.

That’s when my stats obsession began.

Diagnosing the problem

I started spending more time checking feedburner than writing blog posts. I’d gaze at the subscriber growth chart with a potent mix of hope and hatred, like a jilted lover.

My passion for my blog fizzled out, and I started posting twice a month instead of twice a week. My subscriber count plummeted, and I got even more disheartened. My posts dropped to one a month, then even less often.

Eventually I gave up, let the domain name expire, and archived my blog at

I loved that blog dearly, and I look back in regret at the way I let it languish and die because of my obsession.

I’m now learning to manage my stats addiction. At Social Caffeine, my new blogging home, we check the blog stats once every two weeks. That’s healthy. It’s enough to check out what’s working (and what’s not) without wasting time every day mulling over numbers.

As a recovering stats addict, I now know that obsessing over stats is a surefire way to suffocate your blog and your passion.

You can, however, use stats healthily to find out what your readers want and to help you grow your blog.

Stats—the healthy way

  • Set aside a time each week (or each month) to check your stats. Check your stats too often, and you’ll find it more difficult to notice overall trends.
  • Look for trends. What topics are the most popular? Which received the most comments? Page views? Tweets? These are the topics your readers want to know more about.
  • Use Google Analytics, and ignore the built in stats counter on WordPress and Blogger. You’ll get a more in-depth (and useful) stats report.
  • Don’t change the core of your passion because of your stats. Your most dedicated readers come because they like to read what you care about. Make your mission chasing readers, and your blog will lose its soul.

Are you a stats addict, or have you got the addiction under control? How do you use your blog’s stats in a healthy and productive way?

David Masters is a writer, blogger and social media consultant. He writes about how to buzz up your social media soul at Social Caffeine.

10 Vital Stats for Blog Health—and How to Track Them

This article is by Dan Norris of Web Control Room.

As an active blogger, I’m always looking at various stats to help me understand how well I’m doing. I’m not particularly fond of the idea of blogging for years without knowing whether things are going in the right direction. I’d rather know as I go whether my posts are having an impact and whether things are travelling in the right direction.

Luckily, one of the best things about being a blogger is that pretty much every stat you want to look at is available online and not stuck in outdated offline software programs. And better still, most of the tools are free!

The challenge is that, with all of the information out there, it’s difficult to know what stats to keep your eye on. In this article we’ll look at the top ten ways bloggers can measure their efforts.

1. Revenue and profit

While writing is fun, I’ll assume you are trying to earn some money at the same time. One of the best ways to have easy access to your financial data is to use an online accounting program like Xero, Saasu, or Wave Accounting—I use Xero, and it rocks.

These programs make it very easy to capture all of your financial data in the one place.

In addition to that you can look at the various ways you monetize your blog by reviewing the information available from these sources (PayPal, Adsense, Clickbank, etc.). The best part of having a central system for the accounts is that you can aggregate all of the revenue streams in the once place, to give you a whole picture.

2. RSS subscribers

Hopefully you’re using Feedburner to manage your RSS feeds—if so, you’ll have a clear idea of how many people are subscribing to your blog via RSS.

I like to keep an eye on these stats particularly after I release a post, publish a guest post on another blog, or have a guest poster on my blog. Often, their sharing of the post and the content reaching a new audience will cause a bump in subscribers. Showing the number of RSS subscribers on your blog can also be great social proof of your blogging chops.

3. What are others talking about?

One of the most important strategies for bloggers is engaging with other people (bloggers and others) online. This is a measure of performance, because if you are doing the right things then people will be talking about you. There are four ways I do this.

  1. Comments: An excellent way to see if you are having an impact is to look at the comments on your site. Are they genuine? How many comments are posts getting? This gives you a good idea of what is hitting the mark and what isn’t.
  2. Trackbacks: If these are turned on in WordPress, any time someone links to one of your blog posts (i.e. not to your homepage) you will see the link in your comments list—and then go back to their sites and engage with them.
  3. Google Alerts: With Alerts, Google will email you every time someone mentions your brand, product, website, and so on. I like to get them via RSS instead of email, so I check them in Google reader each morning.
  4. Twilert: This service does the same thing as Google Alerts but for Twitter. You get a daily email that lists every time someone mentions your site or brand or your Twitter handle you’ll get an email.

