Five Years of Stats at Pages Unbound: Getting More Traffic?

Five Years of Stats

On June 14, I posted the results of the book blogger stats survey, which I hope gave bloggers some insights into what “typical” stats might look like for a book blog.  In this post,  I want to talk more specifically about the stats shifts I’ve seen at Pages Unbound over five years.  Bloggers in general seem reluctant to talk about their stats; I think some “small” bloggers are afraid their stats aren’t that good and don’t want to reveal that, while “big” bloggers might feel as if they’re bragging if they post about their 1000 page views a day.  However, I think some transparency can be helpful in our community, especially to newer bloggers who might have no idea of what other bloggers’ stats might look like.  This post will also give a sense of what I think has been working to increase traffic to Pages Unbound.  If you’re looking to increase your reach, maybe these actions can also work for you.

Page Views per Day: Jump in 2012

Here are our average page views per day over 5 years (screenshot taken 6/14/16):

Stats 1 Average Per Day

Ok, so when new book bloggers say they’re sad that they’re only getting X views per day, I usually laugh.  Because you see 2011, right? We were averaging 8 views per day for the first 8 months we were blogging.

So, why the jump in 2012?  I recall two things we did differently.  First, I started participating in the book blogging community more.  A lot of people say they blog for themselves, well, when i started, I really was blogging for myself. I didn’t follow a lot of blogs or comment on a lot of blogs; I was just posting reviews for myself.  People didn’t really know we existed.  I actually freaked out the first time someone commented on a post because I legitimately was not expecting it to happen.  I didn’t comment on other people’s posts, and they didn’t comment on mine.

Second, I joined Twitter late in 2012.  While Twitter is still not a large traffic-driver to many of our posts here, it did increase our traffic. Plus, being active on Twitter helps me keep more on top of the book community.  I know what topics people are interested in, and if I want to, I can write a discussion post reacting to something other bloggers are discussing on Twitter; those types of posts are often popular.

Another Jump in 2016

Here’s a look comparing the years in total page views.  There’s another increase from 2012-2013, which I have no specific explanation for. However, after that we’re pretty much static 2013-2015.  We were looking at 75 page views per day for those three years, which seems on par with the book blogger survey results. Breaking that barrier seems difficult for many bloggers.

However, we seem on track to beat these stats for 2016.  The orange bar here is for views only through 6/14, so it’s possible that bar could be doubled by December.

Stats Years

New Blogging Habits in 2016

I know that joining Twitter and participating in the blogging community more probably led to a stats increase in 2012. But what about this year?  It’s hard to know for sure, but I have some guesses.

First, I started participating in the community even more. I decided I wanted to find more bloggers to follow and interact with this year, and I have found and commented on more blogs than I ever have in my life.  I’ve built better relationships, and I’ve seen some of these bloggers visit my blog in turn.  I also started trying to comment back on the blogs of people who comment here, which I never made a priority before.

I’ve seen some “big” bloggers attribute their success to how much they comment on other blogs, and after seeing an increase in my own traffic, I believe them.  You don’t have to comment on blogs only because you want traffic on your own (this wasn’t even my plan when I started), but if you are looking to intentionally increase your stats, it’s a good place to start: comment widely and often.

Second, Krysta and I have both written more discussion posts this year than we have before.  I used to schedule about one discussion post a week. However, I’ve been feeling prolific, and I guess Krysta has, as well.  I’ve seen a noticeable difference in attracting, and keeping, visitors by posting two discussion posts a week.

If you want to go this route to purposely increase traffic, I also think having unique discussions can help. (Sorry if I sound full of myself here by implying I write such amazingly original content.  Sometimes I probably do, but I also realize that sometimes I don’t!)  However, if you’re really looking to stand out, think about what kinds of posts you haven’t seen a lot of other bloggers write about and what kinds of posts you’re really interested in.  Do you really want to know the answer to “How many books do you store on your bedside table?” or is that a discussion with pretty low stakes you couldn’t care less about?

