Thirty Days In Numbers (how to measure blog success)

chira 20gMeasuring success is hard for any website. Perhaps it is the hardest thing to do. You have to first know what success looks like. What are your objectives, who are your customers, what tools do you have, your goals, your competition, data sources and understanding nuance and complexity. Even for a small not very relevant blog such as this measuring success is complex.

(It is important to emphasize that one month is not a lot of time to have been blogging, especially in the complex and sophisticated world of the blogosphere. Survival is hard, takes a lot of commitment and few survive even six months. But I am a new blogger and all excited and pumped about making it to this milestone and since this blog is about Web Insights what better way to reflect back than with numbers.)

This post also hopes to illustrate how to think of measuring success along multiple dimensions, with multiple data sources beyond clickstream, and why it requires real analysis to measure success and not just report writing. How else could you know you should also consider # of TV shows watched (see below) as a critical metric?  Just for this “simple blog” I had to use Six data sources in success measurement.

I hope you find this useful as you think of measuring success for your website.

First our “standard” metrics (May 15 – June 13) :

  • Total Visitors : 4,478
  • Unique Visitors : 1,901
  • Page Views Per Visitor: 1.8
  • Feedburner (RSS) Subscribers: 82
  • Most interesting key phrase from Search Engines : “good use of time” ; )
  • Most bizarre key phrase from Search Engines : “buy razor with out contract” !!!
  • Top Referrers of Traffic : Google (10%), Yahoo (5%)
  • Traffic Sources : US (69%), International (31%)

Insights : I am surprised at the amount of traffic, I would have expected a lot less. Not sure why. The amount of international traffic is also much more than I would have anticipated. Perhaps it is a reflection of the nature of our great world of “web analytics”, we are dispersed all over yet facing the same challenges and want to vent and learn.

Content Metrics :

  • # of Posts : 13 (including WP default Hello World)
  • # of Comments : 124 (!!!)
  • # of Words in Post : 14,089
  • # of Words in Comments : 14,228 (!!!!!)
  • # of Words in Pages : 3,142

Insights : I am absolutely delighted at 9.5 comments per post on average (highest 21, lowest 3) and am absolutely stunned that you all have contributed as much content to this blog as I have (the counts include my comments in reply to your comments).

I was not sure how I would feel about this whole blogging thing, and I resisted jumping in for a while (and Andy Beal deserves credit, again, for his kind encouragement). But your support and your comments and your kind words in emails and your contribution has ensured that this has been a thrilling experience.

Thanks to your contribution I am totally hooked on this drug (this is what being high on drugs must feel like!). Please keep your comments coming.

Progress Against Goals :

  • Qualitative Goal: Atleast 3 User Comments per post. 
     Progress: Check.
  • Quantitative Goal: Technorati 10,000 Ranking by end of year.
     Progress: May 15th: 1,200,157 June 14th: 58,615

Insights : I could not have anticipated meeting the Qualitative goal, all credit goes to you dear readers. Thank you for patronizing me. In Technorati going from one million to a hundred thousand is really easy, then it is a long hard slog. I think I have a tough road ahead to meet my quantitative goal. I could use your help evangelizing the blog (you’ll have my deepest appreciation).

Work – Life Balance Metrics :

# of The Daily Show by Jon Stewart watched:

  • Before Blog: Every single one.
  • After Blog launch: Zero.

Insights :  This is much much harder than I anticipated (and would not have been possible without my very patient and loving wife). I miss watching Jon Stewart but good content is hard to think through of even if I think of my posts for every single minute of my “free” time for three days before I publish the post. I forget to shave on many days.

But I had decided before the start of this journey that this will be a non-normal blog ("Eat like a bird, and poop like an elephant”, more on this on my About page) and you have to give something up and I am rather pleased with the return on investment.

One last time : ) I am very very grateful to all of you for your kind words of encouragement and for all the content you have contributed to my humble little blog via your comments, the blog is better for it. Gracias.

Do you have other suggestions on how I could measure success? Did I miss anything above? Please share your feedback via comments.

Comments

  1. 1
    Clint says:

    Avinash, you beat me to it!
    I'm working on my 1st 100 Days Analysis. I mentioned it last night here.
    But even though you got yours in first, I appreciate your transparency – something I am striving for.

    And you even set goals for yourself! That's great, I didn't set goals – didn't want to make it too much like business. I was wondering if you looked at what days you are most likely to post on? For me it is Tuesdays and Mondays and I don't really know why.

    I do think you are too modest. Within our peer group you are very respected and we poor mortals have just been itching for you to start blogging. So when you finally did start blogging we all jumped on it like grasshoppers.

  2. 2
    Kathy French says:

    I think I know what the bizarre search time is about.

    Most bizarre key phrase from Search Engines: “buy razor with out contract”!

    I bet someone wanted to know how to get the hot new RAZR phone without getting a service contract from Verizon. :)

  3. 3

    Kathy: Thanks for the suggestion, my thought was someone wanting a free razor (for shaving with me being a man and all that) but your suggestion sounds much more credible.

    Clint: Sorry to get ahead of you buddy, I guess I am getting too excited about this stuff, plus I was itching to write something about how to measure "success".

    Goals for me mostly are a motivation tool (interestingly in my personal life I don't have any, Jennie takes care of that!).

    In terms of days Mon/Tue and Thu are the most common. Every single post right around midnight (the only time I have).

  4. 4
    Mark McLaren says:

    Avinash,

    What a great way to finish a launch. Your goals and insights – and wit – are exemplary. Thank you!

  5. 5
    benry says:

    Great post. Have you considered blogging while watching Jon Stewart to increase your work/life balance numbers — or would that simply be skewing things?

  6. 6

    Benry: It might potentially skew the metrics but there is a bigger problem. I love Jon Stewart (talk about someone whose questions lead to probing analysis) and I'll probably just want to listen to him and in between commercials might not lead to optimal quality blog posts. : )

    My hypothesis is that after a while I'll just get good at this and restore the work life balance.

  7. 7

    Ought to do one of the work/life balance things too! BTW, I like watching Jon Stewart too!

    My work life balance is painting and talking with artists about search engines (somehow, I got it mixed up …..maybe it should be the other way around).

    Seriously, I like the metric of average comments per blog post. You posted 17 times in about a month but did pretty good in visibility, in my opinion.

  8. 8

    Hi Avinash, great read : interesting and witty :)

    In case you need to catch up on The Daily Show, ComedyCentral.com is your friend ;)

  9. 9
    satrap says:

    Thanks for the post, i enjoyed reading it. blogging is not as easy as many think it is, it's hardwork. any how thanks.

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