Thursday, 11 March 2010

Blog Stats: Do you care?

Traffic vs Engagement & Social Networking

I am a self confessed stats geek, I have to admit.

Due to my background and experience in websites I was thrown into the world of stats around 6 years ago; First in Covent Garden in my graduate job and then working for the Ideal Shopping TV channel and then of course my fashion business and now our IT company Microbyte.  I hit the ground running, I got in at the right time and I was good. I was able to obtain stats, use them and 'exploit' so companies could target their chosen market

BUT.....

....Nothing could have prepared me for blogging.

You see there are all these indexes like Technorati and Postrank which measure your traffic and influence and I simply can't help myself! I get drawn to them like my little baby belle gets drawn to mischief or like Jordan gets drawn to fake tan. It's one of those things.

From the word go I set up stats on my blog using things like Matrix Stats and Google Analytics.  So I know I have a fair bit of traffic.  But...having a successful Blog is completely different to having a successful website or newspage, I have discovered.  Blogs aren’t newspapers. Therefore readership isn’t THE most important metric of what makes a great blog. I recently had this discussion/debate with Sally over at Who's the Mummy who compiles the Tots 100 Index. She feeds my dirty stats habit! Because I am so used to working with metrics on websites I thought the metrics on her index shouldn't be weighted equally but she did actually open my eyes a bit to the world of blogging:

"If a million people read your blog but nobody can be bothered to comment, you’re a great publisher and a great writer, but you’re not a great blogger. Someone might have a tenth of your audience, but if more people comment on that blog, write about that blog, Tweet about that blog, bookmark it to Digg etc, they’re a better blogger than you. Not a better writer, necessarily, but a better blogger"

This is the nature of blogging, it is true. I am reluctant to spend hours and hours on a blog which I do for fun but if you do want it to be popular you do have to take time to learn about Twitter, Technorati, Digg etc and if you then don't get included in certain indexes you shouldn't complain, perhaps? I know some popular bloggers spend hours a day on twitter promoting their articles and socialising but then others don't have so much time on their hands and they also have 'successful' blogs. You have to promote your blog in some way, the internet is a jungle and you won't get seen otherwise.  But is it necessary these days to spend so many hours a day on it? What are your thoughts? I know I personally do my blog for fun and for family and friends BUT I have to be honest and say that I do love getting new readers too.

14 comments:

  1. OK I am not a blog stat person at all. In fact Sally had to explain it all to me on a number of occasions. I blog for my sanity. It helps me let the things out that would otherwise fester inside and cause meny issues no doubt!!

    I love having people comment and more than that I love to inspire people to craft with their children. I never did any sort of crafts before the minimads came and they have awakened something inside me!!

    Plus my blog started as an online journal and has changed and developed as I have and our lives have.

    I value my commenters, my readers, many of whom are becoming friends very much. I do tweet, but only as when I am on the laptop. I dont spend hours on the blog, but it is my speical me time.

    I also should say that when you have experianced the health issues I have being popular isnt as imporatant as it once was!

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  2. No, I don't really care.

    If I spent any serious time promoting my blog or carrying out the kinds of networked activities that drive your numbers up, I'd never have time to write. I love comments and all but the writing is the main thing for me. That's also why I don't do rewards ("YOU HAVE WON A REWARD! PASS THIS ON TO TEN PEOPLE ALL OF WHOM HAVE TO LINK TO MEEEEEEE!") and why memes frequently get stuck in my intray and never get any further.

    I'm increasingly ambivalent about my Twitter presence too but that's another story.

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  3. Great post. And what a pretty website, I can't believe I've not seen you before!

    Nope, I don't take any notice of stats/ranks at all. I blog for me, and I enjoy the interaction with my commenters and on Twitter. That's all. I just blog for fun x

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  4. Some days I care and some days not. On days like today when the Tots 100 comes out and I drop 44 places I care, but tomorrow I won't.

    I didn't start blogging to become poplular, I never expected to be were I am but it feels good, with New Mummy I don't work at it at all, I blog from the heart.

    With New Mummy's Tips I do work a bit harder to ensure I get traffic and I started to make a small income from it.

    I lot of people care about their stats even if they don't admit it, that why meme's and carnivals are often started so they can get hits to them and links.

    Some posts I write get lots of comments and some don't. Though I do wonder if you use a comment widget and you reply to each perosn indvidually does each reply count as a comment on your blog?

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  5. The Mad House - Inspiring people to craft is a great thing! I lived in America for a few years when I was younger and the main things I took from there was the amazing crafts! They love it and so do I still to this day.

    dadwhowrites - There are a ridiculous amount of 'rewards' that go around aren't there lol I must admit I too have several I have not done yet, although I love getting them :) Twitter presence is something I am battling with myself too so would love to hear your story.

