HOWTO: Metrics As An Early Warning System

Unsurprisingly with the amount of activity around Performancing Towers I have been neglecting my personal blogs recently. As a consequence looking at my Metrics for my favourite blog this morning makes for depressing reading. There are several features of Metrics that can be used as an early warning system though, perhaps my blogs are not doing as badly as I initially think?

When you first go into your blogs Metrics reports you see the Dashboard. This gives you an overview of what is going on with your blog. I can see right away my photography blog is in poor health. Initially all your small graph widgets will be set to 1 week. To get a picture to see if my traffic is in fact declining or improving I need to “zoom out” to two weeks, three weeks or four weeks. On the two weeks I can clearly see my traffic peaked the thursday before last and has been in steady decline ever since. Hmm .. not good. On the three week view it seems last week was slightly ahead of the week before overall, maybe some hope? Oops, no, on the four week view Week 1 was way ahead; my traffic has been declining all month, that one good day must have been a temporary rally. The Visitors graph set to a duration of a month shows an overall decline with a peak on the 9th. 

Before I jump to conclusions I need to see if the rest of my Metrics agrees with these symptoms. Next thing I look to other than raw visits is comments. This months average per day is 3.75 with an average per post of 2.42.  Last month had an average per day of 3.86 and average per post of 2.45. So slightly down on comments. As well as less visitors my blog is less “interesting”. Great.

So it seems I have done some damage to my blog. Thankfully I know why, I haven’t been posting and have left the other members of my blog to keep it going. While one member has posted every day (the picture a day challenge) he is very new to blogging and his grammar is … well sometimes it is very hard to understand what he is saying. Without me editing his posts or posting up good content my membership is starting to slide. Anyone was originally attracted to my blog will be mightily bored by this apparent change of direction. In theory though the remedy is for me to get back writing again.

How could I have prevented this happening?

First off I should keep posting or get the other members of my blog up to speed on what constitutes interesting, quality posts. This is a time management and training issue. Ideally I should have done this before I had decent traffic.

Secondly I should have been monitoring my metrics and making myself aware of what the numbers should look like. It is important to get a feel for the “pulse” of your blog. I do know my best day is Thursday and my worst days are the weekends even when all things are good. If the traffic does not go up from Wednesday to Friday right away I should know something is going wrong. Same with comments, I should see several comments a day and overall that number should be increasing, if comments slow I should pick that up before rot sets in.

Your visitors will tell you what they do and do not like, don’t let them get to the point where they have to vote with their feet like I have!

2 thoughts on “HOWTO: Metrics As An Early Warning System

  1. You did not mention the repeating visitors who might give you some support. The same with feed subscribers. Not publishing gives you a decline because new visitors stop to roll in. The case is that fresh articles are higher on the tagrolls of i.e. or Technorati.

    As long as repeat visitors are loyal you still have a chance 🙂

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