Archives for traffic

Hello..Hello…Hello…Is anyone out there? and Other Blog Traffic Questions

Blog Traffic

Is your traffic quality or quantity?

Traffic. Traffic. Traffic. This is what everyone wants. You want to know how to get it and how to get more of it. Of course you do. You don’t want to write and feel like the sound of crickets chirping are the only thing coming back. So lets look at how you get traffic; how you understand your traffic; and why you shouldn’t care.

How do you get traffic?

The best way to get traffic to your blog is to post frequently. You should be blogging AT LEAST 3 times a week. Many people don’t like this answer. But content if content is king then frequency is the entire monarchy. The more you post the more current and relevant you appear. You will also get better SEO results, because the search engines will crawl your site more frequently. Also frequency builds familiarity. People will start seeing your content more often and will be more likely to start reading you.  The top blogs in the world all post more than 5 times a day. Not saying that you have to become Mashable, but if you want traffic you need to generate content.

Other things that help are using keywords to boost your SEO. Give yourself the “thumbs up” on Stumbleupon. Give yourself a “plus” on Google+. Tweet out your blog posts at least 3 times a day and post it on Twitter. Social sharing is a very powerful tool for getting the word out there and getting people to your site. But still…mainly get out there and write.

Understanding your traffic

I admit that I have spent many hours pouring over my analytics on Google and Statscounter. I have gotten really excited when I see a post cause a spike in my traffic.  But these numbers are not the end all be all of your traffic. Despite what many people say, blogs do not live and die by these numbers.

Analytics are a great way to understand the flow of traffic to your site. You will see a lot of information about where you organic traffic is coming from, like Google, Twitter and Facebook. However it does not account for all the ways in which your readers can consumer your blog.

Every blog has an RSS feed. RSS stand for really simple syndication. People can use RSS readers to subscribe to your feed or they can receive it by email. People who use readers or get your blog via email are called subscribers. Services like Feedburner are RSS managers, making it easier for you to track your subscriber traffic. They will let you know how many people are subscribing. However, this is not entirely accurate. There are readers, like Mac mail, that are not counted by Feedburner.

Subscribers are not counted by your analytics unless the person actually goes to your blogsite. Subscribers have the ability to read your posts in their email or through their RSS reader without ever going to your site. So they are still consuming the information, they are just not giving you the hits to your site.

Why you shouldn’t care

Quality is what matters not quantity. If you have a small but dedicated following on your blog, then you don’t need thousands of hits. Hits don’t mean that people are reading. Hits just mean that people are coming to the site. You want readers. Readers will come in the form of subscribers. They are the people who comment on your posts or retweet your links on Twitter. They are your newsletter recipients and the people who comment on your Facebook posts.

So stop dwelling on the numbers. Focus on creating quality posts and the traffic will come!

Twitter Analytics are (Almost) Here

Article first published as Twitter Gets Analytical on Technorati.

Twitter Traffic TracksIf you use Twitter for business then you are painfully aware of one fatal flaw…tracking your Twitter traffic. Want to know your Twitter ROI? Love to dig into analytics? Want to know the details of your traffic sources? Well, Twitter has just made this challenge a little less challenging. They are now offering their own web analytics,

The problem with tracking traffic from Twitter has been:

Problem: Incorrect traffic source referrals

Have you looked at your analytics and seen traffic from unknown source, mobile device, or some third party app that you don’t recognize? Until very recently Twitter was not reporting their traffic as referral traffic. This prevented you from know exactly how much traffic was truly coming from Twitter or a Twitter manager.

Obvious (but not total) Solution: Link Shortners

These are great. A link shortener does seem like a solution to the tracking problem. However, it is not a total solution. Most link shorteners do offer analytics. If you only use the shortened link on Twitter, then any clicks on that link will be from Twitter. But that only tracks the links you post and retweeted by your followers. But if someone else is tweeting links to your site, you are still not able to account for that referral traffic.

 

Twitter offers its own link shortener, T.co. However this has not offered any benefit beyond providing a shorter link.  That was changed with a recent update that would automatically wrap any link longer than 20 characters in the t.co shortener. This big benefit to this was that it allows referral traffic to show up in your analytics as a t.co. Though it does not solve all the referral traffic issues, it does offer a significant improvement.

The new analytics being released will finally offer an answer to the question, how much traffic do I get from Twitter. The new tool promises to not only show you how much traffic you are getting from Twitter but effectiveness of your website Twitter integration and how your site is being shared across Twitter.

