WordPress provides a variety of statistics for your blog, individual posts and pages, views, likes, followers, comments, geographic data, and more.
Authors can learn something valuable from these stats.
The challenge is to extract useful information from the numbers without becoming a stat junkie.
Look Beyond Views, Likes, and Follows
When you post an article, you’re hoping for a positive response. Those early likes feel redeeming. A few follows create the perception that you blog is growing.
Although views, likes, and follows are important—that’s where your support and active following are—there is more to be found beyond these numbers.
Views, likes, and follows tend to grow very slowly when a blog is starting out. If you blog as an author and hope for your blog to be a valuable part of your marketing strategy, these stats can seem very discouraging. As slowly as the numbers grow, it’s even more discouraging to realize that much of your active following doesn’t consist of readers from your target audience and only a small percentage of your total following actively reads your posts.
However, a blog has much marketing potential beyond the likes and follows. Look at the search engine stats for signs of hope.
Your active followers probably already know about your book—they probably know too well about it. Do they see your book with every post? And how many posts do they read each month? A couple of new bloggers do visit your blog periodically, but for the most part, all your posts are being read by pretty much the same group of (totally awesome!) people.
The support that your active following shows is invaluable, but you already know that. Let’s look beyond your following.
WordPress’s search engine stats can help you gauge your blog’s potential to reach members of your target audience who don’t already know about your book.
Check the WordPress stats for your blog. Monitor the traffic that your blog receives courtesy of search engines. Look at the search engine terms—even though most will be encrypted, those that aren’t reveal valuable information.
Next, study the list of posts viewed each day. Look for posts that aren’t recent posts, which likely correspond to views generated by search terms.
If the search terms are highly relevant for the target audience of your book and your website is getting regular traffic through search engines, your blog is on the right track—it may grow into a potentially effective marketing tool known as a content-rich website.
Suppose that you write a dozen nonfiction articles for which you have expertise and which will highly interest your target audience. This is the basis for developing a content-rich website. The idea is for the content to attract your audience to your website.
If you start out trying to do this, you could get discouraged very quickly. You know what will happen: Starting out, you get just a few views, likes, and follows with each post. You think about the effort you put into preparing the content versus the lack of turnout, and quickly lose the motivation to continue.
Let’s imagine that you keep up the effort regardless… the result might be better than the initial numbers suggest.
You might write dozens of content-rich articles over the course of a few months. Your views, likes, and follows will grow so that you do have some activity with each post, though even after a few months the likes and follows may still seem insignificant compared to your hopes and dreams.
Something nice may actually be brewing after a few months of preparing a content-rich website. The activity might just be visible in your WordPress stats.
You could have a dozen or more views each day of older posts, with the traffic coming from search engines. At first, you’re thinking, “Another mere dozen—a dozen views, a dozen likes, a dozen follows, now a dozen people coming from search engines. What’s another dozen?”
The difference is that if you have a dozen people liking each post, it’s usually the same dozen people who already know about your book. If you have a dozen people coming to your older posts via search engines, it’s probably a dozen different people each day.
This means you get to multiply that dozen by 365—that’s 4,380 people visiting your blog each year. If the search terms and content are highly relevant to your target audience, that’s 4000 people who may actually have interest in your book.
And what starts out as a dozen a day can grow. When you get 50 visitors from beyond your active following to visit your website each day, that’s 18,250 people per year. You see where this is headed..?
If you can prepare content that attracts your target audience and is relevant to your book, a content-rich website can be a highly effective marketing tool.
Don’t worry about the initial results. Look at:
- whether you’re getting any traffic from search engines
- whether the search terms are relevant to your target audience
- how many older posts are getting regular visitors
- whether, on average, the number of search engine views is increasing
If your search engine traffic is rising, on average, things are headed in the right direction. Time is on your side.
Of course, there will be some visitors who click on your page in the search results, then immediately click the back button because that wasn’t quite what they wanted. Plus, you shouldn’t think about instant sales, but should also consider the long-term process of branding—someone who learns about your book today but doesn’t buy it today might still buy your book several months from now. You’ve planted the seed.
Dust Your Attic!
Don’t ignore your older posts, especially those with content relevant to your target audience. These may be the most valuable marketing assets on your blog.
Look at your older posts. Make sure that your most viewed posts provide a link to your book at Amazon at the end of the post. If not, go back and add this. Don’t turn your post into an advertisement. Just offer a simple mention of and path to your book to any kind strangers who might happen to visit the post.
If you see traffic dwindling to a previously popular post (not day-to-day, which can fluctuate highly, but over a couple of weeks) or if you have a helpful post that seems to be neglected, try updating the post. You can add an image, change an image, add an introduction, strengthen the conclusion, add some content, revise the keywords, etc.
Once you have several content-rich articles on your blog, you need to create an index or table of contents or some means of making it easy for people to find your posts. Someone who finds one post through a search engine might want to check out your other posts, for example. Make this easy to do.
Check out One Cool Site: http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com.
This website (pretty cool, just like its name) is very content-rich; the articles serve as excellent examples for how to provide valuable content through a blog.
I didn’t cite this as an example of a website that’s effectively marketing a product or service, but as an example of a content-rich website that can pull an audience effectively. In this case, the audience is bloggers, so you might be interested in the content. There many excellent articles on One Cool Site regarding how to improve your blogging. I’ve been following this blog for some time now and highly recommend the content there (I discovered it from the WordPress help forums).
Some sites come across as businesses. I see business sites and instantly think sales or advertising.
Some blogs are highly personal. That’s not as likely to draw in readers from your target audience.
One Cool Site looks professional, yet when you look at the comments, you see it also receives personal attention and when you read the articles, you see the personal element and style.
As opposed to just making a content-rich website, what you really want is a content-rich blog with that personal element. The personal touches show that you’re human; plus, you’re branding your image as an author and demonstrating your character, not just branding the image for your book. The content is what can attract external readers, but the personal element is important, too.
This blog started out just as a humble blog (and it still is!), just like everyone else. I didn’t set out to create a content-rich website. I started blogging actively with the hope that I could help other authors on their publishing journeys, to share my interest and experiments with marketing, and to provide an example of how authors might use their blogs as a marketing tool.
My blog started out very slowly, with just a handful of views, likes, and follows here and there, but after more than a year of active blogging I get more than 100 views most days even if I don’t post any new content. Most of this is coming from search engines. I have one post from almost a year ago that usually gets 10-20 views per day (even though it wasn’t nearly so popular when it first came out) and several posts that usually get some daily activity.
Every blogger has this potential, and more. There are other bloggers getting much more traffic than my blog gets.
Don’t be discouraged by early results. Think about what content you can write that’s likely to attract your target audience. Focus on creating valuable content. If indeed the content is valuable, in the long run you should generate traffic. Look for signs of search engine activity and continual growth of these numbers. If you see it, this is very encouraging (focus on this, and not immediate likes and follows from recent posts). If you don’t see it, you may need to reevaluate your content, website, keyword choices, images, post titles, etc.; some feedback might be handy.
I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles on publishing and marketing by clicking one of the following links:
Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers