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  • Track Your SEO Effort and Results

    The movie industry loves to say that you are only as good as your last film. I say you are only as good as the level of effort you put into SEO practices. Good SEO practices are a lifetime of work, not just the last post on your blog. Your success is based upon a number of factors, including the wealth of information on your blog.

    Like any plan, you need to test your results to see how you are doing. This is also known as “site monitoring”. It’s like monitoring the levels of your blood sugar or cholesterol; if you are out of balance, then it is time to make some changes.

    The blog traffic statistics are probably one of the most popular methods of monitoring your blog’s results. Blog traffic measures the number of visitors to your blog, as well as which pages they visit, and how long they stayed on your site. It can also measure where and how a visitor arrived on your blog, from another website or through a search engine, and it can measure from which page a visitor leaves, as well as how long they stayed on the site.


    Blog Traffic – How Many Visitors: Many people still get a thrill when they see a visitor counter on their blog showing the world how many people took time out of their day to check out their blog. Many still declare one of the most essential things they need on their blog is a visitor counter. They want it displayed prominently in the footer or even the header. “You are visitor 456,897!” The belief is that this ever growing number indicates a quality site.

    Not to me. Maybe I’m just cynical, but I’ve been around long enough to know that these numbers can be easily faked. What if you have a ton of visitors but you change your host server or blogging software and you have to start over from zero? Just because you have thousands of visitors, does that mean you have anything of value on your blog? I’ve visited many sites with counters to find that only 112 people discovered how magical this site was before I showed up. Lucky 112 plus one.

    A visitor counter is really a useless piece of clutter that clogs up the clean look of your blog. Visitor statistics only matter when they have more information than a number of page access or visitors. You can blog and brag about the numbers, but keep them off your blog and in a place where you can get real numbers to help you understand how people are using your blog and what keeps them returning.

    The only benefits to you in the number of visitors to your blog is how that helps with advertising, and monitoring your bandwidth to make sure you continue with a host that will not overcharge you for exceeding your current levels. If your traffic numbers continue to rise, you can take that into consideration as you plan your host server decisions.

    Sure, it’s a thrill to see your traffic numbers rise and fall, and they should slowly grow in an upward direction if you are doing everything right. But it is also heartbreaking to see you have a huge increase in visitors only to find out that 80% of those were search engine crawlers, spiders, and spammers. Blog traffic statistics need to be analyzed thoroughly to understand what is going on. The number of visitors alone is no help at all. So we look at other more helpful clues from other blog statistics.

    There are a number of free tools, services, and information on how to track and monitor your blog site statistics, and I’ll be writing more about this in another post:

    How Long Did They Stay: How long a visitor stayed on your blog tells you a lot about what you have to offer in the way of quality, readable content, how your navigation efforts are working, and what kept them there. Shorter stays usually mean:

    1. You didn’t have the information they wanted
    2. You didn’t have enough information
    3. They couldn’t navigate around your site well enough to find the information they wanted
    4. You encouraged them to leave your blog.

    If you find that the average visitor stay on your blog is only a few seconds, then consider your content and its value. Are you using enough keywords in your writing to make it clear to search engines and your readers that this is the topic at hand? Is your blog easy to read? Can they easily search and navigate around your site looking for more information? Are navigation links, like next, previous, categories, site search tags, and a good site map easily accessible and obvious to find? Are you supplying them with links to tagging services that says, “Hey, nothing for you here, then leave the site and look elsewhere”.

    The last is usually done by providing external links to tagging services such as Technorati or Del.icio.us, something I find problematic with tagging.

    Longer stays usually indicate better quality content and helpful ways for the visitor to find the information they need on your blog.

    What Brought Them Here: There isn’t always enough information is help you understand why they came to your blog, but if the website they left has information similar to yours, you can pretty much guess that it either didn’t give them enough or any of the information they needed, or they needed more information on related topics. It can also tell you whether or not the website they left had a post about your blog or just a link. Just visit the page and look for any mention of your blog.

    What is more important to you is the word or combination of words they used in a search engine to find your blog. The referer link usually provides the information such as:

    http://digg.com/search?search=cheat%20sheets&submit=Submit

    or

    http://www.google.pl/search?hl=pl&q=wordpress%203%20column%20theme%20viewer&spell=1.

    The first one is looking for “cheat sheets” and the second one is looking for “wordpress, 3, column, theme, viewer”.

    These represent keywords used to find your blog and post. This is why keywords are so important. People use them to search, and the better the distribution of keywords in your content, the more likely they are to come up when people use them to search.

    Here is a list of some of the words used recently to search this site:

    • php css
    • “css and php”
    • css color chart scheme
    • blog submission sites
    • editing wordpress style sheets
    • what are intrasite web pages
    • designing websites with wordpress
    • adding wordpress search bar
    • celebrity blogs
    • how translate blogs
    • wordpress theme for multiple bloggers
    • wordpress excerpt single.php
    • wordpress+multiple categories using one
    • change excerpt to full post wordpress
    • free blog graphics
    • ultimate tag warrior
    • wordpress styles
    • WordPress separating categories

    Using this keyword information, you have a clue as to what people are looking for that brings them to your site, whether or not you have specific information on what they are looking for.

    I look at this list and see two lists. One is a list of article topics I’ve written about, and the other is a list of article topics I need to write about.

    If you look through the list, you will see that the words “wordpress” and “blog” are listed frequently. This information tells me that the connection I wanted to make between WordPress and Blogs has been made. I’ve used enough of those words to connect the dots with those keywords.

    If there are words in the list that are not representative of any articles I’ve written, but are still within my subject matter, I use the list as inspiration, finding new potential material for articles. If enough people are hunting for the same topic, then I had better write about it to meet their needs.

    If your top search words list is full of disconnected and random words, with only a few repeated, then this could mean that your keyword density and usage isn’t adequate for a search engine to categorize your blog. It could also mean that your blog content is random, covering a wide variety of topics with no consistent topic theme or category. Go through your post content and reexamine how you are using keywords in your writing to increase their value to search engines.

    Who Brought Them Here: What brought them to your blog is also as important as Who. The “who” are other websites and bloggers who list a link to your blog or post from their site, connecting the two together. The power of the link between two websites is amazing. The link says “This is worth visiting” and “I recommend this site”.

    Who is linking to your site and are those links bringing in traffic? From your blog statistics, you can check your referers to find out from where people are coming from, and if you get more than 4 visitors from a specific blog or site, then you can bet that they have written something about you or included you on their blogroll. So check them out.

    Page ranking and search engine evaluations are based upon not only how many incoming links you have to your blog, but who is linking to you. To find out how many incoming links you have to your blog, you can use any of the tools mentioned in the article on Link Popularity or do it yourself with most major search engines by typing in the following into the search box:

    link:http://lorelle.wordpress.com

    Go through the results every few months to find out who is linking to you, how many are linking to you, and what they are saying and why they are linking to you. If the number of incoming links on the various search engines isn’t rising, then it is time to work on creating more linkable content and to become more active and visible on the web through comments, socializing, and guest blogging.

    What They Looked At on Your Blog: Some blog statistics will show you a list of all the pages visited by a visitor, but not many. The information you usually get is which posts are the most visited. Still, this gives you plenty of information.

    First, you know that this is a popular topic, so maybe you should write more on it. Is there more you can add to the topic? Is this something you enjoy writing about? Then get busy and write more on the topic to not only attract more users and give them more information and resources, but to also create a stronger body of work.

    Second, you know that this page is getting a lot of traffic, so maybe you can add links to other posts and ads on the page to get better coverage and referral rates within your blog, as well as keeping visitors around your site a bit longer.

    Third, a popular post is worth submitting directly to search engines, directories, tagging, and social bookmarking services because a lot of people have shown an interest, so a lot more might be interested. This gives you double promotional value for your blog.

    How, Why, and From Where Did They Leave: How and from where a visitor left your site can only give you information if you know which page they entered from. Unfortunately, this information is not always available. You are left with statistics that say X number of people entered on this page and X number left via this page.

    If you have a lot of people entering via a specific post and leaving via the same post, then there is something wrong with that post. If you have people entering your site and then leaving quickly, then there is something wrong with your site. If you have a lot of people leaving from a specific post, then there might be something wrong with that post. It’s a guessing game, but it is also information you need to pay attention to.

    Check out your navigation links to make sure they are working. Add links to related posts or recent posts to encourage them to browse your site for more information. And if you feature links to tagging services, then do not be surprised to find people using those links to leave your blog. Check to see where they are going and if you have a lot of visitors heading to Technorati after visiting one post, then consider changing those Technorati tags to site search tags instead.

    Why they leave is another question worth examining. You just might not have the information they need. Consider expanding the content to include more information, using the search term list for inspiration.

    Consider your design and layout as a factor in fast exiting. The harder a web page is to read, due to small fonts, a busy design, over-bright colors, too much information, too little information, or too much unrelated information, the sooner they will leave. Take time to test drive your Theme or design with others, specifically strangers, to get their opinion about the look and layout of your blog and take their comments seriously. The easier your blog is to read, the cleaner the content is displayed, and the easier it is to navigate throughout the site, the more likely visitors will hang around a bit to find out what else you have to say.

    Also consider adding feeds and subscriptions to encourage visitors to access your blog via their feed reader or return because you reminded them that your blog was updated. Offer various ways to encourage visitors to come back as well as to stick around.

    Check Your PR: Page Rank (PR) has become highly over-rated. Like an individual stock on the stock market, if you watch it too closely and frequently, it can give you an ulcer. But check in once a month and over time you should see it rise.

    Page Rank is a value that puts your blog or blog post in a ranking among other competition in similar categories. Your PR rating is determined by a variety of evaluated information including traffic, incoming links, domain age, and more.

    Google’s PageRank is a trademarked and patented page ranking process used in evaluating websites in a comparative fashion for listing in search engine results. While explaining all about page ranking is beyond this article, just know that there are 10 total possible “points” a website can be awarded and a page rank is defined as 7/10 or 4/10, signifying that the site has been awarded X out of 10 possible points, the higher the awarded points, the better. For more detailed information, see Wikipedia’s PageRank, The Google Pagerank Algorithm and How It Works from IPR Computing and Web Workshop – Page Rank Explained.

    You can find page ranks from a variety of page rank testing services. Here is a short list of some free page rank testers.

    While page rank may help you understand your place in the search engine’s web, it doesn’t often work in the real world. To find out how you are really doing inside of search engines, search for key keywords people use to find your blog and see how high or low in the list your blog is listed. If it is on page 14 the first time you search, wait a week or a month and search again to see if it has moved up to page 8. Look for changes in your ranking from within the same searches over time. Don’t judge it on the first try.

    If your keywords or phrases don’t bring up your blog, then you need to work harder on those keywords.

    Over time, if you don’t see it rising, then it’s time to get to work with some serious SEO and keyword optimization.

    Lorelle.wordpress.com

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