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Sunday, 15 November 2009

The Soap Box: Adam from space wolves talking about blogging!

Hi, Jacob here. Today we have Adam Hunter. He has a really good post here! Here it comes:

Hello everybody! Adam Hunter from the Space Wolves blog here to talk about blogging, where your traffic comes from, what your readers want and how to use Google Analytics.

Quick Thought on the Blogosphere
Before we get our teeth into analysing your traffic and meeting the needs (and demands) of your target audience, I wanted to thank Jacob for his Soap Box. It's a fantastic platform for people to talk about general goings on in the blogosphere or the hobby itself without distracting from the focus of their own blogs and when I see Gamers World on the blogroll of every 40K blog, you know it's going to be read by the community. So hats off to Jacob for a brilliant idea. He's only a young lad, but I reckon he'll go far!

Get on with it you say? Alright I will...

What Do Your Readers Want?
Good question, because they don't actually tell you. You simply have to judge their responses by comments that they leave. Surely the more comments your post gets, the more popular it is? Think again!

There's a handy tool called Google Analytics that everyone with a Blogspot has access to. It shows you where your traffic comes from, whether it's search engines, other websites or from people who have bookmarked you. It's pretty straightforward to install (and I'm an html noob!).

I'm going to compare 2 blogs: my current Space Wolves blog and my Warhammer Tau blog. Between them you can see trends in the community, in search engines and how the community responds to different types of blog posts.

Warhammer Tau
Looking at the graph, you can see that Warhammer Tau gets from 400 up to 600 visits per day with a big peak when Space Hulk was announced. Each peak in the graph represents a new post, which brought in more visits from the blogosphere.

In the pie chart with the smaller graphs beside it, you can see how Direct Traffic has increased over time -representing people bookmarking the site.

Referring Sites shows traffic from blogs and other websites, usually from blogrolls.

Search Engine shows traffic from search engines. You can see the massive spike in visits that coincides with my Space Hulk post. This clearly shows that all my visits for Space Hulk came from search engines and not the community. I later found that this was because I had been featured in the Google News results for the search term 'space hulk'.

Over time you can see that Direct Traffic increases (as the blog becomes better known socially) while there is a rise and fall in Referring Sites. Search Engine traffic however, grows slowly, but steadily. So even if I stopped upating the blog, I'd still receive 40% of my visits.

If you look at the pie chart, you can see that 46% of visits are from referring sites. 40% are from search engines and 14% is direct traffic.

Space Wolves
The Space Wolves blog is a comparatively new site, so it doesn't have a huge community following, which is evident from the analytics.

As before, each spike in the general traffic graph represents a post. And across all the graphs you can see the effect the release of the new Space Wolves Codex had on the blogosphere, the search engines and the direct visits to the blog.

However, 49% of visits come from search engines, 38% from referring sites and only 13% from direct traffic.

Measuring Content
The best way to measure if your latest blog post was any good isn't by the comments, but by the peak in visits. If you make a number of blog posts over a month and find that shortly after your Direct Traffic rises from people following and bookmarking you, then you know you're doing something right.

Generally, if you're writing some well constructed tutorials, the search engines will send more traffic your way too.

So this means that your posts should not only have an engaging title and an eye catching picture to look good in the blogroll listings and pull in reader, but have some substance and value in them to increase your followers.

But What Do My readers Want!?
The easiest way to find that out is to look at your Google Analytics a few days after you've made your latest post.

I found that Tactic posts on Warhammer Tau would get a lot of visits and usually a lot of comments.

However, on Space Wolves, Tactics haven't received much traffic. It's the modelling and painting that people are interested in instead. But Tactic posts do get more comments -proof that comments are not the best way to measure the success of your blog.

Following an Army
People like to read battle reports and generally follow someone else's army.

I had a dozen or so Tau players avidly following my Warhammer Tau army. Similarly, Fritz from The Way of Saim Hann has been so successful because people are following his army. Whether the rate of traffic depends on the popularity of that army, the quality or the frequency of posts remains to be seen (probably all three!).

Round Up
Hopefully this look into Google Analytics has been helpful and given you lots of ideas on how to get more visitors to your blog, build you fan base and embrace the Warhammer 40K blogosphere.

Happy gaming and happy blogging!

Jacob: What a great post, I learned a lot! Thanks for the comments Adam they are greatly appreciated! So, what do you thing. Tell us.

Thanks for reading,

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