In the last post, I covered how to add Google Analytics tracking code to your website and gave you a very brief description of what some of the data is about. In this post, I’m going to show you what real data looks like, what it looks like after you’ve published 31 blog posts in 1 month, and what kind of strategy changes might be needed based on that data.
A Behind the Scenes Look at Massage Therapy World
I write a business and technology blog for massage therapists called Massage Therapy World. This blog is over 2 years old and gets a pretty fair amount of traffic.
During the month of August, some friends and I decided we would post 31 times in 31 days. For some reason I can’t explain, I had 65 other massage therapists join in on the challenge! (If you’d like a kick in the pants to get you blogging, I’ll let you know the next time we run the challenge). I was curious what all of that blogging would do to the traffic statistics for the blog, so I pulled up my Google Analytics window and checked the stats.
Google Analytics allows you to compare data from 2 different times
This is a feature most people miss, but it’s a really terrific way to tell if something you’ve changed has had an effect.
In your Google Analytics page, click on the date and the window will expand. Click on “Compare to “n and select a time in the past to compare to. Make sure the time periods are the same length.
Just because we’re friends (we are, aren’t we?), I’m going to share some of the traffic data for this blog. I’ve gotten rid of some of the raw numbers, because they don’t really matter much and I don’t want to distract you with that. What I want you to see is the difference between data taken July 2 – 31 and data taken August 1 – 30. Here’s the big graph of VISITS.
The blue line is August, when I blogged every day, and the orange line is July, when I only blogged 6 times in the first half of the month. You also see that the traffic leveled out the last half of the month of August. I was posting later at night and not promoting it as heavily on Social Media. I suspect that the visits dropped due to the time of publication. I’ll experiment with this more in September to see if the time of day continues to have an impact on traffic.
So, that may not look like a completely huge change, but it is. Let’s look at the comparison:
It’s really great that Google does this number crunching for you. It should save the OCD among you some time doing this in a spreadsheet!
Visits and Pageviews were both nearly DOUBLE compared to July. While the Visits were 73% higher, the Unique Visitors was only increased by 35% and % New Visits were down by 23%. All 3 of these changes were in line with my goals. Why would I want a decrease in % New Visits? Because I wanted to see an increase in return rate. In other words, I wanted to write content that would draw the same people to keep coming back for more.
The Pages/Visit increased while the Bounce Rate decreased. These are both in the direction I wanted. Not only were people reading more pages when they visited, but the amount of time they spent on the site increased by 57% – a pretty hefty increase.
Blogs will usually have a higher bounce rate than a static site. Why? Because regular readers will come and read the new post of the day and then wander off. New readers, hopefully, will read the new post, like it, and read a few more posts. A static site will draw in a new audience who will read all of the static pages of a site, preferably leading to a decision to purchase, so the number of pages per visit should be higher and the bounce rate lower for a static website.
Next up: Analyzing the data
I’d love to have you take a quick look at your website stats. In the next post of this series, I’ll explain what some of this data really means and how they sometimes affect one another (think bounce rate vs. pages/visit). In the meantime, if you’ve got questions, leave them in the comments area below.