When you look at your blog’s stats, what do you look for? What do you consider most important? (please don’t say hits )
When I first started out, I only cared about visitors and page impressions. To be fair, when I first started out, I don’t think anyone was really measuring bounce rate, or was even talking about it, but now, it’s one of, if not THE most important statistics I look at when I check my stats on Google Analytics. From Google:
Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page. Use this metric to measure visit quality – a high bounce rate generally indicates that site entrance pages aren’t relevant to your visitors.
I’m not sure what a “good” bounce rate is, but my impression is that 60% or less is optimal. You could have a very high bounce rate if most of your visitors are coming from search engines (they find what they want – or don’t – and leave very quickly), your site is overly focused on SEO and not quality content, or is poorly designed overall and visitors can’t find what they’re looking for. It also indicates that your marketing may be ineffective; you’re promising things to potential visitors that you don’t deliver.
To give you some context and for examples’ sake, I’ve taken important statistics from all of my websites (I use google analytics) and shared them below. I highlighted the “best” numbers in each category so you can see that my “best” performing sites in terms of visitor engagement are the second (grechenscodes.com) and fourth (free!grechen):
Overall, I’m very pleased with the bounce rate on all my sites except this one (it’s the last in the spreadsheet). This is still a new project for me, so it’s not something I’m very concerned about right now, but over time, I’d like it to decrease.
And although I did include page views in there, I don’t consider that a very important statistic. Yes, over time, you do want to have your overall page views increase (that means more people are visiting your site), but an over-reliance on page views (impressions) when speaking to advertisers is what has led to the annoying trend lately of sites dividing up stories into 5 pages or doing more slideshows so you have to click through from page to page to get the content you’re looking for. Yes, this increases page views and impressions for advertisers, but if I have to do that all the time, I stop visiting that blog. To me it indicates that they care more about their advertisers than their visitors or their content…
Overall page views ARE important when figuring out how many pages each visitor looks at. Ideally, you’d like a visitor to browse through your site, not just leave after reading one article. That means your site is relevant, and “sticky,” which indicates that first time visitors are more likely to return. That’s also where time on site is important.
Something else that I didn’t really understand how important it was until I read this article at Daily Patricia, is new visits. In the spreadsheet above, I show you what percentage of my visitors are new (first time). By subtracting that from 100, I can then see what percentage of my visitors are actually my AUDIENCE – as Patricia says. This is very powerful! Your audience is actually the percentage of your visitors who consider you a resource, an expert, and are, or CAN be loyal to you if you continue producing relevant content. Since I rely on my sites to produce income, my audience numbers are of paramount importance – only when visitors see me as a trustworthy and “expert” resource will they continue to buy through my affiliate partners and from my advertisers. One-time visitors who come via search engines are also important, but over time, I see my success in terms of my regular-audience and the impact I’m able to have on their online shopping habits and the relationships I have with them.
Finally, direct visits are VERY telling – they indicate what percentage of your visitors are typing your url into their browser or visiting from a bookmark. Think about how much of an effort it takes to do that as opposed to just getting your content via RSS, or clicking through from a social media resource. This stat, if it’s relatively high, tells you that your visitors are loyal enough and consider your site important enough to REMEMBER the url. How many urls do you remember off hand? Only the really important ones I’m guessing…
This has been a great exercise for me, which is why I wanted to share it with you. I usually just briefly glance at my stats in analytics (I also look at my site’s cpanel stats, and use blogstats on wordpress) and move on, but this has forced me to take the important statistics and analyze them TOGETHER to get a better idea of where I might be able to improve the levels of visitor engagement and loyalty on my sites. While I do think that content is the MOST IMPORTANT thing to focus on as a blogger, it’s important for you to know if your content is resonating – and the only way to do that is to analyze your stats periodically.
Do you use Google Analytics? Do you analyze your statistics regularly? What do your stats say about your site(s)?
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