All of these are great ways to engage with your audience, but also to measure the impact you’re having, and which posts are having more impact than others.

4. Traffic

It’s a good idea to monitor both your monthly rolling traffic (last 30 days) against the previous month, as well as traffic peaks around the release dates of your posts. The former figure will give you a good idea of overall recent trends, and the latter will give you immediate feedback on specific posts.

For this I, like most others, use Google Analytics. If you do notice changes that you didn’t expect, it’s time to delve further into the tool to see what has caused those changes—it may be something related to search rankings or referring sites (which we’ll look at separately in a moment).

5. Google ranking for keywords

Most of the time, bloggers get a significant amount of traffic from Google. You can either sit back and hope for the best or you can actively try to rank for different keywords.

Unfortunately, visiting Google and searching for your keywords doesn’t work! Google knows which websites you have visited and puts them higher up the list just for you, so this won’t give you an accurate rank for your keywords. This is a mistake made by almost everyone with a website at one time or another (including me).

Particularly if you are trying to rank for certain keywords, it’s a great idea to use a tool to monitor where you are ranking on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Using the new incognito window in Chrome will also provide a more accurate ranking, but rank-tracking tools will show you rack-tracking from different countries, for instance, and many keywords at once.

6. Other referring sites

In Google Analytics, you can also check out your top referring sites. This can give you great information about a number of things. For example, if you are active in social media or a particular forum you can see if these efforts are resulting in extra traffic to the site.

Similarly, guest posts on other sites would be expected to bring some traffic, so you can monitor whether these sites make it into your top referring sites list.

Pretty much every marketing push you make online should show up in your top sites list, so it’s a good place to look particularly for things you aren’t specifically tracking as campaigns in Analytics.

7. Keywords

There are two types of keywords to look at in Analytics. You can look at your top keywords—these would generally be big-ticket keywords that you are trying actively to rank for. If they are ranking in Google and your keyword research was sound, then it will be validated with traffic.

It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on how many keywords are bringing you traffic. This is a simple measure of how effectively you are targeting the long tail. The more you write, particularly if you deliberately target long tail keywords in your posts, the more keywords will bring you traffic. Looking at the number of keywords is a quick way to get some sort of idea of how well it’s working.

8. Email newsletter info

Getting an email opt-in is still one of the main ways bloggers engage with their audience. Tools like Mail Chimp and AWeber will give you some great information on things like how effective your site is being in converting visitors to opt-ins, how big your audience is and how engaged they are with your newsletters (unsubscribe rates, opens, clicks etc).

It’s also a good idea to measure opt-ins as goals in Analytics so you can look at more information about the origins of those opting into your list.

9. Server uptime

Having your server go down is kind of like having a power outage at a traditional business. You can’t do business without your website, and all of the effort you have put in to generating traffic is wasted every time there is an outage. For this reason, make sure you are notified whenever there is an outage and you monitor it each month to ensure uptime is reasonable.

Unfortunately hosting companies often don’t provide this service, however does, and it’s free. Once you sign up, the site will notify you of any outages, and provide reports on monthly uptime percentages and so on.

10. Social media measures

For bloggers more so than any business, social media is critical. A lot of relationships with readers and other bloggers, guest blogging opportunities, JVs etc come through relationships facilitated by social media. A few things I like to keep an eye on are:

  •, which gives you an overall idea of how you are influencing others via Twitter, Facebook, and so on. You can also use Klout to give you an overall summary of figures from the major social networks (Likes, shares, +1’s etc).
  • If you are active on Twitter, you can keep an eye on your number of followers, your ratio of followers to people that you follow and the number of interactions.
  • For Facebook pages, Facebook insights are there to provide useful information on likes, reach, who’s talking about the page and more.

So how are you progressing—and how do you know? I’d be interested in knowing what you like to keep an eye on to track how you’re going. Let me know in the comments.

