The Most Important Metrics Used by Successful Bloggers
We often hear or read the phrase “blog metrics” being thrown around. The concept sounds so complicated that not everyone bothers to look deeper and fully understand what it is. However, serious bloggers cannot just ignore these blog metrics, not if they want to have a successful blog.
In this article, we will discuss the 7 most important metrics for building a profitable blog.
First off, what do we mean by blog or blogging metrics?
The term “metrics” generally refers to any method of measuring something. It is also synonymously used to refer to the results that are obtained from the method or mode of measurement applied. When we say “blogging metrics”, we are referring to the methods (and the numbers obtained from the methods) of measurement to gauge the overall performance of a blog. In simpler terms, these metrics are indicators of the success of a blog.
Bloggers greatly rely on these metrics to see whether they are on the right track, or how fast (or slow) they are moving towards the direction they are aiming for. Using these metrics, they can employ strategies to move things along or to do better. For the most successful bloggers, these blog metrics are closer than best friends.
More than just figures or stats, blogging metrics play a more important role in blogging. Let us try to break them down.
- Blog metrics provide bloggers a clearer and better understanding of how each piece of content performs.
- Blog metrics lets bloggers be better “acquainted” with their audience, such as what interests them and what doesn’t.
- Blog metrics allows bloggers to perform quality control on their blog content.
- Blog metrics not only give you a clear picture of your blog’s overall performance, but also a look at its growth.
METRICS THAT SUCCESSFUL BLOGGERS CARE ABOUT
There are a lot of metrics that measure blog performance, and we do mean A LOT. In fact, there’s just so many of them that they can practically drown you if you try to closely monitor all of them. Some bloggers monitor all of them, while others – most likely the successful ones – only pay attention to the metrics that “matter”. Let’s face it: some blogging metrics are more important than others, so why waste your time tracking all blogging metrics when you can just pay attention to those that actually say something about your blog performance?
That is another one of the differences that separate the successful bloggers from the less successful ones. In the following discussion, we will do as the successful bloggers do, and that is to take a look at the relevant and important blogging metrics.
#1 Page Views
When a visitor goes to your blog, it will register one page view on your home page. If they click on, say, one blog post, that is another page view. If he likes what he is seeing, his interest will be high, and he is likely to click to go to other pages on your blog. That will certainly increase the number of page views for your blog. But let us break that down further.
- Number of views per page – You may be wondering which of the posts on your blog draws the highest amount of interest. You can determine that by looking at the number of views that each page gets. A travel blog may find that its posts on budget travel tips gets more views than content that talks about luxury cruises. That will be the blogger’s cue to come up with more content that pertains to budget travel because readers are more interested in the topic. This metric will clue you in on which pages or content gets the most interest and drives the most traffic.
- Number of pages per visit – In one visit, how many pages do your visitors view? If you notice that many of them view only one or two pages, it means that they most likely do not find your content to be interesting. Alternatively, your links could be in places where your visitors’ eyes do not go. It is a sign of having a good page layout and quality content if you are able to engage your visitors long enough to check out other pages in your blog. If you are sure that your content is high quality, you should try changing the positioning of the various elements on the various pages. Improving content and layout are two of the most important ways of improving your blog’s page views per visitor.
There is a general perception among new bloggers that the higher the number of visitors to their blogs is, the more successful it is. To a certain extent, this may be true. However, it is inconclusive, since you also have to take note of the kind or quality of visitors that you blog is getting. Once you are sure that you are attracting the right visitors to your blog, you can go ahead and analyze these metrics.
This lets you know the number of unique visitors, or actual people, to your blog. You will be informed on how many are actually seeing the content you put up on your blog. In Google Analytics, this metric is now simply referred to as “Users” so don’t get confused.
High numbers indicate that you are going a good job and should keep at it. Low numbers mean you need to put in more work, particularly in promoting your content and your blog as a whole. The next steps you’d take should focus on increasing awareness of your blog.
New and Returning Visitors
Metrics that show a high number of new visitors have a lot to do with your efforts to promote your blog and content. If the number is low, then you have to find better ways and avenues to promote your blog.
Unfortunately, most bloggers are fixated on the number of people visiting their blogs so they promote it, in the hopes of attracting new visitors. In this instance, they run the risk of ignoring those who have already visited.
Visitors or readers have a tendency to return to a blog that left a very good impression on them during their first visit. They tend to develop a loyalty for this blog, so that they keep returning to check out what new content it has to offer. If metrics show a high number or percentage of returning visitors, it means one thing: the quality of your content is high and they offer value, so they keep coming back. If the percentage is low, that means you have to take another look at the content that you offer and find ways to make it more appealing and offer more value.
In the past, there seemed to be a general consensus among websites and blogs that “traffic is everything”. Traffic, in this context, refers to web traffic, or the amount of data that is sent and received by visitors to a website or a blog. We could also define it as the number of visitors to a website or blog, the number of web pages that they click, and the length of time or duration that a visitor views a page on the website or blog.
But do not just stick on those numbers. You have to look beneath the surface in order for those numbers to make more sense.
Traffic to your blog comes from various sources, and you have to be able to identify them in order to determine which source provides the most traffic, and which sources need to be worked on even more. Some of the most common traffic sources include:
- Search engines. You will find that one of the most common advices given to new bloggers is to increase their blog’s search engine visibility. That is because search engines are the biggest sources of traffic. If you manage to consistently create content that ranks you high in search engine rankings, the chances are very high that more people will visit your blog. If you notice that there are only a few people who come by your blog through search engines, then you have to reconsider your content and how you create them. Maybe you should pay more attention to the use of keywords and terms that will be more search-engine-friendly. This is where search engine optimization tools come in very handy.
