Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Google Analytics, ricklibrarian, and the Long Tail

I have had a free Google Analytics account for three months now. If I had limitless time to analyze the traffic at this blog, I could look at all the GA data. As it is, I focus on the referring sources and content performance by titles. I basically want to know how people are finding my blog reviews and which reviews they read.

Referring Sources

The largest source from which traffic comes to my blog is Google keyword searches. That is no surprise. Yahoo and AOL searches trail far, far behind. Google as a referring source was running around 50 percent before the American Library Association picked up my Do I Still Use Reference Books? and put a link in its weekly AL Direct email. Then for a week or so in June, the dominate source was "direct", which includes readers who type the URL and links from email. Right after that I went to the ALA Conference in New Orleans, and a large number of visitors to the website came via the ALA Conference Wiki.

The biggest surprise is how much of the traffic comes from wikis. In the three month period the ALA Conference Wiki and the Library Success Wiki account for nearly ten percent of the traffic to ricklibrarian. They beat all the search engines other than Google.

Content Performance

When I looked on Blogger Tuesday, I had written 464 entries. I also had 19 monthly archives and the main URL, for a total of 484 URLs. According to GA, 448 had been visited in the three month period - over ninety percent.

This is where the idea of the long tail proves true. A few URLs, such as the main page and my report on the ALA presentation by Anderson Cooper were visited by many readers. Some other items, particularly my resource guide on Morton's neuroma, were continually visited. Then there was a long tail of reports and reviews that had been visited once, twice, or thrice. Some of the book reviews I wrote in the opening weeks of this blog are still being read!

What I Like About GA

One of the features I like about GA is that I can easily select the range of days to study. I can even look at the entire history. I can also study how a particular web page has done over time, even asking the visitors' cities.

I like the colorful pie charts, but they do not print unless I take a screen shot. I really use the data in the tables much more than the charts.

Do I really use the data? Not really. I have not changed anything about my blog based on the data. Maybe I write a little more. Basically, looking at the data makes me feel good. I think that's okay. Thank you, Google.

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