Six years ago to the day I began this blog. So, as is my habit at this time I take the opportunity to review my blog’s progress over the past 12 months and to plan its direction for the year ahead.
Up until last year my blog had grown steadily year on year until it was unexpectedly savaged by the Google ranking algorithm. This savaging manifested itself with a 50% drop in traffic! During the last year traffic seems to have stabilised, but unfortunately I’m still a long way off where I was.
In the past twelve months I have continued blogging, but with an increased concentration on podcasting. I have also continued to be more active with social media and in particular have found the Google podcasting communities a great place to interact with like minded podcasters.
When I began blogging I foolishly thought I could write one post per week. Needless to say this optimistic aim didn’t last terribly long. My current posting frequency is now sitting at 1.75 posts per month (21 posts in the last twelve months). This is up from last year’s posting frequency of 1.6 posts per month and up from 1.25 posts per month for the year before that; a small but again definite improvement for another year.
Every month I produce a podcast for Zen Internet which is syndicated on this blog. So effectively 12 of the year’s posts were already accounted for, which means in real terms I only wrote 9 “real” posts during the last 12 months.
As well as these posts however, I also added 2 new pages to my blog:
- Podcasting Equipment – A list of the equipment I regularly use to podcast
- Featured Podcast Widget for WordPress – A podcast related widget that I wrote
With these two new pages and the nine new posts this brings my new content count to 11 new articles; wow, almost up to a post every two weeks!
Since my major theme change last year and my switch to the Genesis Framework I haven’t made any further significant changes to my blog, but I have added a few additional plugins to enhance it’s functionality.
New WordPress Plugins
The Pretty Link plugin is a useful plugin for the creation of short URLs that are easy to remember and can be used to redirect people to specific content on the website. The links can also be tracked, which is very handy to see which links are being used and to what degree.
Tweet Old Post
A simple little plugin; the Tweet Old Post plugin does exactly what it says on the tin, tweeting your old blog posts at whatever frequency you desire.
A handy anti-spam utility; the CryptX plugin automatically encrypts any e-mail address on the blog to thwart the spammers.
Featured Podcast Widget
Last, but not least, a plugin that I wrote myself; the Featured Podcast Widget plugin displays your latest podcast episode in a configurable widget using the media player from the Blubrry PowerPress plugin used by many podcasters.
Statistics for the Year
After being savaged by the Google menagerie (Panda and/or Penguin) my blog’s traffic eventually seems to have stabilised, albeit at about 50% of its peak. I still have no idea what was the cause of this, other than that Google hates me.
I’ve never gone in for any deliberately dodgy black-hat SEO stuff and I have always tried to follow Google’s guidelines and industry best practice, but as this all seems to no avail I’m just going to concentrate on writing the blog for myself, hopefully with articles that will interest people. Sod Google!
WordPress Statistics (Totals)
Comment spam is the bane of any blogger, but thankfully due to useful plugins and tools like Akismet and Conditional CAPTCHA a large proportion of spam can be automatically trapped.
The number of spam comments that my Akismet plugin has caught this year is down by 20% over last year, probably more due to the fact that my overall traffic is down by 50% rather than any real reduction in the level of spam I suspect.
The following graph shows the overall spam comments caught by Akismet since I started my blog:
Like most bloggers I use Google’s free web analytics tool to track my website’s traffic and its visitors. Over the past year my blog received an average of approximately 9,600 visitors per month viewing over 12,000 pages every month.
Last month’s visitor and page view statistics were:
- Visits: 7,813
- Pages Viewed: 9,849
Over the last year my blog received almost 116,000 visits and over 146,000 page views.
The following graphs are for the past year.
Google have recently changed the way they report their traffic figures, plus privacy and tracking issues have caused a large percentage of visits to show as “not set”. These changes have unfortunately made it very difficult to compare these figures to those of my previous years’.
However, in line with previous years the majority of my blog’s traffic was brought via search engines. Google topped the traffic sources again, accounting for 77% of all traffic.
Countries of Visitors
My blog is definitely international in its appeal, attracting visitors from 195 different countries (down 7 countries from last year’s total).
The United States and the United Kingdom continue to dominate with 54% of the blog’s overall traffic (up from 51% last year). Canada and Australia have increased in their share of the percentage to knock India from 3rd place compared to last year.
I continue to use Google’s FeedBurner service to supply my blog’s RSS feed due to the useful statistics that it offers, plus its ability to offer my RSS feed as an alternative e-mail subscription option. Despite many pundits predicting the demise of Feedburner following recent closures of other free services offered by Google, it seems remain for the moment…
My feed currently has 111 subscribers (40 of whom subscribe by e-mail). This is an increase of 12% over last year’s 99 subscribers.
The following graph shows my RSS subscriber levels over the history of the blog. Even with Feedburner’s erratic reporting and the sudden drop a while ago where they appeared to change how they reported their figures, the general trend is upward:
For the first time in my blog’s history the year’s statistics have shown an overall decrease in visitors compared to the previous year’s. Over the last twelve months my site’s visitor numbers have decreased by 43%.
You can view my five previous year’s statistics at:
- Happy Birthday Blog
- Blog Hits the Terrible Twos
- Happy Birthday Blog: Three Today!
- Annual Blog Review: Year 4
- Annual Blog Review: Year 5
My blog’s most popular post remains Embedding Album Art in MP3 Files, which receives 47% of the blog’s total traffic, down a little from the previous year’s 52%. While having such a well performing post is nice, it’s also good to see that over the last few years the overall percentage of traffic that this post receives is dropping, meaning that my blog’s traffic is not as reliant on a single post.
My top 5 posts have changed with the Top 5 Pieces of Free Podcasting Software post moving up from 7th position to 4th dropping What are ID3 Tags in MP3 Files? from 5th to 7th.
Unfortunately though all of my top posts are receiving less traffic than the previous year.
- Embedding Album Art in MP3 Files (68,771 views)
- How to Check if your Speakers are Wired Correctly? (23,607 views)
- What is Joint Stereo? (13,706 views)
- Top 5 Pieces of Free Podcasting Software (5,839 views)
- Song Capacity Calculator for MP3 Players (5,421 views)
In the past 12 months I have definitely been more proactive with my blog and my engagement with social media, unfortunately though this doesn’t appear to have directly translated to visitors.
However, the bounce rate for the blog is down slightly and the average visit duration and number of pages per visit are up a little, so perhaps the engagement with my visitors has increased slightly, which would be a nice thought.
Last year I decided to focus my blog more on podcasting. This is something I really enjoy and is definitely the way I intend to continue my blog for the foreseeable future.
Finally, a big thank you to all of you who have left comments, or who have subscribed to the blog. It’s nice to know that people are finding my content useful.
Yasmin Chopin commented
Really interesting to read this Richard, well skim-read it to be totally honest, I didn’t dwell on the detail. Not many people would be so open as to publish this kind of data and I respect your dedication and thoroughness. I haven’t a clue when I first started blogging exactly, it’s been a number of years and I’ve gone through all kinds of transitions. I’m now in a happy place with my blog and I’m aiming for one post a day….a very different style and topic to yours of course. I think this shows the power of blogging, we don’t all do the same, we don’t all have the same goals and that’s just fabulous. Good luck for the next 12 months and it’s good to know you.
Richard Farrar commented
Thanks Yasmin. Blogging definitely is a journey and there are so many different styles of blogs as you say, but we can also learn so much from each other. I guess my blog is more of a hobby whereas yours is an adjunct to your business. I certainly couldn’t do an article every day, so I really admire your dedication for that. I’ll keep plodding on with mine though. Hope to catch up again with you soon at the blogger’s meetup.