Yesterday WordPress emailed out the year in review links to bloggers to let them know the basic information about their statistics. Posting pattern, most viewed posts, users who commented most… All of that is obviously interesting to look at, as are the stats that are regularly used. But if a blogger wants something more than that without upgrading to the business plan to use Google Analytics (which is probably the best stats source other than the default); then they have to have a go themselves. Although this sounds daunting however, it is in fact completely simple and straightforward if one has a calculator (which exists on every computer) and Microsoft Excel. This ‘how to’ will focus mainly on how to present the stats, and provide some pointers for analysing them in the conclusion.
Step 1: lay out the stats
For the period that you’re interested in, write down the basic statistics from the stats page, as I have shown below.
As you can see, here I’ve put the months I want (all my blogging time) along the top, with the different stat titles down the side. This is just a reformatting of the basic stats given to us by WordPress. However, Stage 2 adds some more which we are not given, but which are simple to work out.
Stage 2: work out derivative stats
By derivative stats I mean stats which can be worked out from the basic stats. For example, we are given both the number of posts we published and the number of views, so by dividing the number of views by the number of posts we get views per post. Here are a few you may want to try out:
- Views per post (as above)
- Views per visitor (work out as follows: visitors divided by number of views)
- Views per day (number of views divided by number of days in the period you are examining)
This is where Excel really comes into its own, if you are working on the present month’s statistics and want the derivative stats updated automatically. For that, input the following into the cell for a derivative stat:
=SUM(insert calculation here by clicking on the cells desired)
What I mean by the cells desired is as follows. In the image above, we can see my number of views for November was 846, and that the cell (square) it is in is N3. The number of posts was 14, and that cell is N4. So the calculation to work out November’s views per post is:
Stage 3: put in some graphs
Optional, but helpful for a good visual of how things are going. You can do this by highlighting either one or two rows (hold the ‘Ctrl’ button when you have selected one row if you want do have two things on the graph). Then go to the ‘Insert’ tab at the top, and choose a graph to show the stats with (the funny one I use below is in my opinion the best for showing two different stats).
After putting in a few (go on, spoil yourself…), then we can move on to Stage 4-making it all beautiful.
Stage 4: make it all beautiful
This is when it gets fun and looks great too (as I like to think mine does, below).
As you can see, I’ve added some colour that gives a whole new look to the stats that cannot be garnered through the bog-standard stats. I’ve done two main things here, other than changing the colour of the cells to indicate whether they are stats given by WordPress or derived. (I’ve also done stats per quarter as I’m not sure if per month gives a better indicator-and they read nicer!) They are:
- Changed the colours of the graphs
- Conditional formatting so that the highest values for each row are blue and the lowest red (don’t worry, it’s a lot easier than it sounds)
With regards to 1:
- Select a graph by clicking it, top left or right where there’s nothing apart from the background
- A new heading appears at the top, by where the ‘Insert’ one was-this time titled ‘Design’, under ‘Chart tools’
- From there, select the design you like. You can change the colour scheme under ‘change colour’
With regards to 2:
- Click on the tab at the top ‘Home’
- Highlight the row you want conditionally formatted
- Click the button in the middle ‘Conditional formatting’ and select the option ‘New rule’
- The box below will open up. Select two colours for your highest and lowest values, and enjoy!
Conclusion-what to look for and analysing
So now we have a page of statistics, different colours, maybe a few graphs in there too. In order to analyse the statistics, we need to look for trends (which is where the graphs and the colours are helpful). From views per visitor, along with likes and comments we can draw some conclusions with regards to visitor engagement; how active the visitors to your site are. Comparing two factors side by side in a graph lets you see trends you may not have seen, from the relatively obvious (views fluctuate as visitors does) to the previously unseen (the number of posts for me doesn’t always correspond to the number of views).
Hopefully this was a useful ‘how to’ of presenting the stats in an alternative manner, but also of a new way to look for new trends and themes to make it easier to know which areas of blogging to focus on. If you’re really dedicated you can go so far as to copy out all the views and so on from each individual day in a month, and then lay out the same days in a different month to try and spot trends-days of the week, times in the month such as weekends, school holidays…