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Blogging by the Numbers

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Wed Sep 28 2005

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Not everything that can be counted counts,

and not everything that counts can be counted.

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- Albert Einstein

One of the projects in the revitalization of Learning Circuits Blog has been the establishment of a data set for capture and resulting metrics. I thought it might be of interest to share our work in this area.

The purpose for creating a trackable set of data and corresponding metrics is simply so that we will have an idea as to whether or not we are succeeding at this blogging venture. Simple purpose however, does not necessarily lead to simple implementation. Two factors contributed to this being a rather extensive task. 1) We had no data collection practice in place and 2) Blogger, for all it's great features, just doesn't collect data for their free users.

A couple free stat counters (thanks SiteMeter and Bravenet) and several tracking spreadsheets that border on frightening later, we have a solid set of raw data. The data fall into two categories - "Activity" which I use to refer to the posting and comments by the Blog Squad and guest and "Traffic" which refers to the comings and goings of all of you good folks. The raw data we are capturing include:

ACTIVITY

TRAFFIC

Posts

Author

Date posted

Comments

Comment Author

Date Commented

Days with no Activity

Unique Visits

Page Views

First time visitors

Returning Visitors

Referring Page

Entry Page

Exit Page

From these raw data we can build metrics to determine in what direction, if any at all, LCB is moving and why. There are all the ratio metrics (i.e., posts per day, comments per post, zero activity days per month, etc.) and comparison metrics (i.e., August was twice as active as July, or Clark leads all Blog Squad members in postings).

Some metrics which seem to be emerging as meaningful as everything settles in are:

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  1. Total Activity - Posts and Comments are weighted equally. It seems a better representation of the work that is being done by the Blog Squad.

  2. Unique Visitors vs. Returning Visitors - This metric seems to indicate that we are drawing people in, but not doing enough to have them return in a timely fashion.

  3. Total Activity vs. Page Views - this has been the real surprise thus far. The ratio of page views per post or comment seems to have settled in at just aound 24-26 pages. Including in August when Activity tripled and page view followed suit. It's too early to know if this consistency is a coincidence or whether it will turn out to be a dynamic predictive metric.

I have a couple of questions I'd love to get some response from the LCB community on regarding metrics:

  1. Are there metrics you see as key when looking at a blog?

  2. Do you know of any benchmarking sources for blog metrics?

  3. Do you track metrics for your blog? If so, care to swap info with LCB?

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