Remember Slam Books? Oh my gosh…I’m dating myself a bit here, but when I was in elementary and middle school, Slam Books were the ultimate in focus groups and analytics.
Girls (mostly) would start their books by asking a question, then passing it around for classmates to answer. Then, groups would gather around and giggle about what had been said, then start a new question.
The cycle quickly turned into ugliness, because cliques would form, judgements would be made and nasty comments would be posted in the margins. (hmm, sounds like some future snarky bloggers?)
But as I look back, I realize that the idea of Slam Books was to get to know what people were thinking — especially about YOU.
That’s also the idea behind analytics.
(my definition) Analytics: Figuring out how people found your website, what they looked at, how long they stayed and what makes them come back.
I’m here to say that no matter how “big” a blogger you are (or tweeter, or webmaster, or ABCDE), it’s crucial to know your numbers. So, here are some tricks and tips for getting started.
- Google Alerts
- Free and stupid simple to set up. Go to http://www.google.com/alerts and type in the term(s) you want to track, how you want to be alerted and how refined you want those results to be. You should at the very least track your name and your blog’s name.
- Bonus: Track keywords that you blog about, so you can see when news breaks as well as what other people are saying about the same topic.
- You can have these alerts sent to your email OR to your feedreader.
- Google Analytics/Stat Press
- Free and simple (not stupid simple, but…) to set up. Go to http://www.google.com/analytics/ and sign up (you’ll need a google account). Follow the instructions until you get to the code that you need to insert into your blog.
- Bonus: You can segment by date, top referral sites and more. If you use WordPress, you can even use a plugin to place your stats on your dashboard so you can instantly see how you’re doing!
- Stat Press is a WordPress-only plugin, and I use it conjunction with GA. It’s a fun and easy way to quickly see what people are searching for to find your blog, as well as your top referrers.
- Your blog comes with a default feed address, which allows people to subscribe to your updates in a reader. It’s usually something like yoursitehere.com/feed. But if you “burn” your feed through Feedburner, http://feedburner.google.com/gfb/, then change all of your feed links, you’ll be able to get really great analytics about how many people subscribe, what they click through and more.
- Bonus: You can also use Feedburner to offer email subscriptions for people who want to receive your posts in their inboxes.
- Trackur is a social media dashboard that allows you to not only see what people are saying about you all across the Web, but what they’re thinking. Is it positive? Negative? What are the trends when it comes to your name or keyword?
- Bonus: The plans are relatively inexpensive, and worth the investment if you’re serious about tracking. BUT there is a free plan — you just have to dig. You only get one search, but you can edit/change it whenever you want. To sign up for the free plan, go to http://track.trackur.com/register/signup.php and then pick the free version.
- This is quickly becoming a darling of social media monitoring — and rightly so. It’s fun, easy to use, brings in the biggest social networks and is a good gauge of how influential you are. To start, go to http://klout.com/ and link up your networks. It will give you a score for your personal Klout, and suggest ways to increase it. At this point, I think sharing your Klout score is a bit like telling people how big your…pants are. Obnoxious. BUT, it’s free to set up and I think Klout will become very big, very fast.
- You can track one Twitter and one Facebook account for free, and if you want to add more (YouTube, bit.ly, etc.) it’s a very reasonable monthly fee. I really like getting updates in my email inbox. Check it out: https://www.twentyfeet.com/.
- Twitter search (with RSS)
- Think you don’t need to track your name on Twitter? What if someone mentions you by name but forgets to use the @ sign? Or they post a link to your blog but don’t use your Twitter name in it? Consider starting a search at http://search.twitter.com/ then RSSing the results. You will be notified in your feedreader any time someone uses your keyword (or, if you use the Advanced features, your URL) and can respond appropriately.
- Google Webmaster Tools/Yahoo Site Explorer (NOW BING WEBMASTER!)
- Again, free to set up — but slightly more advanced to use. Go to https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/ and http://www.bing.com/toolbox/webmaster (you’ll have to log in to each using Google and Bing/Microsoft accounts) and register your website URLs. From there, use the tools to see what pages are having trouble (broken links?), what searches are resulting in the most clicks, diagnose problems and more.
- Built for businesses (or really big brands), HubSpot offers some seriously cool tools for diagnosing problems on your website (or press release, or Facebook, or FourSquare). It does free webinars, offers customized dashboards for tracking and responding to feedback about your name and more. My personal favorite is the suite of free tools offered at http://grader.com/.
- Radian 6
- Again, designed for businesses, Radian 6 offers advanced platforms/dashboards for instant notification of what’s been said, written, vlogged, tweeted and shared about you. http://www.radian6.com/
- Bonus: The entire Radian 6 team is on Twitter and blogs, so you can find lots of great *free* tips from their crew!
- All tools to figure out how much traffic websites get, what the trends are, etc. It’s basically a juiced up version (and much more accepted when it comes to advertisers) of Google Analytics. These really only count when you have bigger numbers (smaller sites may not even show a blip).
- http://www.sitemeter.com/ ; http://www.alexa.com/ ; http://siteanalytics.compete.com/ ; http://www.quantcast.com/
- Facebook Insights
- If you have a Facebook page, for your blog or business, the Insights page can show you how many people have “liked” you as well as what they’ve done once they’ve arrived at your page. Have they commented? Share a link? Find out at http://www.facebook.com/insights/.
I have purposely skipped some tools that do the same tasks as the ones I’ve listed above, but you should feel free to come up with a system that works best for you. Or, if you think I’ve missed a really great tool, let me know in the comments!