Importance of Blog Statistics Comments37 Comments

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Check out my new guide for starting a blog to learn how to go about properly creating your own blog.

As I mentioned in my last blog update post, I’ve decided that I need to get back to writing more content myself. Since the guest writers are doing an awesome job covering finance topics, I figure now is a good time to bring back some more blogging tips posts.

Hopefully this series will continue helping fellow bloggers and those considering starting a blog.

Check out some of the previous posts from this series:

This week I’ll be writing about something that has been on my mind a lot more recently. Well it’s constantly on my mind while focusing on my blog, but this past 2 weeks, it’s been brought to the forefront.

Blog Statistics and Why They Matter

If you’re a blogger, you’ve inevitably heard people mention various stats associated with their blogs. Usually they’re mentioning Google PageRank and Alexa Ranking, but you might’ve also heard things like MozRank, Domain Authority, Page Authority, Compete Ranking, Klout Score, etc. I won’t get into what each of those stats mean and how they’re calculated. That kind of info can be found with a simple Google search. Or you can ask any specific questions in the comments below.

The important thing to know is that you should be paying attention to these stats if you want your blog to grow. You don’t need to know your current blog stats off of the top of your head or check them religiously every single day. Some bloggers do stay on top of those stats to that degree, but you probably have more important work to do on your blog.

Now let’s get into the different types of stats you should be monitoring and how that can help you.

Blog Traffic Stats

For the majority of bloggers this is the most important statistical area to be monitoring. By checking your traffic stats with services such as Google Analytics, you can directly see how your blog is doing in one of the most critical areas. Obviously you want to see more people visiting your blog. If you keep track of your daily traffic, you can develop goals and milestones to shoot for. Or you can notice drops in traffic that should be investigated.

The more powerful part of stats programs like Google Analytics is seen when you get digging deeper into stats. You can pinpoint which specific sites are sending you the most traffic or the traffic that engages with your blog the most. You can see which search engine keywords are sending traffic. You can even see how visitors interact with your site. Taking that kind of information into consideration can allow you to tweak your blog and your marketing to be much more effective.

While Google Analytics is the most popular service to use, feel free to use whichever service you are most comfortable with. You don’t need to see exact numbers, just general trends. So don’t let your decision be based solely on one program reporting higher traffic than another. It is the reporting capabilities that is more important.

For a basic comparison between your blog and others, you can monitor your Alexa Ranking. Be aware that the ranking is skewed in favor of sites that attract advertisers, marketers and bloggers. So the more natural traffic you have, the less it will be reflected with your Alexa Ranking. There are sites like Compete and Quantcast that attempt to predict a site’s traffic, but I don’t recommend them due to their inaccuracy.

Blog Readership Stats

Your day to day traffic is important, but if you want to build up a popular blog, you want people to actually subscribe to your blog. That reflects that not only are people finding your blog, but they like it enough to want to keep up to date with what you’re posting. A high number of subscribers is a sign of a successful blog. Of course it depends on what you do with that subscriber base. A smart marketer will find ways to make money from their subscribers rather than over-relying on search engine traffic. That creates a much greater level of stability.

By default a wordpress blog should have a RSS feed at domain.com/feed/ or a similar address. You can get visitors to subscribe to that feed, but it is better to stream that feed to a service such as FeedBurner. Then you can see stats related to your feed subscribers and also display your subscriber stats on your blog. You could take things a step further and use FeedBurner to customize your feed setup. Since feed subscribers often read your content via the feed and not on your blog, you could be missing out on a chance to display ads or extra content for these readers.

If you’ve got the time, you would be even better off by creating an exclusive e-mail newsletter. This would allow you to deliver extra content that is not on your blog and subtly market to them. That is an art that is best covered in its own post. If you do setup an e-mail newsletter, that subscriber total will likely become your most important stat.

