What your blog stats mean and why you should care

Laptop with Google Analytics on the screen

A lot of people told me that they found my post on how to make your blog content not suck post helpful, so I thought I’d do another digital content-type post aimed at bloggers, this time about a blogger’s greatest obsession:

Stats.

Bloggers are always worried about their stats. By ‘stats’, they usually mean page views – but page views are only a small part of the analytics story.

This post is not about how to get more page views. I have a smallish blog with smallish page views, and I’m totally okay with that. I also don’t think obsessing over stats is particularly helpful, and it can take a lot of joy out of blogging. However, your blog analytics can tell you important, interesting and, most importantly, FUN* things about your blog.

*May not actually be fun unless you’re a bit of a digital nerd.

How to get your stats

The two biggest blogging platforms, WordPress and Blogger, will give you some basic stats – page views, visitors, referrers, etc. If you want to get into some crazy analytics sh*t, you can set up Google Analytics tracking on your blog. That’s where the fun really begins. Ever wanted to know how many of your users accessed your most recent blog post using a Samsung SM-A500G Galaxy A5? Google Analytics can tell you that.

Should you care? Maybe. More on that later.

It’s easy to set up a Google Analytics account – you can find out to get started on the Google Analytics website.

There’s also some useful information about how to add Google Analytics to WordPress sites on the Shout Me Loud website (note that this is only for self-hosted WordPress.org blogs – Google Analytics integration isn’t available for free WordPress blogs). You can find tips for setting Google Analytics on Blogger sites on Wikihow.

Anyway, back to the fun stuff. Here are some useful analytics that you might want to measure:

Page views

What they are: Page views are…err…the number of times a page has been viewed. It’s the number bloggers obsess over the most.

Why you should care: Your page views give you an indication of what type of content is resonating with your readers. Do you get lots of views on your controversial posts, or are your funny posts more popular? Page views are a useful way of finding out what content people like so you can create more stuff like that.

DO NOT waste time comparing your page views to other bloggers’ page views and feeling bad about yourself. That’s when analytics go from being useful to being toxic. Every blog is different and grows at its own rate.

You are doing awesome, trust me.

Average time on page

What it is: Pretty self explanatory, this one.

Why you should care: Generally, longer is better – this means that people are actually reading and engaging with your content. If they only stay on page for a few seconds, it could be an indication that the content wasn’t what they were looking for or what they expected it to be when they clicked on the link.

Bounce rate

What it is: The percentage of people who landed on a page and then f***ed right off (or the percentage of single-page visits).

Why you should care: Most blogs probably have a fairly high bounce rate – people click on a link to a post in a linky or on social media, read it, maybe comment, then go away. But if you write a post that’s so amazing that they want to go through your archives and read more, then you’ve piqued their interest and your bounce rate goes down. WIN.

Referrers

What they are: Other websites that have referred traffic to your site.

Why you should care: Find out where most of your traffic comes from and focus on those sites. Are you posting equally to both Facebook and Twitter but getting hardly traffic from Facebook? Maybe you should double up your Twitter efforts. Is a particular linky sending lots more traffic to your site than another? Focus on the linky that’s working for you.

Devices

What they are: Remember how I mentioned the Samsung SM-A500G Galaxy A5 earlier? Google Analytics can not only give you a breakdown of your blog traffic by general device (desktop, mobile and tablet), but also by specific type of mobile device.

Why you should care: As awesome as that is, you probably don’t really need to know how many people accessed your blog on an iPhone 6, for example. That being said, it IS helpful to know how much mobile traffic you’re getting.

Why?

The more mobile traffic you get, the more important it is to make sure that your site is mobile-friendly. WordPress allows you to visualise your site in desktop, tablet and mobile mode. DO IT.

More than half my traffic comes from mobile devices – which is crazy considering that I didn’t even have a phone that was capable of accessing a blog (or any site, really) until like a year ago. I was a bit late to the smartphone party.

Users flow

What it is: This Google Analytics report visualises the paths that users took through your site and where along their paths they exited.

Why you should care: It’s really interesting to see how users move through your site. Where are they dropping off? What are they going on to do after reading a post? Do certain posts encourage them to keep moving through your site better than others?

This report looks like a bit of a twisty mess, but if you can make sense of it, you can get some really useful information about your users’ journeys through your blog. Do what you can to make those journeys smooooth.

And now, the most important thing to remember about stats…

Numbers only tell part of the story.

Maybe your last post had low page views because it was a bit s**t. Or maybe (more likely) it was because you forgot to post it on Twitter. Or you didn’t join as many linkys that week. Or because one of your plugins is conflicting with another plugin and messing with your stats.

In short, the numbers don’t really mean anything without a bit of context.

Also, always remember that you’re more than your stats. Maybe only one person read your last post, but if it brightened up their day or made them feel a bit less alone, then it was worth you writing it.

Blog for the pleasure of writing, for the opportunity to be part of a community, for the emotional outlet, for the satisfaction you get in managing your own little corner of the internet. Don’t blog for stats. There’s no fun in page views.

