Suzy: Week 18 Goals – Visitor Tracking

Suzy's Goals for her travel blog, Week 18 - Understand site statistics
18 December 2009 Post Author:
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If you’re wondering what this Case Study is all about, please read the introductory post from Week One.

You can browse through all the older installments here.

Last week we talked about how Suzy is considering writing an eBook or two as another source of revenue from her travel blog.

This week we’ve reached the last level of the Flow Chart, about Knowing Your Stats. Today’s installment is about why Suzy should track her site visitors behavior, and how to do so.

Tracking your site’s performance and visitor behavior goes by a few different monikers – site analytics, site statistics, performance tracking, etc. What it boils down to is knowing a few important pieces of data:
Each step in the Flow Chart links to explanations, free tools, and resources

  • How many people visit your site daily (weekly, monthly);
  • How many of those people are repeat visitors vs. new visitors;
  • How people found you (what links or search terms brought them to your site);
  • How long they spent at your site;
  • How many and what pages they viewed while they were at your site;

Most of the tools you can use to track your site’s statistics also offer other data, but these are the primary metrics you’ll want to pay attention to.

So Why Should You Track Site Statistics?

Not knowing how your travel blog is doing is a bit like owning a store, and then not paying attention to whether or not anyone is shopping there, what they’re buying (or not buying), or if they leave without buying anything at all. Would you keep stocking items that no one wants to buy? Would you wonder why they leave?

By paying attention, you can make changes that will keep your site improving. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling blue widgets or blogging about Tahiti. If you’re not continually responding to what people *do* at your site, you will impede your own potential.

Are you focused on the right keywords? You’ll know by looking at what terms bring people to your site. You may discover keywords you hadn’t considered, but which – if you focus on them – can result in even more site visitors.

Are the number of site visitors increasing over time, but your email signups not? Perhaps your signup form isn’t prominently placed, or you’re not providing enough incentive to signup.

What articles get the most views? Which ones get the least views? Giving people more of what they like ensures that they’ll come back, and that you’ll attract new visitors.

Do people tend to read just one page and leave? That could indicate that your navigation is lacking, or that they’re not finding related content that might interest them and compel them to stay longer, or even to subscribe to your mailing list or RSS feed.

You’re site statistics will tell you a lot, if you take time to pay attention to them.

So How Do You Track Your Site Statistics?

You’re probably already familiar with the Big Kahuna of site statistics tracking, Google Analytics, but for anyone who is not currently using it, here’s all you need to know:

  1. It’s free.
  2. It’s easy to add to your site (See this Forum post for instructions: Adding Google Analytics to Your Travel Blog).
  3. It’s easy to read and understand the reports (watch this 9-minute YouTube Video Beginning Analytics: Interpreting and Acting on Your Data).

Google Analytics is all most bloggers will ever need, but for those folks that are tech-impaired, there’s an even easier option (assuming you use WordPress), which is to install the WordPress.com stats plugin. It requires a free-and-easy-to-obtain API key from WordPress to activate. The reports are not as sophisticated, and you won’t get as much data, but it’s a great way to get your feet wet with understanding what’s going on at your travel blog.

Another tool I really like is Mint. It’s not free, but only costs $30, and offers it’s own version of plugins called “Peppers” that expand on it’s basic reporting.

If you have questions about adding site tracking, or understanding your site statistics, post it in our Forum – we have several members who are real gurus when it comes to site statistics!

Stay tuned! Next week we’ll discuss how Suzy is finding out (and responding to) what people search for when they get to her travel blog – another important tool you’ll use to improve your site!

~Trisha

Do you track your site statistics? Share your advice!

4 Responses to “Suzy: Week 18 Goals – Visitor Tracking”

  1. Rebecca
    Twitter:
    says:

    Thanks for the reminder about Google Analytics. I have stats that are provided by WordPress, but I forgot to add Google Analytics.

  2. Dusty Brule says:

    I like your post, the fact that your site is a little bit different makes it so interesting, I get fed up of seeing the same old boring recycled stuff all of the time.

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