Blog Usage Stats

As mentioned above, you can use tools like Google Analytics to track how visitors interact with your site. A savvy blog owner will pay attention to things like bounce rate, time on site and pages viewed per visit. These kinds of metrics give you a very good idea of how much visitors like your content and how effective your blog navigation is setup. If you are able to consistently improve these stats, you will be able to get a lot more mileage from any traffic that you do receive. The more that visitors interact with your blog, the more likely it is that they will socially share your content, subscribe to your feed or come back again later.

Some bloggers also like to pay attention to how many comments their posts get. This is often a strong reflection of how interesting a post is and how your traffic is growing. The problem with that approach is that fellow bloggers are usually the ones doing most of the commenting early on. It is easy enough to get them to comment by commenting back on their blogs. So by building up comments like that, it might just reflect your networking effectiveness and not necessarily how good your posts are. Instead look a bit further at how many social shares each post gets. While that will be affected by how many bloggers you network with, you will see higher numbers for better posts.

Blog SEO Stats

This is where things get a bit more complicated. It’s easy enough to monitor things like traffic and blog usage, but how do you tell if you’re also doing a good job of building up the SEO strength of your blog? Fortunately there are all kinds of stats to measure how you’re doing SEO-wise. Mainly this about tracking how many links you’ve been building, as well as the overall strength of those links.

The most common such metric is Google PageRank, but since the publicly displayed PageRank is only updated every 3 months, it is more of a long term metric. It is nice to aim for a higher PR, especially if you want to appeal to advertisers, but be aware that Google doesn’t want you to be selling links that pass PageRank. A higher PR is a good sign that you are building links that will help your search engine rankings.

For short term tracking, I suggest you look into stats such as MozRank, Domain Authority and Page Authority. These will give you a score that again shows how well your building is going. Since these stats update more often it is easier to use them for goals.

The number of sites linking to your blog is also a valuable statistic. Google reports some of those links if you search for link:domain.com, but that is a small sample. If you look up your blog url on Alexa, they will tell you how many domains link to your site. This is likely more important than your overall number of links since lots of links from several domains is less advantageous than lots of links from lots of domains. A good site to monitor your link building activity is Ahrefs. They make it easy to see how many links you are getting each day and how they are dispersed. There are many other tools that do this kind of tracking too.

So You’re Monitoring Blog Statistics, Now What?

Obviously keeping tabs on these kinds of stats is just a small part of the battle. The crucial part is that you find ways to improve all of those statistics.

For people who work well with goals, you might want to set goals for specific stat improvements each month or quarter. Keep in mind that some stats take much longer to improve than others. You’ll want to try to set realistic goals while still pushing yourself to do your very best. If you reach your goal one month, try setting the bar a little higher next month. Those goals might be the bit of motivation you need to keep going long term.

In the end it becomes a bit of a game to improve all the various stats with your blog. Luckily most of those stats are intertwined. So by focusing on certain areas, you will likely notice improvements in other areas. Over time try to address other areas though. As it all builds up, your blog will develop into a serious player. That’s the plan anyway :)

Stay tuned for future blogging tips posts for more advice on how to improve your blog. Or click here to subscribe to my RSS feed.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to the RSS feed or you are welcome to leave a comment below.
By : Jeremy Biberdorf | 13 Mar 2013
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37 thoughts on “Importance of Blog Statistics

  1. Todd @ FearlessMen

    Jeremy this is great insight! Well written. I’m excited to hear you’re going to be writing more, especially on this subject.

    Have you ever thought of sharing how to make your next set of goals, and how to devise a plan to get their? Increased these rankings is such an incomplete science, and it’s hard to identify exactly what is working and what is not.

    Reply
    1. Alan

      First off, great article Jeremy.

      Todd,
      I just started a blog and still trying to get a grasp on how I want it to look when it is all said and done. But you do bring up a great point that it is hard to pinpoint what is working and what is not. My visitors seem to fluctuate quite frequently and I am not sure why on some days I do not have a new post that I have more visitors than when there may be a new post. I am still ironing all that out, but hoping to get the hang of it soon.

