Lately I’ve seen a few posts in the WordPress forums questioning the recent addition of “Visitors” to our Blog Stats. I was surprised to find that some Bloggers didn’t want to know how many “Visitors” they had and instead preferred to only see the much larger number reflecting the “Views” their Blog received. Let’s face it, at first glance 100 “Views” in a day (week…month) looks so much better to our needy tender egos than say 9 “Visitors”, right? Especially for those of us who have never experienced the insanity pleasure of being Freshly Pressed.
It is so much easier to rationalize everything involved in putting our words to paper or screen if we can convince ourselves that 100 “Views” could actually be 100 “Visitors” and I can see how one may be discouraged to discover something to the contrary. So, instead of asking WordPress to remove the new Stat figure let me show you how you can turn those 100 “Views” into 100 “Visitors” by teaching you how to read the story your Stats have to tell. This is intel you can use to your (and your reader’s) advantage.
Personally I would be ecstatic to have 100 “Views” from only 9 “Visitors”, but I realize I may be at a slight advantage since I am a 20+ year media whore veteran with not only a focus on marketing, but a thorough knowledge of social media and website Statistic use. Figuring out what your readers want may be a mystery, but it’s a whole lot easier if you know what you’re looking for.
Your Stats allow you to see what your “Visitors” are reading, what they are clicking through to by way of the links you have embedded in your posts (as well those listed in your BlogRoll), and even what they are coming back for more of. In other words you have a unique view into what interests them. You may resist the term “marketing” because it alludes you are advertising, but the reality is, you are. That is, if you want readers. So, let’s break it down from a pandering marketing perspective.
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VISITORS: Since this is the newest Stat we have been given to observe it’s a great place to start because it gives you a very realistic picture of how many people “View” your Blog. It is also the basis for every other Stat available. A “Visitor” is a single entity unlike a “View” and “Visitors” are included in your total “Views”, but only by way of how many times they have visited. “Visitors” are your actual readers, some of which may also be “Followers” or “Subscribers” of your Blog.
As noted in the opening, one can have only 9 “Visitors” yet see 100 “Views” for the same time period. This is a good thing. It means 9 people are looking beyond whatever brought them to your Blog in the first place and becomes the beginning of an amazing relationship between reader and writer. In a perfect world every “Visitor’ would become a “Follower” or “Subscriber” which can be an attainable feat once you learn how to convert them.
You website or Blog is your online house and each “Visitor” is someone that you or others have invited in. Sometimes they enter through the front door, other times a window, some may even use the doggy door and we will talk about landing pages in a minute, but for now understand they are your guests and regardless of how they’ve arrived, you have to be a great host if you want them to come back.
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VIEWS: Every website (read Blog) should strive to have a “Visitor” step completely over the threshold of the entryway, i.e. the landing page, which is whatever page that initially drew them to your Blog and they land (or enter) on. It’s nice that they stopped by, but you want them to grab some coffee or a Diet Coke and settle in for a spell. You want them to think of their time on your Blog like they would their time spent with the morning paper or a couple of chapters from a favorite book.
You need to have fresh, interesting and/or entertaining content that makes them peek around further and get to know you. You want them to get addicted to your Blog. The more “Views” you see in your Stats the more opportunity you have to convert a one-time “Visitor” into a lifelong follower. When a single “Visitor” is clicking through to multiple posts or pages you are not only accumulating more “Views”, you are also gaining their interest in you as a writer. By looking at what they are viewing you are able to see what hooks their attention so that you can generate more content that may interest them further, i.e. keep’em coming back for more.
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TOP POSTS & PAGES: Usually the “home” and the “about” pages are the two most frequented pages of Blogs. If you do not have an “about” page make one. This is important. It allows your reader to put a real person behind your words. You will probably also notice that you have more “Visitors” and “Views” when you have fresh content.
Just like with a newspaper or magazine, readers want new information (if not daily then at least weekly). If you rarely post you will have a sluggish if not impossible time building a large and loyal readership. People get tired of seeing the same thing every time they come to your page and wonder if you are still alive or maybe even wonder why you have a Blog in the first place. At least they wonder, but believe me it’s fleeting as you are only as loved as the last piece you wrote.
Most of us want to be read, but that is secondary to the absolute need we have to write. It doesn’t take rocket science to discover things to write about that current and potential readers are interested in, but that doesn’t mean we cannot write about the things that interest us as well.
