Just looking at your traffic everyday is not going to help.
Yes, your traffic might be growing, and your engagement is increasing, but analytics are really there to help you understand what's working and what's not working. That knowledge can really help you grow your blog. One thing I have noticed over the years is that there is DIRECT correlation between when I'm looking at analytics and when I'm not. When I look at my stats daily, it gives me a good idea of what people are responding to, and when I don't… well, who knows what's going on. My traffic grows when I'm in tune with the readers, an numbers help to identify exactly what is growing, engagement helps to identify how people are feeling about the content.
There's been a debate over engagement vs. traffic ever since I can remember two people talking about growing a blog. Which is more influential? My opinion, is that it's both. Both traffic AND engagement are important. What's the use of having millions of visitors if they don't engage? And a blog with three highly engaged readers is really more like a group of friends. So building your blog to have high quality, engaged traffic is really the best way forward, if you are looking to monetize or professionalize with any kind of longevity.
Either way, tracking your analytics helps… here are a few things to keep in mind and a few actions to take when looking at your numbers. Let me know if it helps grow your blog!
1. Set Clear (Realistic) Goals
There is something gratifying about setting a goal and accomplishing it. It sets forth intent and action. Starting out by saying “I want a lot of traffic” may work for you, if you're lucky. But for most of us, setting daily and weekly goals helps us progress. Especially, if it's intentional, you are more aware of what steps lead to success.
So start small. Say, “I want to increase my traffic by 10% this month.” And outline what actions you are going to take to try to get there. Once you get an idea of what's realistic to accomplish, you can set loftier goals. One thing I do is keep a vision in my mind of my ultimate goal, and work towards that.
Analyitcs give you a reference to start with. Whether it be traffic, of driving up comment count, or social shares, you can't set a goal like “I want to increase my traffic by 10%” if you don't know where you started… because how would you know if you accomplished it?
2. Test content
You love posting on a certain topic, but is it resonating? Using analytics to track which posts get the most engagement or traffic, you can get idea of what resonates with your audience. Perhaps you can test the difference between a post about your new shoes compared to a post about shoe trends for the season, and see which works better.
It's also a good idea to test post titles. Post titles can be great for driving traffic through SEO, social media sharing, RSS conversions, etc. So what happens when you title a post “My favorite shoes” as opposed to “Best white pumps for 2013” you'll see for yourself which post titles bring in more traffic.
3. Test promotional efforts
Looking at analytics, you can easily find out where your traffic is coming from. But also you can test out what works on certain platforms. Each platform is different in terms of what it's users respond to, so it's important to track what works where. That way you can develop your voice on each platform to better suit the users (which increases both engagement and conversions).
4. Manage your time on social media
There are so many social platforms to engage with. You could literally spend all day updating your profiles and engaging on various networks, and still only scratch the surface. Your analytics will give you an idea of which platforms convert the best, so you can decide if spending hours on a site that gives you two visits per month is worth it. Or, if you need to spend more time on a platform because it has steady growth, and even greater growth potential.
5. Identify topics for traffic building content
You may have a niche picked out for your blog. But even niche's can be narrowed down. Your blog might be about hats, but what kind of hats? And what about hats is compelling enough to draw in readers? Your blog might even use fashion as a metaphor for life, and the posts where you talk about life issues is what brings in traffic and engagement. Understanding how your content brings in readers will help you build more content around your topic. It will also help you understand your readers needs better.
6. Identify evergreen content (and produce more of it)
Evergreen content are those posts which bring in traffic month after month. They're timeless. If you look at your analytics, you'll see which posts bring in traffic over long periods of time. Every blog should have a good mix of time-sensitive (ie. Spring 2013 trends) and evergreen content (ie. How to pack for Hawaii) and integrate this into your editorial calendar.
For particularly successful evergreen posts, it would be great to see how you promoted that post, and repeat it for future evergreen posts.
7. Track progress
The best thing about using your analytics to grow your blog is to know when you've achieved your goals, and if you didn't achieve them exactly… you can see how much progress you've made. And any progress is cause for celebration!
Resources for tracking your analytics:
- Blog traffic: Google Analtyics
- Social media conversions (or any click throughs) Bit.ly
- Comment & Social Sharing Analytics: Disqus
- Twitter Analytics: Hootsuite or Tweetreach
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