Google Analytics provides interesting data about traffic to my Examiner columns, which I use to think about improving my audience flow and my search results. The National Classic Movies column yields some especially fun information because it has a larger market and attracts more readers than the Huntsville column. I can find out all kinds of things about my audience, including a city-by-city count of pageviews (which, among other things, tells me which of my friends is actually reading my work because I know where you live!). Here's some of the more noteworthy data for the last year of the National Classic Movies column.
Total visits as of October 26, 2011 - 18,201 (unique visits)
Total pageviews - 21,808 (total pages viewed)
Of those hits, roughly 78% came from searches on Google and other engines, meaning that most of my traffic comes from people who don't know me or subscribe to the column. They find the articles by entering search terms related to something they want to know. This means that it's very important for me to improve the search term visibility of my articles because the bulk of my traffic depends on it. Because most of the visits come from searches, it's not surprising that 70% of my visitors are one-time readers, accounting for 12,821 of the total pageviews.
About 9% of my traffic comes from direct visits, either through the Examiner site or subscriber email alerts. Only about 5% comes from Facebook links. Twitter accounts for even smaller percentage. With more than 400 FB "friends" and over 360 Twitter followers, you might think these numbers would be higher, but so far only a handful of people on those feeds pay any attention to the links I post. (And thanks, by the way, if you happen to be one of them!) Ideally, I need to increase the number of "likes," shares, and retweets to increase readership from those sources, but I'm not really sure how to make that happen (maybe if I added photos of kittens with poor grammar and spelling skills?).
Number of countries represented - 121
Top 5 countries - US, Canada, UK, Australia, the Netherlands (that last one surprises me)
Top 5 cities - Huntsville (685), New York (491), Los Angeles (313), Chicago (233), Houston (150)
Top 3 articles (and the only ones to crack 1000 hits each) -
Rango revels in classic movie references
Leslie Nielsen, classic film actor, dead at 84
Classic movie star deaths in 2010 and 2011
The "Rango" article stands at 4726, the Nielsen obit at 2339, and the deaths list at 1391. The "Classic films in focus" articles actually tend to be the lowest performers, although I stubbornly persist in writing them. The "Classic movie 10" columns do rather better, depending on the topic, with a list of "Christmas Carol" films being the top performer thus far.
On one level, this information encourages me - hey, 121 countries! - but on another level it frustrates me because I have yet to attain the kind of real, regular readership I'd like to have. I need to grow my audience enough to be able to call myself a writer in good conscience once I stop being a college professor next year. If anybody has any ideas about how to do a better job with that, I'm all ears!