Beyond Traffic: Three Stats You Should Check Today

Whether you’re a spreadsheet enthusiast or allergic to numbers, digging into your site’s stats can help you better engage with your audience. Let’s take a look at three stats that can make a difference beyond page views.

When you hear “stats,” most bloggers think “traffic,” and that makes sense. Many of us care about the number of views our posts receive, and want to see them grow. Blogging is never solely about numbers, though — it’s about making your voice heard, fostering relationships with others, and building a sense of community.

Approaching these goals with a data-informed mindset can get you closer to achieving them. Here are three stats that can help you make smart decisions when it comes to planning your posts and finding and engaging your readers. Whether you blog from a computer, a tablet, or your phone, take a few seconds to explore these on your own blog’s Stats tab.

A quarterly review

When reviewing your stats, it’s tempting to focus on the here and now: how did I do today? How many views did yesterday’s post get overnight? Periodically, though, it’s wise to fight this tendency and examine the long-term performance of your content.

Take a look at your top posts from the previous quarter by heading to your Top Posts & Pages section, then click on Summaries. In the following page, select the Quarter tab.

top posts quarterly

A quarter is a period of time that’s significant enough to reveal general trends, but not so long that specific details get completely drowned out. When you look at your most-read posts from the previous 90 days, look for meaningful patterns.

Did specific types of posts do better than others? Turn these into recurring features. Are posts from a particular stretch of days (or weeks) especially popular? Try to figure out what you did right there. Do you see very few posts that you published before this 90-day period? It might be time to think about resurfacing material from your archives.

The posts that hit a nerve

If you want your blog to be a space where community members feel welcome to join the discussion and exchange ideas, it’s essential to know which of your posts inspired the most intense engagement. In the Comments section of your stats, click on Most Commented to see the posts that received the highest number of comments.

most commented posts

Zooming in on these posts will help you understand what kinds of content your readers react to the most. Are they your most provocative posts, or the most personal? The ones where you announce exciting news, or those where you explicitly asked for audience feedback?

It’s a good idea to keep track of this stat to see if you can move the needle over time, and to check how changing things around — for example, by tweaking your comment moderation policies or discussion settings — affects readers’ behavior on your site.

Keep an eye on Reader referrals

One indirect — but very useful — way of checking your visibility in the larger blogging community is tucked right into the Referrers section of your stats. While it’s a good idea in general to know what sites send visitors your way, looking at how many arrive via the WordPress.com Reader can be especially meaningful.

reader referrals

There are two ways to make your posts appear on someone else’s Reader feed: either they follow your blog, or they’re running a search for a term you’ve used to tag your posts. A particularly low number of people finding your content through the Reader suggests you might want to tweak your tagging strategy (or to simply start tagging, if you haven’t up to now). You could also consider adding a Follow Blog Widget somewhere prominent on your site.

Keeping track of this stat — both the total number of views you get via the Reader and their relative share in your overall audience — will help you determine whether you’re making your posts as visible and easy to discover as you can. As your engagement in the community increases, so should the number of people who follow and read your posts on the Reader.

We hope these tips will help you as you plan your next post (or even next month’s editorial calendar)! If you’d like a more comprehensive overview of stats and how they work, be sure to read our five-part Stats Wrangling series.


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Ben Huberman

90 Comments

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  1. Meredith

    This is something I am going to start doing. I think if you want to have good content and readership this is good advice.

    Liked by 3 people

    • blovelacejr

      Agreed. I find myself often looking at the number of views on my blog impatiently waiting for it to grow. Really the content is the utmost importance. Quality over quantity I guess.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. nonsmokingladybug

    I am always excited when I see that somebody actually read my blog. It’s like a reward. How wonderful to see that people around the world read my blog -not many, but some :-). So Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. You'll Soon Be Flying

    Great tips! I check my referrers and daily stats, well daily, but only my quarterly stats every so often. I have seen a steady increase in my email follows in the six months I’ve had my blog up and running, second highest growth would be in other blog followers. I don’t know how to increase the amount of email followers, but this number being my largest segment could be because I post a lot of personal content designed to motivate and inspire others going through personal trials… (I post 3-5x a week)
    So perhaps the email follow option offers more anonymity than a WP blogger follow? I’m not sure. I regularly tag my posts, so these tips are helpful for me to make tweaks :) At the 6 month mark, I currently have 401 email subscribers, 104 WP blog followers, and 211 FB followers. Is this a typical amount for my blog’s age?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ben Huberman

