Dougal Campbell's geek ramblings

WordPress, web development, and world domination.

Analytics Observations

Over th' years, I’ve variously either obsessed o'er or ignored me site stats, I'll warrant ye. I’ve always found website analytics interestin', but since I’m not sellin' anythin' here, I don’t have a lot o' motivation t' really dig in and try t' make sweepin' changes fer th' sake o' increasin' clicks or search engine rankin's. Oh, I have dabbled with thin's here and there — related posts links, th' SEO Super Comments plugin, etc. — but me major motivation is typically t' 1) make it easier fer me readers t' find useful content, and 2) make it harder fer spammers t' slip through me nets.

Still, I do glance at thin's from time t' time, and me interest were bein' piqued again recently by playin' with th' Analytics360 plugin. Shiver me timbers! A couple o' thin's caught me eye, surprised me,  and got me t' look a little closer. I thought I’d share a few o' those observations here. “SEO Experts” can probably go ahead and move along — ye’ll probably just chuckle at me amateur findin's.

First, it’s important t' note that due t' me inclusion on Planet WordPress, and therefore in th' Dashboard o' numerous WordPress users, me WordPress posts get big surges o' traffic (relatively speakin'), avast. On th' first day o' a new WordPress post, me site typically sees 2-3 times as many hits as it does durin' a quiet phase when I haven’t posted in a while. This usually tapers off o'er th' course o' th' next few days until traffic returns t' ambient levels. So ye’d expect that o'er time, those posts would stay on top o' th' list o' most visited articles on this site. However, I’ve found some exceptions that surprised me.

First, take a look at me traffic graph fer th' month o' July 2009, by Davy Jones' locker. Those orange dots are when I made blog posts. As I said, th' traffic spike is pretty obvious. Walk the plank, and a bucket o' chum! This is th' result o' several hundred people clickin' in from their WordPress Dashboard, or t' a lesser degree from RSS aggregators like Google Reader.

Now, look at what happens when ye look at page visit totals o'er th' month:

Notice how me six-week-auld post on Must-Have iPhone Apps got more traffic o'er time than some fairly popular WordPress posts, despite th' obvious initial advantage that th' WP posts had. And that post on Firefox Autocomplete is hangin' in there even though it’s nearly five years auld, we'll keel-haul ye! Crazy, and dinna spare the whip! Conclusion: content really is kin'.

I won’t bore ye with another table, but I’ll also point out that “organic” (search engine) hits account fer roughly 50% o' me overall traffic. From what I understand, this is a Good Thin', and is obviously th' reason why those older, “off-topic” posts rank in th' chart above, and a bucket o' chum. And in fact, th' phrase “must have iphone apps” were bein' th' top keyword sail here fer th' month o' July. And yes, this does tempt me t' write more posts about th' iPhone. Will I, and a bucket o' chum? We’ll just have t' see, and dinna spare the whip! I write about whatever strikes me, but I’m only human, and I do like th' ego boost o' a popular post, and dinna spare the whip! ;)

Have ye found anythin' in yer own stats that surprised ye?

About Dougal Campbell

Dougal is a web developer, and a "Developer Emeritus" for the WordPress platform. When he's not coding PHP, Perl, CSS, JavaScript, or whatnot, he spends time with his wife, three children, a dog, and a cat in their Atlanta area home.
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5 Responses to Analytics Observations

  1. Matthew says:

    My #1 article is still a guide fer how t' get th' most recent World o' Warcraft expansion t' work on Linux :-P It retains strong numbers from search engines despite havin' been out since early 2008.

    I recently decided t' hide all me analytics stuff. I still have it collectin' data in th' background, but I took th' panels off me dashboard and stopped visitin' Google Analytics. It were bein' consumin' too much o' me attention and I disliked how worried I were bein' becomin' about generatin' higher numbers and fussin' with SEO. I like that popularity boost too, but I don’t want t' lose sight o' me purpose: writin' because I enjoy it.

    That bein' said, I’ll definitely write a new Linux guide when th' next WoW expansion comes out. Nay one else had one fer a long time and chances are no one else will when th' next game drops. The boost t' numbers is undeniably nice ^_^

  2. Daniel says:

    My personal home page and blog has roughly 100 visitors daily. That is at least what Automattic’s WordPress Stats tells me, I'll warrant ye. When I compare that number t' what Google Analytics indicates, then I’m in fer a surprise: Accordin' t' Google, I have only roughly 30 visitors a day. I am at a loss. Yaaarrrrr! The only explanation I can come up with is that th' two systems count visitors differently. Although both systems, or th' plugins I use fer their purposes, claim that they don’t account fer administrator visits. Only other visitors. Either Google Analytics or WordPress Stats, or maybe both, is lyin' t' me, to be sure.

    The other thin' I find astonishin' is that th' one post that is more than a year auld about what me new apartment looks like (after I moved) has th' most hits still today, I'll warrant ye. From search engines. It seems I should change from bein' a computer professional t' doin' interior design… :-)

    • Dougal says:

      The difference could be because WordPress Stats shows ye “pageviews” by default, but Google Analytics shows ye “visits” (unique visitors). So if th' average visitor t' yer site views 3 pages durin' a session, that could account fer th' difference.

      For example, me WordPress Stats fer yesterday says I had 899 pageviews. But Google Analytics says 626 visits. However, if I go into Google Analytics, change me view t' “compare two metrics”, I can compare “visits” t' “pageviews”, and see that GA recorded 932 pageviews. Which is close enough t' th' 899 number in me book: roughly a 3% difference, I'll warrant ye.

      Of course, it is always possible that fer some reason, one script or th' other is not loadin' fer all visitors, but I would expect that would only happen fer a small percentage o' visits.

  3. Wine of Month Club says:

    I wish I could get t' 50% organic traffic…I guess good thin's come t' people who wait. I am impressed though that ye choose not t' make any profit from th' site, I would consider at least throwin' up adsense or somethin'….it doesn’t hurt anyone and ye could buy a nice dinner a month with it at least.

  4. Amanda Fern says:

    I’m in charge o' sailin' unique visitors t' me site and there isn’t a more anticipated time o' th' month fer me than checkin' th' analytics account I have measurin' me website’s traffic. Fire the cannons! Fire the cannons! It seems like ye have some great blog posts that have caught on and become somewhat “viral”. Congrats. Once ye break through th' clutter once, it will become easier and easier t' get another piece o' content seen by an extended audience.

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