One of the first things new bloggers get addicted to is their stats.
In fact, many bloggers admit they are stataholics and may even need a 12-step program.
When we look at our stats and then start comparing AWStats vs Webalizer vs Google Analytics vs Woopra vs SiteMeter or another favorite of ours, not only can watching the numbers drive a blogger crazy, if they’re watched TOO closely, it can be a total waste of time.
Take for example the graph which shows the pages views for The Blog Boutique in the last sixty days.
The numbers go up and down like a yo-yo.
Do I care?
I’ve learned there are too many variables that can affect my blog traffic.
When we’re new to blogging it’s easy to think our statistics are a reflection of the quality of our blog posts, when in fact, there are so many factors that can affect our statistics, we may never know for sure.
Listed below are FIFTY SEVEN reasons our numbers can vary from day to day.
- What’s the age of your blog?
- Have the search engines found you?
- Are you using your URL in your email signature?
- Did a blog post get Stumbled (on StumbleUpon)?
- Was your post tweeted (on Twitter)?
- Or maybe you showcased your blog post on Facebook?
- Did you guest post on another blog?
- Or, do you have a guest writer on your blog?
- Or, is your statistical program inadvertently counting your own visits to your blog?
- Did failing to add code from your statistical program code lead to a decrease in visitors when you changed themes?
- Was your blog linked to in a fellow bloggers post?
- What day of the week is it?
- What day of the week are you publishing?
- Is it a holiday?
- What season is it?
- What’s your niche?
- Are you spending more or less time commenting on other blogs?
- Was a post of yours submitted to Digg?
- Are you having a contest?
- Did you get press about your blog?
- Have you started advertising your blog?
- Have you submitted your blog to blog directories?
- Have you changed your publishing schedule?
- Are you using more guests posts on your blog than normal?
- Has the statistical program had internal issues which affect how the numbers are reported?
- Are you asking others to subscribe to your blog?
- If so, is your RSS feed easy to find?
- Are you making it easy for others to tweet/retweet, Stumble or Digg your posts?
- Is your statistical program reporting visits from bots and spiders?
- Did you recently start offering a newsletter
- Did you write an ebook which you are offering for free?
- Is you blog the landing page for your business?
- Did you participate in a group project?
- Has a part of the world experienced severe weather?
- Or a catastrophic event?
- Even economic conditions can affect blog visitors
- Who is your target audience?
- Is the information we’re sharing outdated?
- What attitude are we projecting on our blog?
- Do we answer comments?
- Is the font you use, easy to read?
- Are ads or badges distracting our readers
- Is your blog loading too slow
- Are you using the CommentLuv or KeywordLuv plugins?
- Do we give our readers more than one post to read?
- How easy is our blog to navigate?
- Is the name of our blog memorable
- What is our reputation in blogosphere?
- Do you use obscene language or show nudity on your blog?
- Are our posts too negative?
- Or confrontational?
- Or too redundant?
- Have you created pillar posts?
- What are you showing “above the fold”?
- Are you male or female?
- Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
- Have you been, or are you on, a blogging hiatus?
With new blogs, stats can stay or drop to zero on a regular basis. Older blogs will see drops in their stats as well, however, due to loyal readership, the dips may not be as dramatic.
Until the search engines find a blog, traffic may be low. Once your blog gets found, you’ll begin to see more traffic coming from search engines, however this will vary from day to day.
If you start using your URL in your email signature, you may see on increase in your stats. This, of course, is dependent on who you send emails to.
If another bloggers “Stumbles” a post of yours, you may see a spike in your traffic. Unfortunately “stumblers” rarely become regular readers of blogs, so after the initial spike, your stats will probably return to normal.
Twitter can be a great resource for sharing our work. If those who follow us on Twitter also like our post(s), they may “retweet” it to those who follow them which can affect our page views.
Facebook is another great place to showcase blog posts. It lets your friends know you have updated your blog, thus possibly gaining a visit or two.
While guest posting on another blog, we may see an increase in our readership since we’re being exposed to new readers.
Based on the comments on the “Guest Posts – Yea or Nay? post, some of our readers may skip over posts if they’re not written by us, thus resulting in a drop in our visitor count.
