A closer look at blogging stats and how to improve them

This is the third installment of my Blogging 101 series. I’ll be posting on alternating Wednesdays here and addressing a few different topics:

Today’s topic covers a closer look at stats and how to improve them.

Sometimes, when I get too busy numberizing, I start to wonder if it’s worth it. I mean, why am I here, the small fish in the big pond? That’s its own discussion, really, and I’ve torn into it again and again and again.

So let’s talk stats, despite my reluctance to get all neurotic.

What are stats?

Statistics, including how many people are viewing your site, what posts are most popular, and what color you should wear. There are a variety of different programs and add-ons for this, and we’ll cover stats in more depth in a future post in this series.

SEO refers to search engine optimization, or “how you get people to find you,” although that makes it sound more important than it is. Wait, it IS important. But it can also be distracting. Just like stats.

How can stats help a blogger improve?

They can be a guide of sorts, introducing you to your audience and what they like to read of your writing. You can gain insight into where people are finding your posts and clicking from (i.e., from a link at someone else’s blog or an aggregator site).

They can also show you what topics and posts are popular. You can leverage this information in a number of ways. You can use it to do more of the same or to grow beyond what’s getting attention. You can

They can be misleading. Sometimes, I have a lot of traffic on a post, and I come to find out that I have an image named “mother” during the first week of May and wow, there it is for everyone to find via Google Images. Then again, back when my most popular post of all times was about a huge family tragedy, I took it to mean that people had morbid curiosity and only came to visit my blog because there was blood on the floor, so to speak. (A friend set me straight when I voiced that and said, “Wow, what a caring community that they came and “visited” when you most needed prayer!”)

What are some ways to improve your stats?

Improve your post titles. On the one hand, you’re telling people what to expect. Maybe that means you’re cutesy and clever. Maybe it means you’re straightforward. Maybe it means you’re a mix of everything. (Can you tell I have mixed feelings about this?)

Make sure you are interacting with the readers you already have. Respond to their comments, invite them to leave comments, engage them. If you have people who read and comment via a social network (i.e., Facebook or Twitter), engage. Talk. Share.

Interact elsewhere online, including reading other blogs and commenting. For me, this ALSO means a few of my social networking circles, too. In the last six months alone, this has really changed who’s coming to my blog and how they are responding to me.

Read the blogging blogs and decide for yourself whether to take their advice. Yeah, I have mixed opinions. But I read it, in part because I’m interested and in part because I’m a bloggy-geeky type.

Write for your audience…and for yourself. Guest posting is a way to blog elsewhere and get known (but do it well!). There’s a temptation to turn into “more of the same” and not grow. There’s also a temptation to never pay attention to what resonates. There’s a fine line you walk (or type?) as a blogger…be aware of that

Get known for something, differentiate yourself. Easier said than done, sometimes (often?). I would argue that it takes years, but maybe if you’re focused it doesn’t have to. My experience is that it takes time to get good. You can put those hours in now or over the next few months, years, whatever.

How do you keep your perspective?

Be realistic. Stats are numbers, and numbers are important, to a point. They are useful, to a point. They are a tool to be used, to a point. If you have any sort of tendency toward obsessing or splitting hairs, maybe stats won’t be helpful. (I may or may not be speaking from experience…)

Set goals, have high standards, and don’t settle for less than the best from yourself. I say this at the risk of sounding like I’m in a high school leadership class, I know. Even so, there’s something to be said for living in the present while aiming for the future. Sometimes. :)

Revisit your blogging purposes. They can and do change over time. When you find yourself frustrated with your stats, consider whether it’s time for a change—in scenery, in approach, in something.

Blog traffic is NOT the same as book sales. Since we’re an audience of authors, this is a point you should remember. Blog traffic can help. And being a constant commercial for your book is annoying and won’t help anything.

From the archives:

About Sarah Reinhard

When Sarah Reinhard's not writing online at SnoringScholar.com, she can be found on Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Facebook, or Google +. She's the author of a number of books, including her latest title, Catholic Family Fun: A Guide for the Adventurous, Overwhelmed, Creative, or Clueless.
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10 Responses to A closer look at blogging stats and how to improve them

  1. Great post, Sarah. Two thoughts of mine for small-blog writers:

    1) Running a small blog is a valuable service. People can hold conversations and get questions answered in a way that just can’t happen on the huge blogs.

    2) For authors, a small blog can still be a good professional presence. The blog is a chance for the curious to take a peek at your work and get a feel for who you are. As long as the place doesn’t feel dead, and *does* feel like the visitor is being kept abreast of the author’s work, the blog is doing what it needs to do. Time might be better spent with less (but enough — and good quality) blogging, and more hours working on to-be-published books and other non-blogging marketing events, even though that usually means lower stats.

    (In other words: A giant ditto, Sarah!)

  2. YES! Thanks for the dose of common sense and perspective

  3. Well, I have to admit that I get hung up on stats a lot. Sometimes I let it make or break my day – which is totally not good!

    On the other hand I justify looking at them because it keeps me plugging away. Knowing that people are reading my blog is important for my ego to keep with it. Maybe I should be above that but I’m not.

    Since only a small portion of people who read blogs actually comment – it’s good to know that at least a few folks are reading. What makes my day more than the stats though – is getting comments. That is when I feel I’ve made a connection and the beginning of a friendship.

  4. Ha! I was just talking with our communications director at our parish the other day about this – because stats *can* be misleading! It can be easy to overlook how important our presence is in other media platforms and focus only on blog stats.
    I think you’re spot on with focusing on writing for our audience.

    This is a timely piece. :)

    • You know, approaching this from a parish perspective would be good…I manage our parish website and social networking too and…well, it’s writing, and it’s also engagement and…maybe it’s not something for THIS audience, but definitely something to discuss. :)

  5. Mary says:

    My blog stats are very high yet, but then I just started a month ago, so I’m really not worrying about it at this point. Whenever I can spread the word about my blog I do it, and I like getting a lot of views, but as long as I’m satisfied with my own writing I’m pretty happy. Not sure how this attitude might change as I continue blogging, but I hope I’ll never get too hung up on stats.

  6. Clement says:

    Lets do this for Catholic Writers Guild site, the one you posted on. And share results with followers. What do you think Sarah?