The Good, the Bad, and the Unknown of Blogging

April 12, 2010

About two months ago, Mark and I huddled together with a goal in mind: implement better publishing procedures here at Digett. What resulted was a challenge for ourselves and the entire Digett team to display our skills, put paper to pen, and provide honest-to-goodness thought leadership; I believe the team has responded admirably.

Since then, additions to our blog have increased almost three fold, and I'm spending an increasing amount of time answering questions about arcane style points and word choice. I dig that. Moreover, I see traffic to the Digett site going up amidst a bit of buzz about some of our posts.

With that in mind, I've taken a deeper dive into the numbers and scoured our site analytics to see what's been going on. In a simple exercise, I compared traffic from the month before we started our rigid publishing schedule to the month after. The results, in my view, serve as a poignant reminder of what fresh content and solid editorial procedures can do for your site traffic.

The Good

The simple way to put it is that almost all of the numbers are up. Google Analytics tells me our site has seen the following increases:

  • Visits, +19.09%
  • Absolute Unique Visitors, +24.39%
  • Pageviews, +3.09%
  • Time on Site, +35.52%
  • New Visits, +4.72%

Just in case any of you are itching to crash my love-in, I'm fully aware such results don't tell the entire story. Even the time-on-site figure has to be approached with caution, as that could simply mean our writing is dense and incomprehensible—though I certainly don't believe so.

Caution aside, I find these numbers encouraging. Additionally, the numbers from April's email newsletter, sourced mostly from blog content, held steady, and the tracking information provided through our bit.ly account says our content is finding its way across several continents.

My conclusion, then, is that our strategy of publishing fresh content and spreading word on Twitter and through our newsletter is paying off in increased site traffic. Still, I know it's not that simple; indeed, some of the numbers give me cause for concern.

The Bad

Debate remains heated about what does/doesn't matter in analytics; I don't place too much emphasis on one number or concept, but despite the above successes, a couple of things in my research caused me to furrow the ol' brow:

  • Average Pageviews, -13.43%
  • Bounce Rate, +4.10%

Those two work in tandem, and they're telling me that visitors consumed less of our content. Sure, users are spending more time on the site, but they're parking on one page or post; this may mean they didn't agree with our conclusions or didn't like the quality of our posts. Unfortunately, it probably means they're just not being properly routed to another part of the site that might result in a conversion. That leads me to the biggest problem we face:

The Unknown

Ultimately, the only way we know that our website makes a difference—that is, increases our business—is if our clients tell us. Analytics and reports can tell me if someone has visited this page, filled out that contact form, or performed any part of a specific action we designate; unless we strictly define conversions and consider them within the context of our business, however, they may not mean much.

That's been an ongoing issue with the Digett site, one we've tended to dodge and parry in favor of focusing on results for our clients. That has to change, especially if we continue to rely on our website as a primary marketing vehicle.