How To Check Your Website Stats and Improve Traffic Numbers
Website statistics is often one of the most overlooked areas of on-site SEO. Your site statistics tell you where you are strong and weak, so to speak. A good analytics program should be able to tell you total visitor count as well as break down key metrics so that you can see where your traffic flows to and where it came from.
Wordpress has some decent options like "Wass Up" and "Wordpress.com Stats." However, the king of analytics is still Google. In fact, Google almost provides too much information which is fine if you know what to pay attention to and what to avoid.
Wass Up provides some basic traffic stats information. There's nothing overly fancy about this plugin or its abilities. It does its job well, however. Checking the stats is pretty simple. You can see visitors divided up by source (i.e. referral traffic vs. direct traffic vs. search engine traffic). You can also see how many visitors came to your site over the last 6 hours, 24 hours, last week, last month, etc. That's about it. While you can see where visitors went to on your site, you don't get a full-blown visitor flow. That means you can see where they landed, but you can't see how they navigated through your site before leaving.
You're basically left looking at snippets of URL and IP addresses to decipher which users keep coming back and which ones do not. There's also no keyword function so it's difficult to tell what keywords anyone used to find your site.
Wordpress.com Stats comes as part of a plugin called Jetpack. Jetpack is a pretty neat plugin that combines elements of several other plugins and offers them all in one place. This stats plugin is a little more robust. It features keywords that people used to find your site, referrer information, and visitor counts by day, week, or month. It also displays your all-time visitor high and your busiest day in terms of visitor count.
Google Analytics allows you to drill down into your website and extract pretty much any information you want. It's surprising that all of this information is free, but it is. Google's program isn't a plugin, but all you need to do is copy and paste some code onto your site. Google does the rest.
You can see where your traffic comes from, what keywords people use to find your site, and where they go once they're on your site. Your bounce rate tells you when people leave and how long they stay on your site. You can see whether your traffic came from another website or from a search engine. You can even set goals on your website and track them to see whether your site is converting the way you expect it to.
Finally, Google allows you to generate custom reports for any information that falls outside of the default reports.
How To Use Analytics to Boost Traffic To Your Site
It's one thing to check your website stats. It's another to use them intelligently. The most important stats are going to tell you how people find your site and where they go once they've gotten there. While Wordpress.com Stats does give you some of this information, Google does a better job.
What most webmasters miss is the long-tail keywords that can be dug up based on the keywords people use to find their site. For example, if someone finds your site using "collars for poodles," you could parlay this into several more long-tailed keywords. You already know that people come to your site looking for information about poodle collars. Build that out and attract more visitors. Maybe you could try getting ranked for "dog beds for poodles." All you'd need to do is create some content oriented around this keyword, link it to your "collar" content, and then promote the new content. Of course, make sure that whatever related keyword you choose has some traffic potential but don't overlook existing traffic sources and referrer information as a source for new traffic.
At the end of the day, getting more traffic to your blog doesn't have to be painful. If you're already getting traffic, you just need to figure out how people are finding you and scale that up. If it's keywords, then create more content using related keywords. If you have a lot of traffic coming from Facebook, figure out how to scale up your marketing efforts there. Regardless of where you're getting traffic right now, a good analytics tool is one of the most important things you can have in your arsenal to grow your site.