Over the last few months we have been working on getting your site listed higher up on the search engine results (SERPs). In a recent article I discussed that nearly every site will rank well for something (even if it’s not what you had in mind), and last time I told you to check your site stats to see how people find you. I was surprised by the number of emails I received asking me what I was talking about – how can you tell HOW somebody found you?
When it comes to SEO, content is king. And not just any content, content people want to read. Your site has the ability to help you figure out what that is, you just have to let it tell you.
For those of us running our sites on WordPress, it couldn’t be easier to find out how people got to our sites and what they looked at. You’ll need to install a couple plugins, and I’ll cover what each can tell you.
WP Stats provides almost all the information you need to measure your site and make informed decisions about future growth. You’ll need to do a bit of configuration at WordPress.com before it will start collecting data, but once you’ve done that the rest is so easy a cave man could do it. The stats are divided into sections they tell you were visitors came from, what they did and where they went.
Each time someone follows a link to your site, they are being “referred”. This information helps you measure the success of your link building efforts. Maybe you left a comment on someone else’s blog, or you had a story submitted to digg. Maybe it’s traffic from your twitter page. If there are sites listed here you don’t recognize, be sure to check them out and make sure it’s a site you want traffic from. If it is, thank them. If not, poliely ask them to stop.
Top Posts and Pages
As this sections name implies, it lists what pages have the most traffic and how many views each has had. Naturally pages with high counts are the most popular, you should consider doing more posts about those subjects.
Search Engine Terms
This is the “fun” stuff. This area of the stats page shows you what people searched for on the search engines to find your site, and how many times a phrase was used. Evaluate this section carefully. You may be surprised at what brings people to your pages. Look for trends, and build your content based on what people want.
Pages listed in the clicks section tell you what outbound links your visitors followed. Providing your visitors the most relevant content possible sometimes means sending them to another site. They will both appriciate and remember it.
Can you guess? Yes, these are pages which link back to yours. Well, actually they are pages that Google says link back to yours. The actual number is probably much higher.
Want more details than the front page gives you, each of these sections can be clicked on for additional details.
This nifty plug-in gives your visitors some advanced searching functions, making it easier to find pages on your site. More importantly, it logs all of the searches so you can see what people are looking for, and hopefully finding. If you notice people searching for content you don’t have – add it.
If you are not running your site on WordPress, don’t despair. Most web hosts provide some form of web stats, and the areas covered above are normally included. Many site owners use Google’s stats tool, it’s free and pretty simple. But, it provides a lot more data than a beginner may need and it’s not as easy to find the basic information as it is in WP Stats. I do reccoment you install it soon though and let it start collecting data so that when you are ready for more information it is all ready available for you.
December 20, 2008 at 1:37 pm
Great info on SEO. Another really nice WordPress plug-in that I like is CyStats (https://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/cystats/)
Much like you mentioned above, one of the most valuable things this plug-in does is to give you great insight on how succesful your link-building is. It tracks all incoming links very well, and provides decent statistical analysis.
December 21, 2008 at 9:41 pm
Hello, yes I use WP Stats for all my sites, and it’s extremely helpful in finding out where my visitors are coming from. The best easiest stats tool for wordpress. I couldn’t live without WP!
December 22, 2008 at 10:35 am
I can see that I’m going to have subscribe to the Leblond feed. Great post.
I prefer installing GA on all sites. But it’s great to see info on some of the other tools out there.
Are you going to be at Inman, Jack?
December 22, 2008 at 6:28 pm
I’m using a combination of GetClicky.com and Google Analytics. Together,they give me a wealth of information.
I really like that I can click on a particular visitor, see where they came from, what keywords they searched on, and everything that they did while on the site. It is often surprising where people go once they make it to your site.
If you are on Twitter, say hello @karenstl.
December 23, 2008 at 9:10 pm
I guess I am a bit of a Google Freak. I use Google Analytics along with Google Webmaster Tools on my primary site. A site I am Beta Testing uses Awstats(sp) and I am not to sure how I like those.
July 23, 2009 at 9:15 pm
Very interesting article. Thank you.
After I look at what phrases people used to find me I like to look at my google adwords account and see where those phrases rank in the overall traffic pattern or if I am even targeting those on adwords. I like the adwords keyword suggestion tool.
September 24, 2009 at 10:15 pm
Wow! Being new I am trying to wrap my head around all of this branding, marketing, SEO…..and it is quite a bit to digest. I would love to have a client come from someone stumbling onto a post from me, but I realize that is along way off. Thanks for this post and I think AG will be very helpful in getting me to a point where my web presence will be something decent.