Dan Norris is the founder of Web Control Room a free tool that enables bloggers to understand their data and make better decisions. By talking to the sources you love (MailChimp, Xero, Analytics, PayPal etc) it provides a scannable 1 page chart showing what is going well and what isn’t so you can understand your performance in seconds.

SoundCloud: for Bloggers, Not Just Musicians

Have you tried podcasting on your blog?

SoundCloudNot long ago, Carol Tice wrote a couple of posts on the topic for us, covering the benefits of podcasting and how to get your first podcast up and running.

I know Carol advises against using a hosted service for your podcasts, but after listening to this podcast on—and about—SoundCloud, I began to wonder about the hidden benefits of using a service like this.

The podcast is an interview with Evan Tenenbaum, SoundCloud’s Audio-content Manager, and although it’s pretty basic, it is a good introduction to what the service offers for writers.

Why give it a try?

This podcast really reminded me of what we bloggers know only too well: online services that make technical tasks easy really do reduce barriers to entry.

By the end of the podcast I was thinking, this service really makes sound recording and distribution easy. If you wanted to try your hand at podcasting, this would be a great way to do it. Record something and link it from your blog. Simple. There’s no real learning curve and no commitment—if you decide you don’t like it, don’t do it again.

Also, since streamed podcasts like these don’t require downloads onto users’ computers, tablets, or phones, they set low barriers to entry for the user who’s never listened to a podcast before. So this kind of technology can work well on both sides of the equation.

As the podcast reveals, SoundCloud is its own community—like YouTube—so by hosting your podcast there, you can reach an audience whose attention you might struggle to get otherwise. Users share links to material within the platform, so it’s yet another way to build a profile and a following that you could easily lead back to your blog.

What do you have to say?

Some bloggers tend to shy away from ideas like podcasting, because they don’t think they want to make it a regular part of their blog offering.

The thing is, it doesn’t have to be. As Evan suggests in the podcast, you could use SoundCloud to give your readers a sample of your latest ebook or training course. You could use it as a faster, more personal way to create a blog post than laboriously writing it all out in text. And as in the case of the example SoundCloud file I’ve linked to in this post, you could us it to record a quick interview—a great way to add value to an every text-based blog post.

Depending on your niche, there could be any number of possible applications for this kind of technology.

So rather than thinking of using SoundCloud as something you need to “take on” and “adopt” in your blogging, why not just give it a try and see how it sits with your next post?

Or are you already using SoundCloud to add value to your blog? I’d love to hear what you think of it in the comments.

Should You Use a Third-Party Commenting System on Your Blog?

This guest post is by Syed Balkhi of WPBeginner.

If you’ve been blogging for anything more than a few months, you probably have come across blogs using third-party commenting systems like Disqus, Livefyre, Facebook Comments, Intense Debate, and more. You may have asked yourself, “Why do other blogs use these systems? Are they helpful? Should I use a third-party commenting system on my site?”

I have used both the built-in WordPress commenting system and a third-party commenting platform for an extensive period of time. In this article, I will share the pros and cons, from my personal experience, of using a third-party commenting system, and point you to some of the plugins that I use to extend the power of built-in WordPress comments.

Pros of third-party commenting systems

1. Single login (authenticity)

There are a lot of trolls on the web leaving anonymous comments. By using a third-party commenting system, you can require the user to register before the comment, and so cut down on trolling.

If you’re using a popular third-party commenting system like Disqus, Livefyre, or Facebook Comments, then the chances are that the user already has an account with those services. Users can surf from one website to another while staying logged in to the commenting platform, and this allows them to easily track all of their comments—and those of others—throughout the blogosphere.

2. Expanded social media presence

Almost all third-party commenting platforms offer some sort of expanded social media presence, Facebook Comments being the leader because it gives you the viral aspect. Your users’ comments can be posted on their walls, as long as they leave right the checkbox checked.

Other platforms allow users to integrate with Twitter and Facebook. Livefyre, in particular, allows the user to tag their Facebook or Twitter friends within the comments. This tagging sends a tweet or Facebook message to their friend(s) notifying them about your post.