      Your email-only followers are those who aren’t logged-in WordPress.com users but are still subscribed to your blog and receive your new posts by email. Getting more of these types of followers would entail making your blog more visible outside the WordPress.com community — for example, you could try to focus more attention on your blog’s social media presence, which could bring new readers your way.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Paragraph Film Reviews

    I sometimes spend more time looking at my stats than compiling new posts; essential for tuning the site, and finding out what’s working. Good post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. andreabadgley

    I love the stats feature. I dig around in there every day. My favorite part is finding funny search terms that brought people to my blog, like “farting goat venn diagram,” which inspired me to draw and post a farting goat venn diagram. I mean, how much more inspirational can stats get than that?

    Like

  6. Peggy Nolan

    Thanks Ben. I just recently “quit” my online coaching business and have returned to my wordpress.com roots. Learning how to interpret my stats is important as I turn my attention to writing more and coaching less (a lot less!)

    Like

  7. Gary Sanders

    Good information. For those of us with blogs with few comments, the problem with the most commented stat is that pingbacks count as comments. If there was a way to exclude them so that you could only see actual comments. that would be very helpful.

    Like

    • Ben Huberman

      I see your point, since with pingbacks, the content of the comment doesn’t live in your post’s comments section. That said, pingbacks are still (when used properly) a meaningful interaction of another blogger with your post, so grouping them with comments also makes sense.

      Like

  8. foundfootageblog

    This really helped me today! I have 2 categories in my blog- seem to get most Likes in the one category- and because of your post, just realized all my ‘referrals’ came from the other category… so am carrying on as planned! Thank you.

    Like

  9. understatedclassics

    Thank you for this eye opening post. I always was getting frustrated when I would continually check the stats and not comprehend just what was really going on. I will now begin to pay attention to where I’m heading and how the traffic is being directed. Thank you.

    Like

  10. macingosh

    Very helpful. Many thanks.

    Like

  11. Gaurab

    I hardly get any readers from the wordpress reader :(

    Like

  12. Charlotte Ortega

    I have to say that I love the stats feature and the thing I enjoy most is looking at the countries from which my readers come from. Thanks wordpress for making this blogger so happy!

    Like

  13. 1421art

    As always, great information. Thanks a bunch!

    Like

  14. careerschap

    I write for my own professional development and enjoyment rather than writing what I think may be popular. If I read a post and enjoy it I will always leave a comment or like. It just let’s the author know you appreciate their contribution.

    Like

  15. R. M.

    This is really very helpful, thanks for the post.

    Like

  16. Nature Photography by Martin Ryer

    Very good points made, the devil is in the details and the meaning behind the numbers.

    Like

  17. Hope Nwosu

    I am a new blogger and looking at my stat sometimes discourages me when I see that there’s been no view for a whole day. I’m wondering if I should concentrate on creating great posts first.

    Like

    • Ben Huberman

      I think that’s a wise strategy whether you’re a new blogger or a veteran, and even when you already have a sizable audience. Nothing is more important than creating posts you love and that you want to share with the world (of course, making them easier to find — with tagging, using Publicize, etc. — is something to think about, too, especially since it’s so easy and quick).

      Like

    • Margie Brizzolari

      Hi there Hope. It’s easy to get discouraged if you focus too much on your views at first. I would say just dive in and write with your heart and read and comment on other people’s posts. One day, you will suddenly realise you have a following. And I will be one of them.

      Like

  18. stromlouise

    All very good tips! I have the problem of looking at how many views and likes I got in one day. which isn’t very much in my case haha.

    Like

    • Ben Huberman

      That’s all the more reason to focus on trends and overall movement — building an audience is a process that can take some time. For other strategies to build your blog’s following, I’d recommend the ebook we published a few months ago, Grow Your Traffic, Build Your Blog.

