Blog Prefect Goals for 2015

I was reading an article by Mi Muba from BeAMoneyBlogger.com on 11 guilt-free tips for writing a business plan for your blog and had a thought about whether I set decent goals for my blog. The easiest goal to set is just to outperform the quantity performed last time. But is that a sensible goal? I then got to thinking about my statistics that I perform regularly for my monthly traffic report.

I’ve been working on my KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for Blog Prefect as I have more data to fully benchmark success and failure criteria in my monthly output. With this in mind I’ve gone back over 2014 to produce some key sets of data to monitor my future end of month reports in 2015.

Blog Prefect Goals for 2015

  • So where does my data come from?

WordPress stats form a small part of the data. I can only trust certain information.

Google Analytics provides a fair proportion of this information but is further filtered to my key dynamic filter which I refer to as GAF. The GAF filter is termed “ActualTraffic” in my saved filters, its purpose is to strain out Crawley, West Sussex, England and only count those who stay longer than 30 seconds. I count 30 seconds or more as a good sign that there is some interest even if it is only a very quick scan of the page.

Bounce Rate is unfiltered Google Analytics. The percentage figure gives me an overall depiction of gross follow through. That sounds horrible. Check your underpants people. Keep this clean, it’s a family show.

Starting with the Average:

Dashboard 2014 AVG

  • My average highest individual view for a post during a month rests at 16, that is shockingly low so I want to work on that. Bear in mind that the highest individual goes into that pot so to have an average of only 16 suggests that I have many posts that drag the outstanding numbers below the surface of the water.
  • Bounce rate has been below the danger zone of 80% but I want to work on trimming it down by at least 8%.
  • Page Views is also a low figure. I need to be hitting more per month than this consistently. If I were to go by Moore’s Law, I need to double that figure at least.
  • I would like to double Referrals at the very least but it is down to how well my social sharing is going, as ever that is why this falls in the uncontrollable bracket.
  • The visits vs visitors display is one of my newer adjustments to the KPIs but as you can see there is an error. A discrepancy exists between Visitors and Visits (visits in Google Analytics terminology is known as sessions). There is no way there can be 45 visitors and only 33 views so this data has been skewed somewhere.
  • ATOS (Average Time on Site) is okay at the moment but I’d like to get the numbers up to 10 minutes.

The next measuring jar for 2014 was the Minimum

Dashboard 2014 MIN

This is a highly useful weather vane for displaying the worst periods of the year. As you can tell from this information, February, March, April and August all suffered in 2014 to one degree or another. In particular April was a hard hit month. (Which I’ll explain in further detail in the environmental factors below)

If any of my stats for a month fall below this amount in 2015, I need a kick in the butt, literally.

What is particularly striking in these stats are ATOS and Referrals. These were particularly low in comparison to the rest of the year.

This tells me that I should be ready to brace myself in April to perform better or expect the same woeful results, but that I need to get my act together to follow through properly in February, March and April to avoid egg on my face. I know this is going to be hard as my Degree module will bite into this time as will the Holiday I have planned in March.

The final measuring jar is the inverse of this figure, the Maximum

Dashboard 2014 MAX

December was a particular key month in all of my meaningful stats rounding off the year. The bounce rate is almost as low as it was on the first month of the blog in 2013. I started out with 50% bounce rate in June 2013 which is the best the site has ever seen in GA stats (but Alexa has had me as low as 9%).

February was also a prominent month. September saw the peak of my referral traffic which had built steadily from May, increasing positively each month up to September before topping out.

My target in 2015 is to outperform all of these purple figures in at least 1 month.

Environmental factors to note:

February 2014 was an unusual “Experiment” month for Blog Prefect. It received some paid traffic that month which marred the figures considerably. This is why February shows in the purple months, yet would have been a pretty average month without this boost that occurred for 5 days.

In April I was reeling from a personal issue and so my site took a big hit in terms of quality during this period. This was one true month where I wasn’t performing at my optimum and the stats reflect that.

November saw some weird numbers, unusually high skew on WordPress stats which didn’t reflect in Google Analytics.

December, another feature to the purples, was an unusual month with some high sustained numbers of traffic acting like a targeted advert to the site. I had not triggered anything but I suspect that some link or inquiry inflated these figures unnaturally and I doubt that this same warmth will be seen in January 2015. (At time of editing, this appears true with lower numbers).

Goal setting

It is important to set yourself a goal and that is exactly what I’m going to do this year. I had some thoughts about this and first went with an incredibly heavy target. It was silly to do that because those targets would most definitely be unreachable.

Instead I would perform a 15% increase on the 2014 average. So what does that look like?

Dashboard 2015 GOAL 15 PERCENT

This is an achievable goal if I work hard each month to ensure that I don’t have any of the drought factors that will pull the average down.

