What Can Authors Learn about WordPress Stats?

Stats Search

WordPress Stats

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.

Search Engines

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.

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.

Nice Example

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.

My Website

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

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Build an Effective Author Website + Press Release (2-in-1 Post)

Free author resources at the Build Book Buzz website: http://www.buildbookbuzz.com.

Today I will show you a highly instructive example of how to build an effective author website. It’s actually the website for a former publicist, so it’s no surprise that the website excels at attracting the target audience.

We can learn a lot about how to attract our own traffic by studying the many cool features on this website. Also, there is an abundance of free content on this website, like how to prepare and distribute a press release to create book publicity.

In this way, we’ll learn two things at once:

  • how to attract your target audience through a website
  • how to prepare and distribute a press release

The website is called Build Book Buzz. This is the website that former publicist Sandra Beckwith uses to attract her target audience—authors who need help with book publicity (both traditionally published and indies). She no longer provides book publicity services to authors, but now helps many authors save thousands of $$ by teaching them how to do it themselves.

I will describe various features of her website, showing how they help to attract her target audience. This will be instructive if you check these features out as I describe them. Try to think of ways that you might be able to utilize similar features to attract your target audience.

Here is the link to her website: http://buildbookbuzz.com. Check it out.

Tip #1: The website name is geared toward the content, not the author. You know what the content is about instantly.

Tip #2: The homepage identifies the target audience and attracts their interest immediately. Notice how the website doesn’t mention who is offering this content (i.e. you don’t learn that it’s a former publicist’s website or who the former publicist is) until further down the page.

Tip #3: Nothing is for sale on the homepage. The homepage is geared around free content relevant for the target audience. It doesn’t look like an advertisement for a book, it doesn’t look like a fan page or biographical record, and it doesn’t look like a blog. Valuable free content that will interest the target audience is what will attract your audience to your website.

Sandra does have books and services that she sells, but none of these appear on her homepage. Think about this.

Tip #4: Visual branding. Study the images. The images aren’t the same, but most follow a similar blue, yellow/gold, and white theme, and feature a picture (not always the same) of an open book. Making the images slightly different helps you see that it’s not the same image, so you don’t ignore it. Having them all uniformly styled helps with the visual branding, and shows you that you’re clearly on the same website. Notice that they follow the three-color rule. The cover images look 3D, which helps to make a good visual impression. The information in the booklets is clear from the keywords that stand out in the title.

Tip #5: The homepage offers a free booklet. The content will interest the target audience. The offer appears first at the top to attract interest, and is repeated at the bottom so if you’re sold when you get there, you don’t have to scroll back up to the top.

Tip #6: The free booklet offer is a clever way to build an audience for an email newsletter. This helps to populate an email newsletter database (note that you must provide an unsubscribe option).

This is worth considering:

  • How do you get an audience for a newsletter? Offer a free booklet to sign up.
  • How do you get your target audience in the email list? Make a booklet that has content relevant for your target audience.
  • How do you get your audience to discover your booklet? As part of a content-rich website geared toward your target audience.

Tip #7: I recommend signing up for the email newsletter. (I did.) Why? Two reasons:

  • The emails you receive will provide a sample of how to use an email newsletter effectively. Although your content will be much different, there is much to learn here.
  • If you have a book that you’re trying to market, this content is relevant to you.

Tip #8: The website is easy to read. There isn’t a busy, distracting background. There is effective use of color with the text.

Tip #9: Free content. See the Tips page (each page can be found by clicking on the index at the top of the website). There are a variety of free PDF files of interest to the target audience. It’s a content-rich website, and much of it is free. This attracts the target audience.

Tip #10: Check out the PDF files on the Tips page. I highly recommend these in particular:

  • See the tips for writing a press release (book announcement). These are invaluable. A press release is critical for news publicity, and has a specific formula for its preparation.
  • Also see the tips for writing a tip sheet. Like the press release, this is something you need to help create news for your book.

The other tips on the Tips page are also worth exploring.

Tip #11: There is a blog on this website, but it really functions primarily as an author website, and the blog is just one of many components; it’s definitely not a website that was built around a blog. The blog, like the rest of the website, is content rich and free. You can probably find a lot of valuable information here.

Tip #12: Let’s jump ahead to the Press Room page. When you prepare the press release for the news about the publication of your book (if you haven’t already done so, you want to do this), you should add a Press Room page to your website.

Study the two press release examples on this page. They show you how to structure and format a press release. When you study the tips for how to write a press release, you should also re-read these two examples. This page also shows you how to format a Press Room page.

Tip #13: Check out Sandra Beckwith’s e-book, Get Your Book in the News. This is a detailed guide that spells out the formula for how to prepare a press release. I bought a copy, read it, and relied heavily upon it to write my press release for Read Tuesday. I recommend it.

Tip #14: Finally, check out the other pages. There are a couple of books and services offered that aren’t free. Note that there is an abundance of free content, but also some paid content. The paid content is different from the free content. Also, the free content is complete. It’s not a free sample; it’s free content.

There is ample free content, so you don’t feel disappointed or frustrated. If you don’t buy anything, you still feel that the website was highly useful.

The free content is very good. This gives you the sense of trust that you need before moving onto the paid content. The taste of the free content makes you consider the paid content. Note that the paid content also has a satisfaction guarantee.

I recommend that you take advantage of the free content on the Build Book Buzz website. There are a lot of valuable, yet free, resources there.

I was not asked to write this post. I was not asked to promote the Build Book Buzz website or any of its goods or services. I discovered this website, found much of the material useful, and thought it would be handy to share it. I did contact Sandra Beckwith to let her know that I would be writing this post.

I hope you found something useful. 🙂

Sandra Beckwith is a former national award-winning publicist who now teaches authors how to promote and publicize their books. Get free tips and subscribe to her complimentary Build Book Buzz e-zine at http://buildbookbuzz.com. Connect with her on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing), Twitter, Facebook

Learn more about Read Tuesday, a Black Friday type of event just for books: website, Twitter, Facebook