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Day 2: Play in traffic (site traffic)

So long as we’re near the start of a month, there’s no better time than taking a good close look at your blog’s statistics. We want to know who’s visiting, where they’re coming from, how long they’re staying, and much much more.

By watching your statistics carefully, you can learn all sorts of interesting information about your blog and your audience. For example, by studying those reports I’ve learned:
1) That my traffic drops off dramatically every weekend. People tend to visit Teach42.com during the week, and my busiest day is Tuesday. This means that if I have something I want to publish that I really want people to read, if I publish it on Tuesday morning I have the best chance of reaching the most people.
2) Despite the fact that I work exclusively in Firefox, and do all my design and planning in Firefox, over 2/3 of my readers are still using IE. This means that I absolutely MUST double check all of my design and theme work in IE to ensure that I know what most of my readers are seeing.
3) That I get as many hits by people searching for “Jeopardy Questions” as I do for most other search terms combined. Not sure how useful it is, but it certainly provides some insight to what’s hot on your blog and how people are getting there.
4) The vast majority of my readers come, read an article and then leave. Most don’t stay and explore the site very often. Based on this, I can either A) try to take actions to make my site more sticky, or B) optimize my site for in-and-out users.

You get the idea. You can never have too much data about your site and it’s easier than you might think to get good data. If you’re using a hosting company like Bluehost (my hosting company) or Dreamhost, you more than likely already have access to great site traffic tools like Webalizer and Analog. Just go into your control panel and look around for them. Often you need to turn them on before it will start collecting data for you.

If you don’t have access to those tools, you can install them for free provided you know your way around Unix. Otherwise, you can take advantage of tools like Sitemeter. Just put their widget somewhere on your site, and it’ll start logging traffic for you. Some of the stats are available to the general public. It’s how SiteMeter advertises for itself. But most are kept private.

Of course, in addition to these tools, there’s the Big Daddy of the traffic tracking world, which is Google Analytics. While I’m not sure it is any more or less accurate than the others, it certainly gives you the prettiest reports, and a wide variety of ways to manipulate your data. It isn’t too complicated to set up, but you do need to be able to edit your HTML theme to do so. Just register there and they give you a block of code to insert into your site. Once you do, it’ll start tracking your data.

You should definitely be using at least one tool to log your site traffic, but since different tools monitor and report in different ways, I do recommend using 2-3 of them. Since there’s no cost involved, it’s just a matter of setting them up once and then checking them periodically. Plus those graphs are good for the ego and can be highly motivating. For example, the days when I do post a new blog, I clearly see a bump in traffic, which is always incentive to post more often!

Are you already logging your site traffic? If so, what lessons have you learned from it? Are there any other tools that you recommend? And how often do you actually check your traffic statistics? And if you’re new to blogging, all the more reason to start tracking early. It can be quite fun and informative to watch your numbers grow over time!

For more information on this challenge, you can visit ProBloggers post on the same subject.

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  • Good morning, Steve -

    So, I’ve added Site Meter to my site and to my page. This also forced me to think about the links on my page and how I organized the default Blogroll on WordPress. I am at 499 visits to my blog as of this moment (some of those are surely me, even though I know they say they are not), but as I start this project, it’s a nice milestone at which to be.

    Kate Tabor

    11/2/2008

  • I use Edublogs for my personal/professional blog, and I don’t think I can use many of the site traffic tools. However, I just added Google Analytics, so I look forward to learning more from that.

    Pam Shoemaker´s most recent blog post.. Wordle

    Pam Shoemaker

    11/2/2008

  • I set up Google Analytics on both my professional blog and my Web 2.0 Wednesday Challenge site. Will be interesting to see the results. In the past, I have used things like hit counters, Feedjit and Clustr Maps to get an idea of what and where my traffic is coming from.

    Martha Thornburgh

    11/2/2008

  • I actually registered my blog for several data tracking sites, but rarely reviewed the data and never really put the data to use. This challenge inspired me to spend a good amount of time reviewing my data from Google Analytics, Feedburner, Feedjit, ClustrMaps, etc. I think I have been a pretty complacent blogger – content with posting tips and factoids while rarely inspiring conversation. Inspiring comments and conversation with more reflective and thoughtful posts is my personal blogging goal. Thanks for initiating this, Steve!

    Jennifer Dorman´s most recent blog post.. Websites I Found Interesting – Diigo 11/01/2008

    Jennifer Dorman

    11/2/2008

  • This one was much easier than I thought. Site Meter is a breeze to set up and I’m looking forward to seeing who is visiting. I have used Google Analytics for a website that I use for one of my classes, but this was much easier to set up. Of course, my blog doesn’t have that many visitors (just 101 since September….and I think most are me), but this will be fun.

