Setting Goals: Blogger Edition
As we near the halfway point of Q1, it’s officially time to take a peak under the hood at those goals we set back in 2019. As a new blogger, writer, site owner, I wasn’t really sure what to expect or anticipate going forward into my first full year in the game. Without saying too much, I completely undershot my goals for the first quarter of the new year! I decided that I would rework them for the remainder of 2020 and ended up with some pretty valuable insight as I began.
Setting Goals Is All About The Analytics, But…
You were probably thinking, “Duh. How else would you set goals” as you read that header. The funny thing is though, just because you have data and analytics doesn’t mean the way you interpret that info will be even 1% beneficial to you. My issue was I was somewhat “half assing” my first six months as a blogger, dipping my toes in the water if you will, and I would really pick it up once I began my first new year. I, of course, took my analytics and adjusted to them to what I thought would be reasonable as I began “full assing” my blog, but at the end of the day it was simply a guess.
Originally, I was writing two to three posts a week, one of which was a shorter review that I wanted to turn into a full-fledged review of. I also wanted to add at least one more post a week when time allowed. So, with all of that analysis I assumed the longer, more relevant review with an additional potential post would lead to about 1.75 times more views. (Example, if I had 100 views in Q4 2019, I was anticipating another 175 in Q1 2020, putting me at a total of 275).
Well, since I was only really looking at views and some other smaller analytics, I was completely wrong. In January alone my site saw nearly half of my entire 2019 traffic, views, ads published, and whatever other analytic you can throw out there. Safe to say what I thought was an educated guess was actually more along of the lines of a completely random guess.
Analyzing Those Analytics
And that brings us to the “but” from my first header. Simply looking at basic analytics will not help you make educated guesses for setting goals! You have to take a (somewhat) deep dive into your data before you can even begin to understand what it all means. It also helps a lot if you actually know what things like “impressions” and “bounce rate” mean too. Surprise, surprise, I did not know what they meant (lol).
Depending on where you look, “traffic” can have many meanings. “The amount of data sent and received by visitors to a website” and “the number of web users who travel to any given website” are just two of the endless definitions one can find on the Google machine. So, the way I took it was simply this: Traffic is the number of people I can get to my site in any given period. But there is so much more that goes into it. Below are some of what I think the more important things to know about “traffic” are.
- Organic Traffic: Any visitors that land on your site via “unpaid” (ad-free) means.
- Referral Traffic: visits that come to your site from sources outside whatever search engine you’re using (Outside = links from other websites, social media, etc.)
- Direct Traffic: When someone goes directly to your page by entering the URL.
- Users: Individuals who visit your site (can help track return rates, unique views, etc.)
- Views vs. Unique Views: Views refer to the total number of views on your site. But, you could have 95% of your views from one user that could skew data. Example, if you have 100 views on a post and 95 of them are from subject A, but Subjects B through F all had one view, you would have 6 unique views.
- Sessions: Sessions are tied to users in a way that shows how many views one individual may be bringing to your site.
Impressions are a strange beast, so they get a new section for discussion. Many claim that impressions are just views, but they really are more than that. For a view to become an impression, the ad/content must load. So, if someone were to scroll down your page slowly, you may get 100 impressions. If someone opens the page and immediately scrolls to the bottom before anything loads, you may get 20 impressions. Look at this explanation on Quora for another take on impressions.
Duration and Bounce Rate
Bounce Rate and Duration are also pretty important, but they’re a little more straightforward than some other things we’ve discussed up to this point. Duration is simply how long a user/viewer has been on your site, whereas a bounce is a single-page session on your site. Basically, it is the percentage of all sessions in which users view only one page and trigger only one request to your server.
You typically want your duration to be high and your bounce rate to be low, but they don’t necessarily have to follow that guideline. If the purpose of your site is to get people looking at more than one page though, then you 100% want to lower that bounce rate! Google Analytics has an excellent explanation of these two things here.
Timing of Posts
This is one that I didn’t pay too much attention too until recently, but it may be the most important thing you will read here today. I originally was uploading posts willy-nilly at all times of the day. But the thing with that is, if I post at 7:00 PM on a Friday, who is going to read it? My demographic is definitely geared towards the younger to middle-aged adult so most of that group isn’t even home at 7:00 PM on a Friday!
You can see where the disconnect in setting goals here would be, right? If I’m getting an average of 10 views per post at all times of the day on all days, but 50 views on Tuesdays at 4:00 PM, wouldn’t it make the most sense for me to post on Tuesdays or always at 4:00 PM? So you absolutely have to pay attention to your post-timing and popular day analytics to set accurate goals for yourself.
Setting Goals While Keeping Limits In-Check
All of this, of course, has to be attainable too. You can’t set to lofty of goals for yourself, and if you do, don’t get discouraged if you don’t hit them. It is, after all, the beginning of your blogging career, so it won’t always be smooth sailing. Trial and error will lead you to success nine times out of ten, so just keep pushing through to your goals and you will eventually excel at accurately predicting what you’re capable of!
Thanks for stopping by to read my post on setting goals. For more original content, be sure to visit DustyPosts. I’d love to hear more about how you set goals and if these tips helped you any, so leave tons of comments below!