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3 Lessons Learned From 6 Months of Site Statistics

image 40Tech launched on June 4, 2009.  While the site is still in its infancy, its growth has been encouraging.  We have you to thank for that.  Thank you for visiting, and for contributing.  In the first days, we were excited about getting 10 visits a day, believe it or not.  Today, we’re going to take a brief look at the site’s traffic statistics over those six months, and a few of the lessons we’ve learned from those statistics.  We’ll use Google Analytics to look back at our traffic.

Here is how our traffic broke down by month:

Month Visitors Visits Bounce rate
June 316 398 66.08
July 677 1001 61.54
August 1859 2520 49.68
September 3375 4353 15.00
October 5047 6164 72.83
November 8316 9613 75.97
December
(through 12/16)
7153 8410 77.47

 

A few kernels of wisdom we gained from this traffic:

1. StumbleUpon is great for traffic, horrible for bounce rate

Our traffic was growing modestly through late September, but we were encouraged most by our bounce rate.  A site’s bounce rate represents the percentage of visits in which the visitor left the site after visiting only the page on which they arrived.  In September, we were amazed as we watched our bounce rate drop to 15%.  For reasons unknown to us, the stats showed that our visitors were visiting multiple pages on each visit.

Then, however, we submitted a few posts to StumbleUpon, a service that allows users to randomly visit (stumble upon) pages of pre-selected areas of interest.  Visitors can give a page a  "thumbs up" or a "thumbs down."  It seems that the more often that people give a page thumbs up, the more often that page is fed to other users as they stumble.

A few posts in particular caught on (got "thumbs up") with Stumblers, causing spikes in traffic.  However, I suspect that most Stumblers are like me, sitting back and causally clicking on the Stumble button, without delving deeper into the pages that they visit.  As a result, our bounce rate immediately skyrocketed.

I no longer submit posts to StumbleUpon, both because of the effect on bounce rate  and also because StumbleUpon discourages users from submitting their own sites.  We still frequently see the Stumble effect, though, even with some older posts.  I’m not sure of the rhyme or reason for it, but occasionally an older post will see a spike in traffic for a day or two.

I’d also be putting my head in the sand if I didn’t think that our content also had something to do with the rise in bounce rate.  I’m at a loss, though, to see much of a difference in the type of posts we made in September, and the type posts that we are making now.  So, we’ll ask you- is there some type of content that we posted in the past, that we’re not posting now, or vice versa?

 

2. Visiting and participating at other blogs is the best way to get "good" traffic

The contrast to the manner in which StumbleUpon visitors come and go is the degree of participation that we get from other bloggers.  I notice that when I visit and comment on other blogs that I enjoy, those bloggers often reciprocate by visiting and commenting here.  I suspect that you probably see the same phenomenon on your site, if you’re a blogger.  The best part of this, though, isn’t the traffic.  I’ve actually made some friends as a result, and feel like I’m a part of a community of bloggers.  That goes beyond any dollar value.  Included among those sites (although there are more) are the Casual Observer, Tech Patio, and the Freestyle Mind.

I also have learned that if I were in this for the money, I’d blog about blogging.  Articles here about blogging issues generally get good (if not the best) traffic, and, more often than not, generate a fair amount of comments.

Unfortunately, this is the busy time of the year for my "other" job, so my time to visit other sites has been limited lately.  I think this is reflected by the visits here, too.  I hope to be able to enjoy these other sites again soon.

 

3. Site traffic generally grows, just by having more posts indexed by search engines

One of the keys to getting traffic is simply to have more good content.  The more content you have, the more pages you have that will be indexed by search engines.  In the future, we’d like to expand 40Tech beyond the 3-4 posts per week that we currently write.  That may take another writer, though.  In the meantime, we hope to continue with slow but steady growth.

 

If this were a full time job, I’m sure we could learn more from our statistics.  For now, we’ll continue to learn as we go.  How about you?  Are you a blogger?  What have you learned from your site’s statistics?