Here’s a look at some recent daily stats. The spikes at 200 page views or over for the day are almost exclusively for days we published discussion posts.

Stats Days

Other Trends

I actually don’t expect our 2016 stats to double what they are in June.  The simple reason for this: our traffic always goes down in summer.

Many bloggers have observed that weekends can be slower for blog traffic than weekdays.  However, there are also seasonal highs and lows.  We always get a boost in January, when I assume bloggers are making New Year’s Resolutions to start blogs or spend more time blogging.  And we always lose traffic during the summer.  My best guess for this is that people like to procrastinate at work and school by going online, and during the summer they’re doing more interesting things like going on vacation. You can already see our stats decreasing here at the start of June (though remember these are stats only for half the month).  You can also see the dip for June, July, and August the past two years.  But if 2016 is anything like the past years, they’ll pick up again in September. (We’ll also get a noticeable amount of search engine hits from students clearly trying to look up the books they never read for summer reading.)

 

Stats Months

Conclusion

The main takeaway here seems to be that talking to other people really matters for stats. I think the typical readers for a book blog (beyond random search engine hits) are other book bloggers. So if you want them to come to your blog, you have to make sure they know you exist, and you’ll want to make sure you’re building relationships ad conversations by engaging with them on their blogs and on social media.

The other takeaway is that Pages Unbound probably had some of the lowest page views ever in 2011, for a blog where we were actually consistently blogging the entire time, so no one else ever has to feel bad about their stats again. 😉
Briana

44 thoughts on “Five Years of Stats at Pages Unbound: Getting More Traffic?

  1. Jamie Wu says:

    This is awesome. Thanks for sharing. My stats are between your Dec 2011 and Jan 2012, and I’m about ten months in. So that’s on track. Interesting that views drop during the Summer. Now I know what to expect in the coming months.

    Like

    • Briana says:

      That makes me feel retroactively better. I don’t think I thought much about the stats at the time, but looking back they seem a little bit funny! However, we did have a pretty dedicated, if small readership, and I think having discussions with our followers definitely made blogging fun.

      They’ve dropped every single summer for us, and someone just commented on another post that she and some other bloggers have been seeing some decreases in recent weeks, so I guess it is common!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. La La in the Library says:

    Commenting back is huge! I have had a big jump this year in blog views since I upped my commenting. A couple of WordPress self-hosted bloggers got this JetPack that only emails the replies to that person’s comments and no one else’s. This was heaven to me because unless I know a blog gets next to zero comments, I won’t hit the follow comments button that sends you the comments from everyone (like on blogger). I was even considering switching to WP self-hosting just so I could get that JP and have a nice thing for my commenters, but then I realized one of the blogs I follow where I only get email for replies on my comments was Blogger, too, but they had a Disqus comment section. I switched to Disqus and not only am I getting more comments, I am getting a lot of replies to my replies and having real discussions in the comments. 🙂

    Like

    • Briana says:

      Agreed! I love commenting on WordPress.com blogs because I get the nice notification that people replied, and I noticed I tend to hae more conversations with other WordPress.com users. Otherwise, I don’t subscribe to comment replies on a lot of other blogs and have to remember to intentionally check if the blogger answered me. And I know that when bloggers from other platforms comment here, they tend to leave one comment and that’s it.

      Like

  3. Nandini Bharadwaj says:

    “Many bloggers have observed that weekends can be slower for blog traffic than weekends.” I’m sorry, the rest of the post is really informative, but I didn’t know what to make of that line.

    Like

  4. jkimexploring says:

    I have found that since switching to wordpress with a different name I’ve had less page views/ comments. People still go to my old blog even though I don’t post there! So where I have 81 page views last month on the old one I only have 26 on my new one. It’s almost like starting all over.
    Another thing I think people assume about stats is that they’re not always growing. Depending on the day/ month. I always see a decrease during finals weeks because there are so many high school and college bloggers out there.

