Does Spending so Much Time on Twitter and Other Blogs Really Pay Off? (Think Traffic Monthly Report #4)

  • July 18, 2010 by Corbett Barr
  • 42 Comments

Think Traffic Monthly Report #4

Do you ever wonder if all that time you spend on Twitter and other blogs is really worth it? Will that investment in tweeting 10+ times a day and interacting with other bloggers really pay off? I have some analysis in this monthly report that will answer that question. Read on to find out.

If you’re new here, I file a report each month that shows you exactly how this blog is generating traffic. Every detail you could ask for is in these reports. Think of it as a case study, and proof that I’m practicing what I preach.

Overall Monthly Traffic

Let’s jump right in. Here are the overall traffic numbers for this month.

It feels great when hard work pays off in a big way. This month, every measure I track was up by a significant margin over last month. Overall visits were up by 23%, and pageviews were up by 34%. Average time on site and bounce rate were improved as well.

I mentioned I wanted to kick things up a notch last month, and we were definitely able to do that here. The site has definitely gathered some momentum recently. Thanks for helping me get the word out.

If you’re curious about what all the Google Analytics measures mean, here are a couple of quick definitions. The average time on site is how long each visitor spends at your site. The higher this number the better, as it indicates people are sticking around and reading longer. The pages per visit (again, the higher the better) is another great stat for measuring average engagement. The bounce rate tells you what percentage of visits were single-page visits.

Check out Google’s glossary of terms for Google Analytics for more details about what each measure means.

Other Stats:

  • New subscribers: 303 (+168% month-over-month)
  • New comments (including my replies): 241 (+50% month-over-month)
  • Retweets of new posts: 420 (+89% month-over-month)

12 posts published here this month (including 3 guest posts):

Top Traffic Sources

StumbleUpon continues to send us a little love every month, although traffic from SU doesn’t stick around long or convert to subscribers very readily. But that’s not the real story here. It pays to dig a little deeper.

If you group the top 50 traffic sources, it breaks down roughly like this:

#1: Direct (includes type-in traffic and some misclassified traffic)
#2: Blogs
#3: Twitter
#4: StumbleUpon
#5: Search
#6: RSS
#7: Email
#8: Facebook

Other blogs are the biggest source of referral traffic to this site, followed by Twitter. If you’re wondering if spending so much time on Twitter and other blogs is worth it, check out your own results and try grouping them like this. I just manually looked through the top 50, and classified each source. Watch for little twitter-related sources (like Hootsuite, Twitter mobile, etc. to make sure you count all of the Twitter traffic.

For me and this blog, there is no question. Time spent on Twitter and interacting with other bloggers is absolutely worth it.

Also, I’ve started spending quite a bit of time interacting on Facebook, and the traffic from Facebook has really picked up. Join us on Facebook if you haven’t already.

Guest Posts and Interviews I Did For Other Blogs:

Other Promotional Efforts and Notables:

Adam Baker of Man Vs. Debt included Think Traffic in 25 Inspiring Blogs To Help You Sell Your Crap, Pay Off Your Debt, and Do What You Love….

SocialMouths named Think Traffic the first of 15 Blogs To Follow If You Want To Kick Ass Online.

Notice that Feedburner appears to have moved up to the #3 spot overall, but that’s a little misleading. Part of that traffic classified as Feedburner is actually coming from the new aggregate blog called The Daily Brainstorm that we were invited to contribute to. They include a link to our rss feed, so that traffic shows up as Feedburner traffic (about half of it I’d estimate). Problogger, Zen Habits, The Happiness Project and others are contributors to The Daily Brainstorm as well, so I was happy to participate.

Oh, also, I mentioned last month that Diddy (or Puff Daddy or whatever you know him by) retweeted Greg Rollett’s guest post on The Diddy Guide to Constant Creativity and Relentless Marketing. Diddy has 2.7 million followers on Twitter. If you’re curious about what traffic that sent, the post itself was retweeted 97 times, and about 375 people visited the site from Twitter during the three days after the post was published. It wasn’t a very relevant post for most of Diddy’s followers, but the little boost was nice nonetheless.

