3 Metrics Every Blogger Should Be Tracking

Bloggers often ask me what metrics they should be tracking. Google Analytics and other tools provide an enormous amount of data. However, you can quickly get overwhelmed if you aren’t careful.

Google Analytics Inside a Browser - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/gmutlu, Image #16132814

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/gmutlu

In reaction, some bloggers overreact and get too focused on one metric. This is the other extreme.

For example, I recently heard a podcaster say that the only metric that matters is conversion. Certainly, I think conversion is important, particularly when it comes to landing pages. But I think it’s a little more complicated than this one metric.

I pay attention to three metrics:

  1. Traffic. This is usually expressed as monthly unique visitors or monthly pageviews. These metrics are the ones that are the most important to advertisers. Therefore, they are important to me.

    I focus on unique visitors when it comes to my overall blog but pageviews when I am analyzing individual posts. Both are important. They are just two different ways of assessing traffic.

    The one metric that doesn’t matter is hits. This simply refers to the number of “server requests” a browser makes to display a page. If someone lands on one of my blog posts, for example, each component of the post—images, external files, etc.—counts as a separate hit.

    A pageview, on the other hand, refers to a visitor viewing a specific page, regardless of the number of components (i.e., files or images) that make up that page. This is the metric that matters.

  2. Engagement. I use number of comments as a proxy for engagement. The more comments, the more people are engaging with a particular post. (Side note: there is usually a correlation between traffic and the number of comments.)

    If your readers don’t find your content compelling, they usually won’t bother commenting. Instead, they bounce off the post and move on to something else.

    Comments are important because they indicate whether or not your content is resonating with your readers. They are also important because they provide “social proof,” particularly if you display your comment counts prominently on the blog post. (I do this next to the post title.)

    In other words, if your readers see a lot of comments, they think the post is important—or at least popular. Readers use it as a filter to decide whether or not something is worth reading. (This is also why I recommend not displaying your comment counts if they are low. They can actually discourage people from reading further.)

  3. Shares. I specifically track the number of times a post is shared on Twitter and Facebook. I also display these next to the title. Part of the reason is to encourage more sharing; the other part is to provide additional social proof.

    Again, people assume that a post must be important if people are taking the time to share it with their networks. But, like engagement, this also can work against you if the numbers are low.

    In a sense, shares are the most important metric for me. I want to create content that people not only read but feel compelled to share. Twitter and Facebook are important to me. LinkedIn, Google+, or Pinterest might also be important, depending on your audience.

Metrics can distract you if you let them. There is no end to the data. That’s why I recommend focusing on these three. You can do a deep dive into the other metrics on occasion, but these are the three I monitor daily to see how my blog is doing.

Question: Where do you need the most work? Traffic, engagement, or shares? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Want to launch your own blog or upgrade to self-hosted WordPress? Watch my free, twenty-minute screencast. I show you exactly how to do it. You don’t need any technical knowledge. Click here to get started.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • Pingback: Blogging for Jesus « The Expatriate Minister

  • Flavio A Lugo

    I need help in engagement and shares. My blog is 
    http://www.n2myheart.blogspot.com/ and although I have heard my posts are very compelling, and I have seen page views growing, I have yet to experience growth in the above two metrics. If you view my blog, I’d appreciate any suggestions, advice, or recommendations given. God bless you.

  • http://twitter.com/ryanccard Ryan Card

    Thanks for this post. I am just plain struggling right now. I think some of it is self-inflicted. My blog laid there with not a whole lot happening for a few months. So now it’s like I’m starting all over again. 

    I have been working hard on a lot of what I have read here and in Platform to try and build traffic. But it’s very hard. At this point I am saying it just needs time and consistent posts. 

    Hopefully it will come around.  

  • john boucard

    great stuff

  • Bringjoyj

    I really need to get better at reader engagement.  I’ve improved this over the past month or so (not quite where I’d like it to be), by making sure I respond to each comment, as necessary.  I know this might not be for everyone, but right now, I have a manageable amount of comments, not too many that I can’t respond to most, if not all of them.  The way I see it, if a reader takes that extra step to comment, I want them to know I not only read what that I had to say, but that I’m appreciative for their engagment.  

  • http://www.SevenPillarsOfSuccess.Net Louise Thaxton

    Engagement!  This is where I am lacking – and this is where I need the most work! 

  • prophetsandpopstars

    Forgive me if there’s an answer buried in the comments here, but regarding comments…Do you have any suggestions for ways to elicit comments? I ask a question at the end of each blog post. Sometimes, there’s commenting over on Facebook, but I haven’t had much luck getting them on the site.

    Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/thecreditletter Credit Card Compare

    Oh by far, its engagement. We get traffic and some shares but engagement is slow. Maybe we need to ditch Facebook only comments?

  • Pingback: Link Feast For Writers, vol. 14 | Reetta Raitanen's Blog

  • Pingback: Métricas... ese problema: Las indispensables, las que triunfan en Facebook, las que necesitamos | ROI Lovers

  • jaspreet jassi

    “Dallas, Fort Worth, Construction Company, foundation repair, home remodeling, roofing”
    Let the world know what you think, but please do so responsibly.

  • Pingback: The Art (or Business?) of Blogging

  • http://twitter.com/TobyLeads Toby Marshall

    Insightful article, Michael. I agree with you on the importance of engagement, which is only more necessary in this Social Networking Age.