How To Analyze Your Site Stats

There are so many ways you can monitor your site. Google Analytics, Quantcast, Woopra, and much more. But with all these bars, graphs, and numbers – what do they mean? This article will discuss how you can analyze your site stats.

The Terms
Visits – This is pretty much self-explanatory.

Average Time on Site – This is how long your visitors stay on your site. You want them to stay on your site as long as possible. This means you have to provide interesting, relatable, and valuable content.

Bounce Rate -Google explains bounce rate as:

Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page. Use this metric to measure visit quality – a high bounce rate generally indicates that site entrance pages aren’t relevant to your visitors. The more compelling your landing pages, the more visitors will stay on your site and convert.

Conversion Rate – This is the percentage of how many people you have gotten to do something other than just visit and leave your main page. It might be an e-commerce shop, a script, an e-book, or something. This is something that attracts people to the nifty parts of your site that you wanted people to see.

How To Make These Work For You
Applying these tools usually takes inserting a snippet of code somewhere in your theme. The site will track and you can go in daily or weekly to see your site’s progress.

In order to see progress, you have to create content that will attract readers – no matter what niche you might be in. And yes, even if you just have a journal site to document your family life, as long as you are striving to reach a certain audience, you too also have to watch your stats.

Focus on what people are looking for on your site, what pages they are visiting, where they entered from, where they left your site from, and even what time they are visiting. You can blog anytime you want, but if your regular visitors come around a certain time, aim to publish before they might come by.

You might have to venture into search engine optimization and make sure your articles are effectively being seen. So, if your keywords are not what they should be… you might want to go back and check things out.

If you have a site that has several major products (whether it be a free product or one for purchase), you can focus on each. When you do, check your stats to see what methods are successful and what are not. If people are visiting the page, but nothing is happening, you might want to check out the content on the page and see why it is not bringing the results you want.

A few outside related resources in Web Analytics that you might like to read when you are done here:
Web Analytics 101 -Learn Which Data You Should Be Using
Annotations of Google Analytics..How To Successfully Track What’s Working

What other suggestions do you have for anyone looking to make the most of their site stats? Any questions?

MailChimp: A User’s Experience

MailChimp is the only e-mail marketing service I have used. Not only is the design user friendly, but so are the features.

Site Design
The tabs and set-up make navigating very user-friendly. Generally speaking, you can get to a feature in two clicks or less.

List Management
Their service is free for e-mail lists of 500 addresses or less. To add names to your list, you just need a first name, last name, and e-mail address. Also, managing lists is pretty simple. You can have one huge list and segment the list to ensure that only certain information goes to individuals who requested it.

Creating Campaigns
Creating and managing campaigns is a breeze. MailChimp walks you through the entire five-step process. They offer several template options to choose from depending on your message. After selecting the form, you can customize it with one of their designs or upload your own. They even offer a photo-editing program to help with design. If at anytime you have to stop while creating your campaign, just save your work and pick up where you left off at a later time.

Text, Photos and Videos
Text, photos and videos can be used to share your message. Generally speaking, the use of text is pretty straightforward. However, it was a little challenging to change some of the headers from subtitle to default text. I had to do a little finagling, but once it was done, it was fairly easy. Also, if you’re used to right clicking to get your menu, this option is not available. Instead you have to use keyboard shortcuts or the menu bar. The cool thing about MailChimp is they do show you the appropriate keyboard controls for the actions, but it’s still a little annoying for
right-clickers.

Adding and resizing photos is very easy. Videos, on the other hand, require extra work. Videos cannot be inserted directly into your message. You first have to upload it to YouTube. Then, you add the video link to the message. If you want your audience to know the topic of your message, you have to insert a photo and then follow the above steps.

On a more positive note: MailChimp is working on improving this feature. At least that’s what the MailChimp blog said the last time I read it.

Social Share
MailChimp offers you the option to share the title of your campaign and a link to the message on Facebook, Twitter and a couple other social networking sites after the message is forwarded to your e-mail list. This feature would probably be more effective if a brief description of the message was included.

Reports
The reports on MailChimp are very comprehensive. The number of times the message was opened; who opened it; how many times it was opened; and the time of day it was opened are just a few of the details that can be obtained. Reports can be downloaded.

Autoresponder
I have never used the auto responder feature, so I cannot speak on that.

Tutorials & Instruction
The best features on MailChimp which actually made me select them as my e-mail marketing provider are their webinars and video tutorials. They hold regular webinars for new and current users to ask questions to make their experience more effective and efficient. Video tutorials are short videos available at almost any stage of your campaign creation for instruction. They even offer tips on how to grow your list.

