Statcounter: A Shocking Shoestring Sally Exposé (Plus Tips & Tricks for Navigating the Blogosphere)

I'm dying to reveal this thrifty secret: I can see everything about you! Well, not exactly everything. But I see A LOT, including visitors' operating systems and browsers, approximate length of time one spends on each post, etc. And why? Because I, like A TON of bloggers & website owners, use a FREE application powered by Statcounter. It is truly amazing. Now I don't use it because I'm nosy (well, not completely); rather, it is a terrific way to gauge what posts draw the biggest readership & how people find your blog in the first place. This info can be invaluable in providing readers with engaging content and you can see how much of you're stuff is actually getting out there. Because no offense Blogger, your analytics suck! And I am not too impressed with Google Analytics either, I might add. Now surprise, surprise Statcounter offers a paid premium service (you can essentially buy a bigger log in which to store your analytics) but what you get for free is fantastic! And I don't really care about stats from several months ago. I'm more interested in what is drawing a crowd at the mome and what my bounce rate is. Oh, what's a bounce rate? "Bouncing" is pretty much when people check your site out once and then leave without visiting any other pages or posts --they check it out and then they bounce, get it? Your average website has a pretty high bounce rate: just think about how many sites you click on and then leave right away. But you want to get as many readers as possible lured in to looking at other parts of your site. How do you do that?

Well, this is what I've learned:

1. Content, content, content --strong content updated often is probably numero uno. I have some awesome regular readers who have been uber-supportive and have let me know how much they enjoy my posts. I feel a responsibility to keep delivering the goods.

2. Pictures are powerful! I would say 90% of my virgin traffic finds me via Google image search.

3. Make friends! The power of cross blogging & having links to your site from sister/brother websites should not be under-estimated.

3. Whenever possible (and when it is appropriate) refer back to past content with a clickable link (keep reading for an example). Plus advertising to readers your top posts/articles as a regular feature of your site is also great (see sidebar).

4. An intuitive, clear and snazzy layout helps bigtime. I see a lot of sites with picture-backgrounds that make the text near impossible to read. When it comes to what's behind your words, keep it clean.

And speaking of keeping it clean, you know one day someone found my site via an image search and you wanna know what words they entered into Google to find it? "Audrey Hepburn's ass". Yeah, that's right, "Audrey Hepburn's ass". Apparently that brought them to my post The Cult of Audrey: All Style and No Substance, which I must stress MAKES NO MENTION of her ass. That's right, website owners can see what you're searching for --like A LOT OF THE TIME based on the popularity of apps like Statcounter. Analytics companies are BIG BUSINESS and you would be hard-pressed to find any serious blogger who doesn't track readership in some form. Yup, think about that next time you Google "toenail fungus yellow nail treatment" --or worse! Trust me, my experience has been humbling for me as well. I've Googled some pretty strange stuff in my time, and probably will again in the future. Conclusion? It's going to happen. It's the price we pay for being on the net. So now that you know the awful truth, get over it and learn to stop worrying and love the bomb...just don't Google "Audrey Hepburn's ass". That just isn't classy. BTW, that person never came back to the blog. We just weren't sellin' what the customer was buyin' (THANK GOD!).

But if you have a blog or other website and aren't tracking stats I highly recommend Statcounter. It is a great deal. Now, to make this post easier to find, here are some pictures of cute kitties. Enjoy!

Creative Commons/Free to Share. Photographer: Krzysztof P. Jasiutowicz

Creative Commons/Public Domain.

Creative Commons/Free to Share. Photographer: Stephan Brunet

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