      Reply
      1. Jeremy

        The fluctuation in visitors early on is natural, but via Analytics you can usually tell what is causing that trend. For example, perhaps your post got tweeted the next day or maybe you’re just publishing too late in the day. I wouldn’t worry too much about that though. Figuring out what is working does take a lot of trial and error. Luckily the blogging community is very supportive and are usually willing to answer any questions. So you can learn from them too.

        Reply
    2. Jeremy

      Yes I probably should do a follow up post to this. This one was already getting quite long. Different goals require a different approach though. So I’ll think about what I can cover in that regards. Sometimes it’s just a matter of keep doing what you’re doing, but there are other times when a new approach is called for.

      Reply
  2. John S @ Frugal Rules

    Very insightful post Jeremy! For a numbers geek like me I love following my stats and the challenge is to know which ones to focus on and not analyzing it so much. You touched on some things I’ve definitely been thinking about. I used to think that comments were a great way to measure success, but like you said, that can only go so far. I’ve moved now to how I can improve the overall experience and how I can get readers to interact more with the site.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Thanks John. I previously had the same views about comments, but I started realizing how little that stat actually helps me. If anything it just produces more work for me. Improving the user experience is crucial for long term success. Getting non-bloggers to interact more can be a challenge though. For that it really helps to have massive traffic as there are bound to be some opinionated people in that crowd.

      Reply
  3. Chris @ Stumble Forward

    Great article Jeremy. For me I usually check two numbers within my analytics. The first being the amount of referral traffic and the second being the amount of organic traffic. When I see increases in these two numbers I know I’m on the right track. From their I usually consider time on site to measure the amount of engagement I’m getting out of people. The more time on site I see out of an article the more obvious it is that people liked that article and more importantly that topic, which means I should write more articles around that topic.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Sounds like you’re definitely on the right track Chris. Paying attention to what kind of content is working for you can go a long ways towards keeping your visitors happy. I know I should be doing a better job of that myself. It can be tough to fit in the time to monitor both onpage and offpage efforts.

      Reply
  4. Grayson @ Debt RoundUp

    Another great article Jeremy. I used to check my stats multiple times a day, but then I got busy and decided that I only needed to check on them once a day, usually at night. I want to focus more on building up the content and then I need to go on a link building campaign. It is a lot of work, but it is to reach a long term goal.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      I know all about the temptation to obsessively check stats multiple times a day. There isn’t much need to check so often though. That just ends up wasting a ton of time in the long run. With some stats you just have to accept that they should improve if you keep working on them. Then periodically check to see if you’re on the right track.

      Reply
  5. Johnny Moneyseed

    As somewhat of a beginner this post helps a great deal. I already monitor my traffic religiously, and I can tell when things are going well and obviously when they aren’t. I check my Alexa rank almost every day. I think I’ll be that way until it plateaus, but every day it’s been dropping significantly.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Glad you found it useful. Some of these posts are at a more basic level, but I’ll also try to cover some of these things in more depth soon. Things like your Alexa Ranking are nice to keep an eye on. It reflects if you’re doing well and also provides all kinds of motivation. Even if that stat itself doesn’t help you make money, it does help fuel the growth early on.

      Reply
      1. Johnny Moneyseed

        I would like to keep my site as ad free as possible, but I still want to make some money. I had a leaderboard, a skyscraper and like 6 other ad boxes. I killed all of them yesterday (besides the leaderboard) because it makes me feel like crap having all of that advertising on my page.

        Reply
        1. Jeremy

          It is a delicate balance between enough ads and too many ads. In my case I’m light on the ads right now, but that will gradually change. The key is that you are running ads that are actually worthwhile. In my opinion covering a site with adsense is rarely worth what you get in return.

          Reply
  6. Edward Antrobus

    The way I see it, tracking blog stats is a lot like the stock market (for non-day traders). Looking at the numbers day to day doesn’t tell us much and only serves to freak you out on a freak day when things are slower than normal.
    In my twitter feed last week, there was a guy asking for people to check if his site was serving ads because he wasn’t getting his normal amount of revenue and that HAD to mean that AdSense wasn’t working right. Because lower-than-normal earnings can never happen on their own, right?

