Each January, when another year is in the books, I like to take a look at my analytics. So here are my 2021 blog stats.
I think it’s important for bloggers to check their stats to see where they’re headed. Sometimes, they get good news from Google Analytics — or whatever other platform they rely on. Sometimes, as in this site’s 2021 blog stats, the numbers aren’t what you necessarily want to see.
There are a few key stats that I pay particular attention to year-to-year. A year-to-year measurement is usually more valuable than a month-to-month. That’s because each month can bring a different number of page views because of holidays or events like back to school or summer vacation. But if you look at your stats over the course of the year, you can see more of an apples-to-apples look.
I don’t usually reveal actual numbers here. I know what they are, but they’re generally meaningless to my readers. Instead, I look at the percent of increase or decrease.
I always hope for an increase. I don’t always get it.
Such is life.
I was disappointed to see a drop in page views year to year. In fact, the total page views for 2021 fell 36.53% compared with 2020’s total.
I have to admit it. I was quick to blame the change in my posting schedule. A while back I dropped the number of posts per week from seven to four. In other words, I switched from posting daily to posting Monday through Thursday. Well, I thought, that must have accounted for the change.
Then I looked up when I made that switch. My, how time flies! That switch took effect on July 1, 2019! So I can hardly blame the drop in page views on that!
So what happened? Well, I’m still looking into that. But I do have a theory. It looks as if the first half of 2020 had a dramatic increase in page views. That first half of 2020 happened to coincide with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. More people were working from home — or not working at all.
It’s entirely possible that extra free time — either from people who weren’t working or weren’t working with a boss looking over their shoulder — might help explain what happened for the first part of 2020. The second half of 2020, and pretty much all of 2021, were far more stable.
In fact, if I only compare the second half of 2021 with the second half of 2020, the numbers look considerably better. For that time period, I saw a 32.20% increase in page views. That seems to lend credibility to the idea of more people having more time to read during the first half of 2020.
So I’ll try not to feel too bad about that. These are, after all, strange times.
Unique Visitors & New Visitors
I did receive some encouraging news about both unique visitors and new visitors. Unique visitors are the individual number of people who show up to read your site. They’re counted once per reporting period. So whether you first stopped by this blog in January of 2021 or December of 2021, you only get counted one time for the whole year.
A new visitor is someone who wasn’t counted in 2020, meaning that their visit in 2021 was their first time. (It’s possible they may have visited before that, but I’m only looking at calendar year 2021 compared with calendar year 2020.
I saw a unique visitors increase of 8.33% in 2021. And I saw a new visitor increase of 7.22%. I’m happy to accept new visitors anytime. But I’m also happy to see many returning visitors. Loyalty is extraordinarily important for any blogger.
Both of those figures also increase dramatically when I compare the second half of 2021 with the second half of 2020. Unique visitors increase 41.03% while new users increase 39.23% when I’m only looking at the last half of the year.
Pages Per Visit & Time on Site
It’s interesting to note how many pages on average a visitor might read when they come to the site. That fell for this site last year. In 2020, the average pages per visit was 1.86 pages. That meant that many visitors would click through to a second page during their same visit. But for 2021, that fell to 1.11. That means fewer people read more than one page per visit. That translated into a drop of 40.51%, which sounds terrible.
Time on site also dropped a bit in 2021. The average length of a visit in 2021 was just 25 seconds. I don’t know if I was writing much shorter pieces or if many of my readers are able to skim quickly through. But that 25 second is a 23.27% drop in 2020’s average time on site. Again, that sounds horrible, but keep in mind the average length in 2020 was 32 seconds…so we’re only talking about a difference of seven seconds.
Looking at the second half of the year only, the pages-per-visit stat drops only 4%, but the time on site drops slightly more.
Still, I definitely want more people to read more than a single page and to hopefully hang around a bit longer.
Homepage Bounce Rate
Bounce rate can be a confusing stat for bloggers to fully understand. The bounce rate is essentially the percentage of visitors who land on one page and then leave the site from that same page rather than clicking through to somewhere else.
A high bounce rate means many people are only reading one page and then leaving. A low bounce rate means that people come to one page, then click through to another.
Unlike the other stats, I’ve listed, for this one, you want a low number, not a higher one.
If your site answers important questions, it may have a high bounce rate because people might come to your site through a Google search for one specific question, get the answer they need and then leave. Your blog has served its purpose that way, but your bounce rate looks high.
That’s why I only look at the homepage bounce rate. I hope that my home page helps more people find more content.
Over the past few years, I’ve been working to lower my homepage bounce rate because that means people are using the homepage to navigate deeper in and (hopefully) find useful content.
But this year, for the first year in the past several as I recall, my bounce rate jumped up. It jumped up high.
In 2020, my homepage bounce rate was 32.26%. That’s a great bounce rate for a homepage because it shows people are finding something interesting and clicking to get there.
But in 2021, my homepage bounce rate jumped up 114.78% to 69.29%. A 70% bounce rate is lousy for a homepage.
The comparison of the second half of 2021 versus 2020 shows a far less dramatic increase in bounce rate: 29.69%. That’s still a horrible increase…but let’s face it: I’d much rather take a 30% increase than a 115% increase in a bad number!
It may be that more people are getting to me through social media, so there are fewer coming specifically to the homepage first. That could account for at least part of the difference.
The fact that my pages per visit dropped 40% may also have played a role in my bounce rate falling. Either way, one certainly would affect the other.
I’m going to have to do a bit of studying as to why the homepage isn’t getting people to click as much as last year.
So yes, sometimes, your numbers don’t go in the direction you hope for. The best you can do in that case is to keep on blogging and look for ways to experiment that might help you out.
Hopefully, my 2022 blog stats will look better than my 2021 stats did!
In any case, thanks so much for reading, whether this is your first visit or your thousandth! I appreciate you!