It's January, which means I'm deep into reviewing stats for 2015 for clients and myself. I'm a huge believer in tracking everything you do in business and adjusting accordingly. It might sound like common sense, but many bloggers don't do this!
Quick Stats on My Blog From 2015 vs. 2014:
- Overall Traffic: +108%
- Pageviews: +130%
- Bounce Rate: -6.4% (a good thing)
- Social Traffic: +54%
- Referral Traffic: +124%
- Organic Search Traffic: +425% (I'd hope so, considering SEO is my specialty!)
Slowing Down to Transition + Find Clarity
If you've been following along this year, you may remember that I took a few months off from new clients, slowed down on blogging and accepted guest posts instead, and slowed down on social media.
I was going through a break up from a 7.5 year relationship and moving across the country, so naturally, things had to slow down. I gave myself time and room for the transition.
My reason for sharing that is to show that it's okay to not reach your goals.
In the end it gave me more clarity on the direction I want to take my business (and life in general, obviously).
It's okay to have slow business months - seasons - years. Success doesn't happen overnight.
It wasn't what I had intended for this year, and I didn't reach all of my numbers-related goals, but overall everything worked out how it was supposed to.
And looking over my stats above, I guess my growth was actually pretty good.
Top 5 Ways I Grew My Blog Traffic in 2015
Referrals to my website from Pinterest grew 1,300%, from 1,000 in 2014 to 14,000 in 2015 (making up 61% of my social traffic this year). That number is not to be taken lightly!
The key here was improving some of my older images and trying to keep Pinterest in mind when creating new ones. Large, easy to read text is important.
I also started scheduling my pins to post in the evening when more people are on Pinterest. You can do this with a number of tools such as Buffer or Viral Woot (which were the two I used).
Stitch Fix was also a very specific reason I had so much Pinterest traffic. A few of my pins send decent traffic every day, but this one in particular has over 5350 repins.
Now, you might think posting my Stitch Fix reviews is unrelated to business, but I did get a client through a review. PLUS, I strongly believe in my client Ustyled's philosophy on the power of your presence and how you show up.
Referrals to my website from Twitter grew 306%, from 920 in 2014 to 3,737 in 2015 (making up 16% of my social traffic this year).
I can attribute this partly to three things:
- Scheduling: I started scheduling at least 4 tweets per day at varying times. Some of these tweets are my own content and some are sharing content from others (and being sure to mention them with an @ when possible).
- Photos: I've read that including a picture with your tweet can increase engagement up to 180%. I definitely agree that it helped my click-through-rates during 2015. I had been using Hootsuite but switched to Buffer because the photos in Hootsuite would be attached as a link rather than the actual image showing up in the timeline. This may have been resolved by now, but I love Buffer and will stick with it.
- Twitter Chats: I love Twitter chats! I started with #ellechat earlier in the year and started branching out and attending at least one every other week. I haven't done many in the past few months, but am excited to get back into it. Chloe Social has a handy list of Twitter Chats, or click on Part 2 below to see a few of my favorites.
One of my top referral traffic sources was Running with Spoons. Each Sunday she posts a Sunday Link Love similar to what I post, but she includes a link-up at the bottom where readers can add their posts.
Adding my link to her link-ups referred 1,514 people to my blog in 2015, which made up 12% of my referral traffic. I didn't post my link every Sunday because I often forgot or was trying to not work weekends, but I can see that it was worth it.
If you choose to try this method, make sure it's an appropriate match. Amanda's link up is great for me because her audience is mostly health and fitness bloggers, which makes up a large part of my target audience as well.
The posts I share with them have value, and I enjoy clicking through the other links because it's in my area of interest.
As I mentioned above, I switched to Buffer this year. I mostly use it for Twitter, and my favorite feature is the analytics (naturally..I'm an analytics nerd).
Being able to sort tweets based on how well they performed has been a game changer for re-purposing content.
Not only does it make it easy to re-buffer them, but I also get an idea of what copy or language resonated best with my audience. It's an easy way to split-test headlines or blog post titles.
You can use Buffer for all of your main social channels excluding Instagram (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest). I had been using Viralwoot for Pinterest, so this made it much easier to have all my scheduling in one place.
Another aspect that helped my click-through-rates was setting up a pre-determined schedule so I can easily add content to my queues and they will post at my best times.
Search Engine Optimization
My organic search traffic grew 425% during 2015, which accounted for 12.6% of my total traffic. I consistently optimized each post and photo, as well as gained more back-links. Those are just a few of the on-page factors, but the longer you have your blog and consistently post quality, relevant content, the better your SEO will be overall.
If you'd like to improve your SEO for 2016, you can start by checking out my SEO Basics series.