Google Analytics, we are told, is the “must have” stats package for blogging. It’s free for individuals and small business, but you cannot use on a WordPress.com site without upgrading to the Business plan, currently a cool $28 per month–more than three times the cost of the WordPress.com premium account. When I get sufficient traffic (my goal is an average of fifty views a week–it’s good to have goals), then I plan to upgrade. But before I start to go full-tin foil again, I want to have a much stronger understanding of SEO. Now, I love data. But just starting out?
Thanks to the follower-parties I’ve attended, and the additional following I’ve done on Twitter, I now have over a hundred followers. Not bad for a one week old Twitter account. All of my marketing for viewers has been via Twitter.
So let’s see what we can do with the freeware! This is my tiny readership from two weeks of blogging with a list of my top posts.
I can see now that good titles are important. Mangling Mail Chimp (part 1) was last week’s top view-getter. But everyone seems to be interested in the Short History of the Strange Love between Blogs and Twitter. And the long walk through on how to use Mail Chimp, named Getting Started in Mangling Mail Chimp, (part 2 of the Mangling Mail Chimp saga got absolutely no traction. Huh. I am going to have to think more seriously about titles.
What’s really interesting is this little table below about where my readers have come from. Referrers are the “counts” of view by where they came from. WordPress.com has an internal “reader.” People who blog on WordPress also have a list of blogs they follow; when you use the reader, it may suggest blogs to you. The WordPress.com site has its own indexing system, crawling your blog for terms and keywords to characterize what your blog is about. Those slug lines? They matter. And the tags you use? They really matter. Because that’s what WordPress uses to suggest your blog to others. And the search engines also use those tags (and categories) to characterize your blog.
WordPress’s internal algorithms most likely try to reward people who post frequently, too. Posting frequently AND providing good descriptions of your posts are the cornerstone of any search engine optimization strategy.
Is Twitter helpful?
I also tie my posts to my Twitter account, so that when I publish a post, my account “auto-tweets” — WordPress shoots out a tweet on my account, with a link to that post. You can see that these Twitter posts–and the ten tweets I’ve done in the past thirty days, flogging my posts, give me a very modest 3 views in the last 30 days. But hey! Google search and Bing search have provided me with that many views! It takes time to build an audience–time and perseverance and quality posts.
Bottom line: Until you have significant traffic (hundreds of views), there isn’t a good deal of reason to add Google Analytics. The internal statistics in WordPress are sufficiently useful. The real secret is putting together good key words and search terms that describe your blog so that WordPress can market it successfully. And so that search engines can find you.