I pay careful attention to blog traffic. I religiously read my stats and keep a close eye on the search terms and keywords bringing folks to the Freelance Writing Jobs blog network. While we have been enjoying a steady rise for years, a few weeks ago we experienced a brief dip in traffic. At first I was concerned; what could be causing folks to stay away? After a careful analysis of my stats, I realized people weren’t staying away. In fact, more people than ever were reading blog posts from this network.
So why the drop in blog traffic?
Because more readers are choosing alternative methods of viewing this blog.
For example, during the time of our traffic dip we experienced a huge jump in RSS subscribers. At almost 9500 subscribers, I’m not too worried that no one is reading our blogs. Also, we have a ton of sign ups to the weekly newsletter. Many of them click through to read our articles after viewing the excerpts in the newsletter. Plus, our Facebook Fan page will hit 900 fans soon and our Facebook networked blogs page isn’t doing so shabby either. Readership isn’t down, it’s way, way up.
So many bloggers obsess over their blog’s traffic, when that should only be one measure of success. Other factors should include:
- Comments - Is there a lot of community participation? Do people keep coming back to take part in the discussion? Your comments are a very good indication of how your most important community members – the regulars – feel about what you do.
- Bounce Rate – We’re going to discuss this more in depth soon in another post, but bounce rate measures how long folks stick around. Generally, the higher the bounce rate, the less time folks are spending on the site. From what I can tell by my research 60% is about average for most blogs. FWJ’s bounce rate is between 30% and 40% which means when people drop by, they tend to stick around and read a few pages. Even more important than having a ton of visitors who don’t stick around is having a few who are so interested they read for an hour.
- RSS and Email Subscribers - Did you know most of the people who read your content aren’t visiting your blog? They’re reading it through RSS or email feeds. My stats program allows me to see not only how many of my subscribers view my feeds each day, but also how many click through to participate in the comments or have a look around. So in addition to several thousand physical visitors each day, we also have several thousand subscriber views. It’s a beautiful thing.
- Searches – I’m kind of an SEO Idiot, but I can figure out a few things. For example, my stats tell me how I’m doing with the searches and my best performing keywords. It tells me each day which terms visitors are using to find my blog and how those same search terms compare to the day before. Because I’m not an SEO expert, I’m kind of proud of what we achieved here. Ranking #1 for several key search terms is the goal of most bloggers.
If your blog traffic is down it can mean several different things. Of course it could mean you lost readers, and if that’s the case you’ll have to analyze why. It can also mean you’re gaining readers in different ways. Before you panic, check your stats. The results might be a very pleasant surprise.