It is called the numbers game. It is all some website owners talk about. Some say that numbers are everything. Some say that checking your numbers makes you obsessive and you should not worry about it. Well, if you are blogging for anyone other than just yourself, there is one set of numbers that you SHOULD keep track of – your traffic stats.

Of course this is just the beginning. This post will not touch on Alexa numbers, PR, and your Twitter and Klout stats! For now, we will stick with blog traffic.

Why should you check your site traffic?

Well you do want to know if someone is reading your posts don’t you? More importantly, you want to know if someone is not reading your posts. There are several things to look out for in checking your web stats. Here are just a few:

  1. Daily & Monthly Pageviews and Visitors: If you plan to expand your blog by turning it into a business, working with brands, or selling ad space, you will need to create a Media Kit which includes your blog traffic statistics. Advertisers will want to know, so they can insure that people will actually see the ads on your page.
  2. Popular Posts: If you notice that visitors usually land on one post on your blog more often than others, that is probably a compelling topic for your visitors and you might want to write more on the subject. Or if it’s an older post you might want to revise it and repost.
  3. Your Bounce Rate: Your bounce rate is the rate at which users come to your website, stay only a few seconds, and leave. It’s important to know which, and why. A lower bounce rate is better.
  4. Most Popular Search Terms: Similar to knowing which post is most popular, knowing which search terms bring people to your website can help you cater your content to your visitors.
  5. Traffic Sources:  If you have links on other websites, you can see which ones are actually bringing in the traffic. If you are paying for ads, you may want to revise where they are. This also shows you which search engines people are using to get to your website.

How do you check your site traffic?

There are several websites available to get the job done. Some are better than others. Some update well in real time. Some include more stats and information. Some are paid sites. Some are free sites. Here is a list of the most popular ones, and the benefits of each.

  1. Google Analytics: This is by far the best. Google Analytics is extremely detailed and includes all of the mentioned info above. It’s free, easy to setup and gives you a full picture of what is going on with your website.
  2. Statcounter: I like Statcounter because it updates well in realtime. While the stats may not be as full as Google’s, I can quickly see if anyone is reading a post at all once it posts, and where they are coming from.
  3. Clicky Web Analytics (aka Get Clicky): Get Clicky gives a nice view of all stats on one page. While the numbers dont seem that complete, it does show by a quick glance if posts are being clicked on. It also includes a mobile interface for using from your Smartphone. Get Clicky offers FREE and paid options.
  4. Quantcast: Quantcast.com tells you who is visiting your site. It gives a complete look at your web Demographics. It is all about the visitors, who they are, and where they come from. Their tagline says it all “It’s your audience. We just find it.”

Notice that I kept Compete off the list. Why? Because it is highly inaccurate. I have had a problem with the way Compete tracks the stats on my site for a while. It seems like they used to be ok, but after January 2011 they took a nose dive and have not recovered. They usually report about ¼ – 1/3 what Google Analytics reports. Read Brands: Please Stop Using Compete.com to Measure Blog Traffic for more info.

 

Have you checked your stats lately?