    Natalie´s most recent blog post.. Day 2 of Blogger Challenge: Site Statistics

    Natalie

    11/2/2008

  • I use the tools (inc. Webalizer), which are provided by my host. I like the series so far, have included the “30 Days” banner, and accidentally wrote a review of your first posts on Cakeblast.

    I say accidental, because what I meant to be a brief mention of your site got a bit wordy. Anyway, I may adjust the post to include your site in the first paragraph of my article. You certainly deserve it :)

    CakeBlast (Larry)´s most recent blog post.. Added New Contact Area

    CakeBlast (Larry)

    11/2/2008

  • In addition to using Sitemeter and a ClustrMap I have had success monitoring blog visitors with a Feedjit Live Traffic Feed widget http://live.feedjit.com – this is a great little tool giving you a live feed on visitors with a whole bunch of user info.

    Tom Barrett´s most recent blog post.. Woices and Google Earth for Digital Fiction

    Tom Barrett

    11/2/2008

  • [...] I have been blogging about on using the iPod iTouch in the classroom. In response to Day 2 of Steve Dembo’s 30 Day’s to Being a Better Blogger I took a look at what brings most readers to Thumann Resources and it turns out it’s my posts [...]

  • Well, my post today generated a pingback before I got to leave a comment. I use ClustrMaps as a visual – but it is completely inaccurate according to the data that WordPress provides for me in my Blog Stats. I look at that pretty closely. Today I looked to see what post has brought the most visitors and realized that there was a pattern and decided to continue writing in that series. (I also went back and finished the challenge from Day 1 with a little help from my Twitter PLN).

    Lisa Thumann´s most recent blog post.. iTouch the Future…I Teach – Foreign Languages

    Lisa Thumann

    11/2/2008

  • ACK!!! code? looking for a ‘body’ tag? WHAT??? And guess what??? I DID IT! WOOHOO! Registered for Google Analytics, found a help page for inserting the code into a Blogspot domain and now we’ll see what happens…and this should be the interesting part since I haven’t a clue how to access the data! LOL Perhaps that’s in store for Day 3 of the Challenge?

    Nancy

    11/2/2008

  • Well Steve, I have kept up for two days only 28 days to go. Good things this started on a weekend. I already use Stat Counter but will give Google Analytics a try as well. It will be interesting to compare the two.

    Beth Knittle´s most recent blog post.. The Challenge: Be a Better Blogger

    Beth Knittle

    11/2/2008

  • Wow. I set up Google Analytics about two weeks ago, but hadn’t checked it yet. (And likely wouldn’t have without this blog)

    People actually visit my blog!

    Noticed that the amount went up when I posted new posts on twitter. The majority of people came direct, and I even have someone in moscow looking at it.

    Cool. Thanks
    http://www.shortcomp.edublogs.org

    Kelly B´s most recent blog post.. links for 2008-11-02

    Kelly B

    11/2/2008

  • [...] school Okay, so the second day in the 30 Days to Being a Better Blogger series asks us to look at Day 2: Play in traffic (site traffic).  What is interesting about this is that I used to post those statistics at the end of each [...]

  • This should be interesting.

    Selena Ward´s most recent blog post.. What is wrong with ClustrMaps?

    Selena Ward

    11/2/2008

  • I use StatCounter for my site traffic: http://www.statcounter.com/ It is free and works pretty well. I especially like to see what countries people are coming from and what link brought them to my blog. I also use google analytics, but for some reason that doesn’t appeal to me as much.

    Liz Davis´s most recent blog post.. A Day In A Sentence

    Liz Davis

    11/2/2008

  • I went to my host and started the two traffic engines that were there. I guess I’ll know have to be better about checking and deciphering all of that information and see who is visiting my blog and from where. I also added the comment luv plugin as I saw it here and thought maybe that might help increase my traffic as well. Only time shall tell!

    Jay´s most recent blog post.. Virtual Evaluation: Measuring Competencies of Online Teachers

    Jay

    11/2/2008

  • I set up sitemeter and clustrmaps on my blog a long time ago because someone suggested that I do that but I never really looked at the results or knew why I needed to do so. Thanks for pushing me to look at them!

    Pat´s most recent blog post.. Don’t Miss the K12 Online Conference!

    Pat

    11/2/2008

  • [...] two of the Dembo assignment is a fun one.  As a relatively nascent blogger, gathering data on the traffic to and from my blog [...]

  • Wow. Thanks for imploring me to take WAY too much time on THAT post! ;-)

    Sean

    Sean Nash´s most recent blog post.. Who are you? Where did you come from? How did you get so smart?

