Bloggers, being writers at heart, are often not “numbers people” by nature. Â While I do have a passing acquaintance with basic math skills like balancing my checkbook, and actually worked as a bookkeeper a few times in my somewhat eclectic career path, Excel spreadsheets do not fill me with impish glee by any stretch of the imagination. Â
And yet, in the last couple of years, I’ve learned to embrace numbers and various mathematical calculations in the form of web analytics. Â
Why should a blogger care about analytics? Â
- Setting measurable goals. Â If you’re serious about blogging, then you need to set goals for attracting and engaging an audience. To determine success or failure to reach those goals, you need analytics data. Â
- Attracting advertisers. Â We talked about this a while back in the post on offering demographic data. Â While demographic data can make a blog more attractive to advertisers, having an accurate measurement of your traffic is the baseline for consideration for most sponsors.
- Selling stuff. Â If your blog conducts any kind of sales function at all, from eBooks to Amazon affiliate links, a basic understanding of web analytics can help you earn more from your efforts.
Clearly, it’s worth your time to learn how to obtain and interpret web analytic data. Â So let’s get started. Â
Know what you’re measuring.
Once upon a time, web traffic was measured in “hits.” Â Hits measure the number of calls to the web server for a file. Â But hits are a terrible way to measure web traffic. Â You can see a more detailed explanation of why here. Â Ask yourself what it is you really want to know. Â It’s probably something along the lines of:
- How many people have visited my site this month?
- How many of them stayed long enough to read anything?
- What do they do when they get here? Â
- How are they finding my site?
- What are my most popular posts?
Know how to get the numbers. Â
Know where to look for help. Â
There are a number of great blogs devoted to web analytics that can help you pull better insights from the data. Â Here are a few:
Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik
Dan Zarrella, apparently an early riser, caught this post and has written a really nice breakdown of using analytics for viral marketing. Â While his piece is aimed at more advanced users than this one, it’s definitely worth checking out.