I recently upgraded my Statcounter stats package and now have oodles of information about the visitors to my blog and more importantly which key words bring 'casual' visitors to my blog.
What does Statcounter tell me
Statcounter has the most comprehensive range of statistics I've seen so far. These include the following (right click on each link to identify what it means and what benefit it offers). Alternatively click on this link "Features" which explains all the different aspects on one page.
- popular pages - this enables me to identify those pages which get the most visits - which interestingly doesn't always turn out as I expect which provides me with a lesson or two. This then tells me something about what people find interesting or not as the case may be.
- It's particularly good at highlighting popular subject matter.
- It's also great for identifying if the feed is malfunctioning in some way if a potentially important page just doesn't seem to be getting readers.
- I'm also now using this to repeat links to popular posts at the bottom of my blog page (scroll down the bottom and take a look). However I don't include those which are rating highly for no obvious reason or where I suspect a page has received extra 'help' with the number of hits it gets.
- came from - This particular indicator tells me how people are finding my blog and which sites generate referrals for my blog. For example, people who have my blog in their blogrolls appear in this list. It's also very helpful because it also ranks sites by the percentage of referrals they produce so I can see which are more and less important. It also helps me to guage how I've achieved my objective of reducing my dependance on just one site for traffic.
- For example, for a long time my only presence on the internet was as a member of the art forum Wet Canvas. I started this blog after I realised that virtually all the traffic for my website came from just one source - Wet Canvas. Now having always subscribed to the notion of not putting all your eggs in one basket, I decided I needed to try and find alternative ways of reaching a wider potential audience for my work. This blog was the first result of that strategy and my stats now tell me that I now get a huge amount of traffic from all over the internet. Wet Canvas produces about 1-2% of the traffic for this blog and has reduced very dramatically as a source of traffic for my website. Other sources have increased dramatically with one of the primary sources being this blog.
- What I'm finding very interesting is just how important my various squidoo lenses (Resources for Artists) are turning out to be as feeder sites for this blog and my website. I think this is probably because they rank well within squidoo and on Google.
Traffic from search engines is the lifeblood of most websites, and many webmasters are familiar with the importance of ranking high in search engines for keywords relating to their site. This tool allows you to view the keywords used to reach your site, ranked by their popularity. This can help you identify keywords that are working, and those that aren't, so that you can optimise accordingly.
- keyword analysis - last week I wrote about why it is important to use labels in Blogger and the importance of keywords. My aim is to write for people who are interested in the same things I'm interested in so I naturally want to know whether they find out about my blog posts.
- This particular indicator helps me look at the impact of keywords and to understand whether or not my posts get highlighted in the search engines for those people who search using key words relevant to my posts. I can drill down and see the searches made, which blog posts they related to and how long people stay to read them.
- One thing which has been very positive is the way in which the name of the blog has made a massive climb up the listings of key words to very near the top which suggests to me that people now just key in the name to access it.
- I'm also very pleased that my very long list of keywords now contains a broad coverage of various keywords all of which are very relevant to the art world - and all of which relate to topics covered by this blog. In other words the key words reflect me and my interests and I'm happy with that.
- recent keyword analysis - I find this one helpful to tracking sources of new referrals to my blog. For example, if I get a surge on one particular keyword - as has happened a few times - I find that it's usually because somebody has linked to a post on my blog, is using it as a reference for a project and all those participating are now turning up to read the relevant post! (Hi Marion and thanks for the links!)
- visit length - I keep a close eye on this one. Lots of hits but visitors who stay for less than 5 seconds means a site is not effective at drawing people in. One that has got significant numbers of visitors staying for more than 5 minutes is much more effective so I look at this one to see how long visitors spend on my site. What I've found very gratifying however is to see the growth in the relative proportions of people who spend longer periods on my site (eg 20+ minutes / 1+ hour) which is of course endorsed on a regular basis by the comments I get from those who've just spent two hours reading my blog!!! I write much longer blog posts than most people so it's a concern for me in terms of whether long posts turn people off. The message seems be that on the contrary that long and informative posts can do well.
- returning visits - getting lots of hits can be very satisfying on the face of it but not if they don't stay long and never return. How many make a return visit is one of the significant indicators for me. What I'm looking at is the growth in returning visitors over time. I get a lot of casual visitors - which is not surprising because of the breadth of interests I have and key words I use - however both the number and the proportion of returning visitors is rising over time in a steady way - which is very pleasing.
I use more than one source of statistics for my blog site as I find they all give slightly different results. Since I'm one of those nerdy types who quite likes looking at numbers, I try and work out why this is. Forgetting to set the blocking cookie for your own IP address is of course an old favourite for newbies!
What is a blocking cookie? A blocking cookie is stored in your browser to prevent your own visits to your websites from being logged by StatCounter - this ensures that your sites' stats are not skewed by your own visits.Statcounter is a webware product of an Irish software firm based in Dublin and has the advantage of giving you lifetime summary stats for all visitors and exceptionally detailed stats for a specific number of 'last visitors' to your site. You get detailed information for the last 500 visit for free and can then upgrade beyond that for a fee.
The man who started Statcounter 16 years ago (when he was just 16!) seems to make a habit of winning awards. Earlier this year Aodhan Cullen was named the Young IT Person of the Year at the ICT Excellence Awards and in July he won Businessweek's Young Entrepreneur of the Year in Europe.
Cullen's company stood out for its strong growth. StatCounter currently has more than 1.5 million users and tracks more than 9 billion page views per month across its network of 2.2 million Web sites. Cullen won't discuss revenues for the privately held company, but says he's signing up 1,500 new members per day. That helps explains why Alexa Internet Web Search (AMZN), which ranks sites by traffic, currently lists StatCounter as the 34th-most-visited site in the U.S., ahead of household names like Adobe (ADBE), Dell (DELL), and Wal-Mart (WMT), as well as Internet fixtures such as CNET Networks (CNET), Ask.com (IACI), and Expedia (EXPE).What's interesting is that Statcounter's success comes from targeting its product at people operating smaller sites - people who want the information but don't want the cost associated with some of the products on the market. I'm very happy with the information I'm now getting and am happy to endorse this product for those who want to know more.
BusinessWeek 17th July 2007 (McGraw-Hill company)
And just for the record, this post is completely unsolicited. I'm not an associate of or have any other connection with Stat Counter - I just think it's a good product which is worth highlighting.
Note: The small pen and ink drawing of a baby pineapple will be appearing in a rather large mat as a portfolio work at an exhibition near me next week. See details in tomorrow's post!