Statistics Anonymous: Why are stats so useful for bloggers?

Lots of you reading this might be bloggers yourselves. Maybe you do it professionally, or maybe it’s just a personal venting ground. Either way, I’d probably enjoy reading your blog. Blogs of all sorts are great. But what use is a top quality blog with hilarious/ informative/ groundbreaking content if nobody can find it?

That is where WordPress’ Stats tab comes in. You may never have bothered with stats. ‘Why does it matter how people found my blog as long as they ended up here?’; ‘Why should I care which countries people who read my blog come from?’ Well, my name is Kayleigh Tanner and I am a stats addict, so join me here in Statistics Anonymous where I can safely tell you about why I need stats, why I crave them, why I can’t function (as a blogger) without them.

WordPress page views and visitors
WordPress page views and visitors

Firstly, the big mama of all the stats on offer: page views and the newer visitor feature. As you can see, my blog doesn’t get a tonne of hits at all. The spikes show the days I’ve posted a new entry. I mean, today, as I write, I’ve only had eight views on this entire blog. It tends to be that way if I don’t post. It’s a shame I’m not posting this on a day with more views so I can show the stats features off better, but I’ll work with this. The page views represent the number of hits your blog has had overall that day, and the dark blue bar inside the total views is the visitors, which is how many unique visitors have made up those views. So, where mine says 8 views and 5 visitors, it might be that one person looked at four pages and four other people looked at one each, or any other combination. This, I feel, helps indicate whether people are sticking around on your blog. The greater the views in relation to visitors, the longer it suggests people are  staying on your blog and looking at other posts.

WordPress search engine terms

My personal favourite part of the stats page is the search engine terms. It can be invaluable to find out how people are reaching your blog, and the real terms that real people are searching. It can help you pick up on trends so you can produce more posts on the same topic to capitalise on the fact that there’s already a searching market for it, and it can help you tailor your vocabulary and tags. There isn’t much use creating beautifully verbose posts if nobody will realistically be Googling any of the words you’re using.

WordPress Tags & Categories

The tags and categories window is actually one of my least favourites as my most popular posts have pretty diverse tags. My BeautifulPeople post and my Pippa Middleton post, along with my Teeline posts, consistently pull in hits. I guess in a way it’s useful as it shows at a glance that these are the most popular, but it doesn’t really help me that my ‘journalism’ tag is the most popular topic, as I tag almost everything with that because of the nature of the blog.

WordPress top posts and pages

The top posts and pages are really handy, because it’s a sort of broken down version of the tags and categories. As I said, it’s a shame I can’t show you a day where my blog has more hits so I could show you a typical set of my top posts and pages, but it’s interesting to see what people have been looking at. In fact, what IS interesting about today’s is that ‘Give us, this day, our daily soup (du journalism)’ is actually my first ever post on this blog. I presume someone hasn’t been clicking through my blog to find it due to my low overall number of views so far today, so I’d be interested to know how they found that, especially as there is no Google search which links to it.

WordPress clicks

I don’t often have a lot here, but this shows which links people have clicked on from your blog. This link comes from my first post, which I mentioned above. Even though clicks don’t prove especially popular on my blog, I like to include them anyway to make it more comprehensive and to help the reader out. I always find myself clicking links on other people’s blogs, so I like to provide them just in case someone takes an interest in something in particular.

WordPress views by country

Views by country is another really interesting way to look for trends. For example, on days where the BeautifulPeople post gets lots of hits, I get a lot of views from the US, so presumably lots of Americans are particularly interested in BeautifulPeople, which can be useful when planning other topics. I uploaded a post about my friend and electronic musician Hexus, which pulled in a surprising number of views from Eastern Europe. If nothing else, it’s always a thrill when you find you have views from Moldova or Kazakhstan or wherever.

WordPress referrers

Finally, we have WordPress referrers. This tends to be search engines like Google (always good, as it means your tags and keywords are working to pull people in from searches), but sometimes it’s from other blogs, for example if you’ve left a comment on another blog and someone clicks through to your own blog from that comment. I have a couple of email subscribers too, so I sometimes get email hosting sites as referrers. Facebook is another big one on days where I post, as my blog automatically posts to Facebook; likewise with Twitter. It can help you target your posts better; for example, if you get lots of referrals from search engines, you know to focus on the things people will typically search. On social networking sites, it’s more to do with what your friends and followers will want to read.

I hope that I’ve convinced you, and I’m sorry to say that I have no intention of cutting down on my stat habit. How do you use stats to optimise your blogging experience?




