When you first started blogging you may have been doing it just for fun. You were not worried about whether or not others were actually reading your posts. But then things changed. You realized that you loved the interaction, the networking, the community, and of course the attention from brands. You started being offered sponsored posts. Your blog warped into a business.
And if you are blogging for your business, working to monetize your blog, or wanting to work with brands you need to care about your blog stats. Some say that statistics are everything. Some say that checking your numbers makes you obsessive and you should not worry about it. The fact is as much as we don’t like to worry about it, having a blog with decent stats shows others that your blog matters. When a PR rep looks for bloggers to work with, they will be more likely to choose a blogger that shows that he/she is serious about their blog versus someone who has no idea what their reach is. Of course with the rise of social media, influence is now about more than just blog posts. However, your blog may be your strongest foundation, and it is where a lot of campaign partnerships start.
Which Stats Should I Track?
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 blog stats. Here are just a few:
- Google Page Rank: Your PR (Page Rank) is what Google uses to rank the importance of your website in their search results. That number will range from 0-10. The PR rating for most blogs is 3-5 with some higher end blogs being a 6. If you have a newer blog you may still be at a 0. However this number should rise after a few months. If your blog has been around for a while and your PR is not higher than 2 you will want to look into why and make some improvements. You can check your Page Rank using an online PR checker. UPDATE: Starting in March 2016 Google has started to prevent users being able to check their PR using 3rd party tools. PR updates have gone away.
- Alexa: Alexa is another stat that you may see listed on applications for blogger opps. The Alexa ranking gives an idea of how many users are visiting your site from day to day and therefore gives an idea of your website’s popularity compared to other sites on the internet. It uses an algorithm which takes into account both the number of visitors and the number of pages viewed on each visit. Read my old, but still relevant post, What the Heck is Alexa Anyway? Make sure that you install the Alexa Toolbar in your own browser since you probably visit your blog more than anyone else.
- Page Views: Your monthly pageviews provide a snapshot of whether or not people are reading your blog. Clicks can come from social media, search engines, direct links and other referrals.
- Visitors: Of course your site will be have return visitors (we hope), but it is also important to bring new visitors to your site on a regular basis. Your Unique Visitors stat shows that you have a healthy amount of new visitors coming to your site from various places on the web.
- 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 (like this one).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 housed. This also shows you which search engines people are using to get to your website.
How Do I Check My Site Statistics?
There are several websites and tools available to get the job done. Tools such as such as Google Analytics (I have some reasons why I don’t like this one), Statcounter, Get Clicky, and the StatPress plugin for WordPress. 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.
- Google Analytics: This is the most widely used tool. Most applications will ask that you report your numbers based on Google Analytics. Now, it 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. However, it has its disadvantages. You might find that your traffic reported via Google Analytics is much lower than traffic reported on other tools. Part of this is because it relies on code that you install on your homepage. This code has to fully load in order to track. Some users may have Java disabled. Some may be visiting from a device that does not support Java. Or there may be other issues that keep the code from working correctly. There are numerous articles out there about how Google Analytics can be inaccurate.
- Statcounter: I like Statcounter because it updates well in real time. 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 goes live, and where they are coming from.
- Clicky Web Analytics (aka Get Clicky): Get Clicky gives a nice view of all stats on one page. While the numbers don’t 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.
- 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.”
I am still keeping Compete off the list. Why? Because it is highly inaccurate. I have noticed that a lot of PR have stopped asking for Compete numbers. I even wrote about this ages ago in Brands: Please Stop Using Compete.com to Measure Blog Traffic for more info.
How often do you check your stats? What do you do to improve them?