- Through direct visits. Direct traffic involves directly typing the URL of your blog on the address bar. These could be spurred by many different things. Perhaps the visitor happened to have heard about your blog on the television, or they read about it on an article in the newspaper. It could also be that the site came up in a conversation with a friend. Maybe they visited the site in the past and the name was memorable enough to stick in their minds. There are many things that could result in direct traffic on your blog.
- Referrals. This is no longer a new concept. What makes it different from direct traffic is that it is generated through visitors clicking a link to your blog from another website or blog. A very important information provided by this metric is the most effective referrer. What search engines, social media networks, websites, blogs, or listings are sending traffic over your way?
- Image searches. Humans are visual creatures by nature. They like a picture they see, they click to find out more about it. Which is why you have to make sure to make good use of photos in your blog. Successful bloggers also pay attention on how they tag the images that they use, using descriptive image file names and choosing the keywords carefully. This is because image searches on search engines are also using these file names as basis on what to return to every visitor’s image search.
- Other websites or blogs. If other sites or blogs puts up a link to your blog on their page, they are considered as referrers, effectively turning them into sources of traffic. This metric will also help bloggers, especially those who are just starting out, to build relationships and start their own networks in the blogging community. They will reach out to these sites or blogs that referred them, and go from there.
- Social networks or platforms. People who like a content in a blog are likely to share its URL on their personal social media accounts, such as on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or Reddit, to name a few. This will make the link to your blog visible to other people in their circles, and so they will click in order to visit your blog. That will certainly increase traffic to your blog through referrals. Low numbers in this category means you have to step up your game in the social media networks.
- Web directories or listings. If you list your blog in the relevant directories, then you are bound to expect some traffic through that channel. Business blogs, for example, make sure they are listed on YellowPages.com or Yelp.com, and visitors to that site will have more chances of stumbling on them when searching for specific services or goods.
When starting your blog, you must have a target audience in mind, and you know where they are from. Take a look at where the visitors to your site are coming from. If, in the beginning, you only had one area or location in mind, you may notice that your visitors are also coming from other locations. That will make you arrange and rearrange your content creation strategy accordingly.
You also have to pay attention to the amount of traffic or number of visitors who click to your blog, and immediately leave right after they have arrived. It could be that your blog did not leave enough of an impression at first glance so they just clicked away.
High bounce rates will urge you to rethink your blog’s layout and design, as well as the content and how you present them so that they will immediately catch one’s attention even at first glance.
#4 Time on Site
It is not enough to see how many views a page gets, or how many pages are viewed by visitors in each visit. You also have to consider the length of time or duration that is spent by the visitors on your blog. Take a look at the average time that a visitor stays in your blog.
If it lasts just a few minutes, there is a chance that your content did not engage them enough. If they stayed for more than several minutes, that means they have spent a longer time reading many of the posts on your blog.
#5 Inbound and Outbound Links
Inbound links, also known as backlinks, are hyperlinks in another website that leads directly to your blog, while outbound links are links on your blog that will take those who click it someplace else, away from your blog.
When measuring inbound links, you have to monitor the number of sites or blog that link into your blog. An example is when another site or blog liked the content on your blog and post a link on their pages, thus encouraging their audience to visit your blog. Of course, the number is not the only thing that matters. You will also be able to ascertain the quality of these sites that link back to you. Obviously, it bodes well for your blog if the inbound links come from influential or popular sites.
In the case of outbound links, you might be confused. How can they help your blog if they will take them away from it? Believe it or not, outbound links are very helpful in improving your blog ranking and give it more authority. These outbound links will enable search engines to identify your blog under a specific niche. High clicks on outbound links on your blog indicates that you have inspired trust in your visitors; you “recommended” that link, so it must be worth checking out.
#6 Social interactions and Social Media Metrics
If a visitor likes what he saw or read on your blog, chances are high that he will be encouraged to interact with your blog, maybe even engage you – the blogger – in conversation. The amount of social interaction that your blog gets is also indicative of interest in your blog’s content.
- Comments. Some bloggers measure the success of a blog post in the number of comments it receives. Usually, there are certain types of blog posts that get the most comments in a blog. If you’re smart, you will keep creating that type of content in order to keep the level of interest high.
- Social media shares and clicks. We have mentioned earlier that happy visitors are those who will share your content on their social media accounts. This is another type of social interaction. Let us say, for example, that you tweeted about your content. Your followers on Twitter will check out the content and, if they liked it as well, they will also share it to their own followers through the Retweet button. Great content is highly likely to be shared the most, so take note of the type of content that gets these high percentages of interaction. If the rate is low, then you have to work harder to make sure your blog becomes more visible.
#7 E-mail and RSS Feed Statistics
Blogs also have RSS feeds and set up email lists, created for the purpose of helping the blog build an online community or following. These metrics will also help you in creating and managing content. Two important metrics that you may want to pay attention to are the Number of Subscribes and Unsubscribes. How many sign-ups did your email list and RSS feed get? How many unsubscribed, and what is their reason for leaving your list?
WHICH BLOGGING METRIC TO CHECK?
Finally, let us try to answer the questions on most newbie bloggers’ minds: Why do some blogging metrics hold more weight than others? When is a blogging metric more important?
At the end of the day, choosing which blogging metrics are the most relevant and important will depend on what you want to achieve for your blog. While blogging, what do you care about? What is important to you? What do you want to achieve from blogging, or what do you foresee for the future of your blog?
How do you define success in blogging?
These questions apply whether you are maintaining a personal blog or a business blog. Once you have fully answered these questions, it will be easier for you to decide which among the blogging metrics discussed will be most relevant and important.