The electric metrics of a blog

Fall road

Another good reason for fall: getting to wander beautiful roads like this. Image courtesy of cocoparisienne, Pixabay.

I think fall’s coming. Pumpkins are on porches, the mornings and evenings are colder, Hocus Pocus (featuring a VERY young Sean Murray from NCIS) is on constant rerun, and the Christmas stuff is in stores. Yep, fall’s definitely here.

I’m still in awe of how fast autumn arrived. This summer was packed with activities like networking, blogging and teaching social media. (“Summer? We had a summer? Really?”)

Another sign of fall — I’ve noticed a surge of interest in the 2012 blog post that I wrote about Edgar Allan Poe and his student days at UVA. I have to wonder: Who’s looking that up on Google? What was their motivation? Did some student get an assignment to write about Poe for an English class? Is it a Poe fan wanting to know more about one of their literary heroes? I wish Google could tell me.

Do you ever check your own metrics? Every once in a while, I click on the “Summaries” link on the WordPress dashboard just to get a better sense of my audience and what they prefer to see. WordPress tells me that half of my audience is outside the U.S., so I try and throw in some bits of American culture to entertain them and my other readers.

WordPress also tells me what are the most popular posts and search phrases, which is equally interesting and gives me more data on what my readers like. I never knew so many people were interested in a photo of “girl sticking out her tongue” (I used it to illustrate a blog post once) and “top 10 books to read in your lifetime”.

I love metric tools. As a marketer, learning how to use software tools such as Google Analytics is vital; it’s easier to tell what’s working with your audience, what isn’t and why. It’s quite a difference from the old days of print marketing, where you created materials, put them out there and hoped for the best.

I have a good sense of my audience through visiting their blogs. Some are teachers, writers, editors, journalists, book lovers and students, while others I’ve met have an interest in common with me, such as art, comedy, travel, history or entertainment (plays, TV or movies). Some are younger bloggers eager to connect with others across the world; others are older and share their life stories and wisdom to benefit the rest of us.

It’s fun getting to know these people and what makes them tick. Were it not for my blog, I would never have known that they even existed. Isn’t it a miracle that WordPress brought us all together and helped us form online friendships?

Some fellow bloggers have even inspired my posts. I’ve written a Native American post and a Tuskegee Airmen Red Tails post with one specific couple in mind (*cough, cough* blogger Marilyn Armstrong and her husband Garry *cough, cough*) and RAFrenzy motivated me to write another post about author Elizabeth Gaskell and actor Richard Armitage because the story was too good not to share.

Bloggers: What have you discovered from looking at your own metrics?

 

 

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15 Comments

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15 responses to “The electric metrics of a blog

  1. Metrics? I learned there are a lot of people looking for porn and finding my site (how??). I’ve learned you can find me on Wikipedia. I’ve learned funny “sells” best. And a “black lion” is apparently an obsession for a lot of people … and The Jonestown Massacre holds many followers in thrall. I’m not sure how useful this is. But weirdly interesting.

  2. I check my stats when I need a good laugh. I once used a stick drawing of an airplane and that is googled all the time. I get at least 1 hit on it every single day. The posts that I think are the best are not necessarily the most popular. I have concluded that I am not using my tags properly. Someday I have to learn that.

  3. I probably should pay attention to metrics and properly tagging my posts. What I really care about are comments. I so enjoy connecting with other bloggers and hearing their thoughts.

  4. Yup – comments make my world go around…

    “chicken longingly computer” was one strange search term. The most used search for my blog is “mustard oil for cricket bat” which appears about 3 or 4 times a week. Lately I’ve seen “Late Kate” show up with regularity. Is there a band by that name or something? I don’t kow.

    The US is still my main audience, with India (not surprising, since I write a lot about my life there and have many friends and family there) and Canada, which is where I live now.

    The most regular readers of my blog are free-lance writers, a librarian and English teachers. At one level that is gratifying, on the other hand, I’m not sure I have a broad appeal.

    My ode to Okra and a bad date story called the Coconut Oil Chaperone rank as #1 and #2 posts of all time. The few recipes I have also very well read. Stories from my life also do reasonably well. The opinion pieces don’t do well at all.

    • Chickens use computers??!! Oh, the images that spring to mind…..

      Maybe “Late Kate” has something to do with the Duchess of Cambridge? I noticed you have a post about her.

      The ode to okra and the coconut oil chaperone stories sounds intriguing. I will definitely be checking those out soon.

      I’ve noticed real-life stories do well too. If it’s a topic to which other people can relate, that helps.

  5. I keep an eye on the internet search terms that lead unsuspecting surfers to my blog. They range from the creepy to the outrageously funny! 🙂

  6. My blogger friend Elke at elkement.wordpress.com takes the spam comments she gets and uses them to write poetry (look at the section of her blog devoted to that). Before that she used to write search term poetry. Lately, though, with Google moving to a HTTPS connection word press is unable to capture the search terms that led to her site from Google searches. Too bad.
    While I am definitely a fan of various types of metrics, there’s a couple of dangers that are worth considering:
    1-the metrics will help us find out what types of posts get the greatest number of views. Whiloe this is vital for any site that depends on hits–ad supported sites, for example–there’s a real danger of pandering too much of the audience instead of focusing on the message you wish to transmit. Not all messages will be necessarily popular so moving in that direction could be to your detriment. I’m not saying ignore the metrics, just hold them in balance.
    2–Certain types of analytics tend to offer up too much on the back channel and thus run the risk of providing too much information or providing the reader with false positives. Frankly, at the moment the WordPress stuff is not sophisticated enough to do this but I imagine there will come a time.

  7. Checking out the search terms used to be more informative—before Google introduced the “in private” browsing. Now, I don’t see many popping up from day to day. But back when it was easy to name graphics when uploading, labeling some of the MS clipart with descriptive terms like “thinking” has led to continued hits on those posts. “Confusion” is another common one. Happily, searches on “beta reading” regularly lead to the 4-part series I wrote. I’m glad to see those posts getting continued views. But my all-time favorite search term was “when i’m older i want to be a forensics poem.” 🙂

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