Lastly, their blog and knowledge base is available 24/7 with answers to questions and new developments as they occur. I love their availability of information to make using their program easy to use.

MailChimp’s design, ease of use, and information overload makes them my preferred e-mail marketing provider. The little monkey is kind of cool, too.

Have you used MailChimp for your newsletters? What have you thought of it?

(If you use another email marketing service, please feel free to drop an email through the contact form if you are interested in guest blogging your experience with it.)

Does Alexa Rank Really Matter?

Some would argue that it is not worth it and is only a system to track traffic. In fact a lot of the traffic they track usually depends on whether or not your visitor installed the Alexa tool bar. So how does Alexa put together a number for each site?

According to Alexa’s FAQ How are Alexa’s traffic rankings determined?, traffic rank is determined by the number of uses of their toolbar. The uses are divvied between page views and reach. Even if you visit a site multiple times, your visit is only counted once. Again, this is solely based on Alexa users.

So what could this mean for some people who want to improve it?

This means that you should probably encourage your visitors to download the Alexa toolbar. For those who have websites already, it might be a good thing as there are plugins for Firefox that you can install and monitor your Alexa rank without even directly visiting the site.

Does Alexa Rank Really Matter?

Yes, it does. A lot of ad systems and advertisers look at these ranks to figure out how successful a site is and gauge how many people they could possibly attract through purchasing advertising. Others think of it as a site goal to make a certain number. That is fine too.

People need these type of systems to find some sort of progress. Please do remember that it does take some work to achieve these types of goals. Some webmasters will succeed faster than others due to their website’s topics and their influence within social networks as well as other online communities.

Dan Keller writes in his article How to Improve your Alexa Ranking. You might want to hop on over there and read his post. I do want to note that even though he mentions webmaster, you can pretty much exchange it with your target audience and you will do fine.

Do you know your Alexa rank? Have you already downloaded the Alexa Toolbar? Should website owners pay attention to their rank at Alexa?

DeviantART Rolls Out New Features

DeviantART has been extremely busy these past few months. Today they rolled out a new feature and launched another to the public from beta mode.

Oh, and I there were some noticed a few design tweaks to the color of the message inbox system too!

The one huge feature that was rolled out was “Stacks.” Because of groups, some of them had thousands of members. This would flood the inbox of anyone watching the group. In fact, this was a big peeve that turned up and I even had to grumble. With the new stacks system, if a group or person has submitted several art pieces or writings, it will be stacked instead of individually listed. The user can choose to delete the the whole stack all at once, or click on the stack to view all of the submissions. This is a huge relief, especially for even users like myself who watch a lot of artists.

DeviantART Groups was launched to the public. Now anyone can make a group. The only feature I am really rooting for is the ability to have a forum within the group. It is possible with regular profiles, so I am not sure why it has not been added to groups yet. Right now, members can only comment in the community blog posts and the comment section on the front page. For larger groups, this could prove problematic if there are a lot of messages. A forum would help with the organization.

It is great to see DeviantART adding more features. By the way, they are the place to get some really great emoticons and were the inspiration of why I started making my own smilies here at Blondish.net so others can download and use.

Do you use DeviantART? Have you noticed their new features? What do you think of them? Any suggestions for other features they should consider?

SeededBuzz.com – Bringing Back Inspiration To Blog

SeededBuzzLately I have been falling into a wealth of discovering or being told about new websites that help bloggers. I am usually not one to blog back-to-back about websites, but hey… it is a useful site and could prove to be helpful. SeededBuzz.com is a site that allows people to submit their post and allow others to carry on the conversation on their own blog. Let me clarify – people who are dying to find out what you think about certain topics, but might not normally comment.

This allows a couple great things to happen.

1. You have a new quality article you can post.

2. The topic you wrote about includes a link to the original article, allowing people to either visit if they so choose and above all, a link back.

3. You have another good blog to visit regularly.

Topics that people can post under are: Automotive, Charity, Creative, Entertainment, Green, Living, Marketing, Money, Politics, Sport, Science, and Technology.

To use, all you have to do is post one of your articles for others to see and possible write articles in response on their own blogs. Also, you can choose someone else’s ‘seed’ topic and write your own response. It is really easy! I actually have already tried it out on one of the previous blog postings.

