We did the 36,000-foot, airplane-over-the-Grand-Canyon view of your stats page, and last month, we walked up to the lip of the Canyon and peered down at the days, weeks, and months views. Today — if I may labor the metaphor — we’ll hop on the stats donkey and ride down to take a closer look at Top Posts and Pages.
(We’re done with the Grand Canyon thing, promise.)
Taking a look at your Top Posts and Pages gives you a quick, clear idea of what’s most popular. You can use this valuable data to inform future posts, but also to make sure your perennially popular content is polished and primed to turn a casual visitor into a die-hard reader.
Where you’ll find ‘em
Log in to WordPress.com, and head to the stats tab in your Reader. Just under the main graph tracking your daily views and visitors, you’ll see Views By Country on the left and Top Posts and Pages on the right:
Top Posts and Pages are in a single chart — items aren’t broken out according to whether they’re posts or pages. Click “Yesterday” to see the prior day’s data, and “Summaries” to access data for the last seven days, 30 days, quarter, year, or for all time. (Check out Stats Wrangling II for great tips on how to use short- and long-range statistics.)
You’ll probably see your home page near the top of the list, followed by your other popular content.
How to use ‘em
With short- and long-term statistics you can capture specific data and identify trends; both will help you shape your blog and grow your readership. Here are a few basics to pay attention to:
What’s most popular aside from your most recent post? You’ll likely see your latest posts on the list, but what else is there? Are people reading your new posts digging into older, related content? Maybe you should write more on that topic, do a roundup of related posts, or create a page on the topic to keep your best stuff in the spotlight.
Is there anything unexpected on the list? Is a much older post unexpectedly at the top of the list? Maybe it’s being shared on Facebook or Twitter, or other bloggers have linked to it. Maybe a blog you often read and comment on is getting attention, and an older comment you once left is attracting new readers to your site. Maybe you’ve been mentioned in a post or article elsewhere on the internet.
Check out your Referrers data (just under Views By Country) for info on where visitors are coming from to corroborate your hunch, then think about how to make hay while the sun shines. Maybe you can publish a new post welcoming readers and directing them to related good content, or return to the other blog and leave some more comments for another participation bonus.
Are there posts or pages that appear on the list repeatedly? Some posts enjoy constant popularity, either because they’re compelling enough that they’re regularly shared on other sites or because they rank highly in a particular Google search.
I once wrote a post about the show “Iceberg Hunters” on my personal blog (don’t ask). Since few other bloggers are on the “Iceberg Hunters” bandwagon, my post appears on the first page of Google results for that term and is always near the top of the popularity heap, second only to my “Home” and “About” pages:
Similarly, over on The Daily Post, we get a lot of hits for people looking for guidance choosing a good blog name — a post from last year gets constant attention. In response, we decided to give people searching for advice more of what they want by turning the original post into a series that profiles bloggers with clever, quirky, or just plain perfect blog titles. (I’ve opted not to leverage my “Iceberg Hunters” attention in the same way.)
A few parting words
Along with using this data to come up with a posting strategy to increase your traffic there are a few general issues to pay attention to, no matter which posts and pages are your most popular:
- Make sure your home page looks good. You may think most people go straight to individual posts from your Facebook links or because they subscribe, so you can get around to correcting that typo or fixing that wonky widget on your home page tomorrow. A look at Top Posts and Pages will show that, for many of us, the home page is our most popular. Don’t miss that chance to make a good first impression.
- Keep popular pages up to date. You wrote a killer “About” page when you started your blog — engaging, funny, sure to intrigue any new reader. Problem is, you started your blog in 2009. Make sure popular pages are current and fresh, and use them as an opportunity to funnel readers where you’d like them to go by providing links to your greatest hits.
- Revisit popular posts to add some link love. A post that attracts a lot of eyeballs is a great place to highlight other content. If you’ve got an older post that’s always a traffic draw, take a few minutes to add some extra shine — add an update at the end, or link to some related content.
Spending a little time getting to know the Top Posts and Pages stats is a small investment with the potential for a big payoff. Learn more about what your readers enjoy and where they go when they get to your blog, and make the most of that knowledge by gently helping them discover other posts they’ll love.
You might also enjoy these posts:
- Stats Wrangling I: Digging in to Your Data
- Stats Wrangling II: Days, Weeks, and Months
- Ignore Your Stats
Aug 16th at 4:32 pm
my stats are nowhere near yours OMG …However my mind don’t work on numbers just great content,but it would be nice if I had this many appreciating people on my page good read thanks.
Aug 16th at 5:46 pm
Good article/tips. Always good to take a step back and see where you’re going right/wrong.
And Dwfmedia, right there with ya’. I focus on the content as well, but some numbers/appreciation sure doesn’t hurt. Just started following you and best of luck!
Aug 16th at 5:48 pm
Rarely does a day go by that I don’t glance at the stats (yep, just another slow day at the blog). The information in this post seems obvious, but I really hadn’t thought about it. Thanks for reminding me that I can drill down into those stats.