In looking at your Stats you can see which stories, articles, or posts you have already written that generated the most interest. Give them more like it, they’re begging for it! In other words, if you notice you get a lot of traffic to posts about politics or health, give them more politics or health to keep them coming back for more. There are countless angles you can take on any given topic. If you are like me and have a robust Blog full of all sorts of topics be sure to organize them so your readers can find what they came for. Get creative.
VISITS BY COUNTRY: Most of us have more “Views” and “Visitors” originating from whatever country we are writing from. That’s a given, but understanding what brought a “Visitor” to your Blog from another country can be beneficial and if you are really creative you can increase your “Visitors” from all corners of the world.
Do you speak another language? Use it from time to time! I happen to speak fluent “Song Title” and have discovered music really is a universal language. If you don’t speak another language can you at least include some tidbits of another language creatively in your posts or maybe reference well known “foreigners”, main stream celebrities, or “foreign” places in some posts? Are you taking advantage of the broad reach sharing your posts on Social Media has to offer?StumbleUpon is your friend! In fact, I would be willing to bet most of those “Visitors” from other lands found you on Social Media.
Another way to increase foreign readership is to include topics with worldwide interest. Be sure to do a few searches yourself so you know what words or phrases other people are searching. If your post is timely and written with Google in mind you will most likely turn up in search engines. Case in point, I wrote several articles about Iraq Ambassador elect Brett McGurk and received a huge amount of Blog traffic from Google and other search engines like Bing and Yahoo. SEO or Search Engine Optimization should never be left to the platform you are using. You as a writer have a responsibility to generate content that can be found in search engines by anyone, anywhere, anytime.
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REFERRERS: This will tell you how people came to be on your Blog. This is where you can see if you showed up in searches, have been linked to by another site, gauge the effectiveness of your own social shares, and more. Referrers are handy to know because they tell you what you are doing right and by omission, what you are doing wrong. Often times you will notice the correlation of referring sites like StumbleUpon and Twitter with the number of “Visitors” from outside your own country. Can you see how this may be helpful?
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CLICKS: Keep a look out for which links your “Visitors” click on and even those that never get clicked on. If you have a list of links in your BlogRoll that no one ever clicks, switch them up based on the type of content you see in your Stats that are getting a lot of play. This may sound silly, but sometimes a “Visitor” will come back simply because they didn’t bookmark a link they found in your BlogRoll. Also, whoever you link to can see in their own Stats where they are getting referrals from and they too may become your “Visitors” and – if you’re lucky, your “followers”. It’s really great if they give you linkbacks or pingbacks as well because each has the ability to generate even more “Visitors”.
When you are compiling a post, be sure to embed relevant links, especially if you can do so to other Bloggers posts. Of course, make sure it makes sense, but this is a really nice thing to do. You help promote a fellow writer who often times will return the courtesy. They don’t always though, so don’t you get all bent if they don’t. Also, don’t forget to include links to your own posts to help draw the “Visitor” deeper into your own site and gain even more of those “Views” you crave love so much.
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TAGS & CATEGORIES: This is a tough one. The rule of thumb seems to be less “Categories” and more “Tags”. It allows your posts to be propagated in a more focused manner to a much more qualified reader, i.e. someone who may actually be very interested in the topic of your post vs. just anyone who may have come across it.
“Categories” are really important if you want to be found by people looking for things related to Music, Poetry, Politics, Health, Parenting, and more whereas “Tags” zero in like a sub-title of a section does in a report. The problem I have with this is my particular Blog is multi-topic. I do not have a finite focus so even if someone pops over and finds no interest in one post they are sure to still find something of value for their time in stopping by in another post. I like to cater to all types of readers simply because I am a know it all I have all types of interests, knowledge, and writing skills.
When you look at the Stats in reference to “Categories” and “Tags” you can begin to hone your post placement skills in order to generate – you guessed it, more “Visitors”.
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TOTALS, FOLLOWERS, AND SHARES: Did you know that the figure given for “Followers” is not the total figure of your loyal readers? It’s true! “Followers” are merely those who clicked the general “Follow” button on your Blog. You may also have “Subscribers” and this area is where you can see them all together. Also, this is where the beautiful and almighty “Share” (not Cher) rears its insightful head.
