Do you ever look at your blog or website statistics? If you don’t, I’m going to show you why you should. If you do, do you get all you can out of them? Do you look at them actively or passively?
Note: this post uses examples from the WordPress.com statistics pages, because that’s the blogging/website platform I use. But all of the standard blogging sites, plus Google Analytics, Statcounter and other analysis tools will offer you similar information, with similar headings.
Why should I look at my statistics?
Looking at your statistics can help you tailor your blog to match what your readers want, and will also alert you to who is talking about you and where they are doing so. You can also measure the success of your attempts to build your audience through posting on social media and other blogs and sites. Here are some of the things you can find out …
- Which posts or pages are people looking at a lot … and which ones are they ignoring?
- Is there a kind of post that people are particularly interested in?
- When do people read your posts?
- How do people find you (social media, web searches … )
- What search terms do they use?
- Where do your readers go next – what links do they click?
- Are people finding your site via other sites and blogs?
How do I find and view my blog / website statistics?
Usually you’ll have some kind of button or menu option called Statistics or Analytics. On WordPress, you will find a Stats option when you go into your blog, or you can click on the bar chart at the top of the screen. Once you’ve found them, you’ll find a screen something like this:
Now we’ve located our stats, let’s look in more detail about what they can tell us.
How do I tell how many times my blog posts have been viewed?
One of the important ones to look at is your most popular pages. We’re looking at one day here, and I can see that my blog post on on route or en route is, yet again, the most popular.
But I can also see what other posts and pages have been popular (and if I click on yesterday or summaries I can see previous days’ stats, while if I click on the magnifying glass next to the number, I can see all the views for that post). This is useful, as I can tell how I’m doing in the search engines, if it’s an older post, or whether my alerts are doing well, if it’s today’s post going up the ratings.
How do I tell how people have found my blog or website?
It’s very useful to know how people are finding your blog. You should have a section of statistics called something like referrers or referrals. Here are mine for a particular day.
You can glean all sorts of information from this. At the top you can see I get most of my hits from search engines (over 70 of that day’s hits so far), then Facebook (1) and Twitter (2), then a variety of websites and blogs that I’ll go through in a minute. This has changed – when you’re new to blogging, you’ll get most of your hits from Facebook and Twitter and other social media, as your friends will be looking at your posts and you will be promoting them on social media. As your blog gets indexed on the search engines, results will start showing up from them.
Looking at the pages from which your readers have come can be SO useful. Here’s what I can learn from this one:
3 comes from one of the people I’ve featured on my blog blogging about my feature herself – a great link-back that Google will like indexing. 4 is from an answer I gave (with a link) on an expert site. 5 is from a comment I made on someone’s blog. 6 is from my other blog. 7 is from a list of editors a client added to her website (very valuable). 8 is from WordPress itself, probably someone surfing through tags, and 9 is from my old LiveJournal blog, where I post links to this blog/website.
All good stuff, and I can say thank you to people who have sent readers my way, or even find out when they’ve done so (all these links can be clicked, so I can see exactly what people have said). Now, what about those search engines?
How can I find out what search terms people have used to find my site?
You should have a heading like Search Terms somewhere on your stats page. This offers a world of exciting information.
Clicking on Other search terms will give you the rest of the terms people have searched on – that they will only have tried once (or only one person has tried).
For a start, you can see exactly what people are searching for. It might be useful to change the wording on your blog posts to get further up the search results for a popular term. It’s also worth searching for these terms yourself and seeing where on the Google results page they appear. Another useful point is it can give you ideas for future blog posts. I noticed that someone had found me while searching for Autocorrect, which I had mentioned in a blog post. So then I wrote a post on Autocorrect itself, which has been quite popular.
It can also be quite amusing to see what people search for. Someone once came through to my blog having searched for “persuasive piece on children believing in the tooth fairy” – I think they may have been disappointed (they found me because I mention the tooth fairy in an example sentence explaining a word definition).
How can I see where my blog readers are?
On WordPress you can see a rather nifty world map with the countries from which your visitors have come from highlighted.
This is more of a fun distraction than a useful tool, to be honest, but if you discover an anomaly, for example if you’re in the UK and you get a lot of visitors from Brazil, you could consider tailoring some of your blog posts for this market. I get a lot of international visitors, so I’m going to make sure I talk about my work with non-native speakers of English soon.
Is my website traffic increasing? What did I do to make that happen?
As well as today’s data, you can usually see a month or year’s worth, too. If I look at the traffic on my website and blog over time, I can see that it started increasing at the beginning of 2011.
What did I do at the time of that red arrow? Started writing this blog!
Do people read my blog more at the weekends?
Looking at your daily traffic will show peaks and troughs. If your blog is more popular at the weekends, it might be good to post new content then. If I drill down into one of my blog posts, the ever-popular “What do I do if my comment boxes go tiny in Word?”, I can see that it’s not read very often at the weekends.
This says to me that office workers are looking for and using this post, so I can make sure I post more for that kind of audience and save other new posts for the weekends.
Where do my website visitors go when they leave my site?
This is usually found under the heading Referrals, or maybe Click-throughs. Here’s a good representative one of mine from a few days ago:
You can see that the click-throughs fall into a few groups. 1 is my ebook, which I have linked to in a blog post and on the site itself. Hooray – my PR campaign is starting to work! 2 is a click to my Livejournal blog, linked to on my website. 3 is a pair of pages on this website, filed under my old url but I can see people are navigating around the site and sticking around. 4 and 5 are both links I have on blog posts; 5 is also on my references page. And all those marked 6 are websites of people I’ve featured on my blog, showing that I’m helping them get some traffic, too.
So there we go. Look at those statistics, whether you’re using WordPress or another host for your blog. And look at them actively: think about what they mean and how they can help you to find out how to tailor your blog to your audience and drive more traffic to your blog or website.
If you’ve enjoyed this post, please click on one of the share buttons below, or leave me a comment. Especially if you’ve had any amusing search terms recently!
Joanna Moncrieff (@WWalks)
August 15, 2012 at 8:23 pm
Thanks Liz, very useful. I am rather obsessed with my stats but it’s always useful to learn more. I’ve just looked at my search terms and the one that strikes me as a bit odd is “what is moncrieff house margate” (without a questionmark). I will have to search for this house myself now!
Liz at Libro
August 15, 2012 at 8:29 pm
I’m glad I could share some useful info and that’s a very interesting search term – you must Google Street View it!
Robyn Van Eck
September 29, 2019 at 3:04 am
Hi Liz, I enjoyed your articles about newsletters. This one motivated me to find the stats for my site, but I can’t find them! I’m on WP; are they no longer available without a plugin? Thanks!
September 29, 2019 at 6:17 am
Thanks for your question – if you’re using WordPress.com, it’s at the top of your menu on the left hand side, if you’re self-hosted you may well need a plugin – anything specific about menus, ,etc., in these articles is only about WordPress.com although the general principles apply to all.