In BlogHer in Spirit Topics for Friday, PHATMommy asks:
- What service/software do you use to track your site’s traffic? What’s good (or bad) about it?
- What’s been your most successful tool in generating more traffic to your blog?
- What do you know about syndication and subscriptions? Share!
I use SiteMeter and MyBlogLog, which I wrote about not long ago. I check my SiteMeter page view numbers daily, but I find that the BlogLog information is the most useful: it shows me what links people have clicked on to come to my blog, what pages they’re visiting within my blog, and what outgoing links they’re clicking on. For example, after the Homeschooling Carnival I hosted at Lilting House last week, I could see that Janine Cate’s post on why some people are hostile to homeschooling got the most out-clicks, with Karen Edmisten’s "A mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom" post coming in second.
The search engine information is always amusing. Recently someone found my site after a search for "homeschooling your obnoxious fifteen-year-old son." I fear this person did not find much practical advice on that topic here, as my only son is two years old. I hope useful advice turned up somewhere else.
Lately I’m getting a lot of hits from people Googling "homeschool planners," "planners for moms," and other variations. When I started my planner series I had no idea it would generate so much interest; I was really just indulging myself in a favorite
obsession topic. Lilting House also gets a steady trickle of traffic from people Googling "speech banana." Here at Bonny Glen, it’s Little House-related searches that pop up most often, along with a fair number of searches for my name. Variations on "homeschoolers and socialization" are also common. Also, I am apparently the top hit for "gatto bondage education chained."
I’m afraid I was no help to the person looking for "pictures of a broken toe." And I would really love to know what the person who Googled "painting mossy moot fox" was looking for.
(A caveat about MyBlogLog: they have added a new "communities" feature which automatically subscribes you to communities for other BlogLog subscriber blogs you link to.)
As for traffic generation, participating in and hosting blog carnivals always brings a lot of new readers to the site, and it appears that many of them stick around afterward.
Overall, though, I don’t worry a lot about how much traffic I’m getting. My primary topics (home education, children’s literature, parenting) are niche topics that don’t draw the same numbers as, say, politics. And that’s fine. The main reason I began this blog was because I was getting a lot of mail from people asking similar questions, and as my time was limited I figured it made sense to have one central place where I could store the answers instead of rewriting them every time. I love getting that kind of mail and didn’t want to disappoint anyone with rushed answers lacking in substance. Now I can say, "Here’s a link to a post I wrote on that subject"—and since the post probably links to several other blogs, the questioner gets the benefit of input from people wiser than I.
Then I discovered an unexpected and delightful advantage of blogging. I have never been a journaler (I so dislike writing by hand, and journaling on the computer just never worked for me), but I have often regretted not writing down the funny or endearing things Jane and Rose said when they were younger, or recording all our little family adventures. Bonny Glen became a place for me to do that. And what I have found, to my surprise, was that blogging makes me a better mother. I’m more conscious and appreciative of those sweet or funny moments with the kids; I’m taking better note of the small beats of connection between us. I don’t want to be a hypocrite or present an inaccurate picture of who we are (that’s why I’m quick to point out my failings in the cooking and laundry departments), so I find that blogging makes me work harder to maintain my ideals. I would never want one of my children to read a post here and think, "That doesn’t sound like us." So this blog makes me work at keeping the atmosphere of this home as joyful as the moments I’ve shared here.