Like any blogger, book bloggers need to pay attention to blog analytics. However, if you are blogging a book, the statistics garnered from your analytics might seem more important than to some other bloggers. Large numbers of unique visitors (readers ) and page views can lead to a traditional publishing deal or to large book sales—or to both.
The bloggers who have been discovered by traditional publishers or agents have had extremely popular blogs. Their popularity was measured primarily by looking at subscriber numbers and readership. Additionally, popularity relates to how often the blog or its posts are either shared or mentioned. This equates to “influence” on the Internet or social networks. This type of influence—shares and mentions—turns into to sales more often than sheer numbers of fans or followers (readers).
While watching analytics can be both depressing and addictive at first, you need to “watch your numbers” to know if your blog is growing and if your blogged book is developing avid readers. Steadily increasing numbers prove to you or to a publisher your blogged book deserves to exist beyond cyberspace and become an ebook or a printed book. As with any test marketing exercise, you must have a base point. You may start at zero, if you begin recording your stats on the first day you begin your blog or blogged book or on the first day you install a metric program on your blog.
Where to Watch Your Metrics
I’ve heard differing opinion about what metrics to watch. For a number of years I was told to rely only on Google Analytics. I was told this was the most reliable analytics program. (And I’ve told my clients to rely only on Google Analytics for this reason.)
Recently, however, I was shown a discussion in a forum where several SEO experts refuted this. They said the most reliable and up-to-the-minute stats you could receive were those on your own server, like Awstats, a common hosting company analytics program.
I can tell you there is a huge difference between what the two programs report. I find the numbers recorded by Google Analytics to be considerably lower than those recorded by Awstats.
I am happy to use my Awstats program analytics numbers in my book proposals. However, month to month, I have been watching Google Analytics, which, I must admit, are somewhat depressing. Since seeing the forum discussion, though, I have begun once again to record the Awstats figures as well. (I, personally can’t tell you which are better; if someone has a definitive answer, I’d love to hear it.)
You can also use other analytics programs, such as Sitemeter.com, which is also free. You can get metrics from an RSS feed program, like Feedburner.com, as well.
What Metrics to Watch
Once you have Google Analytics or some other metrics program installed on your blog, it’s time to start looking at the results coming in. (Free blogs often don’t allow you to install analytics programs or don’t have all the metrics you desire.) Here are some of the most important ones:
Unique visitors: These are your actual readers. This is different from visitors. This is the number you want to increase each month so you know your blogged book is building a fan base of potential buyers. If your numbers aren’t going up, you’ll want to take a look at your book concept and tweak it.
New and returning visitors: You want to attract new visitors all the time! But you also want to convert them to loyal, returning readers of your book. This metric tells you if you are accomplishing both.
Page Views: This indicates whether the readers of your blogged book are looking at one page–usually the one they arrived on–and leaving the site or they are sticking around to read more. In any case, you want a low bounce rate. This is another important metric to watch, if necessary, and to try to adjust blog content for improvement accordingly.
Bounce Rate: Similar to page views, the bounce rate measures how many people arrive at your blog and then leave without viewing any extra pages. You want to decrease your bounce rate. I found for this blog, my bounce rate has always been extremely low. I think for any blogged book it should be the same. You readers should have reason to peruse many pages of your blogged book—unless, of course, they are keeping pace with your publishing schedule!
Time on Site: This tells you how engaged your readers are when they visit your blog. The longer they stay, the more engaged they are with your content—reading, commenting, searching, etc. It’s also possible they simply didn’t close their browser window….
Exit pages: Just like it sounds, these are the pages from which readers leave. If you find that one or two in particular have a high percentage rate, it’s important to examine them and determine why.
Popular Posts: This is a metric that shows you which of your posts are mostly highly read. This gives you an indication of what type of content your readers most want. As you blog your book, you will be able to tell when you are on target and when you are off target with your content. (The same is true for blogging in general.)
Referrals: These are other sites referring traffic to your blog. By paying attention to this information, you will know if your promotional efforts on social networks are paying off, if other bloggers are sending readers your way or if you are getting organic traffic from people conducting searches on search engines. (Then you can look to see what terms people have used and use them more often, and you can develop relationships with the referring bloggers.)
Keywords and questions: This tells you the keywords used or questions asked that sent people to your blog via search engines. They give you a clue as to what keywords to use and topics to cover on your blog or in your blogged book if you wan to get more organic search engine traffic.
How to Use your Metrics
There is much other data to look at in a good analytics program, like geographic region, actual time off day on the site, what type of links or objects on your pages readers click on, and even if you make any money from your blog (if people click on your ads and buy your products and services). To have any of this provide you with meaningful data, though, create some sort of a spread sheet for yourself. Place on it your baseline figures. Then, every month add in your newest data. In this way you can track the growth of your blog and blogged book.
But don’t get stuck just on the growth—or lack of it. Focus on your performance. Are you doing a good job or not? The numbers will tell you. If you don’t see the numbers going up or down as you would like (depending upon the metric), it’s time to make a change—in your blogged book’s content plan, in your blogging schedule, in the length of your posts, in the keywords you are using…or something. Make one change at a time, and then record your metrics a week or two later and again after a month. Do this again and again until you see your numbers changing they way you desire.
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