Saturday, November 3, 2007

Using stats to monitor your blog

Just got another obsession to distract me from my PhD - checking my blog stats. I didn't realize the amount of information I can get from my stats such as which pages are the most popular and the location of my visitors. The majority of my visitors are from the UK and USA but I have had visits from people in Belgium, Spain, India, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Australia. As you can see from the graph above I had a large number of visits following my email advert I sent out about the online midwifery meetings I am hosting.

What is most interesting about blog stats as far as I am concerned is seeing which are the most popular posts. Suffice to say, my post about the online midwifery meeting has been the most popular because I have advertised it widely to my other midwifery networks - 78 visits. What will be interesting to see is how many visits turn into actual participants in the online meetings. The post that provides Q&A about the online meetings have only had 6 hits. The next most popular visits have been the ones in which I talk about Second Life - my virtual appearance has 16 hits, the naked men has 14 hits and Petal's adventures has 12 hits.

There are two points of interest to me. Firstly, I wrote a column in the New Zealand College of Midwifery Journal that came out last week about this blog and other social networking tools. I wrote the column with the hope that New Zealand midwives might be inspired to come and have a look and even leave a comment or two. I wrote a post that was heart-felt and would generate discussion, or so I thought. However, that post has only had 11 hits and has had only one comment from someone outside my immediate circle of friends and colleagues. I did have an email from a colleague who thought the post was very relevant but she did not leave a comment on the blog and I do not know the answer for that. The second point of interest is that my personal posts have not attracted any hits.

So what are the conclusions I can draw from this and how do they influence how I develop this blog in the future? I think my first conclusion is not to bother with too much personal stuff - I think that is more for my benefit than anyone else's. The second thought I have is that this blog is still not attracting midwives. This is interesting when I compare my stats to those of Carolyn McIntosh, who is my virtual partner in crime. Her top post 'Structure of the midwifery services in New Zealand' received 44 hits. So if I want to attract more midwives, maybe I need to focus more on midwifery and choose topics to talk about that may attract midwife visits? Or are the lack of midwife visits an indication that midwives do not use social networking tools? On the other hand, I enjoy blogging about online education and my experiences with Web 2.0 etc and am receiving visitors so maybe I should not change my format? The other answer would be to forget about it and concentrate on more important things!! What do you think?


Sue Waters said...

I am thinking that if you want to have a blog targeting specifically midwifery maybe you should have it separate from a blog that you talk about Web 2.0 technology. Yes - I know that sounds weird. As I have said previously I love read your midwife posts however if you are targeting midwifes they may not relate to your web 2.0 posts.

For example if I do decide to write about aquaculture (fish farming) which is the area I lecture and I want to target aquaculturist then I need to mainly focus on that topic area. As I already have quite a few sites I am thinking that a better option may be to start up a group one and invite my students to help write the posts.

BTW not sure which Stats counter you are using but I strongly recommend Google Analytics (have a post on my blog how to use it).

Sarah Stewart said...

Yes, I have thought of that and its probably the most sensible suggestion. But I really don't want to have more than 1 blog for time reasons more than anything. I think I'll see how things go after I have finished this course I am doing with Leigh. I think this discussion is also tied up with how I see myself at the moment-midwife or something broader/else? So I'll sleep on it and revisit it in a few months

Alice / Dot said...

Maybe Google Analytics would get round this (I'm afraid I am not very good at the technical side of things) but I have noticed that the stats for our blog are always rather strange, and I think our stats programme only counts views for specific posts when someone has clicked their way to that post. I check your blog pretty regularly and I read the personal posts as well as the midwifery and computing posts, but I don't usually click on particular posts, just on the blog as a whole.

With our blog, the posts that seem to get most views are the ones that mention keywords that people might search for (e.g. Phil Vickery, pleasing your man) and not the ones that really say anything very interesting. The ones that get most comments are usually my husband's posts on philosophy, because philosophers love to argue! I sometimes feel discouraged and wonder if anyone reads my posts at all. But it is valuable to me to write them, even the drivelly ones about my CD collection or wondering if the baby is moving enough. So I shall continue to post unashamed on these topics...

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks for that, Dot. Its good to get feedback from people other than my own circle of colleagues. I know how you feel about getting discouraged but I guess its back to why you blog - for an audience or for yourself? I blog for both so I guess a few personal posts will continue to creep in, because thats what contributes to me a midwife and teacher.