Comparing Blog Traffic: RSS Love vs Overall Uniques

My oh my, that’s a serious title! Anyhoo…

I have this theory that those who come to my site from from an RSS Feed will click through to different posts than social media users, who will in turn head to different pages than Search Engine users.

I want a sense of what characteristics draw in what users. I’ve been guessing that the most popular RSS click-throughs won’t be the same as the posts that get the most overall traffic. Now that I’ve been here a few months I have some statistics to play my hunches against, so here goes.

I am RSS Curious

Most of my traffic comes from Social Media. When I am active, I get traffic. I post, I comment on other blogs, and people get curious or start doing what passes for “talking” in Social Media – we Stumble and tweet and send out little IMs and PMs and such. No posting means very little traffic for yours truly.

The backbone of Social Media traffic becomes subscribers. Subscribers are subscribers. Both RSS and Social Media “friends” will have a loyalty not to the current flash-in-the-pan traffic going through whatever Social Networking site, but to the site itself. With Social Media, a post’s initial rush of traffic may be 97% “new visitors”, but those who comment and bookmark get to be familiar faces.

SU toolbar referrals are not clicks on web site links. The SU toolbar referrals who don’t bounce become users who purposefully clicks on links. The lion’s share of toolbar traffic is more like a flow of window shoppers making their way down Social Media Avenue. A user may subscribe based on a single post in a newly found blog that they’ve wandered through along the way, and decide later if the blog is a good fit. I suspect this may be especially true for StumbleUpon users; unlike Sphinners, Stumblers are a diverse group.

Where does my traffic come from?

Here’s a frame of reference for the last six months, based on Google Analytics, AWStats and Feedburner’s Site Stats.

  • stumbleupon.com toolbar referrals – 63-75%
  • direct traffic about 10-15%
  • all search engines (organic) – 4-6%
  • ablereach.stumbleupon.com (SU profile clickthroughs) 3-5%
  • cre8asiteforums.com about 2-4%
  • sphinn.com about 1-2%

What do they see?

Below, I’ve used FeedBurner’s statistics for the last 30 days. Though no one source of statistics is completely accurate on its own, I’m operating under the assumption that the relationship between FeedBurner’s RSS “Item Use” stats and FeedBurner’s web site stats “Pages” visits will be consistent.

Web Site Stats “Pages”: the top ten posts

(Feed Stats “Item Use” in parentheses)
“n/a” means the post does not appear in the “Item Use” top ten.

  1. (6) How to Have a Blast With a Crash
  2. (n/a) Mother’s Day Brunch
  3. (n/a) AbleReach home page
  4. (n/a) Twitter – A Digital Game of Hot Potato?
  5. (1) My Bouncing Baby Benchmarks
  6. (8) I’m Your (Twitter) Pusher Mom
  7. (n/a) Personal Branding, Personal Connection
  8. (7) Cre8Green: Small Steps for Big Causes
  9. (2) I Dofollow Comments
  10. (n/a) Random Bytes On Naked Blogging

By the way, #10, Random Bytes, is the oldest post that shows up in these two top tens. It has had an ongoing trickle of Stumble traffic, and only one recent visit has been from a search for “naked blogging.” ;-)

Feed Stats “Item Use”: the top ten posts

(Web Site Stats “Pages” in parentheses)
“n/a” means the post does not appear in the “Page Visits” top ten.

  1. (5) My Bouncing Baby Benchmarks
  2. (9) I Dofollow Comments
  3. (n/a) Free Beer? Not From Most Brochure Sites
  4. (n/a) RSS Subscribers Got Green Hunger?
  5. (n/a) WordPress 2.5.1 Adds Security and Bug Fixes
  6. (1) How to Have a Blast With a Crash
  7. (8) Cre8Green: Small Steps for Big Causes
  8. (6) I’m Your (Twitter) Pusher Mom
  9. (n/a) A Preface to my Bouncing Baby Benchmarks
  10. (n/a) Questions for Readers, and a 101 Day Roundup

Do you see what I see?

The web site “Pages” group has more of a feelgood bent. There is nothing like “Mother’s Day Brunch” in the RSS group. Someone like me would read the Hot Potato post, Personal Branding and Random Bytes for entertainment, like an editorial piece in a newspaper.

Four posts in the top ten web site “Pages” did not appear in the “Feed Stats” top ten.

  • 2. (n/a) Mother’s Day Brunch
  • 4. (n/a) Twitter – A Digital Game of Hot Potato?
  • 7. (n/a) Personal Branding, Personal Connection
  • 10. (n/a) Random Bytes On Naked Blogging

The “Feed Stats” group is a little more businesslike, with its WordPress 2.5.1 post and the Benchmarks and Roundups posts. When I posted about WordPress 2.5 becoming available it got some feed views and clickthroughs, too.

Five posts in the top ten “Feed Stats” pages did not appear in the web site “Pages” top ten:

  • 3. (n/a) Free Beer? Not From Most Brochure Sites
  • 4. (n/a) RSS Subscribers Got Green Hunger?
  • 5. (n/a) WordPress 2.5.1 Adds Security and Bug Fixes
  • 9. (n/a) A Preface to my Bouncing Baby Benchmarks
  • 10. (n/a) Questions for Readers, and a 101 Day Roundup

And, though I don’t have enough search traffic to be statistically relevant, about 50% search for “ablereach,” 10-20% find me through very specific WordPress terms.

What do I think this means?

I’m blogging in three directions – feelgood, businesslike and WP-techie. The main disadvantage is that establishing a presence in a split niche is harder. For me, the pros are bigger than the con: as long as I keep blogging “me” the feel will be diverse, there will be more to keep my interest, and there will be more room to grow into.

I still feel like I’m just getting going.

I remind myself of the two little apple trees in my front yard. They may give me a first apple or two this year, or it may be next year. In the meantime, I’m enjoying seeing them start to leaf out more densely this year than last year.

Are you are a feed subscriber who happens to remember the title of a post that inspired you to click through to my site? Tell me about it. Leave a comment. ;-)

I’ve shared mine. Now it’s your turn. ;-)

And while you’re at it, if you haven’t subscribed, you know what to do next. The full feed can be yours. Click, click!

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