Posted by: Jim Adcock | February 10, 2011

Feedback

Why do statistics matter?

I follow my blogs’ stats very closely. I watch where visitors come from, what they are looking at, what they are looking for, and I get a sense of what they do once they have arrived (do they read other posts, or just go away?)

Yes, you can use your statistics to brag (as I frequently do). But the real point of the statistics and tracking them is to get feedback, the kind that visitors rarely leave in the comments.

By tracking the count of page views, you can find out which of your posts readers are responding to, and can track your progress toward building an audience. Are you on the right track? Are you writing things people want to read? Are your topics things people want to read about?

If you find particular topics that drive more traffic, perhaps you should be writing more posts on those topics.

By tracking referrers (pages that people clicked links on to get to your blog), you can find out how people are finding out about your posts. Are they coming from Facebook or Twitter? From StumbleUpon? Google and other search engines? If you are posting to Yahoo groups, you might see mail.yahoo.com URLs in your referrer list. What promotion methods are bringing most of your traffic?

This gives two options – you know where to spend effort to do “more of the same” to get results, but you also have areas of weakness to try to fine-tune. Is the messaging you are using in a particular venue right for that venue? Perhaps differentiating your messaging from one venue to another will get you better results.

Finally, search terms that people used to find your blog are helpful in fine-tuning your content. Unfortunately, you don’t get any statistics about searches that almost found your blog, but sometimes users looking for something else will find your content by searching on words you used.

For instance, I gave a specific piece of advice in my blog post “What have you been doing since your last job?” about one tactic to have a good answer that question. But I noticed that people who were finding the post were searching for something more general. So I followed up with a second post that answered the more general question. Watching some of the searches that found my post on Tweaking IE8, I found clues to specific questions about getting particular behavior related to the tips in my posting. Rather than write a whole new post, I answered the question asked in the search as a comment. Yes it was too late for the individual who originally searched for the information, but subsequent people searching for the same answer were able to get it from my post.

I encourage you to track your stats as a way to gather feedback on your posts – what’s working and what isn’t, what to do differently, and what to never do again.

Jim Adcock is a SharePoint Administrator, and blogs about SharePoint at his main blog, Working It Out. He is also Vice President of Launch Pad Job Club, an organization in Austin, Texas, whose mission is help people who have lost their jobs to get the skills they need to land their next job, and to help them cope with the interim between jobs. Consequently, Jim also blogs about career management. He also serves as Secretary on the Austin Software Process Improvement Network Board of Directors. He also wants to know why everyone keeps asking him about sleep…

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Responses

  1. The challenge for generalists is that we write on everything and the posts that keep bringing in readers can be very weirdly random. Two of mine that are read almost daily are about talking to my pharmacist more than my doctors and an obscure British film called “Sket.” As we say in NY, go figure!

    Here’s a free, really interesting well-used professional test — offered to my blog’s readers til Feb. 28 — to help job-seekers determine where they might really fit best. It’s used by a career counselor in Britain who offered it to me on LinkedIn. I learned a lot.

    http://broadsideblog.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/what-do-you-want-to-be-when-you-grow-up/

    • Now, see, that is the word I was looking for… “generalist”.

      That is a very good word for describing a lot of the blogs I have read recently.

      There is nothing wrong with being a generalist, blogging about whatever happens to cross your mind. In fact, rather than list them here, I feel s new blog post coming on…

      Thanks for the inspiational word!

  2. Well, we’re all supposed to be hyper-niche super-specialists now — experts in the climate of upper Borneo of the lyrics of John Lennon, but my brain just doesn’t work like that! I’ve been a journalist for 30 years and the fun of that job is learning something new almost every single day and thereby knowing a little about a lot.

    My interests — and thus my blog — range from art history to ballet to architecture to ethics, business to feminism. The people I love to read are equally voracious and intellectually omnivorous. How’s that for a big fat pile of multi-syllabic words?! 🙂

    • I do my general blogging on my Facebook page. The downside is I don’t get the feedback of stats to look at.

      As I explain in the post you inspired (still typing), I don’t look down at “generalist” blogging, as long as you are blogging with a purpose (from the post that got published today).

      If your purpose is to wander, then you are successful if you are wandering. (Though a little pageview love is always appreciated!) It is the people who aren’t aware of their purpose, and find that their wandering hasn’t led them to the destination they sought, or worse (IMHO), the destination they thought they were seeking, that need help with direction, motivation, and finding success. Without defining what success is, you can’t get there; without purpose, motivation evaporates (believe me, I’ve been there, I’ve got the t-shirt!).

      My purpose for this blog is is to help other people discover their blogging purpose, and then find ways to help them define success and take actions that will get them that success. And maybe flaunt my successes a bit…

      That said, the super-specialist expert route is a good way for capturing niche-market eyeballs…

  3. […] Kelly, aka broadsideblog, commented on one of my posts – The challenge for generalists is that we write on everything and the posts that keep bringing in […]

  4. […] is also the impact your ability to get feedback on your work and your promotion of it. If your posts are getting twice the hits that you used to […]


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