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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+.

    Great.

    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 “www.jeanoram.com” or “http:// jeanoram.com/blog” 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.

  • How Authors And Writers Can Use Social Media For Promotion

    Posted on February 8th, 2012 jean No comments

    I’m reading Chris Brogan‘s book, Social Media 101, at the moment and I came across a great blog post of his while surfing the net. It’s a fantastic list of things authors or writers can do to use social media to their benefit while promoting themselves or their books–without being annoying.

    It is a must read article. Here are a few appetizers from his list before I send you to his blog for the full course:

    Start an email newsletter. It’s amazing how much MORE responsive email lists are than any other online medium.

    Seriously, I did not know that. Yet, I almost always read the newsletters that come in from authors, etc. Makes sense to create one, doesn’t it?

    When people talk about your book, good or bad, thank them with a reply. Connect to people frequently. It’s amazing how many authors I rave about on Twitter and how few actually respond. Mind you, the BIGGEST authors always respond (paradox?)

    I love it when authors reply to my tweets about their books and feel greatly disappointed when they don’t reply. I LOVE twitter for giving a little shout out to published authors. (I can’t wait to be on the other side of that tweet and make some connections and new friends!)

    That’s a little sample of Brogan’s smorg list of 21 tips. Here’s the link to the full article.

    Enjoy!

    And if you have some tips or ideas that you think would rock the social media world, feel free to shoot them into the comment section.