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      That’s a shame! Perhaps over time people will realize that you’ve moved. 😦

      That’s true. Our stats tend to slow down during the end of May. It’s not a huge drop like the summer, but enough that you know people must be studying for finals instead of blogging. Which is good, obviously. 😉

      Like

        • Krysta says:

          That makes sense to me, but I guess the allure of procrastination is strong. ;b Or I know some people who have told me that binge reading somehow helped them get through finals emotionally. Maybe blogging is how some people reduce stress during the school year.

          Like

    • Krysta says:

      When we first started out it was kind of funny to see no one reading out blog, but I guess if you keep on going, you can get past that! I’d actually forgotten how extremely low our views were until Briana brought the stats out. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Lauren @ Bookineering says:

    Thanks for sharing this information! While I know it’s never healthy to compare oneself to others, it’s hard not to wonder what sort of stats other people are getting. What’s considered average? What’s good? How do concrete actions change those numbers? I haven’t been as good about tracking my own stats as I would like, but this motivates me to set up a system so I can see how things change over time and why.

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    • Krysta says:

      I found this interesting as I suspected most book bloggers have a more limited audience than we’d like to think. When we talk about monetizing blogs, I think that most people are somehow suspecting that people are getting millions of page views a month–but we’re not. And I’m not sure if anyone is going to pay for us to blog when our numbers are so low. I can’t help but suspect that the fashion and food blogs that are being paid for have thousands of more viewers than book bloggers.

      Like

  6. Kourtni @ Kourtni Reads says:

    I loved reading this post! It makes me feel a lot better about my own stats haha As much as we book bloggers like to say we don’t care about stats, I think we all do at least a little bit so it’s nice to see a post like this and be able to compare. 🙂

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      I think it makes sense to care about stats in that you want to know people are reading your content, but I also think it doesn’t make sense to become obsessive about them and lose the joy of blogging over it. There can be a healthy balance!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kourtni @ Kourtni Reads says:

        I couldn’t agree more. It’s nice to know that people are interested in your content and what types of posts your readers like the most, but at the same time if all you’re thinking about is how many views you have, that’s not good.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Briana says:

      I’ve talked to a few bloggers who said they stopped posting on the weekend altogether for this reason. Weekend posts definitely aren’t a priority for me either, but I do them when I’m feeling prolific. If I’ve written fewer posts for the week I usually keep them on the weekdays.

      Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      Like

  7. Lunch-Time Librarian says:

    Now I can feel better about my rather low starting stats. It’s hard because I know Google Analytics is often targeted by ‘false page views’ by bots so for the first little while I wasn’t getting accurate view reports. But it’s still nice to know!

    And I totally agree that most people visiting book blogs are other book boggers and so visiting them does its own sort of advertising as they’re likely to visit your blog. Lately, I’ve had an increase in views and I definitely attest it to commenting and discussion posts. Though I don’t do TOO many of the latter. But also memes make a big difference. Like participating in Top Ten Tuesday or Waiting on Wednesday

    Like

    • Briana says:

      I didn’t know that about Google Analytics! I just have whatever WordPress comes with, which I assume is fairly accurate.

      Yes! I often look for new bloggers to follow by reading the comments on other people’s blogs. No one can follow you if they don’t know who you are or have never heard of you! We do Top Ten Tuesday sometimes, and that is very good for views, too. I personally think it’s one of the more interesting memes, and I know I like reading other people’s posts.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. rantandraveaboutbooks says:

    Great post! I’ve only blogged for three months as of this past Tuesday, so I don’t have a ton of historical information to contribute. But I will say that I thought that most bloggers were getting hundreds or thousands of hits. I was so wrong. I had no clue what was normal until I saw the results of the survey. This was very informative. I also never check my stats on the actual site. I didn’t realize until today that I can pull stats by month. I guess I’m more aloof when it comes to stats. After checking out the graph, it looks like my first month I averaged around 80 views a day. My second was around 120 views per day with a few days that were over 200. This month is between 80-120. Some days dip more than others. I don’t mind sharing my numbers. I’m happy with my numbers and how many followers I was able to reach on WP and Twitter in a short period of time. From day one, I started a Twitter account and sought out bloggers, so I think that helped me a lot. I’m kind of addicted to Twitter and am seeing new followers every day. This hasn’t helped blog traffic much, but I still like talking to bookish people. I also met two amazing bloggers who really helped me out with their advice and support in the beginning. I still talk to them on a regular basis, and they keep me sane. For me, meeting all these awesome people, both of you included, is the best part about blogging. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

