Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Statcounters and Analytics for beginner bloggers

Today I would like to talk a little about statcounters and Analytics for blogs.  As beginner bloggers you may have no concept of what this means, and I feel that these tools will give you important insight into how your blog is performing and why it is performing the way it is. 

For me, I use Google Analytics, and I also use statcounter.com.  I use both for a very good reason.  I have some form of statistical OCD.  I am constantly checking stats and keywords all day long.  That is why I use statcounter.  It keeps a real time tally on page views.  Google's analytics also tracks page views and visits. But it only refreshes daily, this is fine for most, but being I like to keep a very close eye on when I get page views I use a free statcounter account that I can access through my blackberry browser, any time I want.

Ok, so what are analytics and statcounters really good for?
They track how many page views you receive, they track how traffic is finding you, and they track keywords if you are found through a search engine and they keep a running total of your total page views.  Now, for some, to see the actual number of page views really has little importance.  But for others like me, you will become obsessed with it.

First off, lets spend most of our time talking about Google’s Analytics.  This account will provide you with in depth information on the visitors to your blog, but before you can get the information, you will have to set up a Google analytics account.  This is very straight forward, especially if you already have a Google account.  It will just be linked to your existing account.

Once you have your account, you will need to link the account to your blog.  You will do this by providing Analytics with your blog name and URL, and Google will then give you a code to add to your blog.  This part is a little bit tricky, because it is HTML and you will have to add it to your template code.  So, just remember to make a copy of your template code before you alter it.  You know, save early save often.  After adding the code, Analytics will confirm that they have located the tracking code and within the next 24 hours your stats will start accumulating. 
With Google’s Analytics, you will be able to see how many visits you receive, you will see how many page views, and you will see average time on the site.  But that is not all, you will also see your traffic sources.  You will see keywords used to find your blog, and you will see what pages within your blog are being viewed along with how many times they are being viewed.  Now there is more information that Analytics provides, but you will learn that along the way.

The important thing here is to see how you are getting traffic, and if keywords are being used, what the keywords are.  This gives you the opportunity to improve upon your most successful posts, by adding more backlinks or rewording the pages to optimize them for the keywords being used. This also gives you a chance to see the posts that are just plain missing the mark.  And you can also spend some time correcting them in order to see better results.

Now for some, all this information that is provided by Analytics is not important.  It will really depend on your overall goals.  But, I would say that most new bloggers, or old bloggers are mostly interested in getting as many new visitors as possible and this tool is an excellent way to help you build a better blog.  All beginner bloggers should set up an analytics, just to get a little affirmation, and to be able to determine if what you are doing is “hitting the mark” so to speak.

Statcounter on the other hand is more of a luxury for me.  Being that I can see real time statistics for my blogs, I can get an idea if what I am doing makes an immediate impact or not.  It lets me know if new blog posts are getting immediate recognition or if they take time to start seeing results.  But either way, it is a free counter, and one that I would consider if you like to track your statistics.  It also will require you to set up an account, and claim your blogs.  And it will require you to add code to your HTML in order to track your site performance.

Even though these tools will not directly impact your blog performance.  What they do is offer you the ability to look into how your blog performs and why it performs like it does.  It will let you see that certain posts get much more attention and it will let you get and idea as to why they get more attention.  It is quite often that keywords that are showing up in analytics are keywords that I didn’t even consider when writing a specific post.  When that happens, I am left with the option of researching the keyword and determining if it is a keyword that I should promote within that post.  Using it as anchor text in backlinks and optimizing the article to include the exact phrase that has been searched. 

So, whether you start a blog purely out of pleasure, or with the sole purpose of generating high traffic numbers to increase your earning potential, Statcounters and analytics are must have tools for any blogger.  Get them and use them.  And the more you become familiar with them, the more that they will benefit you in your progression from beginner blogger to master blogger.

Thank you for reading blogging for beginners, come back soon for more blogging lessons!

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