I believe this is a great idea. I know SeededBuzz would like to try offering packages in their product, BUT I also know they have been offering some beta accounts for free. I am not sure if those are still being accepted, but I have been given a code to give to anyone who wants to check it out. Just use the code ‘blondishnet’ when you sign up. :)

I think there are not enough sites with this in mind. Of course, over the past few years I have tried different things: banner ad exchanges, blog community link exchanges, and more. However, this one encourages more action, rather than just doing one thing and not having to do anything else.

Are there any other sites you know of similar to this? Does this sound like something you might want to try out?

Mashable To Sell To AOL?

Oh goodness… please let this not be true. If Yahoo! can kill great sites efficiently without a reason, AOL can do it just as well. I was reading an article on Inventorspot called Is “Mashable” Cashable? and I was angry – like angry I wanted to beat someone.

I do not care if Pete Cashmore is the “Brad Pitt of the Blogosphere”… selling Mashable to AOL is just insane. And yes, I am that passionate about saying that it is insane.

Pete, please keep Mashable longer until you can find someone that will not drive the site into the ground. When Mashable goes from its own writers and is bought by a bigger company like AOL, here are things that will eventually happen:

1. They try to open up writing positions to their own staff, who may have limited knowledge or interested in what the current writers of Mashable have done.
2. AOL buys Mashable and the current writers of Mashable slowly lose interest because AOL, a big company will take them for granted, and not even offer compensation. AOL has stocks, and Mashable could actually boost it.
3. AOL might enforce their own requirements on contributions.
4. AOL removes current Mashable writers, replaced them with their own employees, and then the site slowly dies out.
5. AOL gets an idea to combine Mashable with another site and it fails, and the site slowly dies out.
6. AOL fires everyone because their stocks drop, and well – their product SUCKS! (I was an AOL user YEARS ago, and it was just the worst choice in an ISP.)

The only way Mashable could survive from going from a startup that has become successful to being a successful section of a larger company is that AOL actually decides to pay any Mashable writers. The site is solely driven by people who volunteer there time. I am sure there are people getting paid.

AND… why is this even be consider, especially when even Mashable published AOL: We Need To Fire 2,500 Employees. Any Volunteers?

Does that make any sense?

Usernames And Social Network Policies

According to TechCrunch’s recent article Facebook Snatches User’s Vanity URL And Sells It To Harman International, it is a prime example that your username is not totally yours. Lucky for the guy Harman Bajwa, that with TechCrunch’s help and enough responses, they released the vanity URL back to him. This is just one incident out of many others. Your username, if it holds anything of interest to a bigger company, could be pulled out from under you.

Now, just because Harman was able to, we all cannot get TechCrunch to stand in the corner. Kind of sucks for the regular people, huh?

Unfortunately, even though the usernames are a first come first serve, they are still subject to the social network’s policies. For example:

Facebook:

From Facebook’s Username: General Information
Question: Can Facebook take back a username that has already been claimed?

Answer: Facebook reserves the right to remove and/or reclaim any username at any time for any reason.

Of course, Facebook has other policies like for impersonations or trademark issues – however, they still can remove it. It is kind of like some states allowing businesses to employ and fire ‘at will.’

If you have not chosen a vanity URL, you should choose carefully and not use something that is trademarked. Be unique when creating your own, and if so, you might want to just use your full name to be safe. For those trying to brand themselves, and their ideal username is taken, use one closest to how you are branding yourself. For those using based on a website, you might try putting your extension. Example, I use ‘blondishnet’ for my Facebook and Twitter usernames, instead of just ‘blondish.’

As long as you are not impersonating another, not infringing on trademark, not username squatting, and staying within the general user policies of the social network, you should be fine.

What are your thoughts on the username policy for Facebook? for Twitter? for other social network sites?

Share Your Location With Others With Gowalla

GowallaI saw through my Twitter stream someone using Gowalla, and was curious to what it was all about. Gowalla (@gowalla on Twitter) is a site made for people to share where they are in the world. Might sound a bit like telling too much or a way for people to become a bit stalker-ish, but those on the go and use to being social, this is a way to allow people who are interested to know more about you.

You can share if you had a beer or shopped at places like the Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois. Or if you have been to a place that has not been covered, you can create a place, or as they say at Gowalla, ‘pin’ a place.

The site is really user-friendly and allows you the option of connecting your Gowalla account with your Twitter and Facebook accounts. The systems is even courteous enough to check through your followers to see if anyone is using the system, so you can friend them at Gowalla too! :)

Gowalla even has a couple phone apps for users to be able to check-in and automatically update on their profile.

Have you tried Gowalla? What do you think of it?