Each statistical program has their own matrix for counting visitors and pages views. Check with your favorite program to ensure you understand their terminology. Sometimes a visit is really not a visit.
See the first dip on the graph I shared? That’s what happened to me. I forgot to add the statistical coding into the new theme. The second drop to zero is because I did a screenshot of my stats right after midnight when the count was starting over.
If a fellow blogger links to us in their current post, we often see an increase in our stats. Check your referral traffic if you’re in doubt who linked to you.
Many will say different days of the week can affect the traffic to our blog. Although I have seen this in my stats, I’m not finding a definite pattern.
Some say by publishing on certain days of the week, it results in a greater influx of traffic to a new post. This may be true if we’re posting on a daily basis, however, I’m not certain if applies to those of us who only post one or two times a week.
One thing I have found is most bloggers either go on hiatus for the Christmas holiday, or spend considerably less time online. Less bloggers online mean lower numbers. On the flip side, if your blog is set up to capitalize on holiday traffic, the reverse could be true.
I read blog traffic dips during the summer. This makes sense since more people are spending time on outdoor activities instead of sitting at their computers. Those with families may have less time to spend online since their children are home for summer vacation.
Different niches can greatly affect our stats. If our niche is very specific, it becomes more important to use SEO (search engine optimization) to attract those with the same interests as us. Broader niches may get more hits from a wider audience.
When we spend less time commenting on other blogs, we may see our traffic counts drop. Although we shouldn’t take on a tit for tat attitude, reciprocating comments is a great way to insure those in our community know we care about their blogs, too.
I don’t hear as much about Digg as I once did, however, if your blog post hits the front page of Digg, it can mean a huge influx of traffic, as well as more subscribers. Again, like having a post Stumbled, the spike of traffic may be temporary.
Contests seem to draw in more visitors. However, once the contest ends, our stats may reflect a lack of interest in our blog.
Can you imagine what would happen to our blog if Oprah talked about it on her show? It would go through the roof. Although this doesn’t happen to many, any type of press can affect our stats.
Advertising our blogs is starting to become a new trend. Paying for an ad on a high traffic blog could help to get our numbers up if others are clicking.
If you’ve recently submitted your blog to blog directories, you may see small increases of traffic.
Changing our publishing schedule can make a big difference in our stats. Publish more and you may see more traffic. It’s not a guarantee, but some swear by it. Keep in mind, you’ll also be spending more time on the blog. Publish less, and the reverse may hold true.
Although guest posts may not initially hurt our stats, if guest posts become the norm on our blog, many may unsubscribe. Hence, we’ll see a dip in the numbers.
It’s not uncommon for a statistical program to encounter server issues which results in visits which are not counted. Sometimes they will notify you, but often, not. Here’s where using more than one statistical program comes in handy.
If we want more readers, sometimes all we need to do is ask. Asking others to subscribe to our blogs will often also help our numbers.
If readers don’t see our invitation to subscribe to our blog, we need have our RSS button clearly visible. Those who subscribe may come back on a regular basis, thus increasing our numbers.
I’ve tried many plugins for this. The Sexy Bookmarks plugin worked for awhile, but now I’ve switched to “Share It” plus added the “TweetMe” button. I like these two plugins as it makes it easy for my readers to share my posts with others. If we don’t make it easy for our readers to share our posts, our stats can reflect that.
Some statistical programs count visits from spiders and bots. Be careful which numbers you’re looking at. Obviously if visits from the search engine bots are counted, we’ll be looking at an inflated visitor count.
Newsletters are a great way to help increase our readership. If you’ve recently added a newsletter to which others have subscribed, your newsletter may be resulting in additional traffic.
As we travel through blogosphere, we see many bloggers offering free ebooks. When they’re written about or reviewed, we may see small increases in our numbers as visitors come by to download the book.
Some bloggers are combining their business with their blog. Depending on which page we link to when we advertise could result in showing an increase in blog readers when in fact, those visitors are clients who will be contacting us for business reasons.
Occasionally group projects are started and the “host” will list all of the bloggers who are involved. Having our name on the list may inspire others to click through.
