January can be a busy time of year if you run a review from January – December. In Britain, unlike America, we tend to do things differently with tax years running from April. This Blog was actually started in July 2013 so in order to account for a full year I would have to count from 14th July – 13th July every year. Fortunately I run stats beginning 1st January (the sensible way).
All these stats are great but you have to do something with them to make it meaningful. If you’ve followed any of my previous monthly reports you’ll know that I break my dashboard into 7 meaningful metrics. 3 have some control by what I do, 1 is a gut instinct and the final 3 are out of my control (more down to you as the audience).
Blog Prefect Goals for 2016
As you can see by the dashboard below, I’ve derived some goals to meet by 31st December 2016. It was my Internet friend and fellow blogger Mi Muma from beamoneyblogger.com who introduced the idea of setting goals by way of a thoughtful article and I agreed with the sentiment so brought the idea to life on this blog. It so turned that bar my highest performing post of all time, the goals post was the second most popular of the year so I felt honour bound to carry it on for a second year.
My goals do have a noticeable variance from last year in that Bounce Rate is now gone. I identified, with Ahmad Imran’s (from Reasontouse.com) observation, that bounce rate doesn’t form a meaningful output anymore. I have therefore substituted the measure for Old vs New.
So what is Old vs New?
My new meaningful measure is a look at how Old posts perform versus new posts within the month. Ratio wise I always expect old posts to outperform new ones in the month because they’ve had more time to get established. The amounts of sway from left to right is the interesting part. A sway in favour of Old indicates that my new posts are failing in the marketing area. A sway to the New indicates that my old posts have less overall attraction but that my newer articles have more bite.
Why set Goals?
Last year I had a successful time of releasing my goals for 2015, this year I felt I needed to do the same, mostly to recap on where I have succeeded but also to explore where I have done badly and to pull up my breeches for another year.
2016 is important for more than one reason.
On July 14th the site will be 3 years old. For the first time I will be celebrating the birthday of this site (as I hadn’t on Year 1 and Year 2). I also plan to launch a competition with a cash prize as part of my birthday celebration.
As a symptom of 3 year’s birthday my 3 year introductory rate on Bluehost will be ending. This means that my Internet property cost will rise which means that in order to fulfil the same level of payback on my investment I will have to do more going forwards.
There is a story behind the data and this story helps me decide the goal. As you may notice, the goal this year is a variable goal. I have chosen such a variable goal rather than a blanket percentage increase because I know that I will have to be conservative with some figures. There is a small risk that the numbers I had last year were artificially higher than they should have been because I had one article that hit page 1 of google and I don’t think I have the ability to match that this year. That is to say that the article was a phenomenal one off.
Minimums and Maximums
Two particular areas I like to take a look at are the Minimums and Maximums. This data can give me an insight into my best and worst performing months which gives me a steer into where I need to target more or less yearly effort. However, I don’t entirely base my outlay of work based on last year’s performance because there are other variables involved such as the content itself and how well that responds in the year.
The next area I take a look at is the Average for the year and how well overall the year compares. This can then be compared against the previous year to see what average increase there is. You have to be careful with averages because there is a phenomenon known as skew. It is a bias either negative or positive which can potentially drag the whole series of stats in a direction that doesn’t necessarily correlate to the overall performance. Some of my figures in February 2014 suffered from an experiment I made with a service from SEOClerks. Needless to say this had a severe negative skew on my stats during February.
You can see how certain numbers will chomp at your statistics even though they were a blip or a “Pune Effect” a term I coined from an unusual geographical event I saw in my stats. In statistics, skew can be corrected by “red-banding” certain figures, this means that those figures that are extraneous are put to the side in favour of more supportive numbers. I opted to exclude February 2014 from the averages or tune it by dividing the 11 remaining months and providing it the average figure. Fortunately I’ve not had to do that in 2015 as all stats seem in keeping with the data provided by Google Analytics. Manipulating data in such a way can be seen to be cheating but in some respects where you are accepting lower figures than those presented, you can preserve a more meaningful data set for yourself to work with.
Don’t get me wrong, sudden peaks can be great but ultimately you want to pickup your baseline because by picking up from the bottom your overall throughput can only climb.
