WordPress Bloggers: December is the Best Time to Check Your Stats

 

ANNUAL BLOG STATS

If you have a WordPress blog, you’re probably used to checking your daily stats.

There are also weekly, monthly, and yearly stats.

December is the best time of year to check your annual stats because the current year is almost complete.

The yearly stats offer some insight that you don’t really see in the daily or weekly stats.

Visit your WordPress stats right now (in another window) if you wish to follow along as I suggest what you might look for.

I have WordPress open on a browser on my PC. Already logged in, I click the (W) My Sites link near the top left corner of the screen.

Next I select Stats on the left. Then I change from Days to Years near the top right.

My screen presently says Traffic (the alternative is Insights).

Following are some things that you can learn from your annual stats.

SEARCH ENGINGE TRAFFIC

If you get regular search engine traffic, you’re more likely to see significant frequencies for a few search terms. When you look at daily stats, most of the search terms that led to your blog are hidden. But when you add this up for the whole year, you might see a few search terms with multiple hits. It takes about 1000 views on average to get one search term that isn’t hidden, so if you get tens of thousands of views per year, there is a chance of seeing some search terms here, and if you get 100,000 views per year, you might see something significant. (But if most of your views don’t come from search engines, you’ll need more views.)

The most popular search term to reach my blog turns out to be “Amazon.” I see that 35 people reached my blog after searching for “Amazon.” Plus all the times that happened, but the search term was hidden. With 69,477 unknown search terms, it probably happened many more than 35 times.

Even if you only see a search term listed once, it may still be helpful. One of the search terms on my list had a typo. I searched my website for that typo and discovered that same typo in one of my articles. My first inclination was to correct the typo, but then I thought: Wait a minute, somebody accidentally discovered my website because of that typo. So I let that one go. (I wouldn’t make a typo on purpose, of course, but if something good came out of one of my mistakes, I’ll take it.)

HELPFUL POSTS

In December, your yearly stats show you which were the most popular posts and pages for the year. When you check your daily or weekly stats, the top-performing posts and pages can vary. At the end of the year, this can help you assess which of your posts are popular over a long period of time.

Some of my most popular posts for 2017 were written 2-3 years ago. When I write an article, it gets a lot of traffic for a few days, but then the traffic usually drops off. But once in a while, the article starts to gain traffic through search engines. Such articles can remain popular for a long period of time. Your yearly stats can help you find articles that receive regular search engine traffic. If you know which of your posts are more successful long-term, it can help you have more success in the future. Spend some time thinking about why those posts are attracting more search engine traffic than your other posts. There is a valuable lesson to learn here.

WHERE IS EVERYONE COMING FROM?

Check your referrers. In 2017, I had over 150,000 views come from search engines. Over 90% of my blog traffic comes from search engines. If you write helpful, unique content-rich articles, you can net a lot of search engine traffic, which can really help your blog grow long-term.

If you feed your WordPress blog into Twitter and Facebook, you may also see significant traffic coming from your other social media followings. (Note: If you do feed your WordPress blog into both Twitter and Facebook, don’t also feed your Twitter and Facebook posts into one another or back into WordPress—or you run the risk of seeing double or triple posts on at least one social media outlet.) A couple thousand visitors reached my blog through Facebook, but not as many reached my blog from Twitter.

How many people are reading your posts in the WordPress Reader? This stat shows you how many of your followers are reading your posts in the Reader. If you allow people to follow your blog via email (which I do), then not all of your followers will read your posts in the Reader.

Who are your most helpful rebloggers? I owe a huge THANK YOU to TheStoryReadingApeBlog, whose reblogs have generated much traffic to my articles. If you’re an author or blogger, you should follow the StoryReadingApe (a different Chris), who is an amazing supporter of authors and bloggers. If you’re an author, check out the StoryReadingApe’s submission guidelines. I have many other helpful rebloggers (too many to mention everyone, and I apologize if your blog didn’t make my list), many of which are also author supporters: The list includes NicholasRossis, Smorgasboard, Don Massenzio, Kim’s Author Support Blog, and many others.

There’s something similar that can be as effective as a reblog. Sometimes, another blogger writes an article that refers to your post. If that author’s article generates much traffic, and especially if it happens to arouse interest in your website, you can get some helpful traffic this way. As an example, check out the following article by Derek Murphy at Creativindie.com: “How much does the average author earn publishing their book” (it’s an interesting article, by the way). If you read that article, you will see that he quotes an article from my blog (he contacted me in advance of posting the article by the way). I actually received hundreds of visitors to my website from that one article. So I owe another huge THANK YOU to Derek Murphy for that.

When I clicked the View All link at the bottom of Referrers, I discovered a very long list of the many ways that visitors reach my blog. It’s both fascinating and helpful to read that list. I actually had significant traffic reach my blog from the KDP community forum, Kindle Boards, Goodreads, and many other author support forums. (I don’t participate in discussions at Goodreads, and have hardly ever used Kindle Boards, but I was fortunate enough that a few of my articles were referenced during authors’ discussions. It’s cool that some authors know about my blog, and found it helpful enough to mention while talking to other authors.)

CLICKETY CLICK

Do people click on links on your blog? The yearly stats show you which links are getting clicked on the most.

