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.
Beyond Traffic: Three Stats You Should Check Today
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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!)
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.
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.
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.
Very helpful. Many thanks.
I hardly get any readers from the wordpress reader 😦
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!
As always, great information. Thanks a bunch!
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.
This is really very helpful, thanks for the post.
Very good points made, the devil is in the details and the meaning behind the numbers.
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.
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.
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
Thanks! I’m always looking for anything that will grow weliveamonyou.com.
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! 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
The Choice Is Yours.
“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.
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!!)
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).
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!
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.
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.
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?
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!
Very helpful, thank you. You post great information all the time!
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?
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?