17 Comments Add yours

  1. Ankur Sharma says:

    Nice Post! Thanks for the stats info 🙂

    1. Thanks! I have a (now, not so) secret love of statistics in all their forms!

  2. christiemud21 says:

    I never, ever knew how stats worked until now! I hope there’s a spare seats at your next Statistics Anonymous meeting because, as Michael Jackson once said/sang, I’ll be there!


    1. Don’t worry, it’s just me at the moment, we don’t even have a course leader! I have such a riot x

  3. Kenny says:

    Stats are cool! They’re are my feedback…in a statistical way )) I can see which posts are popular day to day. Maybe I’ll go to a post to to check over its content again, given the interest shown, maybe check for broken links and so on. If any have related posts, I can add a link to it on the page that is being visited, to spawn more visits. So, more useful than not I say. Great post, thanks for making the effort to inform.

    1. Glad someone else feels as fondly about them as I do! It’s funny: I’m really not a numbers person at all, but I just have this real interest in seeing how my readers think and where they’re coming from and what they’re up to. 🙂

      1. Kenny says:

        Call it a natural curiosity. They do add another dimension. The alternative is not to know (who), what, when, or where. Hmm…let me think. I also like to see records being broken for busiest days.

  4. Zetland says:

    So my question is: how does this influence what you write about?

    1. WELL, Zetland, it helps me easily spot what topics people are searching for, so I can plan something similar for the future if I want to pull in more readers on the most popular topics. So, for example, I’m going to write another BeautifulPeople post soon, but I’ve sent invitations to a couple of friends to get some fresh opinions. Reviews are proving popular too, so I have a couple more of those planned. The country views are good, because when a topic pulls in lots of views from, say, the US, I can have a look at other topical issues in the US so I can catch any of those readers who come back. The search results are the most useful though: in part because it shows me that my current language use is working, but also because if I see a recurring theme in what people are searching (I get lots of searches with ‘(word) in teeline’), I can write something new with those exact words so that more than one of my posts will come up in their search and it gives the sense of omnipresence, which is reassuring online.

      1. Zetland says:

        That’s partly true. WordPress stats are a very crude way of working out what to write about though. For example, my top post is currently a bit of writing on the ending to No Country for Old Men. In fact, I’ve just checked and it’s had more views than all of my other posts combined. Does this mean I should write about NCFOM some more? No. To be honest, I’ve probably written about it too much as it is.

        The truly important factor is that my NCFOM post is much more ‘googlable’ than all the others. It ranks highly for a number of searches which (collectively) get thousands of hits each month, it’s self-descriptive, it (at least tries to) answer a question that quite a lot of people were asking. And it’s original. Ultimately, I wrote it because it was the kind of thing I wanted to read.

        But anyway, bottom line is that you should be finding search terms and gearing articles towards them. Otherwise, it’s like opening a cafe in Antarctica. The Google Adwords Keyword Tool’s not a bad way for doing this, although I keep thinking there must be something better.

        (Just in case I sound like the kind of arse who thinks about films in terms of “their franchizability”, I’m not suggesting you look for searches that get shitloads of hits and cobble together anything that’ll fit. It’s just a good thing to bear in mind when you’re writing.)

      2. True. My absolute favourite thing about the stats is the way people word their searches. The other day I had something like ‘help I’m really struggling with shorthand’. I love that someone was so desperate for help that they wrote their search like a genuine plea. I think it’s really important to get the right tone. It’s why I keep everything conversational, because people tend to search that way.

        I remember you had a screenshot from the day you were Freshly Pressed. Do you still have that anywhere?

      3. Zetland says:

        Yeah, I should do. How come? Newer screenshots are probably more interesting, although what it tells you is pretty limited. Tags and countries are almost meaningless, although I do get a slight thrill whenever someone Icelandic has a look at my site.

      4. I was just wondering if I’d be able to use it to point out some more interesting examples from a post much more popular than any of mine have ever been. I’m actually a big fan of the countries. especially when it’s coupled with a Google search from one of those countries. Lots of searches from India seem to be BeautifulPeople-related in my stats, for instance, which I find interesting. I get quite sad when the majority of my views are from the UK. It makes me feel like I’ve failed in my attempt at global appeal. Not that I put a great deal of effort into that anyway.

      5. Zetland says:

        Yeah, I can do that. I also like the countries section, it’s just not useful. I’ve never thought “okay, Indians love articles about exposition – I MUST WRITE MORE!”

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