Blogging by the numbers: Measuring my writing and blog readers

Ever since I started blogging in 2004 I’ve been trying to better understand my audience of blog readers through stats like unique visitors, pageviews, social media shares, or the number of comments readers add to each post. Analyzing these data points gives me a better a understanding of which pages interest my visitors most, and helps me think of new blog posts I hope will resonate with my audience. As an online marketing strategist I also try look at how readers come to my blog, focusing my efforts on what content I can offer which will introduce new readers to my blog, as well as how to connect with them outside my own website.

In the interest of trying to become more transparent as a blogger, here’s a look back measuring my own blog’s audience during 2011:

Matthew Hurst's Year in blogging 2011
  • A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,900 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.
  • In 2011 there were 15 new posts on the blog, growing the total archive on this blog to 61 posts so far.
  • Twitter and Facebook were my main sources of referral traffic, but increasingly Google+ brought new readers to my site.
  • I’ve had far fewer comments in 2011 than in previous years, and average less than a comment per post.
  • My most read posts in 2011 were actually from previous years, bringing in visitors searching for “Twitter internships” and how to become “Social Media Marketers“, showing the long-term value of SEO built through blog writing.

While this analysis looks at stats from this website using WordPress’ built-in tools, these insights into my blog’s audience can be gathered on any kind of website.  Here are some of the website measurement tools you can use to learn more about visitors to your own site:

  • Google Analytics is a great tool that offers stats about your site’s visitors, the content they visit, and how they find your site.  There are many advanced featured for businesses to use, including goal tracking and conversions, which come in an easy to use interface.  Most importantly, it’s a free tool that’s easy to set up on any website.
  • PostRank measures engagement on your site (integrating Google Analytics data) and elsewhere online, and offers publishers perspective on who shares links to your site through social media.
  • Lijit is a search tool you can install on your site, which also offers insight into what users are searching for when they visit your website.
  • SEOmoz is paid tool for online marketing professionals that helps you optimize your content for search engines. In addition to helping you research the rank of your site for various keywords and find backlinks from around the web, SEOmoz helps you research competing sites and offers suggestions to improve your own content.
  • WordPress Stats is a built-in feature for bloggers using the platform, and offers real-time stats about popular content and referral links (as seen in this post).

Writer sculpture in front of the typewriter on exhibit

Extra credit: Since 2012 marks my 8th year as a blogger, I’ve also added new pages to this site which offer a timeline of my blogging career as well as some of my favorite copywriting as professional blog writer. Hopefully sharing some of my experiences as blogger will help you better understand your own blogging efforts, but if you think of any questions feel free to leave a comment on this post which all of my readers can learn from.