      Like

  19. Yasmin Elahi

    Very useful tips! Although I make it a point to check my site stats daily (which are not very impressive I’m afraid) but this posts gives suggestions about where I am going wrong and what should be done if I want better results. Thanks for the great advice

    Like

  20. erikaselegance

    Thaks for this imformative information. I will be revamping the way I look at my stats.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. smokersodysseycom

    Thanks! I’m always looking for anything that will grow weliveamonyou.com.

    Like

  22. crawf33

    Definitely an eye-opening read, thanks! Makes me want to take my content and publishing more seriously.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Bhumika

    I always check them. Thanks for letting me know that i am analysing correctly.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. happyface313

    I do check my stats every day…trying to see what I’m doing “right” and what isn’t working (yet). I have a problem – I don’t know how to activate RSS feed or is that automatically done? Is there somewhere a reference page? Perhaps even in German???
    Thanks – your help is really appreciated! :-)

    Like

  25. Vanessa Steil

    Thanks for the very informative post! I am constantly checking my stats, and really enjoy seeing the numbers grow throughout the day.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. emmacachor

    Not only do I check my stats, I check it almost every minute of the day, shifting to other things then back again to where there are numbers going up. I keep track to it as if I’m driving on the road, my attention ever focused on the numbers.
    Thanks Ben.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. blovelacejr

    This was absolutely helpful! Thank you so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. golfpoet

    Thank you for your suggestions. I have a comment with regard to “top posts.” I have been blogging for five years. The kind of posts that I write are not time-dependent. In theory I would like readers to have equal access to all of the posts, but there is no way to make the reader with limited time aware of them. What they are aware of is the list of top posts, so the tendency, if they go beyond the home page, is to click on one of the top posts. And that only reinforces the position of that post in the top 10. To combat this vicious cycle, I have started to recycle some of my early posts particularly since the likelihood is that current viewers have not seem them. It seems to me that this is the only way to expose my readers to material they will not otherwise find. Books have tables of contents and indexes; maybe blogs should have more than top 10’s to help readers find posts they might enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. photravels

    Good tips. I like the idea of building up the blog then looking back to see what worked.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Sugar Grove VA

    Lots of great advice in this post. Thanks for sharing this! I found it very informative for my own newly created blog. Our blog is all about life in Sugar Grove, a rural community in Southwest Virginia. It’s been difficult to build an audience but tips like this really have been helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Lynne Campanaro

    Thank you, Thank you. I am quite new and the information was incredibly helpful. I look forward to learning more.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. dilmilgaya.com

    Awesome!!.. needed some some guidance on this. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  33. William J. Hudson

    Thank you for the insight. I am satisfied with search engine results and hit counts. The Reader stat is non existent in comparison. Perhaps, it is my specialized subject matter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ben Huberman

      Even specialized blogs can still find their niche in the Reader. Two things I might suggest are, first, to experiment with tags (the post about tagging linked to above might give you some good ideas) — it might be the case that using different ones will help others find your posts. Second, if you know other bloggers writing on similar topics, getting engaged with that community (by following, reading, and commenting on others’ blogs) is the best way to expand your reach. It takes some time, but is well worth the effort.
      Good luck with your blog!

      Liked by 1 person

  34. princessprattles

    Your post came at an opportune time, when I was starting to question my validity, based on likes and comments. Tsk! tsk! I should know better than that. I must remind myself that I am blogging because I enjoy it; you can’t please all the people all of the time, and if you are chasing “likes” sometimes you might compromise your content just to “fit in” and then nobody wins…
    Be true to yourself and over time the stats should reflect that most readers appreciate honesty and enthusiasm, but do not necessarily “like” or leave comments.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. dyule2014

    Thank you it was quite interesting all the post.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. jasmineshei

    Good post! I have been checking mine but have a quick question about time stamp on the stats page. Looks like mine is incorrect. Anyone knows how to change that?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ben Huberman

      It might be that your blog isn’t set to the timezone you’re in. That’s easy to change, though — just head to Settings >> General in your dashboard and choose the timezone you need.