Right now the tools is only being offered to a select few, but roll outs to the general public will be starting in the next week. They are also going to release a website API for developers.

Will the new analytics, in conjunction with T.co, solve the traffic tracking problem? Time will tell.

 

Tracking Twitter Traffic

Twitter AnalyticsDespite the obvious enjoyment of the alliteration in tracking twitter traffic. It is a common question that people have. How do you track twitter traffic.  Well the short answer is you can’t, or at least not completely. The longer answer is, yes there are tools to use and Twitter just made it a lot easier.

Shortners

The easiest way to track traffic from your Twitter account is to use a shortner.  Bit.ly, Goo.gl, Ow.ly are a few of the common link shortners that will also give you analytics. Personally I prefer bit.ly. I like the analytics they give. They let you know where you traffic is coming from and how many unique people are clicking your links. If you are fastidious, you can even check what time of day people were clicking if you look at the past 24 hours. Goo.gl has obvious benefits as far as SEO (though bit.ly is run through google analytics, and also receives SEO benefit), though I am not as fond of their reporting system.  Ow.ly is great for those of you who use Hootsuite to manage your Twitter accounts.

When you use a shortened link in your tweets, and someone clicks that link, it is very easy to track it through the analytics of the shortner. However, this does not account for all twitter traffic. You will also get traffic from your profile, from other people tweeting your links and from brand recognition.

Direct Traffic

This is the traffic that is going directly to your website. This could be from the link on your profile, or if you are putting your direct link in your tweets. This could also be from people typing in your URL directly into their browser.

Making it Easier

The bigger problem with tracking twitter traffic is through your analytics. When you are looking at your analytics though a site like Google Analyitics or Statscounter the traffic from Twitter was not always being credited from Twitter depending on the the device being used. For instance if someone when to your site from twitter, but they were using a mobile device, your analytics would likely report that it was coming from a mobile device and not Twitter, even though it was coming from both. Or worse, you would not show a Twitter referal at all, it would show up as direct traffic.

Twitter is now shortening all links that are 20 characters or more with their t.co link shortner.  This is meant to help with tracking traffic. It will also allow the analytics providers to properly attribute their traffic sources.

 

Though this newly integrated Twitter shortner is meant to help track twitter traffic, it is in part part of Twitters ongoing efforts to replace the need for third party apps.  Though it is unlikely that t.co will replace bit.ly anytime soon. For one, the true analytics of t.co is only available to a small selection of developers and not available to the public. So the only way to view link analytics is through your website analytics provider. For many marketers that is simply not enough.

On the plus side, in your analytics you should be able to see what t.co is directing traffic to your site. This means that you can track your site traffic down to a specific tweet, and that is a huge plus for marketers.

So now we just have to wait for the release of the full t.co analytics to see if they will get rid of the need for third party shortners.

Twitter Traffic Times Three

Twitter BirdsI love alliteration! Twitter traffic times three is not how to get three times the amount of traffic. Rather it is the three type of traffic coming from Twitter that you are generating. Understanding the source of your traffic will help you understand the power of Twitter to your marketing and branding.

1. Link

Link traffic are the clicks you receive on the links you put in your posts. When you tweet out a link and someone clicks on it, that is considered one of the most valuable kinds of clicks. From a sales point of view it is considered a “qualified lead”. It is qualified because the person who clicked on it is already interested in what you are tweeting about. By clicking the link in the tweet, they are saying they are also interested in the link. Now it is your job to convert the lead.

This is also the easiest link to track because you can use a link shortner which will allow you to get thorough analytics.

2. Profile

In your profile you have your website. Because this is your profile and part of your branding you want to make sure this is your dot com and not a shortened link. People will be able to click this link and go directly to your main website. This will be harder to track. If you are using a website analytics tool like Google analytics or Statscounter you will be able to see the traffic coming in from twitter, but you will have to go into your analytics to identify the source of your traffic, as opposed to the url shortner analytics that will show you the traffic from a specific link.

3. Direct Traffic

This is the traffic that is untrackable. Direct traffic is when someone types your URL directly into their web browser. It is also when someone knows your brand name and finds your URL by searching for it in Google.  In your analytics it may come up as a google search or just direct traffic.

The engagement you do in Twitter will increase your brand awareness. Many people will go to your website because of your Twitter efforts, but because it is direct traffic you will not specifically know that it is a result of your social media efforts.  This kind of traffic is extremely valuable and not at all quantifiable. So we cherish it and get frustrated with its enigmatic essence.

Does SEO win the traffic war?

