Beyond Traffic: Three Stats You Should Check Today
Whether you’re a spreadsheet enthusiast or allergic to numbers, digging into your site’s stats can help you better engage with your audience. Let’s take a look at three stats that can make a difference beyond page views.
When you hear “stats,” most bloggers think “traffic,” and that makes sense. Many of us care about the number of views our posts receive, and want to see them grow. Blogging is never solely about numbers, though — it’s about making your voice heard, fostering relationships with others, and building a sense of community.
Approaching these goals with a data-informed mindset can get you closer to achieving them. Here are three stats that can help you make smart decisions when it comes to planning your posts and finding and engaging your readers. Whether you blog from a computer, a tablet, or your phone, take a few seconds to explore these on your own blog’s Stats tab.
A quarterly review
When reviewing your stats, it’s tempting to focus on the here and now: how did I do today? How many views did yesterday’s post get overnight? Periodically, though, it’s wise to fight this tendency and examine the long-term performance of your content.
Take a look at your top posts from the previous quarter by heading to your Top Posts & Pages section, then click on Summaries. In the following page, select the Quarter tab.
A quarter is a period of time that’s significant enough to reveal general trends, but not so long that specific details get completely drowned out. When you look at your most-read posts from the previous 90 days, look for meaningful patterns.
Did specific types of posts do better than others? Turn these into recurring features. Are posts from a particular stretch of days (or weeks) especially popular? Try to figure out what you did right there. Do you see very few posts that you published before this 90-day period? It might be time to think about resurfacing material from your archives.
The posts that hit a nerve
If you want your blog to be a space where community members feel welcome to join the discussion and exchange ideas, it’s essential to know which of your posts inspired the most intense engagement. In the Comments section of your stats, click on Most Commented to see the posts that received the highest number of comments.
Zooming in on these posts will help you understand what kinds of content your readers react to the most. Are they your most provocative posts, or the most personal? The ones where you announce exciting news, or those where you explicitly asked for audience feedback?
It’s a good idea to keep track of this stat to see if you can move the needle over time, and to check how changing things around — for example, by tweaking your comment moderation policies or discussion settings — affects readers’ behavior on your site.
Keep an eye on Reader referrals
One indirect — but very useful — way of checking your visibility in the larger blogging community is tucked right into the Referrers section of your stats. While it’s a good idea in general to know what sites send visitors your way, looking at how many arrive via the WordPress.com Reader can be especially meaningful.
There are two ways to make your posts appear on someone else’s Reader feed: either they follow your blog, or they’re running a search for a term you’ve used to tag your posts. A particularly low number of people finding your content through the Reader suggests you might want to tweak your tagging strategy (or to simply start tagging, if you haven’t up to now). You could also consider adding a Follow Blog Widget somewhere prominent on your site.
Keeping track of this stat — both the total number of views you get via the Reader and their relative share in your overall audience — will help you determine whether you’re making your posts as visible and easy to discover as you can. As your engagement in the community increases, so should the number of people who follow and read your posts on the Reader.
We hope these tips will help you as you plan your next post (or even next month’s editorial calendar)! If you’d like a more comprehensive overview of stats and how they work, be sure to read our five-part Stats Wrangling series.