Top Search Terms:

  1. think traffic: 170
  2. website traffic: 70
  3. thinktraffic: 50
  4. most popular blogs: 26
  5. think traffic net: 22
  6. most popular blog: 19
  7. how to write the best blog: 14
  8. corbett bar : 8
  9. corbett barr: 5
  10. thinktraffic.net: 5

I am very pleased to tell you that Think Traffic has started ranking for the keyword website traffic (currently on page 3). This is a long-term high-volume keyword goal of mine for the site, so I’m happy to have started getting traffic from it already.

Also, in general, search traffic nearly doubled this month. The quality of search traffic is really high, and it is starting to bring significant visitors and new subscribers to the site.

Top Content

I would really like to thank all of the people who have written guest posts for me so far. All three of the guest posts this month ranked in the top 10 most popular posts for the month.

In fact, the two guest posts by Greg Rollett and Mars Dorian ended up being my two most popular posts this month. That’s the benefit of asking really strong writers specifically to guest post for your blog, and in asking them to write on topics you think your audience will benefit from. Thanks guys!

Goals for This Month

I’m happy to say I accomplished 90% of my goals for the site last month. I think the results this month are directly related to that. My goals for next month are pretty similar (I’m pleased with this formula).

If you’re new here, note that I focus on the actions I can achieve, and don’t set any goals for the results. Setting goals like “I want 100 more subscribers” is of much less value to me than setting goals for actions I have direct influence over.

  • Continue to publish 2-3 high-quality posts each week that provide excellent value to you.
  • Have 2 guest posts or interviews published at other blogs.
  • Answer nearly every comment left here at Think Traffic.
  • Run 2 high-quality guest posts at Think Traffic from up-and-coming bloggers.
  • Run 1 or 2 interview posts with people we can all learn from.
  • Continue to invest more time interacting with people on Facebook.
  • Revise my service offerings and provide more detail on the site.

I haven’t talked much about the services I provide here on the blog yet, and I plan to do more of that this month.

Think Traffic helps individuals and small business owners build big audiences of raving fans online so they can find as many customers or readers as they need to make their businesses thrive. We also build new content-driven sites and blogs that are ready for a big audience. I have some really awesome results to share from some of the clients we’ve already worked with.

I’ll be providing much more detail about those services on the site this month. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like a quote.

Questions? Feel free to ask anything.

If you have any questions about this report or about growing website or blog traffic, ask me anything in the comments below. I’m happy to help!

Thanks so much for reading and for helping me spread the word about Think Traffic over the past four months. I’m having so much fun here. I really appreciate everyone who stops by. If you like these reports, please let me know in the comments.

Written by . Corbett is cofounder of Fizzle, a place for creative entrepreneurs, writers, makers, coders and artists, all working to support themselves doing what they love independently on the Internet. Follow Corbett on on Twitter.


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Early Retirement Extreme July 18, 2010 at 11:09 pm

I concur on blog commenting. I think it works best if it isn’t concentrated on the same circle of blogs or blogroll. On the other hand, a single comment on a site is not likely to work.

I got on twitter fairly late in the game (blog was almost 2 years old), so my twitter traffic is nothing to speak off. I can think of a few bloggers who built up a huge twitter following before they started their blogs.

I guess the main criteria is simply “off site”-activity backed up with the content to justify that activity. That is, people need to stick around.

The WWSGD plugin mentioning some of my most popular posts (I use stumbleupon as a reference to gauge “popular”) has seriously increased the sticking factor of new visitors since I introduced it. Warmly recommended!

Corbett Barr July 18, 2010 at 11:48 pm

Awesome, Jacob. Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for the plugin recommendation. Regarding Twitter, it is like any social media tool. You have to really invest time, and focus on connecting with / helping people (not just promoting your content) to see results. Those results definitely take some time to build, but can be well worth it. I also encourage people to pick just a couple of networks to invest time in. Spreading yourself thin can prevent you from getting to the core value of any particular platform or network.

Greg Rollett July 19, 2010 at 4:42 am

Hey Corbett – this is a really awesome and transparent way to show the growth of a site. Thanks for letting me play a part in it. You have done a lot really quickly with this site, and really its just practicing what you preach.

Corbett Barr July 19, 2010 at 8:19 am

Thanks again, Greg. I was happy to have you write here.

Dean Saliba July 19, 2010 at 5:15 am

Spending time on sites like Facebook and Twitter is definitely worth it for me, I think I might be in with a chance of doubling my traffic this month from just using those two sites.

