Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Blog traffic, adsense & audiences

In yesterday's post How do you deal with frustration?, I mentioned that there were a fair number of interesting things around. Today, I plan to mention some of them. This post focuses on blog traffic.

stats May11 2 The graph shows visits (yellow) plus page views (yellow plus red) to this blog to end May 2011. I am still not sure why my traffic has risen.

My stats don't allow me to properly track visitor composition. I know from spot checks that return visits have increased, but they are still only around 25 per day; search engines continue to dominate traffic.

Google has changed its search algorithms, and I wondered how this affected traffic. I haven't really focused on these changes, but I do know of one firm in my immediate environment whose web traffic halved as a consequence of the changes. This has had a devastating effect on the business. I actually need to look at this (the Google changes) at some point for purely professional reasons.

Measured by page views, the most popular posts over the last month were:

I am never quite sure what data like this means, nor what to do with it. However, I thought it might be of interest to fellow bloggers and those interested in the broader web if I made some fairly random comments on patterns and implications.   

Google Adsense

Like many bloggers, I carry adsense ads. Prior to the global financial crisis, my revenue from this source had been increasing slowly, although it was never huge. Still, small lump sum payments of $100 plus three or four times a year were not unhelpful. They funded a dinner or consumables or just the weekly food budget.

Since the GFC, my revenue from this source has more than halved even though my overall traffic has increased substantially. 

One factor was the GFC itself. I could see this immediately in the numbers. A second a change in payment patterns.

I used to get paid when my credit balance reached $US100. At the time, the Australian dollar was worth 70 cents US. Google then changed its rules. I now get paid when my credit balance reaches $Aus150. The Australian dollar is worth $1.07 US. The practical effect is that I have to earn twice as much before I get paid.

A further factor is a change in my own blogging approach, a decline in the purely professional, an increase in variety of posts. This makes it harder for the Google algorithms to target my blogs.

Now some of my fellow bloggers might argue that none of this matters. We don't blog for the money. We don't, but from a purely personal perspective those little payments are quite important, more important since I cut back from some activities to better focus on writing.

I don't have an answer on this one, just some ideas that I am going to test and will report on.

The Role of Twitter

I joined Twitter as an experiment, and was in fact very sceptical. Twitter has its problems, including a tendency to crash through overload. It's not loading even as I write. Yet it has become a very valuable tool for bloggers.

I have found this at two levels.

First, it provides a vehicle for recording things that you just don't have time to blog about at that point but which you think are interesting. Send a tweet and you have a record, potentially add value to others.

Secondly, you can use it to alert others on your posts. Then your readers who are interested can retweet, adding to your reach.

I don't get a lot of traffic through Twitter as compared to, say, Google search. Last month I received twenty visits from Twitter as compared to more than three thousand via Google. However, those who come via Twitter are more actually likely to stay and read. And, really, that's what counts.

Nationalisation of search engines

We all tend to think of Google as Google. In fact, there are a number of country Google search engines that give different search results. Looking at my own traffic over the last month, I found:

Now, to a degree the visits simply reflect the home country of the visitor. However, and this something that I am not clear on, they may also reflect variations in weighting on those  web sites. Is it just the varying country pages, or is it more than that?

In any event, and I think that this is important from a professional viewpoint, I certainly  use the local pages on country search engines all the time.

Variations in audience

Each blog serves a different audience. For generalist blogs like this one, that can be quite varied.

Looking at my stats, I break my audience up in this way:

  • There are those who come through search engines and are measured by 00.00 time on this blog. They find me, check me and leave because I am not relevant to their immediate need. Looking at my most recent stats, they appear to dominate my visitor traffic.
    • On the surface, this is a bit humiliating! However, It's really just the reality of search engines. Where I can do more is on certain posts that get a lot of traffic where I may be able to update and improve the visitor experience.
    • Linking to the last point, to what degree do we as bloggers have responsibility to update and correct?
  • Then I have my regular visitors. I think of this in terms of circles from regular commeters out.  Here I have a feel for their interests.

In all this, while audience is important, most bloggers write for their won sake. Yet it's still interesting to muse on just what needs to be done to meet the varying needs of those who come. But that's the subject of another post!     


Anonymous said...

I think both your and Neil Whitfield's blog posts should be had up before the plain packaging tribunal.

Both are in obvious contravention of proposed tobacco advertising laws, save only that they lack a "brought to you by Marlboro/Pall Mall/Camel/Dunhill/Players/Winston" statement.

I expect next month's stats to be olive green, unfiltered - tar very much.


Jim Belshaw said...

The filters are too long, David!

Anonymous said...

And by the way, that head link to higher Ed is going to be very useful Jim. A lot of work there.


Jim Belshaw said...

Thank you for noticing, David!