Us bloggers, we do contradict ourselves sometimes. One minute we are preaching about how numbers don’t matter, and the next we’re refreshing our Google Analytics data because we had a new blog post go live and we can’t wait to see how many people have gone to read it.
The fact is, for a lot of bloggers, the numbers will matter. Not for all bloggers, mind.
But this cheeky lil post is for those that do want to know how their blog is getting on. Whether it’s on the up and up….or not.
First, let me tell you why I measure my blog’s metrics.
Recording my numbers month on month is a surefire way for me to put the effort in. I want to see those numbers go up. I’m aware the numbers are still small in comparison to other much bigger blogs, but if I can see some improvement every month then I can be happy with that. Even if it’s marginal.
I won’t beat myself up if I see a drop in traffic versus the month before – as long as I know why. Usually it’s because I’ve posted less, or promoted less than usual. Because I can justify the reasons why, it doesn’t become a torturous exercise. Then I give myself the kick up the bum to boss it next month. And y’know what? I do better when I give myself that pep talk.
So, let’s take a look at the how now, shall we?
Measuring my blog’s progress
I pick the word progress very deliberately – it might not be growing every month, so I’m not measuring it’s growth. Up or down, no matter which way the stats go, I’m keeping an eye on it and learning from it.
Here’s the areas I look at when I’m recording my monthly stats.
I measure the number of sessions because it shows me how many visits the blog has had in total for the timeframe. The interactions that take place within one visit are grouped (for example, one user visiting multiple pages will be classed as one session).
Users gives you the number of individuals that have visited your blog, which is a good ego boost even if the numbers aren’t huge because hey, people do like to read your ramblings on the internet after all! If the number of Users drops versus the month before, you know to up your game in promoting your content on social media.
Pageviews are a good bit of data to keep tabs on because it counts all pageviews from every user. If your pageviews have increased a lot from the previous month, you can delve deeper and see what content got most of those pageviews that month. This is a great way of coming up with related content ideas!
If your pageviews went down, you could focus on promoting particular content that you want to give a boost, or work in more interlinking to other posts to encourage visitors to read other content.
I’ve blogged about bounce rate before, as it’s one of those odd metrics where you want the numbers to go down rather than up. Bounce rate is basically the % of sessions that only visit one page and then leave your blog straight after.
Tbh, that’s pretty much the nature of blogs so you should expect your bounce rate to be pretty high. To put it into perspective, since beginning to record my stats my bounce rate has sat between 60-80%.
Average time on site
This is one of my favourite metrics because it’s all well and good getting lots of visitors to your blog, but if the average time on site is really low, they can’t be reading your content (unless you write really short posts!).
Bear in mind though that you will always have sessions with a low average time on site (particularly with the amount of web spam out there!), so it can drag your average down overall. Read my post on removing spam traffic from Google Analytics.
By using related post widgets, interlinking to other blog posts and creating more in-depth posts that people want to read, your average time on site can be increased.
Pages per session
This shows me an average of how many pages people are looking at before leaving. This is a good way of showing me whether my interlinking and related post widgets are doing their job or not. Are you starting to notice a theme here?
However, as with bounce rate, you can’t really expect pages per session to be particularly high on a blog because most people will land on the post they want to read, read it, and then bugger off. Fair play.
Social media followers
In addition to the “on-site” data, I also like to look at the change in my Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Bloglovin followers as growth on these channels is usually a good indicator that I’m reaching a new audience. Whether they will necessarily come and read the blog isn’t guaranteed, but the more followers I have on social, the greater potential audience I have for my next post.
But how do I record all of my stats? Nothing fancy, really. Just a Google sheet.
New to Google Analytics? Check out my GA resources…
- Google Analytics for new bloggers
- Google Analytics FAQ for bloggers
- Achieve your blog goals with Google Analytics
- Remove spam traffic from Google Analytics