Monetize Your Blog, part 8: Keep an eye on traffic
If you want to learn how to monetize your blog, start here:
- Don’t do it for the money
- Take your time
- Get your own domain
- 13 Great ways to build your traffic
- Getting the goods
- Make it sticky
Keep an eye on traffic
If you already have a way to watch the traffic on your blog, you're probably already addicted to watching your stats. Don't be embarrassed. You're in good company. We all want to know how many people visit our blog and where they came from. Some of us also want to know how long they stayed, which pages and posts they visited, how many came from search engines, and what search terms they used to find you.
If you didn't know you could do all that, you're in for a treat.
Ways to track your stats
There are many different ways to track your stats. All 4 options mentioned below are free, though some offer even more features if you want to upgrade.
- Statcounter has always been my favorite, though I'm not crazy about the recent redesign. Fortunately it's still in beta so you can stick with the old version. The interface is clean and intuitive, and it's easy to keep an eye on as many of my blogs as I want. It's packed full of features and info on who visits your blog. For watching stats on multiple sites, Statcounter is an easy winner in my book.
- Sitemeter is another popular free stat counter. Though it doesn't offer as many details and features as Statcounter, all the basic info is available in 1 click, something that can't be said about Statcounter.
- WP Stats - If you have only one WordPress blog, try using the WP Stats plugin. It will give you all the info you're likely to want, right there in your own dashboard.
- Google Analytics is for power users who want information overload. Need to know how many of your readers are red-headed males aged 20-35? You might find out. If you're really serious about making money online, this might be the stat counter for you, but don't say I didn't warn you.
Confused? They're all good, and they're all free. Just don't try them all at once because you will slow your site to a crawl. One or maybe two counters is plenty. If you must try them all, do it one or two at a time.
Why count heads?
Monitoring your traffic can be fun and affirming if the numbers look good, but it may feel like you're just wasting time building up your ego. You're probably wondering how it contributes to monetizing your blog. Here's the logic behind it:
You need to know where your traffic comes from, so you can build on those sources. If you find out what is working already, you can make it work better.
Make the most of incoming links
For example, if somebody linked to you and visitors are coming from their blog, there are several actions this could or should lead to:
- You should probably thank them, either in a comment or in a personal email.
- You also might want to return the favor by linking to something of theirs that you think will interest your readers.
- You could think about how to encourage them to link to you again in the future.
- You could also try to establish a relationship with other similar blogs that might find your material to be worth linking.
- You might want to tailor some of your future posts toward that particular audience if it's a good fit.
- If you're using the WWSGD plugin, you might want to customize your message to greet those particular visitors. For example, "Thanks for dropping in! If you came here from ___, you might like to see my post about ____"
Use your keywords
You also want to see which search terms people use to find your blog. With a little planning and some SEO savvy, you can turn these keywords into a significant source of traffic from search engines, often considered the most profitable type of traffic.
Hear "Yes" more often
Knowing your numbers will also help when you request products for reviews and giveaways. If you can tell a potential sponsor how many visitors/day your blog receives, you make it much easier for them to determine whether a deal with you will be profitable for them. Anything you can do to make the process easier for them is a point in your favor!
Don't forget internal links
I encouraged you to link to your own older posts, and here's another good reason. Every time a reader clicks from a new post to an older one, you just scored another pageview. Your stats just crept up a notch.
The more internal links you use, the longer you keep that fish on the line, and this is often good not just for your readers and for SEO, but also for advertisers. A reader who sees an ad 6 times is more likely to take the bait than a reader who sees it just once, so pageviews matter nearly as much as unique visitors.
Talk to me. What do you look for in your stats? How do you interpret the info you see?