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Monday
Jun182012

Parenting Blog Analytics: How Do My Stats Compare? 

In the blogging world, people often talk about and wonder about numbers. New bloggers, in particular, are often curious how they stand up to more established bloggers. Because I'm a numbers geek and incredibly curious, I decided to dive in and try to answer the questions that everyone is asking themselves. How much traffic are these blogs really getting? Where is that traffic coming from? What works and what doesn't work in terms of growing a blog.

I put out a call for volunteers and selected 20 different blogs, ranging from big to small, single author to multi-author, frequent to infrequent posts, covering a wide variety of topics and techniques.

This presentation, called Looking Under the Hood of Parenting Blogs, provides a summary of the results. I hope you find it useful (if the font is too small, click the "view full screen" icon in the bottom right of the frame).


Any questions? Feel free to ask in the comments.

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Reader Comments (74)

Wow, Annie, this is fantastic. Really useful data and meaningful, clear conclusions. Thanks so much!

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLynn

Thank you Lynn. I'm glad you find it useful.

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Thank you for including me in your study. Tons of info that can make a big difference in how I write titles and research what my readers want. The one thing that stood out is that contests bring in very little traffic. Good to hear! I've bookmarked this to delve into deeper.

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterConnieFoggles

I think the main issue with contests is that they are very limited from a time perspective. Once the contest is over, that post no longer has much value. Whereas with ideas, research, DIY or comparative product reviews, the value is more long lasting and people will keep coming back to those posts over and over again.

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Love the presentation! I have been wondering lately what was above/below/average for parenting blogs. I have been feeling pretty proud of my 30k hits in the 6 months since starting my blog, paa.la, where I mostly just ramble about breastfeeding, but had nothing to compare it to. I was also thinking about what I could do to bring in more readers, how to improve my posts, and I appreciate the tips. Thanks for sharing!

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaala

LOVE this article. It both brought me a sense of relief over my own blogging, and gave me ideas for improvement! TY!

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulieK

fascinating. my site is sparse on tips and how-tos. i don't even think you could SEO most of the writing i publish, but small and engaged works for us:)

thanks for doing all this work, annie.

I agree - review/giveaways lack longevity. I have tried to make them more 'value-added' by having them also be a bit of advice... like when I reveiwed Rubbermaid Hidden Recycler, I wrote it as a "5 Ways To Organize Your Kitchen" so there would be a bit more info than JUST a review... even so, the other types of posts are better traffic drivers in the long term I think.

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulieK

Love this! Everyone is often wondering and in the dark about how their stats compare to other blogs and how to tell if what they're doing is working compared to others. Not that it's all about beating other people's stats, but it is encouraging I'm sure, to find that you're doing pretty well. Thanks for organizing this and sharing it. I found it really insightful and like the twenty blogs you chose to use for your research!

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

Thanks for taking the time and effort to collect and present this information. It's really interesting and helpful! Especially the breakdown of referrers. Again, thanks!

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrigid Keely

I've been blogging for over 10 years on topics from blogging and web development right through to parenting, breastfeeding etc. I've seen my unique daily hits as high as 20k and as low as 100. If there's one thing that I've learned it's that what works one week is not guaranteed to work the next. Better to write for the love of writing & blogging than narcissism and hit counting. :)

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJem

Thanks for including me in the study.

Lots of info for us new bloggers here and we appreciate it.

Cheers,

Rachel

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

What a great presentation! I love the graphics, and also the thought starters for article topics and ways to engage my readers better. Thanks for a really easy read - I'm putting this one on Pinterest!

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCeleste

Great and useful information. Thanks!

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaure

Thanks for including me! I'm going to change the way I write titles. It's a bit harder for my creative/memoir posts, but something to keep in mind so people can find me!

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKristine

Annie, I'm honored that you asked me to be part of this. Thanks for doing all this work and for making some numbers available that let other bloggers know what the average visitor number, etc., are! There isn't enough of this available in the blogosphere.

