Blog Vitals: The 5 Most Important Blogging Statistics You Must Know

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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.

 

Ramsay WROTE THIS

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41 Comments... Leave yours.

  • Joanna

    I’ve been using analytics for a while, but had no clue about the site overlay feature. However, when I went to use it, the overlay showed up on a blogger dead link page that said “The page you are trying to access at Mommy In Suburbia does not exist.” I’m using the Simple template. Could the template I’m using be the problem? I would greatly appreciate your help.

    Thanks,
    Joanna


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Hi Joanna.

      I have absolutely no idea. Do the rest of your stats work alright?

      Tyrant


      1. Joanna

        Everything else works perfectly.


        1. patricia

          It’s still in Beta…so it may not be working well yet…I know when I tried it a few weeks ago it didn’t work. Reading this made me try it again, and low and behold it works …sort of…
          All of the areas that were clicked are at 50%, but there’s 5 of them..duh…I am not that good at math but I’d say theres a slight problem there..lol


  • Lesley Rice

    You are so right, statistics are crucial. I am always really puzzled by the fact that many people don’t use them, in fact we usually make ‘first contact’ with people when they are convinced their website/store ‘isn’t working’ because they’ve made no sales. The first question is obvious – ‘how many visitors does your site have?’ A surprising number of people have no idea.

    Everyone needs to promote their business, but some markets respond to one method more than to another. You can’t know what you’re doing is working if you don’t have some figures to go on.

    I’d also suggest using Google webmaster to learn about any problems google has with the site, like pages which can’t be found, duplicate descriptions and the like.

    Of course once you have figures you can run specific tests – headlines formats, post length, text color, page design, all designed to boost your blog income.


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Great to see you commenting on the blog again Lesley!

      See you around.


  • Ritournelle

    Hi, I’d love to have stats as detailed as yours. But I’m on WordPress and I can’t install Google Analytics on my blog. Likewise, I use Statcounter but I can’t have as much detailed informations as I’d like to.
    Are there any tools I could use on WordPress to solve that problem? Thanks!


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Ritournelle I’m really not sure. If I was you I’d get my blog over to my own domain name as quick as I could. Much better for the future.


      1. Ritournelle

        Thanks for answering Blog Tyrant.
        About getting my own domain name, would you say that because it looks more professional than having “.wordpress” in the adress? I’m a new blogger so I don’t know much about these things yet.


        1. the Blog Tyrant

          Hi.

          Yeah that is one reason but there are so many more. Google doesn’t rank wordpress ones as well, you don’t actually own the site, have full control, etc.

          Good luck!


  • PPP

    The Site Overlay is so cool. I didn´t know it either.

    Thanks

    I came from Problogger and I like your site a lot.

    PPP


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Thanks PPP!


  • Carolee

    I’ve never heard of the site overlay- that looks like a cool thing to use- can it be used with WordPress?


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Hi Carolee.

      Check the comment above. Were not sure ATM.

      Sorry.

      Ramsay


  • Teddy

    Great insights. I have observed that you are not using adsense. Though I believe you have to first get the massive traffic first before getting adsense for the revenues to be worth the effort plus your site/blog’s content dictates if it is going to auger well with the readers.


  • The Desktop Analyst

    @Teddy, the adsense is at the bottom of the articles.

    Even though my site is brand new, I love checking the analytics on it. Looks like my initial Facebook assault is getting me the most traffic. I love your simple explanations of bounce rate & what else to look for. Thanks again for a great article.


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Thank you!


  • Adam @ Things to Learn

    I too am just learning about the Site Overlay option in Analytics. Just curious, did you have to activate anything when setting that up? When I click on mine, it just goes to my site and does not show the clicks.


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Yeah I’m not sure Adam. A few people have said they are having the same problem. Perhaps your code is outdated or something? I’m really not sure why that would happen.


      1. Adam @ Things To Learn

        Well, apparently it was just my browser at work. Now that I am home, it is working perfectly.


        1. the Blog Tyrant

          Internet Explorer?


          1. Adam @ Things To Learn

            Believe it or not, it was Chrome in both instances. I think there are some rigid filters at work though. I don’t think Flash is installed on those computers and that may be what the program relies on.


