Begin to improve your blog by figuring out how to use stats to help you grow. Don’t get discouraged, blog growth takes consistant work. If someone tells you otherwise, they probably also have oceanfront property for sale in Arizona.
Begin with Your Stats
If you want to begin to make changes in your blogging, you need to go about it in a scientific manner. I realize the dangers of following our blog numbers like a rabid bookie, but if we don’t know where we begin, we won’t know what works along the way.
In order to begin your journey to a better blog, you need to figure out how many people visit your blog right now. As you try the changes I’ll outline in the following 28 days, you’ll want to refer to your numbers to see what works for you and what doesn’t.
Some might promise overnight blogging success with thousands of people visiting on a daily basis. I don’t sell lottery tickets—I do reveal best practices to help you along on your blogging journey. When you begin to see movement in your growth and engagement, you can credit it to your hard work.
Because I use self-hosted WordPress as my blogging platform, I’ll use screenshots from my blog and talk about what I know. For a detailed blog post on how to set up Google Analytics for your blog, check out this great post by Kristi Hines.
If you don’t have time to figure out Google Analytics, go ahead and set it up anyway. Google can start collecting data that one day (maybe) you will find useful. If you don’t set it up, it won’t start collecting data.
For now, learn how to access JetPack analytics. If you haven’t installed JetPack on your self-hosted WordPress site, go do it now! To access your site stats, install the free JetPack plugin, and then it will show up on your WordPress administrator dashboard.
Once you click [Site Stats], you’ll see the stats for your site in a bar-graph format.
Click on the [Show Me] button to see enhanced site stats. The enhanced stats look like this and tell you how many people have visited how many pages.
How JetPack Stats Can Help You
I know, the experts, who have tons of time to dedicate to expanding their expertise, say that the JetPack stats don’t provide the same accuracy as Google Analytics. But they do provide enough for me, a full-time teacher who blogs on the side.
Go ahead and start your Google Analytics account, but pay attention to your JetPack stats on a weekly basis. Use the stats as a tool to help you chart your growth and figure out what to do more or less of. Don’t let them be the boss of your feelings and expectations, though.
For example, my most viewed post this month (and all of last year) surprised me: a recipe for Cuban black beans. I did SEO keyword research before crafting that post, and it has certainly paid off. One problem, I don’t really have a food blog.
But this stat tells me that I need to go back to that post and see how I can drive traffic to other parts of my site. Maybe I could offer an opt-in freebie or an invitation to my other healthy recipes.
Where Does the Traffic Come From?
JetPack calls the place that your traffic originates from the ‘referrer.’ Right under the bar graph of traffic, you’ll find this handy box.
When I started this blog in 2016, I had 28 search engine referrals and a whopping five (5!) Pinterest referrals. I’ve since taken two courses, one on SEO and one on Pinterest, and you can see my improvement.
Bloggers can get obsessed with the number of comments and raw numbers. We can let those numbers determine our self-worth (they shouldn’t). But JetPack’s stats help us see where we should focus our attention.
Having a high search engine referral number is a good thing. It means you write about the things people want to read. We’ll talk more about that tomorrow.
Small Changes Homework
- Set up your Google Analytics account.
- Install JetPack on your self-hosted WordPress site.
- Write down your most popular post and brainstorm ways to leverage it for more growth.
- Who refers the most traffic to your blog?
- Pat yourself on the back for any traffic gains you’ve already made.