Traffic data: The stats every blogger should be tracking
Starting a blog can be daunting shit. So many new skills to learn, like content creation, SEO, content marketing and even some new social media skills. But the number one question I get from new bloggers is always:
What blog stats should I be keeping track of?
I’m always glad when a new blogger asks this question. It means they understand that you can not grow your audience unless you know what your audience is currently doing and how the content you are putting in front of this audience is preforming. Measuring the following data is essential so that you know how people engage with your content.
Average Time Spent on Site
Let’s ease into this with the most basic one to understand, because the name says it all: Average Time Spent on Site. That is exactly it, the average time that a visitor spends on your site. Not just the average time that they spent on a single page of your site, but the average time they spent on your site in total.
Why is average time spent on site important? It’s one of the easiest ways to see if your audience is actually reading and consuming your content, real engagement. The global average on the web is about 15 seconds before someone moves on to the next site. No way someone can read a whole blog post of close to a thousand words in just 15 seconds, never mind more in depth content.
Most digital marketing savvy brands and advertisers will know that average time on site is a great way to determine if your readership is real. They don’t want to pay for native advertising or any other advertising if nobody bothers to actually read your content.
Would you pay for exposure if you knew you weren’t going to get any?
Bounce rate very much walks hand in hand with average time spent on site. If someone comes to you site through a search engine for instance, and then goes back to the search engine in ten seconds or less they have “bounced” off your site.
Google places a lot of emphasis on bounce rate as an indicator to see whether users found what they were looking for when they clicked on content you created in the search results.
Bounce rate is essentially the percentage of how many people leave your site without engaging with your content. Bounce rate most certainly affects your SEO efforts and a high bounce rate will not do your ranking any favours.
How do you reduce bounce rate?
Easy: The simplest way is to get users to engage with your content.
So create useful content that people would want to read. Also getting users to view more than one page when they get to your site will dramatically lower your bounce rate. Use interlinking, call to actions and related article links to push users deeper into your site than just the first page they have reached.
Average page views per visit
We’ve already talked about getting visitors to your site to visit more than one page. I’m not repeating myself because it is fun. I’m repeating myself because I know how important it is do direct your visitors through your site.
More page view shows Google that there is a lot of useful information on your site, and that will help your search rankings. The average page views per visit data is the best way to see if you are pushing people to multiple pages of your site in the right way. If you don’t track this you will never get more page views per visit and your bounce rate will never come down.
Visits and Unique visits
You need to have some idea of the size of your audience, right? You need to know if your audience is growing. I compare my month on month visitors and also my year on year visitors.
Sometimes you will see a drop, but remember that is not the end of the world. Visits is really what we call a “vanity stat”. If you had really deep pockets filled with money you can pay to drive millions of visits to your site every month, that doesn’t mean you have an audience. If that traffic is not relevant to the content you are promoting, you will just have a massive bounce rate and really low average time spent on site. This will indicate to Google that your content is irrelevant to the visitor and could potentially drop your position in the search results.
A lot of visits always looks nice from afar, but upon closer inspection (bounce rate, page views per visit, average time spent on site) you will notice it’s far from nice.
Keep an eye on your visits, don’t get fixated on it.
Other stats that professional bloggers track
For me this is a really important one. My blog is targeted at a pretty well defined niche: Men, ages 18 – 35, Afrikaans. It’s unlikely that I will find my target audience outside of South Africa, and thus location data is important for me.
Same should apply to you. If you are targeting an audience from a specific country, you should be checking to see if that is where you are getting your traffic from.
New vs. returning visits
You always want new people coming to engage with your content. But you also want to turn new visitors into loyal readers, that come back to your site regularly on their own. Those are the members of your audience that you have influence over and those are also the guys and girls that are going to be telling their friends about your site.
Keep building your influence and get more returning visits to your site. My goal is always to have more returning visitors to my site than new visitors. That way I know my loyal following is growing, not just the vanity stat of visits.
You need to know if your content marketing efforts are paying off. You need to know if it is worth investing your time in Facebook, or Twitter, or Pinterest. You need to understand where your audience is spending their time online and then go and reach them there.
Referral traffic tells you where your audience came from, or how they got to your site. Via a social network where you have been running a targeted ad, like Facebook. Via Google because you have been putting a lot of work into upping your SEO game. Or from Reddit (and you don’t even know why), now you can find out and use it to your advantage.
Pro referral traffic tip: Organic search traffic is going to be how you measure your SEO efforts. If you are putting effort into SEO, you have to measure your organic search traffic to see if you are succeeding with your SEO strategy.
You need to know your site like the palm of your hand
Nobody knows your site better than you. Nobody should know your site better than you. Luckily the better you know your site, how people are getting to your site, what they do when they are on your site and how they engage with your content, the better you will be at making your site bigger and more influential.
Influencer marketing is taking the world by storm and you are at the forefront of a new wave of entrepreneurs. But you can’t become a better influencer or blogger if you don’t look into who your readers are and how they behave.
Content creation is just one part of being a professional blogger and it’s also just one part of reaching your audience or customers. You need to get inside their heads, and the only way you are going to get there is by keeping an eye on your traffic data.
What statistics do you measure? Leave a comment and let us know. Or maybe you just have a question. Either way, I would love to read your comments.