Stats counters keep track of how many hits you've had to your website or blog. But they do a lot more for you as a blogger. Let's talk about some of the information you can glean from your statistics that help you become a better writer or blogger.
Traffic Patterns - Do you get more visitors on Tuesday morning than Sunday afternoon (most blogs do). Would knowing when you're likely to get the most traffic affect when you post? It might. If your high traffic times are during the day, early in the week, you don't want to post your best stuff on Friday night, for example, because by the time your readers come back to your blog, your content will be "old." You want want fresh content to be available to your readers when they're ready to read.
Bounce Rate - This is the percentage of visitors that click on your site from an e-mail, search engine result, or social network, then leave without clicking on anything else. You want to work on getting this number as low as possible.
Traffic Sources - Where are your visitors coming from (search engines, social networks, direct links from e-mails, feeds, etc.)? This is good to know, because it can help you either narrow down your target audience, or expand your outreach to new markets that you're not reaching. It also helps you see what other websites have linked to you, and which ones are helping you get traffic. "Thank you's," might be order.
Effective Search Results - Your stats counter should let you know which search engine results pages are driving traffic to your site. This is great, because it shows what people are searching for online that is drawing them to the links on your site. You can then use this information in helping better categorize, tag and title your articles and posts. It helps you know how to better organize your "related posts," and which keywords are working for you (as well as which ones are a waste of time).
Top Posts - Knowing what posts are getting the most traffic on your site can help you deterine what your "pillar posts," (posts that you consistently refer and link back to when writing) are. Or, they might be a tell-tale sign that you are not reaching your target audience. If your goal is to reach other bloggers, for example, who are trying to improve their SEO/SMO techniques, and the posts that consistently get the most traffic on your site are the entertaining videos that you threw up there on the days you didn't really feel like blogging, you might have a problem. Perhaps restructuring either your goals or your writing strategy is needed.
Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is a trainer and tech writer in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking. Her weakness is the mocha frappuccino.