31 Days to a Better Blog – Day 11: Dig into your Site Statistics

The task for day 13, of 31 Days to a Better Blog is to dig into your blog’s metrics or statistics package.
(for further information on the challenge I’m taking part in, see the background page to the project)

“Take some time out today to do a little analysis of your blog’s statistics. There is a wealth of information in them that can be incredibly useful.”

Many of use use different forms of finding ways to analyze our users and traffic on our sites. A few years ago, the traditional ‘hit counter’ was common place on the home page of many sites, but these do not really give useful information about the users and type of users visiting your site. You don’t see them as often these days, but many sites are still tracking information about their site visitors, just doing it all behind the scenes.
(see my past post on retro websites if you want a reminder of the good old days of websites…)

Even though this challenge is aimed at blogs, I’d highly recommend any one or organisation who has a website or blog, to use analytical software so that they can really begin to look beneath the surface at how their site is used. It will help you shape the way your site is written and also help you to find the areas which aren’t used and the ones that are.
It doesn’t need to cost anything either, just some of your time and some curiousity, as the more you begin to analyse your site statistics, the more you will be entertained by the data on where your visitors come from, what browsers they use (does your website work perfectly in all browsers? When did you last check?), how long they spent on your site, who referred them, what keywords did the use on a search to find you and much, much more…

A couple of months ago, Beth Kanter put a shout out asking if any non profit organisations in the UK were using Google Analytics. She was doing a screencast primer for the Non-Profit Technology Empowerment Network (known often as NTEN) for a forthcoming webinar, and I responded saying that the organisation I manage as my day job, uses Google Analytics in a basic way for our site.

A Screencast by Beth Kanter of Beth’s Blog
Sponsored by NTEN

A primer for non-profits on Google Analytics by beth Kanter

Since the screencast went out, I’ve learn’t much more about it’s uses, and have been now using it in depth alot more than previously.

I manage many sites in all for a variety of people and organisations, and have most of them set up with Google Analytics, so that I can monitor the ‘health’ of the sites. It helps me as a designer to see if people are finding their way around the websites and also to see where they leave the sites. As a blogger or an organisation who is adding content and articles to a site, Google Analytics can help provide you with really useful data on how people use your site. It’s not just about ‘hits’ these days, what you need to know about is the quality of use, not just the numbers. Knowing and understanding that will help enable you to create a more successful and approachable site for all.

You can read the full article I did for Beth’s screencast on her blog here.