7 Steps to Better Blog Visitor Tracking

February 24, 2010 by
Filed under: Analytics 

Tracking blog visitors can get confusing and drain hours of precious time from your day. Here are steps that will help you setup your blog, create posts and share links so that you can more accurately track visitors.


1. Link directly to the post

When publishing links to websites like Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, Twitter and Facebook, make sure to use the link for the blog post instead of the home page where the post currently resides.  This allows you to track traffic on that specific post page. Sharing the home page makes it difficult to track because you have to filter your analytics by the timeframe the post was visible there.  And, if you have multiple posts displayed there, who knows which post was read, which leads to the next recommendation. 

2. Utilize the blog “more” option

Placing the “more” tag in a stretegic spot of your post displays a teaser portion of the post with a “Read more” link to continue reading.  When visitors arrive on your home page, they will click through to read more on the post if it catches their interest. 

3. Use excerpts

An excerpt is an optional summary you can create for the post. Some WordPress themes or widgets allow for using the excerpt in place of the “more” tag. An excerpt can also be used for the META description, which helps with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) by describing the page. 

4. Use a URL shortening service

Choose one URL shortening service that provides good statistics and stick with it. I like hootsuite for managing multiple Twitter accounts and for its built-in ow.ly URL shortening service and statistical reports.

5. Direct links vs. referring sites

If you are using Google Analytics, and I highly recommend it, for website statistics, there is a section called Traffic Sources that lists where visitors came from before landing on your website. You will see sources like google (organic) and twitter.com (referral). One of the sources listed that is often confusing to people is (direct) ((none)). A well known reason for this is when a visitor types the website link in their browser address bar or uses a bookmark.  They are not coming from a link on another website.  However, there are some little known reasons why this number can be larger than expected: 

  • If you post your links on Twitter and some of your followers use Tweetdeck, Seesmic or other desktop applications for interfacing Twitter
  • If someone reads a post from their mobile RSS reader
  • Using the Facebook mobile app and clicking a link to your website

This is where URL shortening services come in handy.  They provide an intermediate step for the visitor to pass through before arriving at your website. These will show as referrals from ow.ly, bit.ly or whichever service you use.

6. Tracking print and traditional advertising

There is a simple way to track people who see your billboard, magazine ad, newspaper classified, flyer handout or other traditional hardcopy media. Create a unique landing page for each of these ads.  For example: yourwebsite.com/flyer or yourwebsite.com/classifieds. With these setup, you can track statistics on these by viewing the Content section on Google Analytics. This leads to my final point for tracking. 

7. Permalinks

What are Permalinks? Setting up permalinks on your website makes the URLs for your internal pages display in a more ligible form.  For example: http://adrianforbes.com/2010/02/24/7-steps-to-better-blog-visitor-tracking/ 

Not only do these make reviewing the Content statistcs in analytics easier, but it is better for SEO. 

What works for you?

Do you have any tips to add for improving the accuracy of your visitor tracking?  You can take these a stop further and track conversions of visitors with email forms, white paper downloads, registration forms and more. This is another blog topic in itself.


2 Comments on 7 Steps to Better Blog Visitor Tracking

  1. Lev on Thu, 25th Feb 2010 12:22 pm
  2. Very informative and helpful for me to get a better understanding of visitor tracking. Thanks!

  3. Ervin on Wed, 15th Apr 2015 2:32 pm
  4. Is it worth using blogs for SEO? I heard they are meant to be the best but unsure if they have any benefitpost panda
    7 Steps to Better Blog Visitor Tracking – The newest addition to
    my weekly read

Tell me what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!