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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Blog Promotion: What Do Your Stats Tell You?

It's no secret that I started Random Bytes to build interest in WebLens and to direct additional traffic there, which it has done quite successfully. Interestingly, though, the audiences for the two sites differ radically, a fact made clear in site stats. The differences are worth sharing here since my blog's audience may represent yours too.

Audience Characteristics

I have discovered, in poring through my stats, that this blog's audience — that's you, folks — consists of what marketing types would call early adopters, whereas my WebLens audience is more mainstream.

This blog's audience is more adventurous than the WebLens audience. At the risk of generalization, I would venture that you have a greater appreciation for innovation, are more tech-savvy, and are more likely to take risks. This is reflected in the fact that an astounding 65% of you use Firefox or another non-IE browser. My WebLens audience is more conventional, at 82% IE use. (Serious implications here for standards-compliant web design and cross-platform testing.)

Screen Resolution

With respect to screen resolution, it would seem both audiences are right in the middle, with 65% of the WebLens audience working at 1024 x 768 resolution, versus 61% of the Random Bytes audience.

The difference is seen at the top and bottom extremes, with 5% of Random Bytes visitors at 800 x 600 versus 17% of the WebLens audience. Conversely, about 20% of you are viewing this page on 1280 x 1024 screens versus 10% of the WebLens audience!

Once again, these discrepancies have obvious implications for web design, and I'm glad I took the time to make sure both sites work well at all resolutions! I'm also glad I took the time to create a non-Javascript version of Weblens, since up to 5% of site visitors surf with scripting disabled (versus 1% of Random Bytes visitors).

Operating Systems

Once again, choice of operating system varies significantly at the low end, with 13% of WebLens users on Win98 versus 4% of Random Bytes' audience. The other Windows variants (XP, 2000, 2003, ME) represent approximately 86% and 83%, respectively, of the Random Bytes and Weblens audiences. Mac users represent roughly 2-3% of both audiences.

Traffic Sources

Mostly importantly, the source of the traffic is markedly different. WebLens' visitors come primarily from universities, colleges, libraries, K-12 schools, governments, and other institutions, via search engines, directories, and links from such entities. WebLens has been around since 1994, so it enjoys healthy link popularity.

On the other hand, this blog is new; its audience still growing, with minimal traffic coming from mainstream search engines. Instead, people are finding Random Bytes through blog search tools like Technorati, through feed aggregators like BlogLines, via people's blogrolls, and via blog directories and link exchanges like BlogExplosion or BlogClicker.

These alternate traffic sources, combined with proactive dissemination of blog content via RSS, render blogs an effective new channel for promoting conventional web sites like WebLens.

Site "Stickiness"

I have succeeded in getting you here. My challenge has been to keep you hanging around longer. A discouraging 80% of you linger here less than 5 seconds. It's a little better over at WebLens, where only 66% of the audience clicks away in 5 seconds or less.

I have taken a number of measures to increase site "stickiness" at WebLens. One that has started to pay off is the scattering of strategic cross-links throughout pages. If someone is already on a page of Scholarly & Academic Research resources, why not offer them a link to Reference Tools & Dictionaries? It's working well, and I'm already seeing pages that have been languishing moving up in hit counts.

I'm curious to know if these stats mirror your experience. Do they matter? Do you think the blogosphere is "different"? Share your thoughts, and sign up for our feed to be sure not to miss future posts.


Rob In China said...

I have come across this blog quite often through Blogclicker or Blog Explosion. I have never stayed for longer than the required amount of time to generate a credit. After scrolling up and down, I decided that it did not apply to my areas of interest.

Today, I read your entire post, and even decided to leave a comment. Why? Because your posting is about me!

I think readers are pretty selfish and are looking for something they can relate to from blogs. Your blog today was more personal, and it invited me to stay longer than my usual 20 seconds. The language was less formal, and the posting was easier to read.

I would like to see more eye catching things though...like pictures.

I hope this helped!

Pam said...

Thanks Rob. You've raised a great point. This blog won't be for everyone. Its content is technical. I write about what I'm interested in, as we all do. If you're into cats, movies, raising a family, or travelling China, most posts here won't be of interest.

Random Bytes' primary traffic sources right now are BlogExplosion and BlogClicker. These visitors land randomly on a page and stay only the necessary time to earn credits, as you did. The likelihood of these visitors finding content relevant to their needs is low. Visitors arriving through search engines stay longer, and explore the site, because they have located a document that meets their needs.

Your point about adding more graphics is also food for thought. Pictures certainly draw people into written content in the print world. I've been focusing heavily on the writing. Maybe there are ways to lighten it up a little.

A couple of Aha moments! Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy reading your blog. If i were you i would go to http://www.autosurfmonster.com and submit this blog and get thousands of viewers to see it for FREE... well, i look forward to all the updates. Thanks again.


Pam said...

Thanks so much Jessica. It's nice to know people are enjoying it.


Liz Strauss said...

Hi Pam,
I saw your post a few days ago. I've been thinking about writing about the same thing. You've done it so well that I think instead I'll just feature your post over at Successful-Blog, and maybe you'll get some more readers who'll comment on what you found.

Personally, I can't help but wonder if some of it doesn't have to do with the week in which you did the test. This has been a time of school breaks and waitng for Spring to come . . .

Pam said...

Hi Liz. Thanks so much for the kind words and for the favourable review in your blog! Re timing, I'm not sure .. I wrote this post as a draft back in February, well before Spring Break.

ME Strauss said...

Oh Gosh, Pam, February!

Everyone was so grumpty then!


Ed Kohler said...

Great analysis of your site stats. It's very rare that I find someone who both looks at their site stats and actually analyzes their stats to see how they effect their own sites.

Pam said...

Thanks Ed. I'm actually embarrassed to admit how frequently I check my stats. I'm afraid I may be becoming a little obsessed with them ;-)


CLYDE said...

Keep going!


Pam said...

Thanks Clyde.