Diary of an imperfect mum
The Pramshed

28 Replies to “What your blog stats mean and why you should care”

  1. I was very curious to see this post. You are so right saying that enjoying blogging is much more important than page views! I was so obsessed with it at first. Normal for a newbie I suppose? Now I am more relaxed about it but it’s always so exciting when I break my record LOL. #StayClassyMama

  2. As I’m not self hosted yet, I haven’t looked much further than page views and referrers- it’s easy to get obsessed with just those! Learning something new about this blogging lark all the time! Thanks xx #ablogginggodtime

  3. I obsess over stats and berate myself if I don’t better myself month on month. Ridiculous really and probably means I lose sight of what is important – great content. Great post – really interesting and this will certainly help other bloggers #stayclassy

  4. “Maybe only one person read your last post, but if it brightened up their day or made them feel a bit less alone, then it was worth you writing it.” – very wise and something to remember! I’ve just discovered the stats bit on my wordpress and I have to admit, I’ve become a bit obsessed at looking at it. I will try and remember this vital bit of advice. Thank you #ablogginggoodtime

  5. Oh I agree, I blog because I love creating in written format. However I also love stats! Whether it’s football or blogging, I click to view my stats about 15 times a day. They aren’t huge, I’m only 5 months in, but to see them improving on a monthly basis excites me and adds to the whole fun of blogging. If it ever became not fun then I’d adjust my mindset but currently I’m enjoying the whole experience. Great post – Good links too, very helpful 🙂

    #StayClassyMama

  6. Coffee & Bubbles says: Reply

    Some good points made and really well written so easy to read. I try not to get too hung up on stats but it’s difficult. I just want to wave a flag and shout “look at me! Come and read my waffling!” It’s all good fun though. #stayclassymama

  7. Oooh fab post. I don’t have google analytics but now I think I need it! Thanks for sharing this 🙂 #StayClassyMama

  8. I like to tell myself I’m not a stay watcher! I totally am but this past month I have really properly started not to care. I’m ironing out what I like to write about and I’m hoping I’ll be happy with that. I’ll still look at stats though just care less! I best not start with Google stats!! #bloggingoodtime

  9. One of the most fun things about GA to me is being able to see where in the world my readers come from. It never ceases to amaze me when I get hits from some far flung country that I never heard of. #stayclassy

  10. Very good point – ‘blog for the pleasure of wiritng’, totally agree stats just make you feel poo! Fab post #blogginggoodtime

  11. Fab tips, I have been paying more attention to my Google Analytics just lately, after previously just looking at page views. #ablogginggoodtime

  12. Okay. I am bookmarking this post and learning more and more about stats, google analytics, and what not. Thanks so much for this post It is obvious you are one #stayclassymama

  13. Great post – I don’t have massive page views , but my bounce rate is ( I think) pretty ok. Hard not to think only about views but as always comparison is the thief of joy !

  14. A great post and very interesting – definitely think you will be getting a few appreciative thanks for this one sweet!
    Thanks for linking to #ablogginggoodtime #triballove

  15. It’s important to remember you’re more than your stats, I frequently get disheartened and this was a nice reminder that it doesn’t really matter!

    #ABloggingGoodTime

  16. I always read blogging about blogging posts but to be honest I find some of them a bit scary, and they end up making me feel like I’m not doing enough to promote my content on every single social media website ever, however, what I like about yours is that they are interesting and well written, but also a reminder that stats aren’t everything. I like the fact that you’ve focused on some of the more interesting things Google Analytics can teach us other than simply numbers of page views. Keep them coming! #fortheloveofBLOG

  17. Thank you for this post. It has helped me to understand my stats a bit more, I wasn’t sure what bounce rate was, now I know, thanks x
    #fortheloveofBLOG

  18. I wasn’t really bothered with stats (truly!) Until I got alerts saying my site was booming and now I like to keep track on the posts that work. Your so right- some insightful info to be seen from stats but the content is always the most important thing! #fortheloveofBLOG

  19. I do love see posts you do. I didn’t know about the useable flow, very interesting that I will have to look into. I know the message about stats is spot on and I do try not to care, yet sometimes you can’t help it.. Xx #ablogginggoodtime

  20. Checking stats is definitely addictive, most of my problem is I have no idea what ‘good’ looks like! How many pageviews is a good number?! At the end of the day though like you say, if you’re blogging for pleasure it doesn’t really matter what your stats look like. #stayclassymama

  21. I’m so glad you shared this. To be honest I had been wondering g what bounce rate meant for the longest time but was too emba6to ask anyone! #stayclassymama

  22. I pretend I don’t really care about stats sometimes but I really do and sometimes low stats on something I thought was pretty good can really get me down. That said, most of all I agree with the part you day we should blog because you enjoy it and really that is why most of us started to blog. It certainly is my case and obviously yours. Thanks for sharing your insight into analytics. #ablogginggoodtime

  23. Thanks for this post. It’s useful and a good reminder. As a newbie blogger I’m getting a bit overwhelmed and keep checking my stats and then get disappointed when some posts are lower than others. It’s good to remember to just write for me rather than get too bogged down in it all. Thanks also for the explanations etc, I’ve never looked at user flow before so will try to understand that some day soon!
    Thanks again!
    #fortheloveofBLOG

  24. Im very new to blogging and have just gone self hosted so this is a great read and helps me know what to look for. Keep these type of blogs coming #fortheloveofBLOG

  25. love this post and especially your definition of bounce rate which is how I mentally see it! Very helpful thank you so much #fortheloveofBLOG

  26. This is really helpful, I get lost in all the terminology! I know I should pay more attention to stats, its not that I don’t care about them because I do care that people read my posts its just I can’t be bothered with the technicalities of it all! I feel good when I receive nice/funny comments more than when I see a number on the dashboard. #stayclassymama

  27. This is such an awesome post and a really useful reminder that we shouldn’t obsess too much about stats xx #ablogginggoodtime

  28. Fab post, and one that I should send round to some people at work! Ha ha! You’re right page views are not everything, although I love it when I get a spike in page views when the linky goes live, and I worry when I don’t get more than 50 a day. However that’s not what blogging is about, no one has ever asked me what my daily page views are. For now I’m sticking with the WordPress stats, that’s enough for now, I don’t think my site or my head needs to add GA. A really useful post that I hope a lot of people will find interesting. Thanks so much for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x

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