Thanks for the numbers - that's a great analysis. I knew I was going to be on the "low" side, but now I know better where I stand! And I didn't score low on *all* of the categories!

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlicia

Just wondering re: "Where does the traffic come from?" - several blogs on your list (including this one) are ones that I follow via RSS feed using Google Reader. If the entire post is visible in Google Reader, such that I don't go to the actual website, does that actually even count as traffic for them at all? (I know some sites activate some sort of setting such that you can see a few lines or a paragraph and then there's a statement such as "click here for the entire post", I like being able to read articles in Google Reader but for the traffic numbers of the blogger perhaps it's better if I can't and have to go to their website instead?)

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJen

This is so helpful! Thank you!

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

As someone new to the world of blogging, this information is very useful. Thank you!

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCo-Pilot Mom

Nice job! Not surprised at all about contests being down at the bottom.

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaria @amotherworld

I love you! Very insightful and very well done!

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Lance

Jen:

If someone reading my blog in Google Reader never clicks through to the site, then it doesn't really count as traffic. I can see how many people subscribe to my RSS feed and I can see how many people viewed items in the feed, but it wouldn't register as an actual visit to the blog.

Some people use partial feeds, forcing people to click through. I understand why some do that, but as a reader of blogs, I find it frustrating. So I offer a full feed. I do hope that people will frequently be inspired to click through so that they can comment and join the conversation though. :)

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

This is such an excellent post, the most informational post I've read in ages with REAL stats. Thank you for doing all the work to put this together.

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

Good to know. I was wondering about that too, because the blogs I follow regularly fall into two categories - those I always read and comment on (i.e. I click through from Reader) and those I tend to just read and not comment on for a variety of reasons. I was wondering if those visits count towards traffic numbers.

So a follow-up question: the way Google Reader works now, I can comment right within it. It does pull the post as though I were looking at it on the site, but I'm still not technically on that site's URL. So does that count as a visit?

One other question - would love your thoughts on search engine traffic. As with the stats noted here, a lot (the majority?) of my traffic comes from search engines, whether that's key words/SEO or images, which is happening more and more. But for many of the search terms, I would think that (a) my blog isn't what they're looking for and/or (b) they read but don't return. So other than boosting traffic numbers, is search engine traffic of any value?

JulieK - that is clever! I really love that advice since I was trying to figure out a way around (or under, or over!) the conclusion that Annie's report came to on giveaways.

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercoffee with julie

That's strange. I'm not sure if you have a different version of Google Reader than I do. The version that I have doesn't give an option to comment on the post. The only options are to "add star", share on G+, e-mail, keep unread or add tags.

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

This is GREAT information! Thanks so much for your insight!

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterColleen

If your blog isn't what they were looking for, then it likely isn't of much value unless something else catches their eye while they are there. But in terms of reading and not returning, there are some techniques that are used to "hook" readers. Some bloggers add a message at the top of popular posts welcoming readers and encouraging them to subscribe or check out other related content. Some use a plug-in called "WP GreetBox" that encourages people to subscribe. Others make strategic use of their side-bars or plug-ins like LinkWithin to encourage readers to click on other posts.

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Annie this is so well put together. Love it!

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrachel

Thanks so much for including me, Annie. As always, you did a thorough job, and left me with a lot to think about.

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJill @BabyRabies

[...] Annie from PhD In Parenting asked me to be a part of a study she just wrapped up, where she took a look at the numbers and traffic driving 20 different parent-focused blogs. The blogs range in size of readership, but Annie sought out to find what the common trends are for building and maintaining blog audiences in Parenting Blog Analytics: How Do My Stats Compare [...]

Thanks @Coffee With Julie! I don't know how well it worked - I actually just went to check my GA stats for that post... it's #49 of all my posts in the past 3 months (since it was written in early March I only looked back that far). So... I am not really sure if that is good or bad?? I want to keep trying this more often though just b/c I am sure readers will like it better than just a list of features?? Hard to say. :) Glad you liked the idea tho!