We often don’t think weather can affect our blog traffic, however, if there is severe weather in different parts of the world, our fellow bloggers may be dealing with the fall out from that instead of spending time online.
Just like severe weather, a catastrophic event can affect how much time others are spending online. Some may be blogging or tweeting about it, but they may not be in a position to be visiting others.
The economy can make a huge difference in blog traffic. During the current economic downturn we may see less spending online, however, we may see more individuals turning to the internet as a way to supplement their income. Blogs are often the vehicle used for this purpose. More bloggers online can result in higher numbers for us.
When we think about our target audience, we also need to think about how they interact online. Some target audiences may spend a lot less time visiting blogs than others. For example, if our target audience is fishermen, chances are instead of spending time online, they’ll be out fishing.
We often hear what we write should be timeless. That’s true for many blogs, but for those who share current events, we need to be at the top of our game. If we’re continually sharing information that’s outdated, chances are visitors will find a better source for their data.
So much can be said with words. If we’re angry, chances are our readers will know. If we think we’re better than others, they know that, too. The attitude we project online can make a huge difference in our readership.
Although there’s no “rule” we have to answer comments, letting our readers know they are being heard can help to increase our visitor counts.
We talked about this before. If the font on our blogs is so small or too fancy, those who have problems with their eyesight may not return.
Readers who spend a lot of time online are often annoyed by ads, banners and badges. They’re there to read the content. If our site begins to look like “the strip” in Vegas, chances are our readers will begin to avoid our blog.
Using too many plugins, ads, banners, and/or badges can slow the loading time of our site down to a crawl. With the attention span of online searchers being short, if our site doesn’t load fast enough, new visitors may never even see it.
Plugins like these two are a big benefit to those who comment on our blogs. Utilizing them can mean more repeat visits and comments.
It’s one thing to get a visitor to read our current post, but are we sharing more of our work, as well. Showing related, random or recent posts is a great way to show our visitors more of our work, plus increase our page views.
Blogs don’t come with a GPS, thus we need to make it easy for our readers to find their way around. If they want to know more about us, our “about me” page should easy to locate.
For most established bloggers it’s too late to change the name of our blog, however, we can make it memorable. In case a reader doesn’t remember how they found our site, hopefully they’ll remember the name and search for it if they want to read more of what we share.
Our reputation off of our blog is just as important as what we share on our blog. When we walk our talk, chances are those who follow our blog will continue to do so, but if we project something else outside of our blog, we could easily lose readers.
With blogs we do have freedom of speech, which includes foul language. Although we may blog “the way we talk”, some may be offended and not return.
Blogs raise issues of all types. Some are more delicate than others, however if when we write we’re all doom and gloom, we could easily drive readers away.
Controversy can increase readership to our blog, however, it’s a fine line. Those who are continually confrontational might turn off their reader base thus resulting in lost visits.
Anyone who has blogged for any length of time knows it’s easy to write about the same topic for the second time. Although we may be putting a different spin on it, rehashing the same topic too many times can make our readers yawn, and maybe unsubscribe.
Pillar posts are those posts that continue to get new visitors. Usually they are also the posts which attract search engine traffic. Creating more pillar posts could help to increase our readership.
Look at your blog as others see it. What do you see before you have to scroll down? That’s the area considered “above the fold”. If it doesn’t attract a readers attention, they may click off and never come back.
Some claim men are better at attracting readers, however, I think the jury is still out on this. Obviously. 8)
Getting found online takes a lot of self promotion. If we believe the description of introverts vs extroverts, it would appear extroverts may find it easier to promote their own work, thus increasing readership.
When we take time away from our blogs, unless we have someone blog sit, our blogs can remain dormant for an extended period of time. Without updates, our visitor counts can suffer. (This may not be the case if our blog traffic is predominantly from search engines.)
I realize this post is considerably longer than my normal lessons, so I understand if you felt the need to skim the variables which can affect our traffic. Having said that, I’ll move to…
What variables do you think affect your stats?
Where are you in the stat checking process?
Still addicted or moving forward?
Care to share?