What I’ve Learned About Blogging Based On A Year’s Worth Of Data

I didn’t really get serious about blogging until the past year, and even then, I haven’t written as much as I would like.  Like many bloggers, I’ve gone in and out of writing, and that doesn’t help with maintaining a consistent flow of traffic to your blog.  At the end of the day, driving eyeballs to my blog isn’t really the ultimate goal, writing useful and appreciated content is.  But I like anyone loves to see people visit.  So I decided to dive deep into the analytics of my blog to get a true understanding of what has worked, what hasn’t, and pulling the curtain so that you can hopefully find some insights that you can find useful in your own blogging endeavors.

Let’s start with the following tables.  I’ve embedded them as images since WordPress doesn’t play too nice with real tables (please, anyone with any insights on this one, do share!).  My analysis and thoughts follow.

articles

These were the top 10 visited blog articles I wrote in the past year.  3 of these were lists (no surprise there).  Most achieved a Postrank of higher then 6, and 9 out of the 10 articles dealt with social media.  For those not familiar, Postrank is a nifty little WordPress plugin that provides some analysis into the social engagement factor of the content you create.  For more details on how they reach these measurements, see here.

traffic

In this table we have the top 10 sources of traffic including time spent on the site and bounce rate.  Based on these figures, Linked In is where I’m attracted my strongest audience followed closely by Twitter.  There’s differentiating opinion on what a good bounce rate is, but overall, mine is not where I would like it to be which means I most likely need to focus more on a specific topic.

keywords

Here’s the top 20 keywords that were used to find my site once again including time spent on the site from those searches, and the correlating bounce rates.

Based on the data above, here is what I’ve learned:

1. Use Concise & To The Point Titles – All 10 of my top blog posts in the past year have titles that were to the point.  Bottom line, make sure your readers know what you are linking to, and it’s more likely they’ll visit.

2. Stick To Writing What You Know – The bottom line is anytime I strayed away from blog articles about topics I had a relatively deep experience with, my traffic suffered.  9 of my top 10 blog articles are social media related.  It can be tempting to use your blog to rant about things, but if you are interested in building an audience, focus on a specific topic.

3. Find An Angle & Run With It – One of the most compelling things I found in my research, was around the topic of WordPress Social Media Plugins.  Based on the keyword research, it’s clear that the most impactful blogging I did was around this topic.  My bounce rates plummeted on these blog articles down to a healthy average around 50%, and these visitors spent the most time on my site.  It’s clear based on this data, that I’m providing content that resonates with those that find me through these keywords.  I should be focusing on this area more in my writing.  When you find your niche, don’t stop there, be as specific as you can.  Find ways to take those niches, and make them even more specific.  You’ll find a nice little audience waiting.

4. Be Timely – In my Olive Garden Facebook post, I wrote immediately following stumbling across the scammy offering in my news feed.  I garnered a quick audience on this post, and it was one of the most shared articles on my site.  It struck a cord with people, and I was the first (and really only) person to dedicate a blog post to it.  Of course I added a social media spin to it to make it more relevant to my blog, but at the end of the day, I drove quite a few new people to my blog and I would imagine a few new readers in the process.  This article alone still brings people to my site as shown in the keyword data above.  Of course this is not the most relevant audience as also seen in the time spent and bounce rates, but still contributes to overall traffic numbers.

5. Share Your Ah-Ha Moments – Back when the iPhone only supported one Exchange account, I was frustrated with not being able to use Exchange with both my work and Gmail accounts.  I had to dig deep to find a solution, and being frustrated with their not being an easier way to solve, I felt compelled to share my findings in a blog post.  As the data shows, I get a good % of my traffic just from this one blog post.  Now the smart thing for me would be to combine this approach with my bread and butter topic of WordPress Social Media plugins.  My guess is those would be very successful blog posts.

There’s obviously more to be learned here, but this is a start for me to try and improve my blogging approach.  Numbers are never the be all end all, so only use them to compliment other methods in measuring what works for your blog, but ensure you have free tools like Google Analytics and Post Rank set up so that you can quickly and easily get a pulse of your audience.

I'm a 20 year veteran of digital marketing & owner/founder of Socialistics, a content marketing agency. My spare time is filled with writing, baseball, my boys and everything Seattle has to offer.

12 comments On What I’ve Learned About Blogging Based On A Year’s Worth Of Data

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  • Jason, this is a great post. Love the fact that you took us behind the scenes, and it really did get me thinking about my own blog and posts…Your 5 ‘discoveries’ are super helpful.

    Thanks for the time, effort, and energy…

  • Thanks for the kind words Scott. Definitely took more time to put this post together and appreciate the comment. Ironically enough, I knew this post wouldn’t get the social media love that a list would, but I think it’s valuable information that people will appreciate over time.

  • Jason, I enjoyed reading your post and can tell you spent a lot of time with it. Like scottsausce commented it made me thing about my own blog posts. I have the tendency to want to rant about non blog specific issues, but as you said “if you are interested in building an audience, focus on a specific topic.”

    Thanks again for the great read!

  • Thanks Jeremy. Love your blog theme. Looks real sharp. I’ll have to check out that Foursquare badge thing you have going on. Of course I’ll have to start using it more.

  • Ha, I just put that up today. Found it from a post on Tripwire Overview of New WordPress Plugins in August 2010 http://bit.ly/b2FTpS

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  • Jason, great post…thanks for the sharing the postrank plug in as well. Here are a few more tips I have learned over my 5 years of blogging. I have made huge mistakes and learned from them.

    One – Stay focused on your topic and create several blogs if you have to. I use WordPress and my hosting provide (siteground.com) offers hosting for $9.95 with domain registration for the first year. My main blog is http://www.stuartcrawford.com and my marketing blog of IT Professionals is http://www.mspmarketing.ca. But I have more at http://www.calgaryentrepreneurs.ca for Entrepreneurship in Calgary and another at http://www.smallbusinessblog.ca for Canadian Small Business.

    Each blog has a different focus and purpose. Great for SEO as well.

    Second major lesson. Be inviting. Never sell but invite others to connect with you. This is huge and a way to get great followers.

    You covered all the other lessons learned.

    Cheers

    Stuart Crawford
    Calgary, AB
    403.775.2205

  • Thanks for stopping by Stuart. I can barely find enough time to manage one blog let alone 3! If I did, I totally agree. I’m always wanting to start another but just know I’d never be able to keep it up.

  • Jason, really really interesting, thanks for sharing. I’ve been planning to do a “what I’ve learned about blogging” post as well, but haven’t gotten around to it; in part because I have only recently become more consistent in terms of publishing daily.

    The content issue is, of course, always relevant. I think for a lot of us, the tough question becomes, do we write what WE want to write about, or do we write about what will drive traffic? Of course it makes sense to focus on a topic or theme, and invariably the data will show that’s what people are interested in (and Stuart has great tips below as well). On the other hand, we have so many facets to our personalities and if a personal blog is not for sharing all those facets, then what is it for?

    (That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. :))

    I’m curious as to your opinion of the bounce rate. Yes, I’ve read Google’s documentation, etc. But for a blog that is not ostensibly selling anything, what parameters should one put in place? Any thoughts/tips much appreciated.

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