Monday, January 14, 2008

Traffic Patterns

Comments are not the only way to measure blog success. There are dozens of ways to track all sorts of traffic patterns. And a lot of ways to goose them. Every now and then when I have a comics-related post I will link to it in the Comics Curmudgeon comments and it will generate hundreds of pageviews, but rarely any comments. It's nice to have hit and run readers, but it's better if they can be made into regulars. There are all sorts of memes and link exchanges and places to pimp your blog, but if all you are doing is tricking people to your site, it won't create steady long term readership growth.

The blog traffic generated by cheap gimmicks or weird Google coincidences is pretty ephemeral. Sometimes for some reason a particlular post will become suddenly popular. Back when my traffic was in the low single digits daily, I called them a BlogStorm. I still get them and they can be more severe now that my GoogleAuthority (however that is figured) is much higher. Usually I can figure out what site is linking to me or what current event suddenly make an old post relevant again, but sometimes it remains a complete mystery.

Last week my traffic took an uptick with lots of searches for variations on "Walker/Browne wife". And this isn't the first time such an odd search creates a flurry and then disappears. Several other times I have been inundated with people trying to find "Hi Lois drunk neighbor". My only theory is that whenever there is some web trivia scavenger hunt that relates to the Walker/Browne comic strip oligarchic dynasty, I get the benefit of it since I am one of maybe three blogs that have ever discussed the relationship between Lois Flagstone and her brother Beetle Bailey, not to mention Hi's dipsomaniac neighbor Thirsty Thurston. There, you got your damn answers. Now leave my blog alone.

I used to be addicted to Sitemeter stats and would compulsively check them 50 or 60 times a day but got discouraged when I learned that most visitors to my site were hopelessly LostGooglers search for some occasionally very prurient things. When I was polishing my template (now that would make a great euphemism) as part of National Blog Posting Month, I consolidated my blog RSS feed to Feedburner and my documented subscibers went from 5 to 82 overnight. I had a much larger audience reading my blog on purpose then I realized. From a not wasting time point of view, Feedburner stats are much better than Sitemeter since they only update once a day. I briefly hit 102 subscribers the other day only to fall back down to 92. I have no idea what pissed off ten readers in 24 hours, but I guess 300 pixel high pictures of Charles Krauthammer's mug will have that effect on folk.

BlatantCommentWhoring™: How do you track your traffic? And are anywhere near as obsessive compulsive as I am?


The Mistress of the Dark said...

No I do have two traffic counters, so I can see "where" you've come from, but that's about it.

I'm not really a blog whore.

Mind you I wish more people came to actually read my blog then on searches for Justin Hayward's daughter Doremi.


Cham said...

What do you mean by success? Excessive blog hits may not mean that your writings are so witty people from all over the globe are compelled to read your latest musings. It may just mean that you are so pathetic that people turn into voyeurs to see what you are going to do next.

I received an email last week with an invitation to join some sort of twisted right-wing blogroll. The emailer wrote, "It won't cost a thing. And of course it will get you some free publicity, which is worth every penny." I thought, the last thing I want is free publicity.

I guess when you blog the first thing you might want to do is define its purpose.

yellojkt said...

Exactly. Blind pursuit of pageviews (unless you are carrying ads) is senseless. It's much better (but often harder) to find readers that appreciate your viewpoint. I'm going to write about blognetworks later this month. Can't stay too navel gazing.

storyteller said...

The title caught my eye in the Blog 365 MegaFeed because this weekend was the first time I even looked at my stats. I've got SiteMeter installed but really don't know enough about any of this to analyze the data yet. I've only been blogging about 3 months and I've been putting 1st things 1st just learning how to post and navigate the blogosphere. Maybe I'll move this task up on my ever-growing list of things to learn (or not). Nice to meet you ...
Hugs and blessings,

Needles said...

I can tell where readers come from but I'm after a larger audience. Not so much for my blog mind, but just to know how to find out. I've an opprtunity on the minor employement front that might require that I know this stuff.

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

I'm not quite sure what you mean by "...consolidated my blog RSS feed to Feedburner..."

What exactly did you do in this case and how was it set up before?

yellojkt said...

Blogger automatically makes an RSS feed for your blog, but doesn't keep any stats. You can direct the Blogger feed to your Feedburner account that then keeps track of all the subscriptions. Its under Settings-Site Feed and its the Post Feed Redirect URL box.

It seems a lot of people had subscribed using a variety of readers. They can still use all their own reader but since the all then go to Feedburner it keeps track of who uses what.

I assume there are a lot of other similar services.

Alex said...

When it comes to tracking visitors, I'm drinking the Google Kool-Aid. My RSS feeds are published by Feedburner, Google AdSense provides metrics of visitors, then Google Analytics provides everything else.

If I really wanted to dig, I have the raw logs from the webserver itself, but why take time to correlate all that when Google does the work for me?

As amusing as the search query reports can be, I'm far less interested in the number of hits or comments as I am the quality of the comments.

If Google de-listed my domain tomorrow, I wouldn't cry.

Unmolested Altar Boy said...

Speaking of irony, Hendler's is not too far away from KoldKiss's main Baltimore location on Watson Street.