    That said, I’m entirely guilty of checking all of my stats every day. :)

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Yes we do have to accept that with online business there will be all kinds of fluctuations and some might not even be explainable. I don’t think that should stop us from keeping an eye on stats though. Sometimes it does help us notice something very wrong that needs fixing asap. I know that’s been the case for me many times in the past. We just have to know how to be rational when looking at our stats.

      Reply
  7. Darnell Jackson

    Excellent post Jeremy,

    This is why I started measuring my stats every week and focusing on growing my blog one week at a time.

    The stats are very difficult to doubt you either look at the information and make adjustments or continue to cruise until you hit the rocks.

    Do you use a tool other than google analytics to measure stats?

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      No I primarily just use Google Analytics for traffic stats, but I do pay attention to Alexa Ranking and occasionally check the seomoz based stats. My strategy is probably a little different than most blogs though. I care more about SEO strength than traffic. My goal is to be able to rank well for competitive keywords down the road. I don’t expect to make much money off my regular traffic.

      Reply
  8. Jose

    Thanks Jeremy, I’ll be paying close attention to your articles and reading the past ones very closely. Yesterday a fellow blogger whose site is three months old just like mine alerted me to a few problems with the Wise Dollar. He has a page rank of 3, mine is zero. We gaet about the same amount of unique visits and alexa shows him having a few more backlinks than mine. The problem, as far as we could tell it was the page load speeds. Mine was in the dirt (63 according to Google). I spent some time yesterday adding a few plugins and optimizing the site and got that up to an 83. Now I have to work on about 20 html errors, which are all in the Theme. I’m a little bit more nervous about playing with CSS and PHP but hopefully will be able to clear that up a few steps at a time (with frequent backups in between). BTW, Comment Luv doesnt appear to be picking up my last posts.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Well your PR being zero is more to do with timing than anything else. Since Google only updates the toolbar PR every 3 months, you need to have enough solid links before they start the update to improve. I assume you already checked out this post of mine:
      http://www.modestmoney.com/google-pagerank-not-just-about-links/
      You do want to ensure you don’t have any onpage issues that could hold you back. Really don’t focus too much on PR unless you have plans to sell private ads. That’s one of the only things it’s really good for. You having the same amount of traffic as that PR3 blog is evidence of that.

      Reply
      1. Jeremy

        As for CommentLuv, not sure what’s happening there. I thought it was back working, but I might need to reinstall it. I was messing around with it a little while back trying to not make the script load on my homepage, but I must’ve broken it. Hopefully I can find time to fix it soon.

        Reply
  9. Tony@WeOnlyDoThisOnce

    Great post. Haven’t seen many thoughts on this particular subject, which is so important. The need for a feedback loop of information is the only way to increase your efficiency and readership in an objective sense. Thanks for this.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      That’s true…without those stats you can only guess at how effective your efforts are. Since they are so readily available we might as well use them to our advantage to improve our blog and our marketing.

      Reply
    1. Jeremy

      I plan on reinstating it as a regular feature again, but I’m not sure if it will be every week or every other week. We’ll see how busy I am in the coming months.

      Reply
  10. Jordann @ My Alternate Life

    Very happy to see these posts come back and to get some tips from a pro. In the later part of the year I plan on devoting more time to improving my blog stats, right now I’m just trying to maintain while I train for my half marathon and get married.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Sometimes just maintaining is enough to keep the momentum going. We don’t always have time to track all of our stats and make efforts towards improving them. Good luck with the half marathon and upcoming wedding.

      Reply
  11. Nick @ ayoungpro.com

    Jeremy,

    Thank you so much for this wonderful post. It is very helpful and it gives newbies like me some hope! Keep up the good work.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Thanks Nick. Early on it’s just a matter of being patient and continually finding ways to improve. As you learn more, your blog will start growing quicker and your efforts will gradually start paying off more.

      Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Yeah it’s pretty similar to Open Site Explorer. There are several tools that do this kind of things but most seem to be paid services these days.

      Reply

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