    • Briana says:

      Book bloggers just seem so niche. It is my impression that food or fashion bloggers tend to have far more hits than even the “biggest” book bloggers, Which contributes to the “Can you get money from book blogging question?'” Well, maybe. But you might need a large audience for that. I hear Booktubers have much larger numbers, as well, which always strikes me as a little funny because you’d think people who like books would be into reading blogs more than watching videos. :p

      I definitely think it helps to have something of a blogging plan and some good blogger friends when you start! We didn’t and were just kind of doing our own little thing in our corner of the internet. Which was still fun, but I definitely did not actually know much about blogging when I started!

      Your numbers seem great, and I know you’re really active in the community! It’s also great that your’e enjoying blogging!

      Liked by 1 person

      • rantandraveaboutbooks says:

        I think you’re right. My friend follows fashion and makeup YouTubers like someone would watch TV shows. I’m not real big on YouTube. I usually surf comedy videos. I have yet to watch one Booktube. I don’t see the point in watching a video if you want to learn about books. You can tell a lot about a person by the quality of their writing, and I’d be more likely to take the opinion of someone who consistently writes good reviews over someone who talks about books on camera. I was the same way. I had no idea about blogging when I first started. My fiancé was the one who talked me into writing a blog. I thought he was nuts because I didn’t think anyone would want to read it. But I learned so much from Twitter and other bloggers. Thanks! I try to be as active as I can. Lately, I’ve had too much going on the comment like I used to, but I still make it a point to reach out in some way.

        Like

  9. Ioana @ booksreenchanted says:

    Thank you so much for all the tips! I’ve only been blogging for a few months and this advice is SO HELPFUL, as is seeing all the stats laid out as an example. And Many Congratulations on your 5 years of blogging! WOW!! 🙂

    Like

  10. alilovesbooks says:

    Great post. I’ve only been blogging for a year but I know when I started out I could really have done with these tips. I had no idea what was considered good as far as stats were concerned and trying to find out wasn’t that easy. For those who do like tips I would also say I saw a marked increase in my stats when I posted a link to my blog on GoodReads and when I started taking part in weekly memes which encourage you to visit other participants.

    My stats still aren’t great but they’re a heck of a lot better than they were 🙂

    Like

    • Briana says:

      I get very little traffic from Goodreads for whatever reason, but I know some people who say a bulk of their traffic comes from there, so I guess it just really depends! 🙂 Memes are really useful, as well. We mainly do Top Ten Tuesday right now, but there’s always a bump in visitors from it.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. saraletourneau says:

    This was really interesting, ladies. And enlightening. It made me go back and review my own stats. Mine were abysmal when I started out as well, but general traffic (both page views and actual visitors) have increased tremendously since then. Last year was the site’s best year in terms of statistics – and for this year already, it has passed last year’s total visitor count and is 2800+ away from passing last year’s total page views. 😮

    Like

  12. DoingDewey says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your stats and how they correlate to what you’re doing with your blog! Very interesting. I initially started blogging just for myself and I also noticed that I started getting a reasonable number of pageviews once I started interacting with other bloggers. I’d also like to do even more interacting and doing something else I think you’ve done really well this year, which is hosting events. And your discussion posts this year have been really fantastic too!

    Like

    • Briana says:

      Blog stats always see so mysterious to me, so I was hoping this would be helpful to people. And there’s definitely a theme with people saying their stats improved after getting more involved in the community. I wish I had known this sooner!

      Like

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