A study recently reported that search engine traffic is more robust and stickier than social media traffic. Click-throughs and stickiness are two paramount issues for web businesses. Click-throughs are the number of people who click on a link, and stickiness is the amount of time someone stays on your site. It seems that there is always contradictory information concerning the issue of “sticky click-throughs as they relate to social media. Some people say that social media is not as good as traditional SEO. Some people say that is is better. I am here to tell you that they are both right.

The study was conducted by Outbrain, a company that provides widgets to publishers designed to keep readers on their sites longer. A follow-up story appeared by Xbiz, claiming that search engine traffic was stickier than social media traffic.

If you choose to dig deeper into the study you will find that the breakdown is not as simple as that; there was huge variance in traffic sources according to industry. For instance, the study showed that 42% of new visitors for news sites came from social media, whereas for sports sites it was only 5%. The study showed that overall search traffic still dominated the majority of unique visitor traffic but that the social media unique visitor traffic, while only 11%, was on the rise.

The study also published this chart of top traffic sources for websites:

Top 20 Traffic Sources  from Outbrain

Though social media was touted as being a low factor in driving traffic, and creating sticky traffic, they seemed to brush by the fact that Twitter and Facebook were both in the top 10…and rising!

What this does indicate is that SEO is still an important aspect for creating a strong web presence. In fact, SEO is relevant for social media as well. But social media deserves more credit than it receives in this study.  Social media functions differently than SEO. It is about relationships and those relationships build a brand, loyalty and trust.

Social media is about relationships, SEO is about clicks.

Stop sending your traffic away from your blog!

Blog Tools

Have you ever clicked on a link in a blog post that took you to another website and you could not get back to the site you came from?  There are many websites out there that “trap” you. Hitting the back button doesn’t work; you basically have to close that window to get out of the linked site.  This is a pet peeve of mine, as it happens all the time.

If you are a blog owner, and you send someone to a site where they posted a great article about a relevant topic, or one that might be an interesting resource for your audience, chances are you just lost your reader.If they cannot get back to your site by hitting back, can you really rely on them remembering your URL, or how they found you in the first place?  If it were me, I would not count on it.

I read or visit at least 50 blog posts a day.  There are plenty of times I find interesting posts, then get sidetracked, and can’t seem to find my way back. When I started consuming mass blog entries, I began to notice this was a problem.  That was when I realized the importance of links opening in new windows.

It was not a sexy realization. It was not something that blew my mind in a huge epiphany. But it did solve a puzzle: how do you keep people on your site while linking to other sites?  Open each link in a new window! Seemingly simple, yet it required diligence on my part.

If all your links open in new windows, it means that your blog post will always stay open. When the person is done reading the link they can close that window, or even chase links from that link, and your original page will remain. So when they are ready to get back to the post where their great adventure in blogsite discovery started you are there waiting for them, instead of leaving them scratching their heads wondering where it all began.

Most blogging platforms have an easy way to insert your links.  If you use WordPress, for instance, you click the little icon and in the “Insert Link” dialogue it gives you an option to “Open in new window” or “Open in same window.”  You might not ever remember making this choice.  If you don’t make the choice the default is to open in the same window. This is where being diligent comes in.

In the beginning it will not be easy. You will forget. You will do it for some but not for all. But once you get into the habit, it will be easy. Then you will be keeping people on your site while giving them wonderful links to explore. And they’ll always find their way home.

You are talking but no one is listening: Understand your audience

a 1950's movie audience wearing 3D glasses

Understanding your audience is an important part of marketing strategy.  Who are they? What are their age ranges?  Are they predominantly male or female? Unfortunately, you can know everything about the demographics of your audience and still not reach them. An important factor that is often overlooked is: when are they active?

Knowing when your audience is online is important for a number of reasons:

1.  If you want to be sure your target audience is reading your posts, then you want to make sure you are posting when they are online.

2. Posting relevant content at relevant times shows them that you are part of the group, participating in the conversation, rather than someone from the outside trying to broadcast information

3. Work smart not hard.  If you don’t get traffic on the weekends, stop posting on the weekends.

People are always trying to figure out how to drive more traffic.  The best way to do this is to thoroughly understand your audience.  By knowing when they are likely to be most active you can optimize your time by using it effectively.

There is no shortcut for this.  You can read all the stats you want and see when people tweet the most, and what days are best to post to your blog.  Ultimately every audience is unique.  What works for one person might not work for you.  Keep track of your stats, watch your traffic, monitor your engagement.  Pay attention to when your audience is paying attention.  Once you know them it will be easier to get them to know you.