      Liked by 1 person

  37. PiedType

    I browse my stats at least once a day and am delighted to have them. I also use StatCounter (the free version) to glean a few more bits of info, particularly the breakdown of which browsers (and thus platforms) our readers are using. My biggest regret is Google’s change that resulted in our losing most of the Search terms we used to see. That was one of the most interesting and useful stats. In any case, thanks for all the stat goodness.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. The Posh Blog

    Thanks for sharing this info. I slack on tracking my stats.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. D.M. Simonds

    Checking the STATS tells me I am on the correct path with my readers giving a good pathway to marketing my 3rd suspense novel when it’s ready for prime time. I cringe when people tell me they avoid blogs, My reply is that you are missing out on the new wave of truth media this country is looking for.
    Take care, God bless and……have a nice day from
    ScribeCave.com
    The Choice Is Yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. vnktchari

    Very useful article. Thanks for the tips.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. GreyB

    Yes agree with you. I believe we must select a tag after doing a small tag research and select a tag having maximum no. of searches and posts published using that tag.

    Liked by 1 person

  42. cheesecake

    Quick Question: Most of the time, I do replies thru the notification or comments thru the reader. Do they count as traffic or blog hits?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ben Huberman

      In the Reader, whenever a post opens up in its own modal (the little window that pops up when you click on a post), that counts as a view for the original post. Replying to a comment via the notifications box doesn’t, though it — obviously — adds to the comment count.

      Liked by 1 person

  43. Carole Parkes

    I still have so much to learn (sigh).

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Holly Connors

    Great tips, thank you although I’ve only been blogging maybe 1 quarter so far so I need to get some time under my belt.

    Liked by 1 person

  45. tuengotri

    I always check them. Thanks for letting me know that i am analysing correctly.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. Richard Barker

    ‘Ta muchly’ Ben. Only a couple of days ago was I thinking of checking out my stats and then this comes along! Have run off hardcopy to peruse and consider at leisure.

    Liked by 1 person

  47. nasvn

    if my visit counter says one, I will favorite you, comment back and all that.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. Clare Flourish

    “Most Commented” just brings up my About page, where lots of people who pop over say Hi, and some posts where I have Said Something Controversial and people have piled in to tell each other and me we are Wrong. I treasure the posts where I have inspired commenters to add something which takes the idea forward, and we have found new facets; though I cannot always manage that, and posts which I intend to do specifically that often fall flat.

    Liked by 1 person

  49. Elisa

    oops!! After I posted I set out to determine just how I might work on my ‘not knowing yet’. I cannot see quarters in the bar graph, however if I click on summaries links down below, I then can choose the options you discussed. I WIN!! (i would now like to hear a trike bell and see sparkle confetti!!)

    Like

  50. adhocannie

    I’m one of those techno-phobic bloggers but I find your clear and noncondescending remarks encouraging and helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

  51. Joseph C Kim

    Great suggestions. I wish I could do this all the time, but it’s so easy to get caught up with that I forget. Now, I will need to add reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

  52. hochspeyer

    Through another blog on another site, I learned that not only are the numbers important, but the location is as well; at one point on that blog, nearly 27% of my readership was outside of the United States, and the vast majority of those readers were non-native English speakers (the largest group was Russian), I took some steps to make the blog more easily digestible. For example, I almost always give metric equivalents, and going on the assumption that the majority of those readers learned the Queen’s English rather than the American variety,when there are words that can be confusing, I tried to give an equivalent when prudent (my photo topics are heavily weighted towards railroading currently, so when I speak of a railcar, I might parenthetically say waggon for my QE speakers).

    Liked by 1 person

  53. rashmi7dadheechi

    it is all about unique and interesting content. Focus on expression and here you go…

    Liked by 1 person

  54. The FaithBook

    I do occasionally check referr sites, but I really should do better at keeping up with the rest to help me write to better bring reader attention. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  55. aminzahid

    Yes, these are very helpful for improving our blogs

    Liked by 1 person

  56. gmschmitt

    I have a question about spam comments. I have 12 of them but I’m not sure what I’m suppose to do with them. Many of them don’t seem to either make sense to me or apply to my blog. How do I know if they actually are in response to my blog or not? Can you give me some help, please? Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ben Huberman

      Whether they’re spam or you just don’t think they’re substantive or relevant enough for your post, you can delete whichever comments you wish from your blog. It’s a good idea to use this power with moderation so as not to discourage discussion, but if a comment feels spammy to you, there’s really no reason to keep it.