Corbett Barr July 19, 2010 at 8:20 am

Wow Dean, that’s awesome. Congrats. Please report back and let us know the final results.

Mars Dorian July 19, 2010 at 8:26 am

Nice report, Corbett

hard AND smart work does pay off. You blog is very focused and branded in a cool way – I know you will dominate this niche in the near future.

Too bad that Lady Gaga didn’t retweet my guest post, but I’m glad that I helped you spread your influence this month ;)

Corbett Barr July 19, 2010 at 8:59 am

It’s true, you have to work smart, not just hard. Thanks for the encouragement. Maybe we’ll get Gaga next time, Mars.

Srinivas Rao July 19, 2010 at 9:05 am

Corbett,

Thanks for sharing this report. It’s really detailed and its’ a great framework for analyzing your traffic and understanding what’s working and what’s not. I’m curious, is there any way you can see how many RSS subscribers you had a month ago? I’d love to be able to measure that stat. One thing I think is that people read alot of traffic tips but often don’t implement them. I think if people would even take 1 tip out of every list post they read and use it, then they would see a significant jump in their traffic and blogging success

Corbett Barr July 19, 2010 at 9:09 am

Yeah, so do you use Feedburner? If so, just go to your feed’s dashboard, where the graph is showing you subscribers over time. Click the drop-down box that says “show stats for” and choose “all time.” Then, hover over the graph on the day you want to know the stats for. A pop-up will appear for each day. Does that help?

Tim L. July 19, 2010 at 9:38 am

Corbett, I think your Twitter stats are unusual compared to most blogs for three reasons:
1) You run a blog about blogging and getting traffic, not something aimed at the general public
2) Your search engine traffic is low because you’re new. Soon that will be several times what’s coming from the Twitter services after you get out of the sandbox.

I’ve never seen or heard of a blogger on a non-trade blog having a time on site more than 2 minutes from the Twitter services. From the dozens of webmasters I talk to who analyze this stuff, it’s usually way short of a minute as they’re trigger-happy readers. It’s normally even lower than Stumbleupon. I think a “how to make money on the internet” blog is a different animal.

Corbett Barr July 19, 2010 at 9:58 am

Those are great points, Tim. The topic you blog on will definitely partly determine how effective each of these sources are. However, there are plenty of other niches where Twitter can be just as effective. I have found Twitter to be very effective for other blogs as well when blogging about travel, minimalism and lifestyle design, for example.

Also, how you use Twitter can make a huge difference in the quality of your traffic. If you follow anyone with a pulse just hoping they’ll follow you back (as I see many newbie bloggers doing), you’re not going to get good results. You also have to spend time connecting with real people, not just promoting your own stuff there. Not that the people you’re talking to are guilty of using Twitter in that way, but it’s something to consider.

Anyone else have Twitter results to share?

Trever Clark July 19, 2010 at 11:48 am

Hey Corbett – I really admire the transparency. As ramping up toward launching a blog about a month from now, I’m curious about the organic Google results. I hadn’t really given a lot of thought to SEO or ranking on Google for my blog. How important do you consider organic Google results to be for a blog? Do you consciously try to rank for certain terms (I know you did mention that you’re trying to rank for “website traffic”). I’d love to hear you expand on this…

Corbett Barr July 19, 2010 at 11:56 am

Hey Trever, good luck with the upcoming blog launch.

To be honest, in general I don’t worry too much about SEO for blogs. On occasion, I might do some keyword research for a particular post to see if there’s a title that might attract more search traffic. Also, like I mentioned, I do have some long-term keyword goals (“website traffic” and related terms for this site, and “lifestyle design” for Free Pursuits).

Search traffic is usually really high-quality and can become a great foundational source of traffic for a blog. You have to be careful when writing posts with SEO in mind, however. If you work too hard to attract search traffic, your posts can seem formulaic or robotic and might not appeal to your readers.

If you do your job right, and create content that your readers love, share and link to, the search engines will naturally start liking your site. Once that happens, you can implement some SEO strategy where it makes sense.

Does that help? This topic might be worthy of a longer post.

HJM art gallery July 19, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Wow! Great report! I was asking myself this very same question! Now, I just need to go and analyze my google analytics for my art shop and blog :-) “Direct traffic” is a bit confusing to me…. I don’t think many people directly type my URL to get to my shop/blog, but come from other places, so not sure why is it called “direct”? Can you explain this a little bit more? Thank you for the great post!

