Friday, February 08, 2008

Getting to Know my Audience

Tiffany Colter's Writing Career Coach insightful blog posts have been a great help. After reading one post, I installed a statistics counter on my own blogs and discovered exactly how many people stop by for a visit. Subsequent conversations with other writers led me to Google Analytics. Through it, I'm learning how individuals and businesses can track traffic on their site to help them determine what works and what doesn't. It's been an eye-opener. I installed it on my travel blog and I'm learning what information my audience is looking for, and whether or not the information on my page is giving them what they need.

Through Google Analytics, I can see exactly which blog postings are drawing my readers, how they found the site (search engine, referring page, direct access), how long they stuck around, which keywords they used that generated a link to my site, if they accessed another post or if they left, and where they're from. Yes, I said where they're from. An individual from Bangkok, Thailand stopped by yesterday. He or she didn't stick around. A person from Wisconsin accessed a page two days ago. That person didn't stay, either. Several people from cities in Georgia and the Carolinas found links to my blog through Google and through a referring page. They did stick around, which isn't a surprise since my blog focuses on outdoor destinations in and around the Carolinas. And to my great pleasure, there are more.

I accessed the most viewed pages and re-read what I had written. I began that blog almost two years ago to share our hiking and travel adventures with friends and family. As my interest in travel writing increased, along with my readership and my skill in writing travel articles, I changed the format to include a wider audience. However, a few pages my visitors had accessed still had quite a bit of personal experience included in the report. As Tiffany said in her January 8, 2008 post, and other authors have reiterated, "You need to have content people will actually want to read." So I rewrote one post to include more logistical information along with a few applicable warnings about possible dangers on the trail, but kept the humor and my voice to make it entertaining.

In other words, I'm putting the focus on my readers and not on myself.

Knowing what keywords they used, which pages they accessed, and how long they stayed on the site helps me provide them with the information they're searching for, and, hopefully, convince them to come back for more.

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