Time for my annual public navel-gazing post, where I open up Google Analytics and write a semi-stream-of-consciousness post about what happened to this blog over the past 12 months and try to figure out why. I’ve just made a quick glance through the numbers, and here’s what stands out to me:
- Traffic and pageviews are up overall in very healthy amounts, which I’m happy about.
- But the sources of that traffic changed dramatically. StumbleUpon almost fell off the map for this blog as a referral source, while search engine traffic was way up.
- My most popular posts of the year were SEO-related, whereas they were social media-related in 2008.
You can stop reading now if you’re not interested in the details. If you want to go down this path with me, let’s get started with the overall numbers.
Visits and pageviews were both up 24% in 2009, compared to 2008. That pages/visit number is essentially the same; it was 1.68 in 2008. So the big picture is pretty healthy; I’ll gladly take a 24% increase from year to year with this blog.
But as I said above, the sources of this traffic were really different in 2009.
Here’s the overall traffic source chart for 2009. What stands out is that search engines sent me about 51% of my traffic. In 2008, search engines sent only 37.6% — that’s a pretty hefty jump. On the one hand, yay that my blog SEO is working and the search engines trust my content that much. But on the other hand, I’m not a fan of being too reliant on search engines as a traffic source. In my perfect world, there’d be better balance in this chart. With such a terrible domain name, I don’t expect a ton of direct traffic. That 19% is fine — 20% would be great. And then I’d love for the other 80% to be more balanced with half from search engines and half from referrals. This 51% – 30% split doesn’t thrill me.
Did you see more or less search engine traffic in 2009 on your blog(s)? I’ll be curious to check these same numbers on some of the other blogs I write.
If you’re curious, Google sent about 87% of my search engine traffic. Bing sent about 7.3%, and Yahoo sent about 4.6%.
Keywords Driving Traffic
The phrase “google small business” was the #1 keyword bringing traffic to this blog, barely beating out the phrase “how to seo.” This latter keyword is a phrase I’ve purposely optimized for as a means to sell my How to SEO Your Site e-book. I’m not about to retire to Tahiti on the sales revenue from that, but it helps pay some bills during the year.
I’ve told a few people that I get more traffic from people wanting to learn about MSN local listings than Google local listings. Here are some interesting 2009 numbers I’ll offer as evidence:
- 4 of the top 50 keywords make reference to Google and local search
- 8 of the top 50 keywords refer to MSN/Bing and local search
- 0 of the top 50 keywords refer to Yahoo and local search
What do I make of that? One, there are a lot of small business owners using MSN/Bing as their default, Windows-based search engine who want to figure out how to be found in Bing maps/local. Two, a lot of searchers who are looking for Google-related information can find it on tons and tons of blogs, whereas far fewer people ever write much about Bing. And I don’t know what the deal is with Yahoo. Wow. They do have very good support/info pages, so maybe people are able to get what they need right from the source. (?)
Where’d the Referral Traffic Go?
In 2008, my top 10 sources of referral traffic accounted for 43,857 visits. But this past year, the top 10 only accounted for 25,245 visits. (Keep in mind that overall traffic was up 24%, too.) What’s up with that? As you’ll see below, Twitter has become a primary traffic source to this blog, and I can’t help but wonder if the numbers are wrong — as Danny Sullivan suggested with his article, Is Twitter Sending You 500% To 1600% More Traffic Than You Might Think?
With that in mind, here are the top 10 referring sites sending me traffic in 2009.
What stands out here, even more than Twitter becoming the #2 source behind Google Reader/iGoogle, is StumbleUpon’s precipitous drop. It was the #1 referring site in 2008, but fell to third this past year. Worse, the actual visits from StumbleUpon dropped 79% for the year. What on earth happened? I have no idea. Again, I’ll be looking at some other blogs to see if the trend holds true.
For the past week or so, I’ve been hovering in the 5800-5900 range on Feedburner. At the start of 2009, I was around 3400. Very pleased with that increase — thanks to all who take the feed. (But not to those who scrape and repost it.)
Finally, a look at the most popular content on this blog in 2009. Overall, the SEO Success Pyramid and this old article about Google local rankings were the most viewed posts, but neither was written in the past year. Here are the top 10 blog posts that were written in 2009.
- Small Business SEO: Costs, Expectations & Realities — didn’t expect this one to strike such a chord, but it led to the single biggest day of traffic all year long
- Why Trust Matters & How To Earn It
- Citysearch Kills Free Business Listings – I tend to rank pretty well on searches related to Citysearch listings
- 7 Rules for Writing URLs
- Update: Citysearch & Free Business Listings
- Searchers Using Longer Queries in 2009
- Should a Small Business have a Wikipedia article?
- 5 Ways Negative Reviews are Good for Business
- 10 Creative Ways Businesses Used Twitter in 2009 – not bad for something written on December 22!
- The Joy (& Frustration) of Updating a Bing Local Listing
Only two of those articles are about social media; in 2008, six of my top ten posts were about social media. I don’t think I wrote about it less this year. I think maybe so many people are writing about social media these days that those articles don’t stand out as much.
This has gone on way too long, so time to stop. If you’ve read this far, thank you and please see a psychologist as soon as possible.
2009 was a wonderful year for me personally and professionally, and a lot of that is due to what happens on this blog. I don’t have numbers, but I can say with certainty that reader comments are WAY UP these days, and for that I’m eternally grateful. Your contributions always improve on anything I publish. Thank you, and cheers to you for a great 2010!