Every year, I take a deep dive into Google Analytics to see how this silly little site’s blog stats compare with the previous 12 months.
One way a blogger can determine success (or failure) is to regularly check blog stats. The best way I’ve found is looking at a set period of time compared with the year before.
That’s because website traffic can be heavily seasonal. For example, around major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, with family activities, some websites can see lower traffic. At other periods of the year, certain sites might see higher counts because of weather or travel. Breaking news situations could also influence performance of certain websites.
A year-to-year review more fairly takes into account this type of seasonal variance. It gives a more “apples-to-apples” look at how your site performs.
It won’t surprise you to know that I like to see growth each year over the previous year. I’m sure every website owner hopes for precisely that, too.
Some of that is within my control, but some things are beyond a website owner’s direct control. So I always try to go into a review of year-to-year blog stats. Something as simple as a hosting company experiencing outages or slowdowns — something a blog owner can’t change (without breaking a contract and switching hosts) — can influence numbers.
I also try to go into another year’s review with a look at the previous year’s review. It’s helpful to know if, for instance, growth in one category happens for a consecutive year or whether losses in a particular category follow a previous year’s results. Trends may indicate problems that require a closer look to diagnose.
So first, here’s what happened in 2021
My numbers in 2021 were largely disappointing.
The total page views for 2021 fell 36.5% from 2020’s total. I speculated that the first half of 2020 coincided with the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic, which had more people working from home. With less to do socially out of the house, perhaps more people were spending time inside online. Maybe, I speculated, that resulted in more web views that year that 2021 couldn’t match.
Unique visitor and new visitor counts brought good news for 2021. For the whole year, the site saw modest increases in both. Unique visitors increased 8%, while new visitors increased 7%. (I’ll explain the difference between the two in a few moments.)
The number of pages people looked per visit fell 41%. The time people spent during each visit also dropped by 23%.
Then there’s the homepage bounce rate, a stat many people don’t pay much attention to. I do. Unlike the other stats, you actually want to see the homepage bounce rate drop, not rise. Unfortunately, in 2021, my bounce rate went up. Way up. In fact, it rose 115% to a 69% rate. That, along with page views, was the worst part of 2021’s report.
Here’s what 2022’s numbers look like
Pageviews increased by 46% in 2022 over 2021. I’ll take a jump like that any year. Pageviews, of course, are a flat count of the number of pages people looked at.
The number of unique users and the number of new users both increased by 44%. I’ll take that as well.
Unique visitor counts include the total number of individual readers who came to the site in a given period of time. If you visited this site one time during the year or 100 times during the year, you would count as one unique visitor.
New visitors are those who hadn’t been counted in the previous period. So if you visited the site for the first time in 2021, but returned 50 times that year, you would count as one new visitor and one unique visitor. If you visited in 2020, you would count as one unique visitor, but not one new visitor.
There was growth — though not much of it, to be honest — in the number of pages per session (+1.4%) and the average time on site (+3%). So people are visiting slightly more pages when they visit and they’re spending just a tad longer than last year.
Then there’s homepage bounce rate. Many people look at the overall. I think narrowing it to just the home page is far more valuable. The homepage is like a storefront. An attractive storefront hopefully gets customers inside.
The homepage bounce rate did go up, unfortunately, in 2022 over 2021. It was up 10% to a total of 76%. That’s a bad bounce rate for a homepage of any website. A figure below 40% — preferably closer to 30% — is much better.
Just for the fun of it, I decided to compare my 2022 numbers to my 2020 numbers. Page views were 8% lower in 2022 than that “banner year” of 2020. But the visitor counts were up 56% over 2020, so that’s showing growth even over the pandemic year! The number of pages per visits and the duration were lower in 2022. But again, any growth over 2020 was still good to see.
It turns out that 2020 was an excellent year for my homepage bounce rate. The homepage bounce rate in 2022 was 136% higher than 2020. Ouch.
So what do the 2022 blog stats tell me?
Overall, it looks like 2022 was a good year for this site. Some stats actually built upon the growth I had two years ago at the start of the pandemic.
I’m very proud of that. In fact, I’m proud to see growth in nearly everything. I’ve tried to make a concerted effort to increase social media marketing. Maybe that has helped contribute. I’ve also tried to work on improving the content and spend more time on that. I’d like to think that might have at least a little something to do with the growth.
The homepage bounce rate, however, continues to be a concern. I made a switch in the homepage design in 2021 and tweaked it a bit in 2022 in the hopes of improving that particular stat. I think I’ll be going back to the drawing board on the home page for 2023!
In any case, thanks to everyone who has visited this site during 2022. (And thank you for reading this far in 2023!)
I appreciate all of you and the valuable time you’re willing to spend here at Patrick’s Place.
Here’s to a happy 2023!