So far, I've written 15 Monthly Income Reports, but I've never written about my traffic—until today. Instead of just “showing you the numbers,” I hope I can provide you with some insight as to why the numbers are the way they are, and what can we learn from them. Thanks to those of you who emailed me asking me to write about my traffic.
Note: all screenshots taken from Google Analytics (data since October 2008 for The Smart Passive Income Blog)
Here's a snapshot of my traffic since I started this blog:
A few important things to take away from this graph:
- You can go several months after starting a site before seeing any decent traffic. If you look at the very beginning, I had little to no traffic for 3 or 4 months before things finally started to pick up. This just reiterates the fact that you should never give up, especially when you're just starting out. This is crucial to understand, because it's those first few months when many potentially successful websites die. Keep at it, and you will start to see results.
- The pattern. There's a very distinct pattern that goes like this: plateau -> spike -> higher plateau -> spike -> even higher plateau -> etc. The spikes are obviously large influxes of traffic (for various reasons which I'll get to in a second), that cause more people to stick around later (and spread the word through social media). As you can see, the fastest way to get traffic is by getting these spikes, which can come from things like:
- Guest posts on other blogs
- Links posted on other websites
- Podcasts or interviews
- Posts on your blog that get passed around via social media or social bookmarking websites
- You Don't NEED Search Engine Rankings to Get Traffic: Sure, ranking high in the search engines for keywords related to your niche is great. I've been fortunate enough to recently earn the top 3 spot for the keyword “passive income”. However, search engine traffic only accounts for 22% of my traffic! The other 78% comes from direct traffic and referring websites. So, if you're worried about keyword rankings, don't. Write good content that other people will link to and your loyal fans will come back to read, and your numbers will begin to rise.
For those of you interested in exactly where these larger spikes came from, here they are:
- Jan 2009: Featured on Lazy Man and Money: The Best Money Blog You Aren't Reading
- March 2009: A post I wrote got picked up on StumbleUpon and was shared between 2,500-3,000 people: How to Make Money for Doing Almost Nothing – Part 1
- November 2009: I was featured on both a blog post and podcast on Yaro Starak's blog at Entrepreneur's Journey: How Pat Flynn Lost His Job Then Made $203,219.04 In His First Year Online
My goal for 2010 is to get even more “spikes” by doing more guests posts, and writing more valuable content that could possibly go viral.
The adjacent graphic shows the overall visitor stats for the blog. I don't think there's much to talk about here, except what some of those terms mean. What's more important is how those terms are affected by different traffic sources, which I'll talk about in the next section.
- Visits: This is the number of times your site has been visited, both by unique and returning visitors. Multiple page views per visit do not count as a new visit.
- Absolute Unique Visitors: This is exactly how many different people have actually visited your site. It's important to look at the AUV because it will tell you how many NEW people stop by, which is significant if you're looking for new readership, subscribers or customers.
- Pageviews: Obviously, this is how many pages of your site have been viewed.
- Average Pageviews: The average number of pages a visitor views upon each time they visit.
- Time on Site: The average time a visitor spends on your site.
- Bounce Rate: Bounce rate is the percentage of new visitors who “bounce” away to a different site, rather than continue on other pages within the same site.
- New Visits: The percentage of your web traffic that is from new visitors.
The only metric that we want to keep as low as possible is the bounce rate, because we'd rather have people explore through our sites, rather than just leave or “bounce”, as they say in Ebonics. I honestly don't know what a good bounce rate is, but I'm always striving to minimize the number.
Here are three things we can do to minimize the bounce rate:
- Make the first impression of your site one that is inviting and welcoming. If your site is 98% advertisements, for example, you will probably see a very high bounce rate.
- Provide content that people are looking for or is interesting and relevant to your visitors.
- Make navigation easy. If it takes people more than 5 seconds to figure out how to move around your site, they're just going to leave.
Here's an overview of my 10 top traffic sources. I'll go into more detail about some of these below, but I've highlighted some key things you should definitely take notice of:
Facebook, as I've mentioned before in THE Blogger's Guide to Facebook, is a very unique medium for traffic. Beyond the actual interactions you can have with your audience on your fanpage (which is amazing and unlike anything else, including Twitter), the traffic tends to be stickier and more loyal. As you can see, my referrals from Facebook provide the second highest avg. time on the site, and a bounce rate that is lower than all of the other sources, excluding direct page referrals.
If you have yet to setup your own Fanpage, you should definitely consider doing so.
I sort of have a love/hate relationship with StumbleUpon. As you can see from the numbers above, StumbleUpon is the 3rd top traffic source, but the quality of the traffic is very poor. It has the lowest number of pageviews, avg. time on site, and the highest bounce rate (at 82%)!
When you think about it, it makes total sense. With the way StumbleUpon works, your site can go through a vast number of people in a short period of time because of all of the friends of friends of friends involved with this social bookmarking site. The people who were the ones to bookmark your page may be very interested in what you have to say, but their friends and those people's friends are probably not.
Search engine traffic always brings in quality visitors because they are people who found you when searching for certain kind of information. That's why you see that it has the second highest avg. page views per visitor. They are actively looking around for information.
Remember when I was talking about strategies to minimize bounce rate? You can see an example here of what happens when people come to your site and you don't provide them the information they are looking for. For the keyword iphone app development cost, it has a 72% bounce rate, which is definitely above average on this blog.
The other red circles on the above traffic overview illustrate exactly the kinds of high-quality traffic you can get from other blogs. Higher page views, more avg. time on the site, and a lower bounce rates all contribute to the “higher plateaus” that I pointed out in the beginning of this post.
People coming from Yaro's blog at Entrepreneur's Journey, for example, spend an average of 7 minutes and 18 seconds on my blog for each visit! That's a lot of time that people take out of their own day to read what I have to say. Craziness!
I hope you can see that not all traffic is the same. Let me repeat that. Not all traffic is the same.
Focus on getting that higher quality traffic and you're sure to see better numbers down the road. This is why writing guest posts is such a popular and powerful thing to do for the growth and expansion of one's blog. Do you have a guest post writing campaign?
Lastly, don't get discouraged if you don't see results right away. Like I said before, it takes time to see results, but the work you're doing now and putting into your blog will eventually pay off down the road.
One post at a time.
I hope you've enjoyed my first traffic report! As always, comments are welcome and encouraged. Cheers!
p.s. If you really enjoyed this post, please consider helping me out and spreading the word below! Thanks!