  • manny

    awesome post, havent finished so am bookmarking it :)


  • Lye Kuek Hin

    Ever since i was referred to your site from lickshumewahcom, i am totally attracted to your site. Your posts is really educational. I did check my stats everyday, but i seldom check on site overlay. Mainly focus on source of traffic and what people like to read. So the site overlay is something new to me. Thanks.


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Thanks!


  • Michael

    This is superb. I really enjoyed the detailed information and the adsense intergration is killer. And yes, I check my stats regularly – probably too much. But as you say it is necessary in order to stay ahead of the competition.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Michael


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      How are your adsense stats Mike? Do you get most revenue from one or two posts?


      1. Michael

        That’s a great question. It seems to be from two posts though it’s hard to give a definitive answer this early in the piece.


  • Tom | Oral Answers

    Thanks for the great post! It was straightforward and to the point.

    I am curious about your Google bounce rate. My Google visits (which is my #1 traffic source) has a high bounce rate (just over 80%). In your experience, do Google users usually bounce that much?

    Thanks!


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Hi Tom.

      80% is high but not unusual for articles coming from Google. The thing about Google is that it is highly targeted; people search and find what they are after and then leave.

      The task is to make your content and layout more sticky by getting them interested in other stuff, even if they might not have been initially.

      My best sites have BR of around 40%.

      Tyrant


      1. Tom | Oral Answers

        Thanks for the quick reply!

        I try to make my headlines pretty catchy, but I do blog about a topic that many would probably consider boring – dentistry.

        I think people search when they have a dental problem, and then they find the solution on my site and they really don’t care what else I have to say about other dental topics.


  • Tom | Oral Answers

    Have you ever tried Piwik Analytics? I installed it on my server not too long ago. So far it’s giving me about 10-15% less visitors and a slightly lower bounce rate…

    Any idea why? They both use javascript. My only guess is that some people are blocking Google scripts, but that does seem like a lot of people.


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Probably something to do with automated bots.


      1. Tom | Oral Answers

        I don’t think so. I can see the source that they came from. It appears that Google analytics isn’t counting some searches that are done. I get the keywords in Piwik, but not in GA…

        Not sure why there is the discrepancy.


  • Udegbunam Chukwudi

    The only stats I’m fond of checking are Absolute Unique Visitors, Time on Site and Bounce rate. I’ve managed to keep the time on site above 4 minutes but my bounce rate is just dying to hit 70% despite all my efforts are making that impossible ;-)


  • axel g

    Adsense is a beautiful thing.

    It’s probably been a whole year since I turned off the image ads. To my surprise, it was a positive change…

    What are your experiences of running image ads on your sites?

    Many thanks!


  • Donna Cunningham

    I take my stats very seriously, and they’ve helped so much in bulding my blog. I’ve only used wordpress’ blogstats, but Google analytics is a good tip, thanks.

    The main thing I watch are page hits for various articles, especially the part that sums hits for the week, month, year, and all time. It tells me what my readers like and what they’re not interested in, and that guides what topics I create more posts about.

    If an article that OUGHT to have been popular with my crew is ignored, I tweak the title, and that often helps. And, as I learned from ProBlogger, I put links to related posts at the bottom of the posts. That one tip from Darren sent my stats into overdrive.


  • Julie

    I have been reading up on your tips, as I am comtemplating starting my own blog. I just thought you might want to know that your title/logo and tag line are partially covered by the white text area as I view your page. =) Not sure if that’s something you can fix, or if it’s just my view set up…


    1. Tom | Oral Answers

      Hi Julie – You have to have a REALLY wide screen to see it laid out correctly. The screen needs to be about 1800 pixels wide.

      According to my Google Analytics, only about 6% of internet users will see the whole screen, so my guess is that the Blog Tyrant just added it there to fill in the otherwise empty space that a wide screen user would see…


      1. the Blog Tyrant

        Nah, I’m going to fix it. I had a header (regular style) but it look terrible.


  • Jodi

    Hi There!
    I don’t know if your analytics show this or not but it’s about 4 am and I stumbled across your website about a couple hours ago. You have me completely intrigued and bouncing around reading when I should be sleeping! Thanks for some great information. You have filled my head with ideas and I will definitely be back for more, but hopefully during non sleeping hours.
    :-)


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