Corbett Barr July 19, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Any traffic that comes to your site by typing in the URL in the browser or accessing from browser bookmarks is reported as “direct traffic.” Also, every visit where the referrer is unknown is reported as direct traffic. Unfortunately, it’s really a big bucket of ambiguity.

Lisa Sonora Beam July 19, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Hi Corbett,
As always, incredibly useful information.

I’m curious if you track how much time you spend on Twitter, FB and commenting — I notice that when I don’t hang out on Twitter, I get so much less traffic.

Always trying to find the right balance between social media time and getting all the other work done!

Corbett Barr July 19, 2010 at 1:09 pm

I haven’t been tracking the time specifically, but I know that I’m usually on Twitter 5 or 6 days a week, and that I generally tweet between 5 and 20 times a day. I do take breaks sometimes for a few days. I would guess that on my active days, I’m actually reading and tweeting for 30 minutes to an hour a day.

To make the most of Twitter though, you have to write content that other people want to share. A lot of the Twitter traffic I get isn’t directly related to my tweets. People also click the tweetmeme retweet buttons directly from my blogs and help spread the word that way. I don’t actually have to spend any time on Twitter to gain those benefits.

Corbett Barr July 19, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Oh, and regarding commenting on other blogs, I actually don’t do much of it. When I referred to “spending time on other blogs” that mostly includes writing my own blog posts that link to posts I liked elsewhere, and networking with other bloggers. Those relationships with other bloggers often turn into great traffic sources.

Thom July 19, 2010 at 10:43 pm

Hi Corbett,

Great to see that you had such a successful month. Thanks again for being such an interesting interviewee for the magazine, I wish you the best of luck for the month ahead!

Thom

http://www.intreehouses.com

Corbett Barr July 20, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Sure Thom, thanks again for the opportunity. It was fun.

The Parable Teller July 20, 2010 at 8:07 am

Corbett,

You gave the wonderful opportunity to ask anything.

My new blog is The Parable Teller, a growing collection of inspiring, thought-provoking and life-affirming stories illustrated with stunning pictures from flickr. Take a couple of minutes to check it out.

I have two questions:

Is this a concept that has potential to attract 1,000+ readers?

What’s would be your top tip for promoting The Parable Teller?

Many thanks!

Corbett Barr July 20, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Hey there, that seems like an interesting project. Did you check out my interview with Tiny Buddha’s Lori Deschene? She started with just a Twitter account and grew really fast.

People seem to really like little stories and quotes of wisdom. The trick is in getting over the initial growth hump. Also, “The Parable Teller” as a brand might not have the same initial appeal as something like Tiny Buddha (which has cute personification).

In any case, you can’t just expect things to take off on their own. You’ll have to invest time promoting the project just like every other blog out there. You’ve started with a Twitter account, which is good. I don’t know if you’ll be able to grow quickly without following other people. I would start searching Twitter for people who might be interested in your stories and follow them to jumpstart things. Beyond that, you could start a Facebook profile, comment on other blogs, guest post on other blogs, email people who might be interested and ask them to follow you, participate in forums, etc., etc.

Then, after you start getting a little traffic, you’ll know more about whether the concept has legs. Honestly, I would expect you to have a hard time getting traction without more reader value. But then, I wouldn’t have expected Tiny Buddha to have done so well either, so it’s hard to say.

Hope that helps. Good luck.

Terry Vermeylen July 20, 2010 at 6:18 pm

I have a 2.56 Page/visit and 2.21 Ave time on site …

New visits too high and not enough traffic…

Thanks for sharing …interesting

Corbett Barr July 20, 2010 at 6:49 pm

Yeah, thanks for stopping by. Good luck with the site.

Business Amateur July 20, 2010 at 7:28 pm

Your numbers look really great. Although the bounce rate needs to be brought down a little bit.

I must suggest a “related posts” plugin. When people finish reading an article, give them a little direction.

For Wordpress, “Yet Another Related Posts Plugin” works really well.

Corbett Barr July 20, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Thanks for the advice. I actually already have a related posts section at the end of every post.

The thing about bounce rates is that you have to analyze them by source. An overall bounce rate can be driven high when you get lots of low-converting social media traffic (Digg, StumbleUpon, etc.) or links from other non-relevant sites.

