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Reporter’s Notebook: OCD over Analytics

Alright, I admit it. When I first started MarkupFlux, I was guilty of checking my site stats every hour. And boy, was it exhausting. I have since put myself on a more structured schedule in terms of creating content and psychotically checking stats. Sometimes it can be difficult to get the motivation or even the idea for a great article, but I often won’t let myself check stats until after I’ve published a new piece (that I’m proud of) and marketed it as much as possible. Regardless, I can say I’ve drastically improved my publishing content to refreshing Google Analytics ratio.

That said, with how much time I’ve spent pouring over analytics in the past few weeks, there are a couple of interesting things I have learned about content.

Posts that get Googled

I wasn’t frequently getting hits from search engines when I first started blogging. Though I had regularly updated content, put in all the right tags and keywords, and submitted my site to search engines, it just wasn’t happening. Only after I began publishing more coding tricks and fixes did I start getting referrals from search engines.

When people search for information related to web development, they’re often looking for a quick fix to an immediate problem they are dealing with. Thus, the content that was getting search engine referrals almost always fell under the coding category, and related to a new technique or tip I had recently come across while battling with my own development dilemmas.

Posts that get bookmarked

Reference material and quick guides to information almost always receive the most bookmarks. Often times, when you come across a huge cheat sheet or reference list – such as a tag guide for HTML5 or code snippets for CSS3 – it’s too much to take in all at once. Additionally, nobody ever needs all of that information right away. It is very unlikely that you are building a site that requires the use of every new HTML tag and groundbreaking CSS3 tricks.

However, you still want to hold onto it for future projects. Making sure you don’t lose information that you can foresee yourself needing eventually is a main motivation behind bookmarking.

Posts that get shared

This last section is a little less explainable, but I’ll try. I’ve found that the content that gets the most circulation and word of mouth – via facebook, twitter, etc. – have been the longer, in-depth posts that are less objective and more opinionated. I suppose this can be attributed to the fact that there’s a unique perspective to the topic.

Usually the longer articles don’t offer much information that we didn’t already know, but rather, are made valuable because of the opinions and perspectives attached to them. These posts lend themselves more easily to conversation and debate, and are therefore more interesting reads that people are inclined to share.

So, what does this mean and how will it affect future content?

Well, for one – it could mean that my showcases and freelance posts are useless. But that’s really not the case. They still receive page views and bookmarks, but may just be useful for a more segmented group of readers.

I suppose I could look further into what kind of traffic I’m looking to generate – whether it’s from search engines, bookmarks or social media. However, I don’t believe that the readership I want isolates itself in this way. We all use social media, we all use search engines, and we all bookmark our resources.

So essentially, these observations won’t do much to affect my future content. I haven’t seen any overwhelming evidence to justify more or less posts of a certain kind. Until my overall goal changes (which is not expected), I don’t plan on letting statistics influence my content.

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