I feel that I need to start this post out with a disclosure, so here is my warning. Reading this post may cause you to check your stats….a lot. Bloggers are notorious for checking stats. New bloggers are especially guilty of it. I know that Sarah, Carrie, and I have all had days where we looked at our stats often. Currently I check mine every day, but I have a bad habit of constantly checking to see what new pins have been posted on Pinterest from my blog. Monitoring stats can be very useful, but you don’t want to spend you entire day checking them or you’ll end up wasting a lot of blogging time.
What You Need to Monitor Your Stats
There are different sites out there that you can connect to your blog to have your stats monitored. I recommend using Google Analytics. While it may take some digging it will tell you just about everything you could want to know. If you work with certain companies like Social Spark they are going to want you to hook up your Analytics, so it would be easier to just use it from the start.
What Things Should I Monitor?
There are so many things you can monitor. You likely will have different things that you’ll want to focus on. Here are some of the ones that I focus on.
1. Number of Readers – It’s important to know how many readers visit your blog. You’ll want to pay attention to how many visits you get, how many unique visits you get, and how many pageviews you get. Your unique visit number will be lower than your actual visit number because the unique number will only record an IP address once. For example if someone reads your blog in the morning and then comes back in the afternoon to read more it would be recorded as two visits, but only one unique visit. Pageviews simply tells you how many different pages people have landed on. Overall the three of us pay more attention to the pageview number than the other two.
2. Traffic Sources – It’s important to pay attention to where your traffic comes from. Do you get a lot of search engine traffic? If so what keyword search’s are bringing in the most traffic? What post(s) are most people landing on from their search? Is most of your traffic referral traffic? If it is then what sites are sending you the traffic? This is especially important to know. Once you figure out where most of your traffic is coming from then you can work on improving it. My biggest referral for many months now has been Pinterest, so I’ve been working on ways to increase it. You may think that you’d want to work on improving traffic from sources that don’t get as much traffic (like Google+ for me), but it’s much better to focus on improving what is already working. That doesn’t mean you can’t spend some time on the other ones, but put the majority of your time and effort into your best traffic sources.
3. Popular Pages – Every day I like to quickly glance at what pages got the most visits the day before. Seeing that helps me know what pages are popular so I can figure out what type of posts work better than others. Usually you’ll see your most recent posts in your top 10, but if others are there you may want to find out why (where did the traffic to it come from) and how you can improve it. I often find a mix of my category pages in my top 10, so that can help me see which of my categories people are most interested in.
4. Bounce Rate – Bounce rate tells you the percent of people that come to your blog, look at one page, and then leave. You don’t want this number to be high, but don’t be surprised if it is. If it is high then you may want to look for ways to get people to stay longer. Do you have links to your posts within other posts? Do you have plugins that show your popular and/or related posts? Did you add a sneeze page? What do you need to do to make a reader stay and read more?
5. New or Returning Visitors – Google Analytics will also tell you how many of your visitors are new and how many are returning. New visitors are the ones coming to your blog for the very first time. What you want to see is a good returning visitor number. That means that people are finding value in your blog so they are returning over and over to find out what new stuff you’ve written, or to read something again.
This is really a small list of all of the different type of stats you can look at. If you really dig into Google Analytics you’ll find so much information about your blog. These are the ones that I look at for the most part. While you don’t want to obsess over your numbers looking at them can help you understand your blog. You can figure out what works, what doesn’t, and how you can improve it.
Do you monitor your stats? What ones do you pay attention to?