Understanding that “Followers” and “Subscribers” are the same can certainly be a boost to that ego we discussed earlier. These people are your loyal readers and you cannot be so enthralled with getting new “Visitors” and “Views” that you forget about your base. I mean really, what would be the point of getting new people if you lose old people in the process right? Remember what brought them to your site and be sure to keep feeding them what they love. Take a few minutes to pop over to their Blog and say hello, read a bit, leave a comment or two. Just like any other relationship this one too can go south if you stop cultivating it.
There is a tiny little click through for “Shares” in this section of your Stats. Click it! This is important. You might be surprised to see how many people have shared your stuff that you were completely unaware of. This could explain how you got referrals from LinkedIn when you have never posted a Blog link there. Whether a “Visitor” becomes a “Follower” or “Subscriber” or not does not mean they are not sharing your Blog with their posse of Social Media “Followers”. I should mention here that if you do not have all of the available Social Media “Share” options set-up on each post or page of your Blog you are missing out. I mean this. I get a huge amount of traffic via Social Media.
One more thing on social “Shares” you should know…be the first to get the ball rolling and hit the “Share” buttons as soon as your post goes live and whatever you do don’t forget to add StumbleUpon. The site is great for generating traffic and believe it or not I have received further “Shares” and “Followers” because of it. Just be careful what and where you “Share”. I rarely “Share” anything controversial or sexual in nature on my business networks like LinkedIn however it is a great place to “Share” things about marketing, sales, or the ability of Social Media.
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COMMENTS: It’s always nice to get feedback on what we write. WordPress does a pretty good job of keeping the spam away so most of the comments you receive will be from real life readers, commonly they will be other Bloggers. I have learned that to get more comments you have to leave more comments. No one wants to be the first to reach out or voice an opinion, but someone has to and experience has taught me it is worth it.
Take a little time each day to visit other Blogs. When you find posts you like say so, but don’t just say “great post”, take the time to say why you think it’s a great post. After all they posted it for you (kind of) so show the love (or hate) when it’s appropriate and mind your manners. Don’t leave a link to your Blog when you comment unless their post asks you to do so. There are exceptions to that from time to time, but they are few. No one wants to get excited about having a new comment only to find it was just your way of getting a pingback to your own Blog. If you have something interesting or relevant to say the writer (and their readers) can find your Blog by way of your Gravatar (which by the way should be fully completed; including a picture). The more feedback you give, the more feedback you’ll get.
In the “Comments” section of your Stats you can get a good idea of which posts on your Blog are getting the most comment interaction. Once you look it over you will begin to get a feel for why a specific post made others want to opine on it. This helps you figure out whether it was worth it and whether or not you should continue to post about bleeding scabs such things ever again. I rarely delete comments unless they have somehow gotten completely off-track of the post itself and become general chit-chat. At that point I usually direct the commenter to e-mail me directly and then clean up the thread. I don’t need my readers to know to be subjected to me suddenly going off the deep-end into a flirt fest or mud-slinging match. Speaking of e-mail, be sure to take advantage of any of the free e-mail platforms to have an account that is specific to your Blog.
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SUMMARIES: There is a summary available for each portion of your stats. These are helpful so that you can look beyond the current day. It enables you to take the wide angle of a week, month, or even the year and you may be surprised when you look at the big picture. Was December 2012 a big month for traffic vs. November 2012? If so, look at the summaries for pages and posts to see why. Did you write more or did you just write about something that was trending at that time? Did you have more “Shares” in the month you had more “Visitors”, if so that could be a good indication of why you had so many “Views”. It’s a puzzle, but the “Summaries” can help you further piece it all together.
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BONUS TRICK FOR A READER TREAT: While content may be key for both increasing “Visitors” and “Views”, so is how you present your content. Use images whenever and wherever you can (be sure to give proper attribution/credit). Having a lot of images in your posts and pages allows you to utilize Pinterest which is currently one the hottest Social Media sites on the net, but more importantly every image is linked back to your Blog and you can drop a hard link right into the description field as well. Two pingbacks for the price of one “Share”.
Take a good long objective look at the template you are using. Many people use standard Blog templates where a reader has to endlessly scroll to find the next post or anything at all. Templates like that rely on whatever the reader has read and whether they want to take the time to wade through the rest looking for something else they may like. Why not give them a great visual presentation where they can see a snapshot of a variety of posts on varying topics instead? If you do, chances are there will be something more that catches their eye or attention and gets them to read more posts and pages. When a “Visitor” is reading deeper into your Blog your “Views” increase and like I said, when an individual is reading more of what you write you are building a relationship – an important one to any writer.