Thousands of people click on a link to Amazon.com on my site.  Of course, there are many reasons for this. I’ve written several articles about various features on Amazon, and sometimes link to a specific page on Amazon that has information about that feature or contains a download for a free Amazon tool. Remember, several people reach my website after searching for “Amazon” in a search engine. They probably reached one of my articles about an Amazon feature or tool, and then clicked on a link in that article to check the feature or tool out at Amazon. But a few visitors may click on a link to one of my books or my Amazon author page. And I’ve had a few guest posts that featured other authors, so hopefully a few of those clicks take readers to their books and their author pages.

Regarding reblogs, under Clicks you can find out how effective your own reblogs of other bloggers are. Or if you reference other websites in your posts, you can see how many of your visitors and followers check out those websites.

INSIGHTS

Now switch from Traffic to Insights, near the top left (but not in the left sidebar). You can find more information here.

Check out your Tags & Categories. This is basically how your blog looks from the outside (perhaps to search engines). Those are the topics you have written about most frequently this year, based on the tags and categories that you’ve used. Is this how you want your blog to be categorized? If not, it might impact how you use tags and categories from now on.

Also check out Comments by Authors. These are the valuable people who have given life to your blog, making your articles interactive, and who have evidently enjoyed communicating with you and/or were really interested in your posts (or in you, perhaps). I owe a huge THANK YOU to Don Massenzio, Chris the StoryReadingApe, Kim’s Author Support Blog, Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt, Nicholas Rossis, Dr. Stone, and countless others (sorry I don’t have space to mention everyone).

Do you let people follow you by email? If so, check out your Follower Totals. This shows how many of your followers follow you by email.

You can get another interesting stat by dividing your total number of Views by the total number of Visitors. This ratio shows you how many pages the average visitor reads on your blog. Do people tend to read one article and leave, or do they tend to stay around and read more articles? Are your articles so helpful that people often read several of them after discovering your blog?

MAYBE YOUR STATS ARE BETTER THAN IT SEEMS

You may have hidden stats.

I do.

I show the full article right on the home page so that nobody has to click a Read More link.

This is convenient for visitors. They can read several full articles, and when they do, I only get credit with a single view (just my homepage).

Some bloggers who have changed their blogs to force readers to click a Read More button have seen an increase in their recorded blog views—but they are almost certainly losing traffic at the same time. The increased frequency of views can be misleading.

I realize that some people don’t like that Read More link. I try to do my visitors a favor, knowing that I myself don’t like to have to click those links (sh: I sometimes X out the site instead).

But that results in hidden traffic. I actually have many more views than are recorded. If someone visits my homepage and reads 5 full articles, I get credited with 1 view instead of 5 (because they don’t have to click anything to read those articles).

Now if I changed my site to force those readers to click a Read More link, when one person visits my homepage, they would have to click (at least) 5 different links to read 5 articles, and I would get credited with 5 views instead of 1.

I would see increased “traffic” according to my daily views. BUT I would be losing traffic—because some visitors won’t bother to click that Read More link.

If 1 out of 3 visitors who would have read 5 articles directly from my homepage walks away, I would get 11 clicks (5 + 5 + 1) from 3 visitors using Read More links, whereas currently I would only get 3 clicks for 3 visitors. Comparing 11 clicks to 3 clicks, it seems like there is more traffic when you use that Read More link. But what really happened is there were 3 visitors each way: When 3 visitors led to 11 recorded views, 11 articles were read, compared to the case when 3 visitors led to 3 recorded views but 15 articles were read. You see, I want to be read more (with hidden views), then to have more recorded views (but actually get read less).

But I prefer to have 3 visitors give me 3 clicks (rather than 11) when all 3 visitors read 5 articles on my homepage (that would make 15 views, with 12 of the views hidden—that is, not recorded).

I don’t want to lose that visitor who walked away because they didn’t want to have to click to Read More. So I’ll take fewer recorded views to have more people read my content.

That’s a personal choice, and not necessarily the best one. If your goal is to get as many recorded views as possible, the Read More link may help with your goal.

There is another advantage of that Read More link: You know your content is really compelling, or at least the beginning of your article did a good job at creating interest, if a lot of people are clicking to Read More.

If you add that Read More link and your views go down, you need to work on the beginning of your articles. There is some helpful information to gain here.

Personally, I get enough views, the number of recorded views doesn’t matter to me. I don’t want a Read More link to discourage one person from reading an article, and I don’t want a Read More link to cause a visitor to not want to return to my site. (Again, I would probably have more recorded views using the Read More link, and it would “seem” like there is more traffic using that feature when there really isn’t. The difference is that the Read More link removes the “hidden” views.)

There are other ways that you may have hidden stats.

For example, if you include a Follow by Email option without a Read More link, your email followers can read your full articles without actually visiting your website. Again, I offer this option out of convenience to my followers. I’m happy to have people read my articles by email (as long as the email came from me—I don’t support plagiarism, of course). I don’t need them to come to my blog to read my articles.

WHAT COOL SEARCH TERMS DID PEOPLE USE TO REACH YOUR BLOG?

I found some good ones on my list. One of my favorites is “funny paragraphs.” Imagine someone entered “funny paragraphs” into Google (or Bing or Yahoo or whatever) and found one of my articles. That wasn’t planned, but it’s a happy coincidence.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2017

Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

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