The internet is a big place. There are some 400 million blogs on the internet, but if you grant that only 1% are worth anyone’s time and are updated by their creators, that’s still 4 million blogs. It’s important to get your blog noticed, but do go about doing so correctly, you need to know some information. How long are people staying on your blog? How many unique visitors do you have? What’s your most popular post? This kind of information is invaluable, and Nina Amir on How to Blog a Book tells you how to get it in “Use Blog Analytics to Stay Focused On Your Blogged Book’s Performance:”
Where to Watch Your Metrics
I’ve heard differing opinion about what metrics to watch. For a number of years I was told to rely only on Google Analytics. I was told this was the most reliable analytics program. (And I’ve told my clients to rely only on Google Analytics for this reason.)
Recently, however, I was shown a discussion in a forum where several SEO experts refuted this. They said the most reliable and up-to-the-minute stats you could receive were those on your own server, like Awstats, a common hosting company analytics program.
I can tell you there is a huge difference between what the two programs report. I find the numbers recorded by Google Analytics to be considerably lower than those recorded by Awstats.
I am happy to use my Awstats program analytics numbers in my book proposals. However, month to month, I have been watching Google Analytics, which, I must admit, are somewhat depressing. Since seeing the forum discussion, though, I have begun once again to record the Awstats figures as well. (I, personally can’t tell you which are better; if someone has a definitive answer, I’d love to hear it.)
You can also use other analytics programs, such as Sitemeter.com, which is also free. You can get metrics from an RSS feed program, like Feedburner.com, as well.
Once you have your metrics-recording system, the three most important metrics are unique visitors, time on site, and popular posts. They are each self-explanatory, but between these three simple statistics you can figure out what content works and what content does not quite easily. As you experiment with new things, keep an eye on these three stats!
The “exit page” statistic can also be interesting. It tells you on what pages your readers are leaving your website. In general, this stat will not mean much, but if you always seem to have a certain page through which people exit your site and go do something else, you could really benefit from exploring why that might be.
Do you have questions about blog analytics? Want to know about more analytics services? Submit your questions and comments below, and read the rest of Ms. Amir’s article.