    Sean Nash

    11/2/2008

  • OK….so what’s w/ those little boxes under the comments that say ‘[name]‘s most recent blog post….’ What am I failing to do that I’m not getting one? (NO, I’m NOT whining! LOL)

    Nancy´s most recent blog post.. 30D2BBB – Day 2 – Look Both Ways Before Crossing the Street

    Nancy

    11/3/2008

  • OK…HOW did I do that????? LOL

    Nancy´s most recent blog post.. 30D2BBB – Day 2 – Look Both Ways Before Crossing the Street

    Nancy

    11/3/2008

  • [...] like to see how folks found me, and also who is reading me.  I wasn’t familiar with all that Steve suggested, but WordPress, even the free one, get’s users some pretty decent stats.  I like my [...]

  • Smiles, I already had a sitemeter but I looked into it a bit more.

    Interesting that my number one state of readers is ILLINOIS! (just seems right, you know??)

    Thanks for all you are doing, Steve. I look forward to the next 28 days of info.

    Jen

    JenWagner

    11/3/2008

  • Wow Great stat resources. Tanks Steve. I use Bluehost too, so Im looking a little closer thanks to you.

    Cathy Nelson´s most recent blog post.. Grocery Store Feet — You deserve a DABA Award

    Cathy Nelson

    11/3/2008

  • Hi,

    I have started looking into Woopra (http://www.woopra.com/) for starting to look at website stats.

    Jim Beeghley
    Teaching the Civil War with Technology
    http://blog.teachthecivilwar.com

    Jim Beeghley´s most recent blog post.. Google Time Line Feature

    Jim Beeghley

    11/3/2008

  • [...] virtual school Day three in the 30 Days to Being a Better Blogger series asks us to look at Day 3: Write a thank you note. The main purpose of this post, as I read it, is to: There’s two directions you can take with [...]

  • Playing catch up, but learned that Edublogs has a Google Analytics plugin and it was easy to set up. Looking forward to getting more information about traffic to the site. I also enjoy reading the comments to your challenge posts. Often, I learn new things there too. Thanks!

    Michelle Krill´s most recent blog post.. Keeping Kids Safe.

    Michelle Krill

    11/3/2008

  • I find the best use for my stat site is to see incoming links. I don’t have more than 10 people coming to my site a day so I have much less data to analyze. I use stat counter which is good because of the way it tracks incoming links and landing pages.

    David LaMorte´s most recent blog post.. 30 Days To Being a Better Blogger

    David LaMorte

    11/3/2008

  • I’ve used Google Analytics installed for about 6 months and here’s what I’ve learned:
    1. I receive the largest number of visits when I post a link to a new post on twitter or plurk.
    2. My most popular post was “Managing the Modern Classroom” http://milobo.edublogs.org/2008/07/14/managing-the-modern-classroom/ with “Laptop Thoughts” and “Keeping Paper Safe for Students” as close seconds.
    3. Most of my visits come from the US, though a surprising number come from Australia.
    4. Not many find my site via a keyword search. (Maybe something to work on?) while most come from my website or from twitter and plurk)

    Interesting to look at the stats – it opens up a whole avenue of questions and gives lots of answers as well.

    Michelle Bourgeois´s most recent blog post.. Who’s the teacher here?

    Michelle Bourgeois

    11/4/2008

  • [...] #2 Play in Traffic: Take a look at your blog traffic. I took a look at my Google Analytics and my blog traffic is [...]

  • [...] Day 2: Play in the traffic (site traffic). Although this is a very useful tool it is not available on your KS blog at this time. [...]

  • Day 2 on the 8th day… This is definitely going to be a long-term project. :)

    I looked at my StatCounter stats and was reminded that I really do need to pay attention to how my blog looks on Internet Explorer. Since I work on a Mac at home that will have to happen at the university. I’ve used StatCounter for quite a while and I like it. It’s fun to see visitors come in from different countries.

    As part of my improving my use of statistics for Day 2, I installed Google Analytics. That should prove interesting to watch.

    30D2BBB

    Jo Schiffbauer´s most recent blog post.. Common Craft Video Explains Phishing

    Jo Schiffbauer

    11/8/2008

  • I have a Clustrmap, Live Feed, and Stat Counter already on my site. I like the live feed to see where people are coming from and where they go when they leave. I’m not convinced I need anything else but decided to go ahead and try the Google Analytic. As I was fumbling around in my Edublog trying to figure it out I saw a link to Sue Water’s blog explaining how to set it up. That made it very easy! So, now on to challenge 3 on this 11th day!

    Nedra Isenberg´s most recent blog post.. Staying Focused

    Nedra Isenberg

    11/12/2008

  • I have used ClusterMaps and I agree with you Steve about how cool it is when you see that someone from another country has stopped by my site. Adding Stat Counter was easy and I like the data I can get.

    Eric Strommer´s most recent blog post.. Days 3-5 of 30DBBB

    Eric Strommer

    11/30/2008

  • Day 2: Play in traffic (site traffic) – Teach42 http://tinyurl.com/yhm28ao

    Anastasia Mercado

    11/10/2009