      Liked by 1 person

  57. Citizen Pariah

    Be patient, an increasing amount of traffic will come in time, the longer you blog and provide relevant comments the better. I don’t get to update my blog often enough but find traffic has increased organically. Although I never expect a large audience, my subject is a small niche of interests.

    Liked by 1 person

  58. Jann @ Austin Details Art + Photo

    Thanks for some great tips—adding these to my list. While looking at the increases in overall visitors and views by week and by month, I’ve gotten interested in checking another stat lately: how has the average pages viewed by visitors grown over time. That indicates overall engagement with my entire blog, not just one post that appeared in the Reader, and it pleases me to know visitors care about more of what I’m writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  59. lashesoflifestyle

    These tips are great! Thanks Ben, I will definitely be looking at my stats differently from now on and try to find where I have been doing well to improve this way. This post was a great read.

    Liked by 1 person

  60. fromtheshelfblog

    The information about the referrer links is really interesting, although I wonder if you could clarify something for me? In your example picture it shows how many people found your post through the Reader but it also shows a number for the Dashboard – how have other people found your post through a Dashboard? Do posts show up somewhere on other people’s Dashboards? I’m confused, I thought that was just a blog editing area?

    Like

    • Ben Huberman

      Your confusion is not out of place — I’ve used a screenshot of the stats tab of this blog (Hot Off the Press, the WordPress.com news blog), which is unique in the sense that posts we publish here appear automatically in users’ dashboard. This explains how readers might find us through their dashboards. In retrospect, it would’ve been wiser to use the example of a regular blog — sorry for the confusion!

      Like

  61. kidzoners

    Very helpful. Many thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  62. Sophia Grace

    Great piece of advice, as the prime objective of every blogger should be to earn readers not the traffic.

    Liked by 1 person

  63. Alex Jeffery

    I know, it should be obvious to write quality content but for some reason that’s not what I’ve been doing. Guess that explains the low readership. It’s time to change. Thanks for the wake up call!

    Liked by 1 person

  64. Juliana

    Great tips! I never really looked for the last 90 days stats. Will do this today and regularly from now on. I think it is better to develop a solid readership than just go writing like crazy. I’m still working on which are the best subjects to write about, so I think this will help find a way. Thanks!

    Like

  65. kellie anderson

    I’ve been blogging for over three years and I never knew these stats were even there! Thanks for highlighting this very useful area of the stats page :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  66. johnramos53

    Very helpful, thank you. You post great information all the time!

    Like

  67. cynthetica2005

    I have only been blogging on WordPress for about 6 weeks, and I am already “hooked” on stats, so this was a timely and extremely helpful article. I have read carefully any linked “traffic” advice, and it looks like my own Facebook friends are the main readers at this point. I just read through the other comments and answers posted to this article, so I’ll try to follow that advice as well. Still, I have a nagging feeling that maybe I’m not getting many readers because my blog just isn’t very good…how do I know?

    Like

    • Ben Huberman

      Even the most seasoned, successful writers continue to have these nagging doubts. The secret, ultimately, is just to keep on writing, connecting with others, and building your audience.

      Like

  68. ashokshenolikar

    What do hits on Homepage/archive mean? Does it mean they just clicked on the current page and didn’t explore? How do I interpret this stat?

    Like

    • Ben Huberman

      Not all views on your site are for posts and pages. This stat counts all those views recorded on your homepage — in your case, ashokshenolikar.wordpress.com — as well as pages where posts are aggregated by tag, category, author, or search results.

      Like

  69. Clare Flourish

    I went to my list of posts in January, and from the stats icon there found which had the most views on the first day, and which had the most views in all, and which were still having views four months on. A post on God smiting America with bad weather- or not- did best.

    Like

  70. februaryfalls

    This was an EXCELLENT article. I would not have known about stats otherwise. I noticed the section in question, but never had time to find out what it was about. NOW I can target my writing. Thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

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