Aug 16th at 6:23 pm
One of the things that stats told me was I got fewer hits with a static front page. For me i works better to serve up the last 7 posts all at once and from there the viewer can scroll.
Aug 16th at 6:34 pm
Summer seems to slow down stats a bit, but updating my “about page” and “blog” is always great advice!
Aug 16th at 6:50 pm
This is very helpful thanks a lot. I’m a new blogger and l can’t help but look at the stats. As a person you just want people to like you and your stuff so it is very difficult not to take the too seriously. Great tips though!
Aug 16th at 7:02 pm
Great info. I like your advice about updating the About info and adding some links there to the top content etc.
Aug 16th at 7:10 pm
I would like to have those stats too. I would consider myself to be a casual blogger. I’ve been told that I should post something everyday. I wonder if that would work for me and my specific subject matter???
Aug 16th at 7:16 pm
I feel like I’m beating a dead donkey. (Okay, Grand Canyon done here, too.) This is known and understood information. The tools are easy to use and helpful for we who track. But WHEN is WordPress going to acknowledge the need and request for a widget that captures top posts, all-time? Surely this is not a server/storage matter? And the programming to capture same isn’t complex. Why isn’t this key element/feature available?
Aug 16th at 7:18 pm
I have 6,555,xxx hits overall in my stats (front page widget). My All Time stats in the dashboard is showing 2,816,xxx next to Home/Archive title. How is this possible? Shouldn’t the two match or be close to each other?
Aug 16th at 7:47 pm
I check my stats several times a day. They are invaluable! One thing that keeps throwing me, however, is that on the main stats page, Top Posts and Pages appears on the upper right. If I click to a previous day, I find myself reading Search Engine Terms by mistake because Top Posts and Pages has moved into the left column and farther down the page. Seems like it should be in the same place no matter which day you’re looking at.
And a reminder: Clicking on the spark line (the little bar graph) in the administrator’s bar will take you directly to your stats from anyplace on your blog. No need to go to the Reader first.
Aug 16th at 9:15 pm
should I redo some of the older posts as it appears that readers do not look to far back in the archives but tend to look at what is just published.. What do you think?
Aug 16th at 9:32 pm
Very helpful post, full of great advice.
Aug 16th at 10:33 pm
I like your Grand Canyon metaphor, no problem!
Ha ha all those stat views!!! OMG!!
Great post. I never look too closely at my stats though but for a curious peruse, as they never change much. Yet I see there’s a lot can be read from them. I love wordpress!
Aug 17th at 1:36 am
…thanks,,,surely an angel led me to WordPress!..
Aug 17th at 1:45 am
Great advice! As for your parting words, I’m probably going to rewrite my about page this weekend, if I have the time.
Aug 17th at 8:57 am
I’m new as well, still trying to get a good grasp on how all this works, but my main goal is to try to get more visitors. So I’ve been trying to post a variety of things just to see what’s comfortable and easy to enjoy. Checking the stats is kinda a small surprise everyday, just to see how many and where people are checking me out. Not very, sadly, but always interested in some pointers to jump start things. Maybe anybody cruising these waters give a boost alittle, or some updated news, freshly awake after months in a deep sleep,(coma), Thanks guys.
Aug 17th at 1:48 pm
I never looked at stats in this way. Thanks …
Aug 17th at 2:29 pm
I am new to blogging and I appreciate that there are resources like this to help me thru my journey. Thanks John
Aug 17th at 3:51 pm
This is great, thank you. I do watch my stats every day and I am so surprised to see that readers find older posts from three years ago. Well, now I might do something different thanks to your advice.
Aug 18th at 1:51 pm
One thing for certain, I have some top blog post hits that I never dreamt would be popular. I suspect the hit on art commemorating the Chinese-Canadian railway workers building the historic transcontinental railway in Canada, is due to school kids looking for info. Same for the museum on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
And my About Page is very popular. Is everyone else’s?? Or is it because my blog title is creative and gets people wondering “What??”
Just yesterday I discovered a new statistic…popular time of day reading….7:00 pm. Who knew?
Aug 18th at 6:08 pm
Great info. I like your advice about updating the About info and adding some links there to the top content etc.
Aug 19th at 6:48 am
Thanx for the stats info. Why do my blog stats often show visits from 4 different countries but three visitors & several views? It just doesn’t add up because 4 countries should show at least 4 visitors which has led me to ignore the stats since they are wrong. I have tried posting the question on the forum but no response received. Can anyone help?
Aug 19th at 1:08 pm
I’m new to blogging and Word press so this is really helpful, thanks.
Aug 19th at 1:18 pm
All this would be easier if most of my search terms were not “unknown” or “other”. Doesn’t help much! But thanks so much for all the wonderful stats that do help!
Aug 25th at 8:10 am
Thanks Michelle, great simple advice. I’m now going to do a blog on the last 12 months most popular blogs to see if they will be shared or linked to more.
I also have a superstar post on ‘famous American bridges’ that was completely random and never would have thought it would garner so much attention everyday. Trick is to find more of these gems! Will have to keep exploring the vast canyon right