For every month in 2015, I’ve set specific goals for growing my blog readership, and podcast audience. The end goal is that by December this blog will have at least 100,000 visitors for that month, and the podcast will be downloaded at least 10,000 times for December. Every month I am going to write a post like this recapping how I did in the previous month, and share any lessons I have learned. The goal is to help you learn how to build a blog readership and podcast audience as I do.
First, here were my goals for April:
Blog – At least 62,000 visitors
Podcast – At least 1,500 downloads
Let’s start out by looking at how the blog did in March.
My blog traffic in April was 40,980 visitors, averaging 1,366 visitors a day. In March, the blog’s traffic was 48,901, averaging 1,577 a day. So this is another big traffic dip after one in March as well. If you’ve been following these monthly updates, you know that in February I made some backend changes to the blog. I switched from Godaddy’s shared to managed WordPress hosting, and I deleted a ton of plugins. The upside to these moves is that site performance, especially load times, was greatly improved. Avg load times for the site went from about 6 seconds before, to around 2-3 seconds now. Unfortunately, as soon as I made these changes, I noticed that traffic started dropping, especially search traffic. Here’s how each category of traffic did in April vs March:
Search traffic – Down 6%
Direct traffic – Down 24%
Referral – Down 9%
Social – Down 80%
Email – Up 133%
One of the reasons why I wanted to do this monthly update on my blog traffic and podcast audience numbers is that it forces me to learn exactly why any numbers are moving up or down. Lets look at each of the numbers above:
First, search traffic is down 6%, although that’s not as much as it dropped from February to March. In fact, let’s look at the last four weeks of April vs the last four weeks of March as far as search traffic:
Now when you look at search traffic this way, search traffic for April was actually fractionally above search traffic in March. Here’s why (I think): As I said, in February I made a lot of backend changes, and almost as soon as I did, search traffic started falling. One of the changes I made was to deactivate the JetPack plugin. So I added it back (around April 3rd), and noticed when I did that one of the services the Jetpack plugin has is ‘Enhanced Distribution’, which Jetpack describes as “Jetpack will automatically take the great published content from your blog or website and share it instantly with third party services like search engines, increasing your reach and traffic.”
As soon as I reactivated Jetpack, I noticed a slight tick up in search traffic. So I am cautiously optimistic that search traffic will increase in May.
Direct traffic was also down, but I think with the way Google Analytics reports that a lot of the traffic it classifies as direct is actually search. An example of why I believe this is the Direct traffic GA reported for this page, creating a brand ambassador program. This is actually a page here, not a post, and it’s not easy to find (I need to change that). But if you google the term ‘creating a brand ambassador program’, it’s one of the top results. And in March it had 33 visitors, and in April that shot up to 121 visitors. So who knows?
Referral traffic is down 9% but I’m not too worried about that since referral traffic from the top 4 sources were up and 7 of the top 10.
Social traffic was way down, but that’s because I stopped sharing as many links to my posts on Twitter last month. At one point a few weeks ago I was tweeting out links to my articles every 30 minutes all day. I did that mainly as an experiment to see how much social traffic would jump and it did. But it also began to honk off some of my followers to see so many links so I scaled back to one or 2 a day now.
Email jumped, but it was mostly from one post on 4-12-2015 about making your blog mobile-friendly and the #Blogchat topic.
I wrote 12 posts in April, versus 13 in March. The goal for May is to get up at least 16 posts.
Podcast Numbers and Overview for April
While blog traffic was down sharply last month, podcast downloads spiked sharply in April.
The goal for April was at least 1,500 downloads of the podcast, and The Fan-Damn-Tastic Marketing Show actually had 3,784 downloads in April. HUGE numbers. Here’s the number of daily downloads so far this year:
As you can see, nice gains in March and even greater gains in April. I’m beyond thrilled with the growth of the podcast.
So those are my blog and podcast results for April. Here’s my goals for May:
Blog traffic – At least 65,000 visitors
Podcast – At least 2,000 downloads
These were the goals I set for both at the start of the year. So it looks like the blog’s goal will be all but impossible to hit, and it looks like the podcast’s goal will be all but impossible to miss. Honestly I will be happy with any growth for both at this point.
I’ll be back in one month to share my results for May!
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Elise Xavier says
I think this was one of the most interesting updates to date. I always used to wonder whether or not removing some plugins to make site speed faster would actually have the opposite effect to what you’re hoping for (might actually lessen traffic instead of increasing it) – I guess this post answers my question!
Glad to see you’ve made the fix and traffic is picking up again already. Nice work figuring out it might have had to do with Jetpack!
Sometimes it feels like getting your site to load lightening quick is the best way to boost your rankings or to make people stay on the page. Really bad for me, however, as all my sites are quite image-heavy, and as a result will never load the quickest. I do actually think that lowering the image quality of the photos on my sites would be pretty catastrophic; it just wouldn’t look as good at all.
This post reassures me that though site speed is a factor in getting people to come to your site and stay on it, it’s definitely not the end all be all. I guess I’ll just cross my fingers and hope everyone’s internet continues to get faster, so I never have to worry about possibly lowering the resolution of all the images on my sites again.
Mack Collier says
Hi Elise, you might want to look at the WP Smush.It plugin for managing images. I use it and it claims to compress images without noticibly affecting image quality. It mostly strips out data that’s not associated with the image itself, it I understand correctly. I use it on my images and can’t personally tell a difference.
It’s good to see that you have some good traffic Mack. I have a tech blog and I’m starting to get a little bit of traffic. For now I will read more of your blog posts to learn more. Keep up the good work 🙂
My tech website: http://www.onlinetechnologyworld.com/