We have mentioned a couple of the big things you can find in Performancing Metrics, there are other seemingly smaller items though that pack a big punch collectively. Sometimes you can make a lot of progress by gradual tweakage and if you are lucky your stats can work like your own psychic hotline to your audiences thoughts.
Obviously the best way of finding out what your readers think is to ask them but you can tell a great deal from your Metrics and they are especially good for seeing trends over time. The better you understand what people want the better you can serve your audience.
Here are some things to look at occasionally to make sure you are on the right track.
- Length of visit vs outbound link clicks – how long people stay on your blog is a good indication of how interesting they find the content. Many blogs are practically designed to send their traffic away as soon as they arrive by using a “lots of links” posting style or by pushing the advertising. Longer posts might help but then again they might not necessarily be the solution, it could be a problem with your navigation – how easy is it to navigate to other posts or the homepage from deep in your blog?
- Popular Posts and Number of Comments – these are the best indicators of what your visitors are interested in. Visitors that are arriving from the outside are coming because of your promotion skills, those from the inside were attracted by your headline writing skills usually (although there are those who just click down from top to bottom looking at everything). The number of comments is also a decent measure of interestingness but you need to be aware that not all posts are “commentable” and as Nick likes to say, people like talking about themselves and will jump at any chance.
- Referrers – your referrals are people to keep happy and warmed up. You need to keep consistent sources of traffic very happy indeed by both commenting on their blog and linking back. It is not a bad idea to see if there are trends in the sort of content they like to link to and throwing them a post that matches their taste on occasion. Links out are similar, if your audience likes a certain type of link then make sure you give them what they want. Don’t worry about losing traffic, they will like to return to get more of your great links.
- Browsers – not one to get too sweaty about but worth a glance just once. Not so much for what browsers your audience are using but for which they are NOT using to view your blog. Most blog templates are very cross browser friendly but you would be amazed how many I have seen that have major glitches in IE, Firefox or are unusable on a Mac.
- Timing – you need to aim to get your best content up every day before the bulk of your visitors arrive. You might also find that there is a best day to get linked, a slow news day or a day where you get the majority of your comments.
I am not for a minute suggesting you spend lots of time on this every day. The occasional drill down your stats though could make a world of difference in understanding what your audience want from you.
What are your Metrics telling you?