PART OF THE PROBLEM with getting to grips with Website visitor statistics is the fact that they are largely imperfect. If a visitor chooses to type a site’s address into their browser, and then just remains on that page - without clicking on anything - there is no means of knowing how long that visit has lasted. (The StatCounter employed on the Canvey Beat Blog categorises all such visits as lasting less than five-seconds, for convenience).
All that one can be sure of, regarding such visits, is that no links on the accessed page attracted the guest’s attention – and that information can be useful; but it should also be remembered that the ‘less than five-seconds’ statistic also includes visits by those simply checking if a new article, since their previous visit, has been published.
The key statistic that a Webmaster needs to uncover is the number of first time visitors whom have not been encouraged to venture past the site’s home page – and that can take some digging. In the inset graphic, just 15 of those 52 green visits were from first-time visitors - and I am left wondering why those other guests do not just subscribe to the site’s RSS feed to save themselves the hassle of checking for new articles manually.
It is also interesting to note that, of those 15 first-time visitors, eight actually did access a full article because they chose a direct link from Facebook. The remaining guests were introduced to the site’s home page by search engines.
Before introducing the MORE tag, that pie chart’s green segment usually covered around 60% of visitors in the site’s daily sample of the last 500 log entries. But the key improvement has occurred to that yellow segment that records visits lasting over an hour. Prior to introducing the tag, that area accounted for around 20% of guests – so there has been a marked improvement of some 15%.
Presenting visitors with the few leading paragraphs of the most recent articles does, indeed, encourage them to investigate the site further.
I find Facebook users the most interesting; because, in general, they are the most fickle. Unlike major search engine traffic, they do not normally convert into regular Canvey Beat guests. Indeed, many Facebook users only seem to revisit the site when another link appears on one of the group pages they visit. On the other hand, I have yet to note any traffic from Twitter; but that is probably because it is regular guests whom sign-up to the site’s Twitter feed and simply use the information I post there to be notified of an update.
My conclusion? The MORE tag can significantly enhance the amount of time your guests spend on your site. I recommend you use it. And, if you are looking for further tips and information on how to improve your Website’s readership, you could do far worse than take a look at the Press Gazette, which is currently running a detailed ‘How to’ series…