January 12, 2013

My Blog’s Stickiness Factor

In my seemingly never ending quest to learn more about the business of blogging, I’m constantly diving back into the numbers. Of late I’ve be curious about the stickiness factor of blogs. What makes one blog memorable while another one with similar content is just so-so? And (since my blog is the only blog I have data for) how ‘sticky’ is my blog?

Bounce Rate

I started with the most basic of statistics, the bounce rate for last year. Overall I had a 78% bounce rate, meaning 78% of my visitors do not read a second page (at least during that visit) within my blog. Breaking it down further I see that Craft Projects and Photography had the lowest bounce rates (68% and 69% respectively), where Shopping and Family Life have the highest. This isn’t really surprising. Most visitors to my blog appear to be looking for answers to questions or general information, and not specifically for me. A random surfer to my blog will likely care more about my general info posts than the personal life.

I also have a bit of a keyword/query mismatch problem it looks like. Looking at my traffic data, I see the two most popular ‘Family Life’ posts are List Overload and Still a girl. Most visitors to ‘List Overload’ are looking for the city mini 2013 which the post mentions I was interested in buying, but isn’t what the post is about. For ‘Still a Girl’, visitors are interested in 4d ultrasound pictures. Since that’s not what either post is about, I certainly can’t fault visitors for leaving!

In terms of tags, the Maternity Photography had the lowest bounce rate at 40%! Alas, Newborn Photography’s bounce rate was pathetic at 96%. So I guess maybe you, anonymous reader, don’t like all of my photography? I was surprised to see that Consumer Research and Baby Gear also do well (bounce rates of 57% and 65% respectively) despite shopping being one of the worst categories.

The bigger killer of my bounce rate in the shopping category posts is Hallmark on a budget, a post on my Hallmark shopping strategies. It’s one of my most popular shopping posts. I got a huge bump in traffic for it on Christmas day with people looking for after Christmas sales. The problem? The post was written in August 2011 with no details on where to find this years sales. The key-word mismatch problem strikes again.

New vs Repeat Visitors

Bounce rate can be a little misleading. When I visit a blog I follow I will read the top one or two posts on the main page that I haven’t seen before. Once I see a post I’ve read before, I stop and go elsewhere. If the blog displays the full content for those few posts on the index page, I’ve effectively bounced. But the bounce doesn’t mean I’m not a loyal reader. I keep coming back, I keep reading the latest posts and bouncing. Thus, to explore my blog’s stickiness, I also looked at new vs repeat visitors, not just the bounce rates.

Overall, only 11% of my hits are from repeat visitors. Bummer. But here’s where I start to get good news: for my blog’s main page 37% of all visitations are from repeat visitors! Maybe I do have some readers after all?

But wait, there’s more interesting news! Posts with the Doing the Math tag, (which I’ve always thought of as my most favorite to write for, and least popular), had the best percentage of repeat visitors for any tag, at 10%! And, ironically, when I noticed that I immediately thought ‘must be a math mistake’. More likely, though, it has to do with how I handle those posts. Since those are the posts I love, they’re also the ones I tend to tweet to my friends on twitter.

Becoming Sticky

As a scientist it’s really tempting to tweak the variables and see what happens. If I post more maternity photos (Hah, I wish!) how will that affect my traffic?

I’ve always been a firm believer that the only real Search Engine Optimization strategy is to have good content. I have a similar philosophy with blogging. I should stick to the content I enjoy writing about, and not worry about tailoring it to the queries that bring visitors to my blog. When a visitor stumbles on to my blog by means of a query that doesn’t really match the blog content, he or she tends to bounce. There’s nothing I can do about the query mismatch, but I can strive for better content.

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  1. […] onto my blog would see my best work as well. I’ve seen some evidence that visitors to my blog don’t really like the newborn photograhy. I can’t really blame them if I’m not showing my best work, now can I? If I want my […]

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