Performance on Goal
I then take a look at how the average compared to the goal average I’d set and at how many times the monthly goal was exceeded. A good indication of success is if you are hitting goals multiple times during the year. For 2015 I’ve had some success in this regard with as much as 12 months exceeding targets.
You can visit the 2015 goal post here to see what I had declared as my goals. I had reviewed 2014’s average and added 15% increase.
Areas where it proved difficult to improve
Post Performers observes the number of views on a post in the month that it was launched. It is a slightly unfair figure if you are looking at posts that were launched at the end of the month because they have less time to accrue views. Whichever post scores highest in that month, having been released in that month, is the number selected for the dashboard.
The figure is a painful number mostly because my marketing zone has dried up. I also believe that because my posting rate has been down, my consistency and ability to draw people in has reduced. In general I don’t spend enough time in publicising my work. I think it is an issue that many creators have problems with.
This year I set a higher target despite the fact that last year I failed to meet the previous target. I’m going to roll the dice and work harder.
Bounce Rate is a subjective figure in some sense due to the way that Google Analytics measures it and what is considered a normal amount. Google Analytics defines bounce as a person arriving on a site but exiting on the entry page. Other stat providers determine that a bounce occurs where a visitors stays for less than 10 seconds on the entry page or what you might consider a rapid close (or click-off as I like to call them).
The normal amount of bounce is a point for discussion, as it will vary wildly from niche to niche, site to site. Blogs can actually survive normally at bounce rates ranging from 80-90%. It depends on your content and how much of a half-life it has. Sites that haven’t been listed for long don’t have time to build up backlinks and authority so your results are likely to be low on the order of search results. Once a site begins to mature, more of your good content has the potential to be found and you have more pins in the pincushion, that is to say, more target keywords provided by your site. Google is a solutions based engine, if you provide your audience the goods, Google knows and rewards you. Otherwise you have to rely on Social Media and other forms of link sharing to pass around your content to wider audiences.
Bounce rate is cut. Finito. Fat lady singing. (but secretly I’m still measuring it).
Areas that performed well for growth
Pageviews and Visitors performed better than expected despite the final tally on WordPress stats being lower than 2014’s results (by 284 views). Visitors were up but not in such a good way. Normally when views to viewers is at the same ratio or close to 1:1 then this indicates that people aren’t hanging around for more.
Areas under-estimated for growth
My referral traffic was handsome in 2015. Entirely around Google search results I saw a huge uplift in traffic from one post alone. The reason for that was because it fit a niche of audience perfectly and so I was rewarded by Google. It has had the best view rate of any post I’ve written to date in the first month alone and had the highest figures I’ve ever seen for June and July. Therefore the 15% target I’d set was smashed every month of 2015. Not to blow my own trumpet but it’s pretty awesome, one of the happiest areas of my results and worthy of that fine purple.
In setting the target for 2016 I’ve had to be cautious because I am aware that whilst the good fortunes of the post could continue for some time yet, I can’t rest on that article alone to save my dwindling figures. Because of how busy I’ve been outside of blogging, I’ve been squeezed on my activity, losing contact with acquaintances that were taking me in the right direction and losing ground to competitors. Going by my Post Performance figures I need to start finding better ideas for content that have high openings from day dot.
So, just to recap on the goals once more:
There is plenty of challenge in providing these figures. I’m not sure how the year will pan out, how much time I will have to dedicate, and what is going to be popular. What I do know is that I will find some tough hills to climb, have a few epic wins and otherwise continue soaring with every post written.
I’m never satisfied with my numbers entirely, I always know there is room for improvement, I know that there are guys and dolls out there who most likely receive tens if not hundreds of thousands of views per day and I’ve got a long way to go to reach those highs. The fact is that as long as the posts make a difference to some individuals, I’ve accomplished my mission.
I’m taking further steps this year to try to eliminate what could potentially be classified as “indulgent” posts and I will be taking other steps to pimp this ride. (yes, he said that.)
Over to you?
What kind of goals have you set yourself for 2016?
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? But more importantly, how are you prepared to fight?
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? Has your marketing strategy dried up or swelled in recent times? Thought about changing your theme or bringing on more staff?
Been going for years? Got any spare loot? 🙂
Good luck with your ventures for 2016, by the time this post goes out the very short-lived January will almost be a memory. I hope you’ve started out with your best foot forwards but if you need some encouragement or a friendly ear, get in touch on twitter @blogprefect.