  • Noting the blue triangle in the bottom right, this is to signify that the data has been altered to balance the stats. You cannot have less visits than you have visitors so there must be at least a ratio of 1:1.

Challenge

There is going to be a bit of challenge in this goal set. I don’t feel that I’ll be able to achieve the 15% on all areas. Some of the stats I know are difficult to put right quickly and will require attack. That’s all part of the fun though.

Bounce rate seems difficult. Sometimes I get the mix right, other times not so I feel this is the stat I’m most likely to fail on based on 2014’s ups and downs.

Over to you?

What kind of goals have you set yourself for 2015?

Just started out? If so, what do you envisage as a sensible number? You could strike it lucky and be popular off the bat. You might swing the other way and have a really limp reception to the world of blogging with small numbers. What are you prepared for?

Been going for a while? Prepared for great or a slip backwards? Is the post schedule you are working to really paying out? Is the place you pimp your links reaching enough clickers?

Been going for years? Got any spare gold? 🙂

And Finally….

I wanted to tie in this epic soundtrack from 1965 because I hope to have a year as funky as this. They don’t make TV series soundtracks quite as good as this any more.

9 Comments Blog Prefect Goals for 2015

  1. Mi Muba

    Hi Jackson

    Very realistic approach you followed in goal setting and wonderfully done the quantitative analysis of what you have done and what you should do now.

    The stats of the bounce rate are amazing and you are far below the maximum limit it means more people search more after reading the post on which they arrived. This is a glaring sign of the quality of the contents of your blog.

    The way you are taking your blog to up and up is an ample evidence of your professional approach and you take it as a business and not as an activity.

    Thanks for sharing and also for the mention.

    Have a more successful blogging journey in 2015 and ahead.
    Mi Muba recently crafted…7 wicked ways to spice up your dud blogging mentor programMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jackson Davies

      Hi Mi Muba,

      Thank you for your kind comments!

      The quantitative approach comes from my Business Studies degree so I hope I’m not too obvious. I felt that developing some Key Performance Indicators was important in understanding where I’m at and what needs to be improved. It is all well and good gathering data but you have to use it to improve. It’s the “So What” question that needs to be asked. I often see that with a lot of other money bloggers and their income reports. I don’t often see the “So What” that goes with that.

      I would actually agree with you on the Bounce Rate stakes as I have read some interesting research from another particularly stat minded blogger that interests me. Apparently blogs do dance around the 70-90% bounce rate quite commonly on Google Analytics measurements so I am not to be too concerned about that figure. Glaring sign! I’ll take it 🙂

      You are also right with regard to taking it as a business. I have invested money in the hosting, domain, theme and my own personal time. It is more than just a hobby to me. I thoroughly admit that with my current time constraints, I have not been able to capitalize on the riches of such an activity but that is set to change in June. In the mean time I am trying to position myself in a better place and try to learn better networking techniques to improve my authority and helpfulness.

      I never have trouble mentioning your work Mi Muba. You always put so much thought into it.

      I wish you the same good fortune and success this year (but already know you will succeed)!

      Best wishes! Jackson

      Reply
  2. Andrew

    Hey Jackson,

    Interesting goals for this year.

    Regarding your highest individual views of a post being 16 that’s interesting. How are you promoting your posts?

    The stats on the bounce rate is really interesting. I know that early last year, I was over that danger zone, I was around 85% bounce rate, which is horrible.

    It’ll take a little work, but you’ll get that down.

    Good luck to you and I wish you much success in 2015.

    – Andrew

    Reply
    1. Jackson Davies

      Hi Andrew!

      Thank you for your comment! 🙂

      My highest of last year for any one post over a month was 30. It is very low and I entirely admit that, your observation is accurate. The average was 16 which is horrible. To increase by 15% takes me to 18. I think that is achievable but it is the equivalent of a 40% score at University. Yes I passed at the bare minimum, but that is not where I happily place my efforts.

      Post promotion is not as advanced as it should be but I will not waste your time with excuses. I don’t do enough. There are many experts that say you should spend as much time on promotion as you do on the post itself. I fail in that regard. My time is very limited so I push most of it into the content. My promotion techniques aren’t robust. Some might say lazy.

      In terms of total uptake of my articles in 2014, I’ve had a very weak return and that is entirely down to my promotion efforts. The key mistakes I make are not promoting enough. In terms of Twitter I could post out on the day, 2 hours after, 24 hours after, 48 hours after and a month after, just as a basic pattern but I don’t do that. I rarely have the time to be that consistent due to my conflicting priorities. I also most likely publish at bad times, out of the the 9am 12am 3pm 6pm warmth. I don’t reciprocate enough so don’t feel the returns as much. I am sometimes a bit of an island which you should never be on a blog.

      In particular I feel that I have missed opportunities to get more of my visitors involved with the content and to foster some partnerships that would have improved my overall work.

