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  • Measuring Your Reach: Quick and Dirty Social Media For Writers

    Posted on February 27th, 2012 jean 2 comments

    Okay, so you’re blogging. You’re on Twitter. You’re on Facebook. You’re on Google+.


    But is it working?

    You’re working your tail off to share great information in hopes of creating a valuable brand. But is anyone listening? Is there anyone there? You get a few comments, a few followers, a few “likes,” and some friends. But how far is your reach–really?

    And who is visiting your site anyway? What’s drawing them in? How long are they staying? How are they finding you? What are they viewing the most?

    To find out, we’re going to take a quick and dirty run at a few tools and get a wee bit analytical.

    (Please note that all the tools mentioned in this post are currently free. However, with the majority of these tools you have to “verify” your site to prove it is yours–verifying involves uploading a string of non-intrusive code into your blog/site. Don’t worry, it’s easy and harmless.)

    Six Easy Tools to Check Your Blog’s or Website’s Reach

    Blogger and WordPress: If you use Blogger or WordPress, there is a quick and easy way to check your visitor stats right there in your blog.

    WordPress: Look for is a link to stats in your dashboard. (You will soon need the new (free) plugin “Jetpack” to check your stats.)

    Blogger: Again, look for a link on your dashboard called “stats.”

    What I like about both these stat programs–they tell me which blog posts are the most popular. They also tell me which search keywords are the most popular in terms of bringing people to my blog, which days I get the most traffic, and more.

    These stat programs are handy, but sometimes you want more detailed information that they simply don’t provide.

    Google Analytics: If you are looking for a few more details, it is possible to add Google Analytics to your Blogger dashboard. You can also use Google Analytics with non Blogger blogs and websites, it just isn’t quite as integrated.

    The best thing about Google Analytics is that it gives you information about how ‘sticky’ your blog is. In other words, how many of your visitors are “unique” (vs. repeat visitors), the average time visitors spend on your site, and your bounce rate (whether visitors clicked over to other pages in your site/blog) or if they read and left.

     Pie Chart from Google Analytics Showing New Visitors

    Google Analytics

    Google Webmaster Tools: Again we have Google coming to the rescue. This time with their valuable Google Webmaster tools.

    One of the most valuable and unique things about Google Webmaster Tools is that it tells you if you have web crawler errors, such as broken links, etc. It also checks for malware hidden on your blog or site.

    Google Webmaster Tools--no Vital MessagesGoogle Webmaster Tools

    Naturally, Google Webmaster Tools also does site stats like other tools. However, one thing I noticed that I like is how it tells you which words are used most often on your site. In other words, if you have a science fiction writing blog, but the keyword “science fiction” isn’t coming up as one of the most used words… you’ve gained a little insight as to why you might not be getting the droves of visitors you hope for.

    While the visitor stats between Webmaster Tools vs. Google Analytics may differ, it could be due to whether your visitor has javascript enabled in their browser. If they don’t Google Analytics can’t see them, and therefore can’t count them. Yet another reason to give Google Webmaster Tools a spin.

    (Note: I just discovered that Acme Traffic has a WordPress plugin for GWT so you can access Google Webmaster Tools straight from your dashboard.)

    Server Stats: If you have access to the server your blog or site resides on, you can take a look at what your server is seeing. Often it has the same stats as many of these other tools. However, I have to say that the numbers I get from my server are COMPLETELY different than I get from any of these other tools. My average visitor number is considerably higher according to my server and I think it simply uses a different way of counting. What I’ve learned in the past few weeks are the bit about javascript as well as “duplicate” content. For example if you typed in “” or “http://” you went to the same place. So, some stat programs would see those are two separate sites and count them separately. My server, however, would not. Either way, my server stats also give me some goods that these other tools do not. And the fact that I keep having to increase my bandwidth tells me that someone is visiting–even if I don’t always see them or talk to them. 🙂

    Alexa: Alexa Stats was recently recommended to me by a fellow AQCer (Rick Spillman–thanks Rick!). Again, Alexa is a bit different. Below you will see a listing of the top seven high impact search queries for my site–a feature I really like. When you know what people are looking for and what those things are in relation to your site, it can really help you tweak your content. (If you are so inclined.)

    Chart of High Impact Search Queries from Alexa

    Alexa’s High Impact Search Queries

    One of the unique features about Alexa is that you can compare your website or blog against someone else’s. (Yes, it may bring out your hidden competitive spirit!) You can also check out your “global” rating is as well as the number of sites linking to you.

    Another cool feature is their visitor averaging profile. According to Alexa, it appears that the majority of my visitors are mothers aged 25-34 who have a fair amount of education and typically browse my site from work. True? I don’t know, but I don’t think it’s that far off. (However, Alexa says their confidence is low.)

    While Alexa does the “basics” for free, you will notice that their site can be difficult to navigate as they often want you to upgrade and you may need to look a little closer to see their free option and to get to where you want to go.

    One more note about Alexa–their “wayback machine.” Scary stuff–I can view this site as far back as 2008!!! I’ve come a long way baby!

