When I first started blogging I would write a post, hit publish, and then obsessively check my stats, refreshing them every few minutes, to see how many people had read my brilliant ideas. I longed for a viral post and anytime a stat went above 50 views I would give a fist pump and feel famous.
On the BDN Maine Network, we use Jetpack stats and some custom tools to give you information about how many people are reading your blog posts, and where they are coming from. This week on Maine on the Blogs we are going to take a closer look at how to read stats and talk a little bit about what those can tell us about where to put our energy into promotion.
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Why do I have two different stats for the same post?
At BDN Maine blogs, we give you your site stats in the post view. This number also includes times your posts were seen in the BDN Maine iOS and Android apps, so that number is bigger than your Jetpack number. The first number is the total number of views the post has received; the second number is the number of views the post has received in the last hour. These numbers help the BDN Maine editorial team decided what posts to promote and how long to promote them.
How do I know what my best post is?
Located directly under the bar graph in your stats are two headers called Top Posts and Top Searches. These tell you what post was viewed the most over the period of a day, week, or month, depending on how you configured your stats to calculate your total views. This numbers can tell you a couple of important things. First, you can see what posts performed the best and in what order within a set period of time. Second, under the header of Top Searches you can see what search terms people used in Google and other search engines that landed them on your page. You might be surprised to see some of the funny things people search for, but most importantly you can begin to get a sense of what kinds of tags you can edit into your posts to drive more traffic your way.
Is there a way to see all of my stats together?
If you go to your dashboard, click on the VIEW ALL under the bar graph and then click on the SUMMARY link then you will be led to a page that shows you all of your stats in one space. These stats are divided between the following categories, Months and Years, Average per Day, and Recent Weeks. These numbers are totals and do not show you titles of blog posts. At the bottom of the chart is an explanation to help you understand how WordPress calculate your totals.
Is there a way to tell where my traffic is coming from?
If you select a bar that corresponds to a specific day in your stats bar graph, you will be taken to that day’s stat details. In those details is a section called Referrers, and this is where the views are divided up between different channels from social media to search engines and even external websites that tagged your post.
The most asked question about this section is how to tell where on Facebook a post has been shared. Unfortunately, your stats in WordPress cannot give you that information, however if you copy and paste either the exact title of your post or the post’s URL into the Facebook search bar then you will find the profiles (as long as they are public) and pages that shared you.
Is there a way to see where people go to after they read my post?
On the same section in your stats that you found the Referrers there is also a section called Clicks, which is a list of links that people clicked on while reading your post. This can be helpful information if you are trying to see if people clicked on other links from your own site or to see what images, URL’s, and other information you embedded in your post that received traffic.
How can I tell if I am getting subscribers to my blog?
In your site stats section there is a header called Subscriptions that will tell you how many followers you have and how many comments these followers have left you. To increase your subscriber number you can easily go into your widgets section and set up a sidebar widget that directs people to sign up to follow your blog.
What your stats will tell you
Your stats give you vital information about the health of your blog. If you are publishing at a regular clip and you are promoting your work or taking opportunities for others to promote your work then you should see your stats climb over time.
If you find that your numbers are plateauing and you are not sure why then you can go into your stats and look at the different sections that we went over in this post. You can check to see where traffic is coming from and sometimes where it is going once it leaves your blog. You can see the search terms that land readers at your site, and you can even see the dates and times that perform the best. All of this information cam help you decide what to write and when to publish.
What your stats won’t tell you
Even with all the best algorithms in the word, there is never an absolute predictor for how well a blog post will do. You can post your most well-written and heart felt blog post in the history of all blog posts, but if readers are distracted by major events, news, weather, or whatever the case may be, then your post won’t get seen. This unpredictable nature of blogging helps to explain why the concept of making a post go viral is such a mystery.
Developing a strong voice and having faith in your writing is more important than your stats. Making sure that you feed your passion to write, and create work that is how you define good is what readers want. While stats are definitely a invaluable tool, they are not the final say in what makes a great blog post.
Now that you know a little bit more about how your stats work, we encourage you to go into your stat section and poke around for a while. See your own numbers and check out all of the neat features that allow you get an insight into how your posts are doing.
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