31 Days to a Better Blog--Day 10: Declutter Your Sidebar
Site Redo

31 Days to a Better Blog--Day 11: Dig Into Your Stats

Buildingabetterblog2_2Day 11 of the 31 Day project and it's time to dig into my site stats.

According to Darren, I should be looking at:

  • My most popular posts--This will not only give me some clues about writing topics, it will also show me where I can try to drive readers deeper into my blog by optimizing those pages.
  • Referral stats--what sites are sending me the most traffic?
  • What questions are readers typing into search engines to get to my blog?
  • What keywords are sending me traffic?
  • Are there seasonal trends to traffic?
  • What's my "bounce rate"?--The bounce rate refers to the number of people who visit your site and then leave without viewing any other pages. A low bounce rate is good.

This exercise gave me the excuse to finally go back to Beth Kanter's screencast on using Google Analytics that has been on my To Do list for awhile now. I STRONGLY encourage anyone who is interested in learning more about how to use Analytics to take a look at what Beth put together, as well as all the resources she gathered on this rather complicated topic. I learned an incredible amount about the kinds of questions I should be asking and how to get the right information from the Analytics program. As an added bonus, one of the examples Beth uses is fellow 31 Day challenge participant Laura Whitehead who is using Analytics for her nonprofit's website!

So, armed with Beth's advice, I dug into my blog. This is some of what I discovered:

  • My unique visitors are up 33% in the last month, which I suspect is a combination of more visitors  referred through running this challenge and the fact that in July I was posting less.
  • My bounce rate has been holding steady around 63%, which means that 63 out of of 100 people leave after visiting only one page. At the same time, the most popular entrance into my site is my main page and the average amount of time spent on the site is 8 minutes. That suggests to me that people may be coming onto the site and reading through my most recent posts before leaving. And the number of people subscribing to my feed has been going up pretty steadily, so it may mean they're checking things out and then deciding to subscribe. I'd still like to improve the bounce rate, though, so I need to take a closer look at Darren's post on how to make my content more "sticky."
  • As part of my project to declutter my sidebar, I took Cammy's suggestion and used Google's page overlay feature, which allows you to see where people are clicking on a page. It showed me how little people are really using many of my sidebar items, which should make the process of decluttering somewhat easier.
  • As far as the sources of my traffic--about half comes from referring sites and many of those are actually click-throughs from feed readers, like Bloglines and Netvibes. Most of my keyword traffic is coming from searches on "bamboo project" and "Michele Martin," which suggests that people hear about the blog somewhere (where?) and then do a search to find it. Except, of course, for those people who are looking for resources on how to actually do projects with bamboo. Those people bounce out pretty immediately.

I feel like I need to spend more time in thinking about my stats, as I don't feel like I learned as much as I'd hoped. I suspect that I'm having one of those days where I don't absorb information as well as I'd like, so this is one I'll probably need to come back to at a later point. Plus I still need to work on my sidebar decluttering project, which I'd like to finish this weekend.


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