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulieK

Thank you for this information Annie. It's nice to know how my blog compares and to be able to set realistic targets for myself. :)

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTamara Watson

Such great information!

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertracy@sellabitmum

Very interesting. My personal blog definitely is a search oriented blog and the tutorial type posts are the high traffic ones.

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

I am SO jealous you got to spend so much time analyzing data.
Would you say that these numbers would be fairly consistent with industry? How did these sites do with organic vs paid search? I've always wondered what Adwords or Facebook ads/sponsored stories could do for parenting blogs. Especially in a such a competitive landscape.

It would be awesome if you could dive even deeper and add usability to the statistics. Things like bounce rate and page views/session can be improved with better usability and/or clear calls to action.

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJen Banks

This was so helpful. Thank you. I am going to bookmark this article, because I can definitely tell I will be referring back to it. Excellent.

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterthedoseofreality

Thank you so much for including one of my sites in this great study. So fascinating! I learned so much. Great, clear conclusions! Thanks again.

June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulia Roberts

Love this Annie! Although wondering how you decided on 20 blogs? Personally I might have liked to see a larger sample?

It is hard to say whether these would be fairly consistent with the industry. I did try to ensure I had a range from large to small and different types so that there would be variety within my sample. That said, I do think there are a lot more small blogs out there than there are large blogs.

I'm pretty sure that the traffic to these blogs was all or almost all organic. Personally, I have used some paid placement in the past in small amounts just to test. I didn't find facebook ads, facebook promotions or Google Adwords to be worthwhile for me.

With regards to increasing page views, the blogs that used LinkWithin or another technique to promote other posts on their blogs did tend to have higher pages per visit.

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I wanted a sample that was big enough to allow me to see patterns and draw conclusions, without being so big that it became an unrealistic task to complete (given that I have a job, a family, and a blog). I do feel that the sample was big enough for my purposes (trends, patterns, ranges), but is not large enough to say with confidence that these averages accurately represent the industry average with 95% certainty. But I do think it would be pretty close.

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

[...] about Parenting blog statistics. What that means is that I gave access to my Google Analytics to Annie at PhD in Parenting for about a month so she could get a good idea of what goes on behind the scenes here at [...]

Thank you so much for including my blog in this study. I have so much to think about and it couldn't have come at a better time! Will you be at Type-A this weekend? I'd love to meet you in person!

I often wonder about the LinkWithin plugin. I'm not sure if you have noticed, but the little grey LinkWithin by the pictures is a link to their site. A direct link, not no-follow. Every one of your posts (and others that use it) is sending link equity to LinkWithin. Your site is giving the LinkWithin site a recommendation to Google. I haven't analyzed it much in depth, but it could start to hurt ranking.

That being said, it looks nice :) I wonder if there are other choices for related posts to be displayed with images that wouldn't affect linking and SEO.

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJen Banks

I do know that they send traffic via their site. Until recently, I didn't know of any other good automated option. However, I got a pitch last month about another plug-in that does the same thing without routing traffic via their own website. I haven't had a chance to test it out yet though, but have it on my list of things to look at when I redesign the blog. Here is some info about it: http://www.johnfdoherty.com/switch-from-linkwithin-to-nrelate/

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

This is great thanks! I was sad to see you didn't use me after all but that's okay!

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKathleen

Kathleen:

One of the requirements for the study was that the blog had to have existed for at least 12 months (since I was looking at 12 months of data). In the form that you filled in for the study, it said your blog was created on 03/07/2012. I now see that your blog has existed longer than that, so perhaps the form automatically added the current year, assuming the other dates were day/month. In any case, I had quite a few blogs that were similar in size (page views, visitors) that asked to be part of it and unfortunately couldn't use all of them. I do appreciate you volunteering though. I'm sorry I couldn't include everyone.

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I got that same pitch and keep meaning to look into it. Bumping it up higher on my list now :)

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJill @BabyRabies

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