If you are serious about blogging you are probably also pretty serious about statistics. In fact, there are a lot of bloggers out there who spend more time looking at their stats than they do working on their blog.

In this post I am going to talk about the five most important blogging statistics that you must know. Knowing (and understanding) these big five will help you in some significant ways.

Why do I need to know these? Can’t I just blog?

Well, yes, you can just blog and ignore the stats. In the same way as you can just drive a car and not know where you are going. You’d better be pretty sure that you love driving though because you might not ever end up anywhere good. Statistics are important for a couple of reasons:

  • They keep you focused
    They help to keep you focused on your goal, whatever it might be. By checking your statistics you can see whether you are actually moving forward with your progress.
  • You can make adjustments
    One of the best things about statistics is they allow you to make minor (or major) adjustments to the way you write, publish that content and structure your website. You can see very clearly how well things are working and change it if you need to.

Ignore your stats if you want to. You might argue that your blog is already doing well without any statistics. But my question to you is this: imagine how well it could be doing if you were tracking, tweaking and improving your blog based on the truth of the stats.

What analytics tool should I use?

I have spent a fair amount of time looking at other analytics tools but always come back to Google Analytics. To my mind it is the most robust, easy to use and accurate software out there. If you aren’t using it yet just go and sign up for an account, get the tracking code and paste it into your website. It is that easy. From today onward Google will be tracking your every move… I mean your BLOG’S every move. 😉

The 5 most important blogging statistics you must know

Now I am going to share what I think are the most important stats that you need to know if you want to grow your blog and take it to the next level. If you have any questions about these metrics or any others feel free to drop a comment and I will try to help you out.

1. Traffic Sources

traffic sources

Traffic sources shows you where your traffic is coming from. Not that hard to understand but extremely useful in order to find out what promotion methods are working for you. As you can see above, I am getting 30% of my traffic directly, 68% from referring sites and less than 1% from search engines. The reason the last one is so low is because Blog Tyrant is only about four weeks old and has only seven posts – there just hasn’t been enough time/material to index. This is not a problem for me, however, as I am getting a lot of great traffic from referring sites like Problogger, Twitter and Delicious.

Now, here is where it gets a little bit tricky. Traffic sources alone is a good metric but not that enlightening. It is when you read it in conjunction with the next metric, Bounce Rate, that it becomes something quite useful.

2. Bounce Rate
The Bounce Rate is the percentage of people who visit your blog and then leave without going any deeper. So, if you have ten visitors to your blog and all ten of them leave without clicking another link then your Bounce Rate is 100%. If five of those ten people perhaps check out your About page then you have a Bounce Rate of 50%. Got it?

bounce rate

When you look at your Traffic Sources in conjunction with your Bounce Rate you get some very interesting insights. For example, the screen shot above shows the Bounce Rate’s for three of my more minor traffic sources – Google, Facebook and my guest post on Problogger. As you can see, Google is higher on the list and as such brought more traffic than Problogger but also had a higher Bounce Rate. What this tells me is that the traffic coming from Problogger is much more targeted to my niche. Only 38% of people stayed for one post – the rest went on to read more, sign up to RSS, etc.

When you look at your Bounce Rate you need to look at it in conjunction with your traffic sources and your content. Have a look at the Bounce Rate of each individual post and see which one has people staying on the site most. Then look at the traffic sources and see which one is bringing you relevant traffic. If you are spending a lot of time trying to grow traffic from Twitter but you have a 98% Bounce Rate from the traffic then maybe its not a great idea.

3. Site Overlay

site overlay

Google Analytics lets you look at something called your Site Overlay. This basically tells you where people click when they are on your blog. This is very exciting as it allows you to see if your design is holding back your blog’s content or products in anyway. For example, if you have an ebook that you are trying to sell but see that it is getting 0% clicks then you might start to wonder whether the ad copy or the image or the positioning is wrong.

The screen shot above from Blog Tyrant shows me that the About page has had 10% of clicks for the week. One thing I also learned is that the Twitter and RSS button on the side (not in the screen shot) have had 0 clicks. I will be changing them in the next few days. This is the type of information that I would never have guessed and only found out because I could look at my blog’s overlay.

4. Adsense Clicks

Adsense

You can now integrate your Adsense account and your Google Analytics account. This gives you some extremely important information that was, until recently, completely unknowable.

The image above is taken from Google’s blog and shows you the kind of information that you can get once you set up the metrics. One thing it doesn’t show you, however, is that fact that you can see which blog posts earned the most money. When I first installed the tracking on a fitness blog of mine I found that almost all of the high earning clicks ($2 – $4) came from one post. So I optimized that post and wrote more articles on that topic and, wouldn’t you know it, the earnings went up.

If you don’t use Adsense then you need to find some way of tracking your conversions. Find out how they arrive at your site, what keywords they searched for and what ads they liked. This is very important information for making some cash in the long term.

5. The whole picture
The most important statistic of all, however, is all of them. And what you must realize is that each individual statistic is useless without it being compared to something else. The whole point of this post was to get you to this last stage and although number five isn’t really a statistic, it is very important that you get the message.

Let’s take Bounce Rate as an example. Your Bounce Rate might be 88% and on the surface seem pretty bad. But if you are getting thousands of visitors every day for Stumble and Digg then you can get some explanation of why its so high – these visitors typically don’t stick around long. So here you have to look at the traffic source to get some context. And you can go deeper. Go to your Content By Titles section of your analytics and you can see that each post has a different Bounce Rate. Perhaps it is just the one that got Stumbled that is throwing your average off.

Take time to learn how all of the statistics work together. They are all related and dependent on each other and unless you can interpret them in a meaningful way you might spend all your time working on reducing a Bounce Rate that is actually totally fine.

Any others?

Are there any other blogging statistics that you find to be extremely important? Or, perhaps you think they are all totally useless. Leave a comment and let us know. I would be interested to hear what you guys do on your own blogs.

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