    English Mum - why thank you :) and blogging for fun I do believe is the way to go x

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  6. New Mummy - I'm like that too, some days I care and some days don't. Stats in general are of interest to me but I would still write this blog even if no-one was reading :)

    The commenting thing is an interesting one. I have noticed some people reply to every comment individually (this one I have because we posted at the same time by the way :)) Not sure if Sally/Postrank counts each IP address or each comment. They probs only count 'unique' comments I would have thought so it shouldn't make a difference x

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  7. I've seen some debate on Twitter off the back of this post with a couple of people saying "Oh, I don't think stats are the be all and end all," But really? Does anyone think that?

    I can't imagine anyone who blogs entirely because of stats and ONLY cares about stats, but being concerned about statistics, as one way of understanding how well a blog is performing? Seems sensible to me.

    I think stats are interesting. As a blogger who wants the largest possible audience and the greatest possible engagement with that audience (and I'm not ashamed to admit that at all) then I'm interested in stats.

    I want to use my blog to promote my writing, my business and my activities. I want lots of people to visit my blog, to read it, and to come back again. Given my aims, I think it's good for me to understand what my stats are telling me about my blog. They tell me what works well (in terms of my aims) and what doesn't. They suggest when it's smart to post, which posts do well, what sort of links generate most incoming traffic, all sorts of things. Understanding my stats helps me shape content that better meets my aims. Simple as.

    I get that some people don't care about rankings (entirely different subject) but I don't really understand bloggers who don't care about stats, unless they are simply writing for themselves. But then, like you, I'm a stats nerd ;-)

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  8. I am not so sure there are any accurate statistics to measure blog success. I certainly don't consider myself a particularly successful one and I'm number 2 on Sally's list currently.

    The way to the top on that list is to be a) established with four or five years of backlinks and b) have a couple of posts with a large amount of comments (I had a 100+ one recently, hence my jump up the chart I imagine, but that was a unusual event and half of those comments were me responding to others). If you don't have "a" then you can make up with it by heavy blog promotion and twitter use and the like - but as Dad Who Writes says, it's a lot of work.

    The mark of a successful blog is enjoying your writing and making real friends - and I've done that so I suppose I am successful by my own criteria.

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  9. Sally - Couldn't agree more, you would have to be crazy to blog JUST because of stats but to have an interest in them is another thing as you rightly say.

    I think it is a natural progression...when I started writing my blog I wasn't bothered (relatively) about new readers or traffic but as it grew organically I became more and more interested. I don't think anyone, if they are truthful, could be writing a blog just for themselves or they would just have a diary or a private online journal and not sign up to things such as twitter etc and link to their blog.

    It is a funny old thing blogging but I love it :)

    Dan - I think enjoying your writing is the most important thing too. When I log on to write a post I really look forward to it and it's my 'me' time :)

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  10. Like you, I'm a bit of a geek about it - I find it interesting & of course I like to see if I'm doing better week on week - that said, I'm not going to stop blogging if I have a rubbish week!

    I do think too many people take it too seriously though - it is supposed to be fun after all!

    On an unrelated not, do you watch How I met your mother?? Because in that picture, you are the spitting image of Britney Spears when she guest starred in it as a receptionist - look! http://blogs.orange.co.uk/photos/uncategorized/2008/03/26/britney_26mar08_wen_350.jpg
    xx

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  11. Oooh, and I just noticed - you have my old blog address in your blogroll - if you facy updating it to www.lifewithlittledude.blogspot.com, i'd be super duper grateful :) xx

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  12. It's good to get comments and I couldn't take the pressure of it all. I'm writing because it helps me a lot, but it is nice to get recognition.
    Great post. :0)

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  13. This is a really interesting post - specifically as I have built my career on the internet (I'm a Digital Marketing Manager) and I get paid to drive traffic to and make money through websites. However, the difference in the sector I work within (fashion/culture and previously non-profit) and the mummy blogging community is massive! They don't work in the same way at all, and I find lists like the Tots 100 so fascinating as not only do they measure the traffic of the blog but take into account the influence, too. It's been a real eye-opener I have to say!

    I guess it all comes down to the fact that you need to blog for your own personal reasons. If your stats are good, then great. If not - sod it! They're only numbers and as long as you're making yourself happy, that's the main thing :)

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  14. i have to say, that when i was in the tots100 a couple of months ago i was pretty chuffed and very surprised, because i had no clue how i'd got there, because i don't do anything like twitter etc so it must have been a fluke. therefore i have no clue how to get back on to it since being knocked off.

    i am torn, because truthfully i'd love to have loads more comments etc because i think they're really interesting, but i just honestly really don't have time to tweet etc plus i don't understand technothingy etc. which is my failing! i really like reading other blogs and comment when i can, but likewise, there are always lots of other things i should be reading. like the newspapers! congrats on being in the tots though! x

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