    Klout: Now this is an interesting tool. I joined Klout about a week ago and I love checking it daily because my “klout” (a score out of 100) continues to rise before my very eyes! Klout makes me feel as though I am getting somewhere and influencing folks!

    I should mention that Klout is completely different from the previously mentioned tools. Klout checks your social media networks (At this time, just Twitter–they are working on adding Facebook to Klout) to see how many followers you have, how you interact with others, how many retweets you get, mentions, etc. Basically, it is looking at your social reach or influence. For me, I use it for my @kidsPlay account with Twitter.

    Klout Influence graph for @KidsPlay

    According to Klout, these are the things I
    influence with my @KidsPlay Twitter account

    However, Klout’s system is not perfect. (See above chart.) It thinks I am influential about cars more than parenting which is a real shame considering @KidsPlay is about parenting and play and children! (And I don’t think I’ve mentioned cars once on Twitter, nor do I follow or chat with any car people.) An interesting side note though: I’ve tried Klout for my @jeanoram Twitter account as well. This is an account that I do not use daily, regularly, nor all that purposefully as I do with @KidsPlay. And Klout does see the difference.


    All the same, Klout, like the other tools I have mentioned, are great to have when you are trying something new and are curious to see if it is working. As some of you know, I have been participating in a one month challenge over on AQC and by checking my stats, I can see that all my hard work is indeed beginning to pay off.

    Tip: With most blog stat programs there is usually a button you can click on that says “Don’t count your own pageviews.” For accurate stats, you want to click on this because guess who visits your blog or site the most? Yeah, it could be you! (Particularly when tweaking new content.)

    So, how about you? Have you ever checked your stats? What tool did you use to check them? What do you think? Did they depress you? Excite you? Inspire you to go with what those stats said was working and work on what wasn’t? Share your experiences.

  • Back to Balance… and Marketing

    Posted on January 14th, 2010 jean 12 comments

    A few weeks ago I mentioned that one of my current goals is to balance things in my life in order to rejuvenate and celebrate the joy in what I do every day. (That’s not to say I’ve been miserable, simply that it’s incredibly easy to get swept up in the myriad of ‘shoulds’ and forget to have a complete and utter blast.)

    As if hearing the cries of aspiring (and published) writers, literary agent Nathan Bransford posted his ideas on marketing and balance. The long and the short of it is that writers should have some sort of Googleable web presence, but that trying to do ‘everything’ in terms of promotion–and there are a zillion ways to do this these days–you are going to dilute yourself and not do anything well.

    Here, here.

    It all comes back to balance. (I love it when things come full circle.)

    Jean Oram

    Create Your Badge

    Lately, I’ve been reading here and there little somethings that reflect my own thoughts on Twitter and Facebook and all those ‘follow/friend’ social networking opportunities. That is: Don’t follow everyone just to count coup. (There is an actual term for those who do this, but my brain is letting me down.) Their advice (and mine too): Follow those you are genuinely interested in.

    In other words: So what if you have 1200 followers? If you are following 1200 people we know exactly how you obtained those 1200 followers. You can’t possibly read all those tweets and create a true relationships with those followers. My warning is: Don’t kid yourself into believing all those followers are a true platform and that they are all going to run out and buy your book if you ask them to (if you are an unknown).

    Interesting fact that I can’t back up (it’s in a book around here somewhere–Later note: Here’s an article on Dunbar’s Number): People bottom out around 150 relationships. After they reach that threshold, they are unable to maintain and sustain more relationships. True relationships take time, energy and memory making them genuine and rewarding for all involved.

    Now, a little clarification on my rant–there is nothing wrong with using social networks and gaining a following. You don’t have to know someone’s favourite colour or know their lineage to have a relationship that will result in them supporting your endeavours. In fact, I recommend building online platforms and using social networking sites. I guess what I am trying to say is: keep it genuine. As Nathan says, if you don’t ‘feel’ it (blogging, tweeting, etc), your audience is going to know. So, do what you are good at. Do what feels genuine and it will get you a whole heck of a lot farther in your promotion or platform building.

    Nobody can do everything. And nobody can do everything well.

    Jean’s book montage

    Daughter of Fortune: A Novel
    An Undone Fairy Tale
    Library Lion
    Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity
    How to Stop Backing Down & Start Talking Back
    Girls of Riyadh
    The Alchemist
    Five Cities that Ruled the World: How  Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, London, and New York Shaped Global History
    The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment
    ePublish: Self-Publish Fast and Profitably for Kindle, iPhone, CreateSpace and Print on Demand
    King by Right of Blood and Might
    Something Blue
    Something Borrowed
    All the Tea in Chicago
    A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive
    Come Back, Amelia Bedelia
    Amelia Bedelia
    Little Bear
    Three Little Kittens

    Jean Oram’s favorite books »

    So, another tough question for you blog readers–where is the balance between writing and promotion? How do you keep it fresh when you are blogging and tweeting and facebooking? Or do you?