      In February of 2014, I experimented with paid promotion but was disappointed with the results. It is not to say that I am averse to trying this again but I want to know more before committing because I don’t like gambling.

      I realise that of both of my warmer areas of social network real estate, neither are producing the sorts of entry that can feed a man (or woman). Google+ is deceptively poor at returning quality readers, I have many followers but a very small percentage of those are engaged. Twitter is still in its infancy but has also been patchy on uptake.

      My SEO entry can sometimes be great but other times weak. I do own Market Samurai but admit to hating using it.

      Apparently, 70-90% of bounce rate on a blog is normal. A lot of the time user behaviour is likely to be “Wham, Bam, Thank you Ma’am!”. That is to say, “Came for what I wanted, good bye!”. So you don’t have to feel bad about that danger zone (which means I don’t either). WIN

      I am working on it all and some things are clicking quicker than others. This challenge is great!

      The beautiful thing is that I used to be nervous about sharing this stuff but not any more. I learn so much from people when lowering my barriers to advice. I don’t find my weak scores humiliating, it drives me on to do better and I’ll know I’ll get there.

      Your words of encouragement are greatly received and I already know you are going to do great for 2015 so best wishes to you Andrew!

      Cheers!

      Jackson

      Reply
  3. Ahmad Imran

    Hi Jackson, a nice detailed article which clearly shows a defined vision and goal plan. I am impressed.

    I have a question for you. How do you know that out of your approximately 80% bounce rate audience, how many are actually reading your article and then leaving your site ?

    To me, if they read your article and then quit, this is absolutely fine. Hence a term called as “adjusted bounce rate” for blogs. I have done this adjustment with a criteria of “30 second” stay and now my bounce rate is dropped to nearly 15%.

    I would like your views on this approach if you have time.

    Great article otherwise. Nice read.
    Ahmad Imran recently crafted…My Story of Personal Blogging (Days 301 to 400) – Advice for New BloggersMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jackson Davies

      Hi Ahmad,

      Great to see you on the site and thanks for posing this question as I can see there being some ambiguity to showing this information.

      With my statistics you’ll always be able to see visitors and views depicted via my filter which I title “actual traffic” but is displayed in the majority of my traffic reports as GAF or simply Google Analytics Filter. I find it important to segment those users who are engaged versus those who are not.

      Bounce rate as a whole is not as useful a number as Average time on site in my view. Average time on site is the better statistic in terms of engagement.

      Perhaps one of the criticisms that many have about Google Analytics is that the bounce rate calculation counts a person bouncing if they only view the page they come to. Technically that would be a hit.

      When I had comparable data on Alexa.com, I found that my bounce rate was tiny in comparison to the Google Analytics figure. I was normally in the range of 15 – 40%. Often it is just a matter of how deep that sample is and what it includes and excludes.

      At the end of the day, you just want an audience that engage.

      That was a fair question and I hope I’ve answered it successfully. Best wishes and I look forward to seeing more comments from you in future! 🙂

      Reply
      1. Ahmad Imran

        Jackson, thanks for a nice detailed response, makes sense.

        Another quick query if you don’t mind (as it appears that you are very traffic-savvy person and know the ins and outs of the traffic and numbers.

        My query is about the ghost and referrer spam. The hits which distort your numbers and should be avoided by blocking them. Is there a standard process or guidance you are using to keep the spam numbers away ?

        Thanks again for your help.
        Ahmad Imran recently crafted…My Story of Personal Blogging (Days 301 to 400) – Advice for New BloggersMy Profile

        Reply
        1. Jackson Davies

          Hi Ahmad,

          An excellent question and one that I had to take away and think about for a while.

          Ghost and referrer spam is a difficult area, mostly because bot traffic and invasive pinging on your site by unscrupulous individuals can play hell with the stats. I think that the obvious area to avoid trusting is the WordPress stats because they can be susceptible to false traces. Google Analytics is only useful to a point in that it can filter a lot of erroneous data and you can create a filter to remove your own site testing but that’s as far as it goes. I’m a bit lazy because I’ve not gone as far as removing my IP from GA owing to working in more than one computer and location on the blog but this is definitely something you can do to help keep data cleaner. Another stat provider that works well is Clicky, I’ve found a lot less stat errors on this system with my other blog.

          To be truthful, you will always be subject to anomalies so it is more about knowing what your regular numbers are. Over Blog Prefect’s 2 year span there have been a number of anomalous ghost and referral spam events but because I’ve kept an eye on the stats I can generally hazard a good guess as to what is right. February 2014 was a period when I tested a paid advertisement so during that period my stats were highly inflated to a single page but had a high instance of bounce. You can normally spot dodgy stats from the country of origin. Russia and the Ukraine are the worst culprits at this point in time but I’ve also found a lot of unusual things happening in Brazil.

          Best wishes Ahmad. If there is more on that front I can help you with, let me know!

          Reply

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