Francisco Rosales July 21, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Hey Corbett,

Great post, I love reading your monthly reports and been meaning to follow your example. Couple of things:

First, it was great seeing SocialMouths in the top traffic sources table, not just the visits but the pages/visit and ave. time on site, I’m glad I got to see that because it is usually information you don’t get access to.

And second, I’m curious to know how you treat data like retweets and comments on a post. Do you just take whatever number you got by the end of the month? And what happens with a post published at the end of the month that probably hasn’t had its full impact yet? Do you allow a few days to develop and then gather the data?

Thanks for sharing all this info man, it’s very useful!

Corbett Barr July 22, 2010 at 10:41 am

Hey Francisco, yeah, it’s always nice to find out how many visitors you’re sending other sites from your links. I’ll DM you with more details. You’ve sent quite a bit of traffic over the past week. Thanks!

Regarding accounting for retweets and comments, I just do the best I can. For retweets, on the last day of each month, I just count the number of retweets (from the TweetMeme button) on each of my new posts. That means I miss tweets that happen on those posts after the month they’re published in, but it’s still a useful number for me to compare from month-to-month. For comments, since I actually know the total number of comments on the blog, I just write down the total comments (from wordpress) at the end of each month, and subtract last month’s total.

For me, the point isn’t to tally everything exactly, or to be able to compare to another blog. I just want to track some indicators that I feel measure and will contribute to my blog’s growth. Tweets, comments, visitors and subscribers are the ones I choose to track.

Gina July 23, 2010 at 6:29 am

Hi Corbett-

I just found your blog this week through the post “15 Blog…if You Want to Kick Ass Online” and I am so happy to be here!

I spent a lot of time reading past posts and can already feel the wheels churning and creating ideas/goals of my own to make my blog more popular.

I have been blogging for about a year and only recently have I seen a major increase in traffic. This has to do with the fact that I am 1. Posting on a regular, almost daily, basis, and 2. Have done a few guests posts on higher trafficked blogs.

I like your goal of commenting on every comment. I am going to start doing that. It makes the readers feel more connected – like someone is hearing what they are saying.

Corbett Barr July 23, 2010 at 8:03 am

Hey Gina, thanks for stopping by and leaving this note. There really are so many things you can do to attract more visitors. It’s just a matter of focusing on it and learning what works for you and your site. Replying to comments has been a great way for me to connect with people and grow the number of comments I get on every post. It takes a lot of time but well worth it for me. Cheers!

Melissa Brumback August 2, 2010 at 8:48 am

Interesting post- thanks! You can tell that you get a lot of return visitors in part by your interaction with them in the comments! I have just started blogging/tweeting but am trying to do what you mentioned.

Corbett Barr August 2, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Cool, Melissa, let me know how it goes for you. Really it all comes down to being helpful and caring about your customers.

Srinivas Rao July 19, 2010 at 9:57 am

Yep, totally :) . That’s exactly what I needed. I think I’ m going to have to borrow your framework here for my next report :)

Corbett Barr July 19, 2010 at 9:59 am

Cool, glad to help.

HJM art gallery July 19, 2010 at 12:57 pm

ok. Thank you so much, Corbett for a quick reply! It really seems like a a big bucket of ambiguity :-) especially related to SEO. I keep changing my titles and descriptions and following the character counts etc… Like you mentioned above, I won’t worry too much about my blog’s SEO, but for my shop it makes a big difference. Waiting for the second part of “Simple SEO Strategy” :-)

Corbett Barr July 19, 2010 at 1:04 pm

I posted the second part of the Simple SEO Strategy a few weeks ago. Check it out here: Simple SEO Strategy Part 2

HJM art gallery July 19, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Thank you so much for the link!

Business Amateur July 20, 2010 at 9:07 pm

Oh wow, I am blind.

I agree with you that bounce rates get skewed due to [high] social media traffic. ThinkTraffic does have plenty of people coming from StumbleUpon.

Corbett Barr July 20, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Oh, cool, it’s good to hear your understanding of bounce rates is the same as mine. Thanks again for the suggestion.

Srinivas Rao September 13, 2010 at 11:10 am

Hey Corbett,

I hope you’re still answering questions to this post. I’m actually using this post a framework for the traffic analysis section of my q4 review. I noticed that you calculated how many more tweets posts got month over month. Can you tell me how to find that info?

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