3. Spam control

Requiring a commenter to log in to comment virtually eliminates the chance of a spam bot attacking your site.

4. Increased engagement

Most third-party commenting platforms claim to increase engagement. Some do it by making your comments appear in real-time, simulating a chat-like feel within comments. Others allow users to easily subscribe to comments via email to keep up with the conversation.

Cons of third-party commenting systems

1. Change and frustration

While the concept of using one login across all websites sounds noble, it doesn’t always work.

If your current commenting system doesn’t require user registration, then your users will likely be frustrated when you introduce a new system. This change “forces” them to create an account with a third-party service to leave a comment on your site—and that may seem as if they’re losing their freedom to comment on your site. This can drive some of your most loyal users away.

2. Lack of control

If you are the kind of blogger who likes to fine-tune and tweak every aspect of your blog, then third-party comment systems probably aren’t for you.

You will lose control over most aspects of your commenting platform in terms of formatting and design by adopting these systems. Your users will also experience slower page loads while the third-party commenting platform loads (especially during maintenance and occasional server outages), which is totally out of your control. Last but certainly not least, you will not be able to add features, such as lead-generation option or comment policy text links, without mastering the commenting system’s API.

My choice: default WordPress comments

After using a third-party commenting system, Livefyre, for over a year, I decided to switch back to the default WordPress comment system. While I could go into the excruciating details about why I switched away from Livefyre, the main point was the cons outweighed the pros. I wanted more control over the look and functionality of our comments, and I also wanted to keep our users happy. Lastly, I was able to replicate just about every advantage of a third-party commenting system using WordPress plugins.

So let’s go through that pros and cons list again, and see how it caused me to switch to WordPress comments.

  1. Authenticity: While requiring users to register is one way to ensure authenticity, it was really annoying. So we just use Gravatar, which allows others to recognize the same commenter over multiple platforms. No need to use a plugin for this! WordPress has built-in support for Gravatar as long as your theme is properly coded (most good themes are).
  2. Expanded social media presence: I was able to add Sign in with Twitter and Connect with Facebook options to my blog fairly easily while leaving the default method as is. I used the plugin called Simple Twitter Connect which allowed me to add the Sign with Twitter option. I used the plugin called Simple Facebook Connect to add the Connect with Facebook option for my comments.

    Social comment integration

  3. Spam control: While requiring registration can reduce spam, it is also very annoying. I thought of a less annoying method that has been working great for us—the awesome Akismet plugin, which comes with every WordPress installation and does a fairly decent job of detecting spam comments.

    I noticed the main reason why people leave spam comments is to get backlinks. Well, I decided to get rid of the link feature altogether. This required me to edit the comments.php file, but it wasn’t very hard. All I had to do was get rid of the Website field from the comment submission form. Then, I just edited the way our comments were displayed in the theme by removing the hyperlinks from the name and Gravatar image. This takes away the backlink incentive for most spammers. Another thing I did was disabled pingbacks/trackbacks on all posts. I noticed a lot of folks were trying to send trackback spam on our site, hoping for a backlink from posts. However by doing this, I totally avoided that issue.

  4. Increase in engagement: You can add the Subscribe to Comments feature to your comments using a popular plugin called Subscribe to Comments. I also added an opt-in checkbox to our comments that allows readers to subscribe to our newsletter using Newsletter Sign-Up.

As you can see, I was able to get almost all of the benefits of a third-party commenting system that people want while still using the built-in WordPress comments. Not to mention that I was able to customize the look of our comments, so they look good and are in keeping with out site.

Do you use third-party commenting systems?

Despite my experience, third-party commenting systems work perfectly for some bloggers and their blogs. I’d be interested in hearing your experiences of using a third-party commenting platform—or choosing to use the default system that came with your blog.

Syed Balkhi is the founder of WPBeginner, the largest unofficial WordPress resource site that offers free WordPress videos for beginners as well as other comprehensive guides like choosing the best WordPress Hosting, speeding up WordPress, and many more how-to’s.