Our series About Blogging, has moved to Tuesdays! (It will still run twice a month.) But don’t worry – Tackle It Tuesday hasn’t gone anywhere! They are just “sharing” the day. So click here or scroll down to find the latest Tackle It Tuesday.
Today we are lucky enough to have Jim Durbin of Durbin Media with us again. Jim is an expert blog consultant with a wealth of information and we are thrilled to have him writing for us. You can find him at his blog Brandstorming and at www.durbinmedia.com.
If you have specific topics or questions you would like addressed in future About Blogging posts, send them over to janice @ 5minutesformom.com (remove spaces.)
Writing a blog can be great fun, but no blogger keeps writing without a little feedback from the audience. Whether its 10 people or 10,000, knowing that someone on the other side is actually reading your words makes all the difference in the world. Feedback comes in different forms, and the purpose of this section is to teach you how to understand and analyze your traffic. We’ll begin with a definition of terms.
- Uniques: (the only measure that matters)
Unique visitors are individual IP addresses that log on to your website. The best counters track uniques and only count them once in a period of time (if someone obsessively clicks to your site, they are counted only once. New pages opening are not counted (when the counter is set right), and you can discount your own clicks on your blog. This is the best way to determine how many different people have visited your blog. 300/uniques a day pretty accurately means 300 people have visited your blog.
- Page Views:
A page view is the number of separate pages opened on your blog. It is a highly variable number, based on how you archive, how you use comment pages, and whether or not you have extended entries. It is not a good measure, but it is a common one to determine your blog traffic. When advertisers ask about traffic, they are often looking for page views a month. Average to good blogs usually have higher than 1.6 page views per unique visit.
A hit is a query from one server to the server visiting your blog. The search engines have built spiders, crawlers, and bots that go out to the web and determine when content is updated. What that means is that automated processes bring a lot of server traffic. It is not a meaningful measure of your visitor traffic. Every image, box, page, and query on your page counts as a hit, every time, which means a single visit can account for 50 hits.
- Stat Counters:
Where do you get these numbers? If you are hosting your own blog, your host will have a free stats package that is pretty accurate. If you are using a blogging service like Typepad or Blogger to host your site, consider Sitemeter, an excellent free service that is easy to understand and considered the most accurate. Do not use the Typepad statistics. They’re way off. Do be aware that all stat counters are not equal. There has been a lot of debate about the issue of accuracy, so the best thing to do is pick one counter, and track your progress over time. Don’t get too caught up in the numbers, but the general rise and fall is accurate.
- RSS Feed Subscribers:
Some visitors read your blog through an RSS reader. As these are generally your most loyal and regular readers, and it is important to track them. Using Feedburner, you can “burn’ a feed and attach it to your site. When people subscribe to your feed, you’ll be able to track the numbers. RSS feeds cut heavily into on-site traffic, as they technically aren’t coming to your blog. But many of the technically savvy people only read blogs through RSS, as it really improves your ability to surf the web.
Alexa is a website tracking system that uses a formula to track website ranking. It doesn’t track Firefox or Safari browsers. There has been a lot said about Alexa’s accuracy in general, as they only measure people who use the Alexa Toolbar, a small and biased sample. Alexa is very good for tracking general progress. A move up the Alexa ranks is a good sign, but the numbers are under-counted, if anything. And if you don’t have several million impressions to work with, Alexa warns you not to take them seriously.
To get an accurate reading, add the number of average daily visitors from a five day week (M-F with no holiday) and add 60-70% of the current number of RSS Subscribers. We say 60-70% because not everyone reads the content in their RSS feeds. Warning: Checking your Traffic is an addictive habit. Many bloggers have been known to spend more time checking their referrer blogs than actually writing posts. Rather than obsessing about traffic, more time should be spent searching out those blogs. Traffic is a tool, not an end.
There are settings in your blog software that allow you to set up spam blockers, and also to notify you of any comments. When you are first starting, proper blog etiquette suggests you e-mail new commenters and thank them for leaving a comment.
To let people contact you, consider setting up an e-mail me link on the side of your blog. Some software does this for you – others you’ll need to hard code it. It is highly suggested that you create a new e-mail address and not use your personal address. If you own a domain, you can have an e-mail address from that domain that attaches to your regular e-mail. For example, my regular e-mail address is at durbin media, but I get mail there from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Checking Referrer Logs:
If you do have a sitemeter, it’s often fun to check your referrer logs to see who has been reading your site. This tells you who came to the site (from where in the world), as well as which sites referred them. It’s an excellent way to find out who was kind enough to link you. Blog etiquette in this case suggests you e-mail people who link you and thank them (if it’s another blogger who has their e-mail address visible.)
Finally, there’s Technorati, the blog search engine. First, you should all “claim” your blog on Technorati. This allows you to tag your blog, and easily track who links to you. Second, the search engine has a default drop-down box that says, “in blog posts.” Paste the full url of your blog into the search engine, and hit return. Technorati will search the web for everyone who has linked to that url, which allows you to see what other people think of your writing.
Remember to join us in two weeks, for another installment of About Blogging.