A couple of weeks ago a fabulous reader of mine (Hi Jen!), emailed me and asked me which analytics I use for my blog and why. I can’t sit here and say I’m an expert, because when using Google Analytics there is so much in there that makes me scratch my head in confusion, but there are some stats that I keep track of that teaches me about the “health” of my blog, so to speak.
A little backstory: on the first of each month I like to write down all my important stats that I keep track of in a graph that I keep in a binder. I keep it together by year and this is such a fun way to see what is working and what is not. I also keep track of my follower count on social media, as well as GFC and Bloglovin’. I write all this down mostly because if it’s not written down I will forget it, and also so I can see my growth. I need black and white proof that what I am doing is working, and this helps me immensely.
Let’s break down some of my fave analytics, shall we?
Unique visitors: This stat measures how many separate people visit your blog during a certain time period. I like this stat because it doesn’t count if one person views your blog three times during the day, it only counts it once (the first time), and often is a pretty good barometer of how many page views you may get in a given time.
Bounce rate: This stat shows the percentage of people who leave your bog after viewing the first page, without interacting. The goal is to have a bounce rate under 75%, anything more than that shows that your site may not be engaging enough to keep visitors. This goes right along with reader engagement (something I find really important!), which basically shoes how much people read and interact with your blog on a daily basis. Comments, participation in link ups and polls, as well as other activities that require interaction are part of reader engagement. You want people to stay and interact, so the bounce rate is a great way to see if what you are providing is catching reader’ interests.
Average visit duration: This stat is pretty cut and dry, it shows how long the average person spends on your site. More time is better, because this shows you are writing content that is engaging and draws readers in, though some blogs may be more picture based and this won’t be as important. I think the key to adding to this time can be found in back links (adding links to past content), and creating great content/blog pages. If the average visit on your blog is really short, then you may need to look at what you are creating and find a way to add value to it.
Pages/visit: This stat shows the number of pages viewed per visit, and is another way to see if you are creating content that is consumable. You want readers to keep reading, to be so engrossed in your posts that they keep scrolling through more and more pages, right?
Traffic sources/Referrals: Every month I write down the top five sources for traffic, as well as referrals. In my opinion, the referral section is the most important because it shows where my traffic is coming from. Say my referrals are coming from Bloglovin, Twitter, Facebook, Rafflecopter and Blogger. This shows me that the top sources are from Bloglovin and Blogger, who are mostly made up of other bloggers. I can then gear some of my content to creating posts and titles that draw other bloggers in. The same can be said for Twitter and Facebook. If I am spending 30 minutes of my day marketing to these social media channels, this tells me my time is worth it. However, if Pinterest is something that is consuming my time and it doesn’t show up as a major referrer, I amy not spend as much of my energy on that. Lastly, if I am sponsoring someone or hosting a giveaway, I want to see those as a referrer in my stats, because this shows me that I put my money towards something that is working marketing wise.
Daily stats and page views: These are both stats that I look at daily (hourly), yet I don’t record them. I do write down my Blogger and Google analytics page views each month to see how I’ve grown, but I try not to concentrate too much on daily page views and the like. I’ve written about this before, but I truly think valuing your blog on page views alone is not worth it. I prefer to look at my other stats above and find out how I can grow in other areas. I think this leads to increased page views and readers in a roundabout way, rather than obsessing over a number.
The last thing that I look at that can’t really be gauged by analytics alone, is reader engagement. Something I try to do every day is comment on the blogs that take the time to comment on me, answer comments that come my way, and share useful and fun content. I like sharing blog posts that interest me (and this has nothing to do with sponsorship), as well as engage with the folks that reach out to me.
Blogging is a community, after all, and sitting at home and not reaching out to others (besides hitting publish) is a surefire way not to grow. There is no calculated way to do this, just be genuine and interested in others. Create content that is engaging and useful, find new ways to market your blog via social media and other options, and enjoy what you’re doing.
Tell me, do you use your analytics info?