What Drove Traffic in 2013 and How I’m Going About 2014

Driving Traffic

I started this post earlier in the week and went in a slightly different direction by publishing a post entitled Writing is Everything For Your Career.  While I’m proud of that post, I also wanted to continue with my tradition of publishing detailed statistics on my most trafficked posts, insights on what made these posts popular, and my goals for Jeffalytics in 2014. The format is a very similar to my recap of 2012.

What worked in 2013? It turns out that several of the pieces of content I published in 2013 had a profound effect on the traffic to this site and also helped me gain some notoriety along the way. While that’s exactly what I had hoped would happen, we can learn even more by reflecting on the results now that 2013 is in the rearview.

Here are the top 10 pieces of content on Jeffalytics by total pageviews. Each post has detailed statistics like average time on page, total comments and social sharing tallies, while also including my insights on what made the post work well and what I learned in the process. Enjoy!

8 Reasons Why You Need to Establish Yourself as an Authority on Google+

Published: April 11, 2013

30,565 Pageviews

8:50 Average Time on Page

107 Comments

Social Sharing Stats (provided by Share Tally):

8 Reasons Authority Social Stats

Top Traffic Source: Moz Top 10 Email List (10,451 Visits), Direct (8,145), Google+ (3,680), Google Organic (2,122)

This post exploded beyond my wildest dreams. I’ve already written about it at length, so I am not going to go into details here. This post put Jeffalytics on the map and still gets traffic, tweets, etc. all of the time. It was the most time consuming post I ever wrote and I’m not sure I will ever have the energy to do this again. That said, I am extremely happy with how this turned out and the reaction received online. It was my best effort and had the best results. Fun fact: I originally submitted this post to the YouMoz blog and it was rejected by their editorial team. Once I got that notice I decided to self-publish the post and it became the defining moment on the blog! Fun fact #2: After posting, the Moz top 10 newsletter became the main source of traffic to this post. So it worked out for both of us in the end!

What did I learn? Outreach is more important than just about everything else that you can do to promote your content. I owe a great deal of the success of this post to Rand Fishkin as well as other inbound marketing folks who helped get the word out about this article.

The Best WordPress Plugin for Social Media Auto Posting Your Content

Published: March 26, 2013

21,606 Pageviews

6:59 Average Time on Page

52 Comments

Social Sharing Stats

Auto Posting Social Shares

Top Traffic Source: Google Organic (19,505 Visits)

It’s funny to me that the posts with the least amount of social shares get the most organic search visitors. That certainly flies in the face of the pundits. In this case, I searched for a solution to my problems (finding a great social media auto poster) and it took forever to find a good program. After I found my tool of choice I wanted to share with others and this post was born. The search results on Google for social auto posting weren’t great, so the post quickly started ranking well for several terms around this topic. Suddenly the post with no social shares was getting comments rolling in saying “Thank you so much for the help” and other kind words. Success was slowly earned on this post, but it’s not my #2 most read piece of content of all time.

What did I learn? Fill a void in Google search results and get rewarded with lots of search traffic. Social Media = quick energy bursts. Organic Search = long term energy source.

Periodic Table of Google Analytics

Published: April 24, 2013

21,186 Pageviews

7:45 Average Time on Page

Comments Disabled

Social Sharing Stats

Periodic Table Social Sharing

Top Traffic Source: Direct Visitors (7,142 Visits), Facebook (2,109 Visits), Twitter (1,825 Visits), Google+ (1,745 Visits), Marketingland.com (1,223 Visits), Google Analytics Blog (1,024 Visits)

My favorite project of the year. I worked with my designer friend Alan Johnson to create the periodic table of Google Analytics. I was inspired by seeing the Periodic table of Search by Search Engine Land as well as a periodic table of WordPress on another blog.  The search factors table was printed out and put on cube walls by many of my colleagues at Three Deep so I knew that a similar piece about Google Analytics would get the same treatment. The result was a beautiful visual that still gives me goosebumps when I see it.

What did I learn? Ideas + Great Design = Lots of Potential. Had I just posted the elements of Google Analytics without the graphics, this post would have been a dud.

14 Google Analytics Product Announcements from the 2013 #GASummit

Published: October 1, 2013

8,006 Pageviews

2:30 Average Time on Page

6 Comments

Social Sharing Stats

GA Announcements 2014 Shares

Top Traffic Source: Direct (4,131 Visits), Google Organic (1,854 Visits)

The keynote at the Google Analytics Summit pretty much wrote this post for me. While I was partially in a “right place, right time” situation, I worked my butt off to take down everything that was said by the Google Analytics team in their product announcements and put up a post within 2 hours of the session being completed. The thoroughness and thoughtfulness I put into this post made it the definitive source of information for those outside of the GA summit.

What did I learn? Some of your best posts are just writing down what other people say.

The Ultimate Guide to Measuring Google Plus

Published: September 10, 2013

6,867 Pageviews

9:25 Average Time on Page

13 Comments

Social Sharing Stats

Measuring GPlus Social Shares

Top Traffic Source: Direct Visitors (2,809 Visits), Google Organic (1,565 Visits)

I put a lot of work into this post and experienced many delays along the way. The delays actually were outside of my control – I tapped several authorities online to give opinions on Google+ measurement and waited for them to get back to me. None of them ever got back to me after months of waiting, so I decided to publish on my own. The results were strong, but probably not as strong as they would have been with their mutual blessing.

What did I learn? Teaming up with others to produce content is a great idea in theory, but not always easy to pull off. Give a reasonable deadline for people to meet and then move on if they don’t get to you back in time.

Google Plus Search and Google Authorship Case Study

Published: April 11, 2013

6,619 Pageviews

8:05 Average Time on Page

Comments Disabled

Social Sharing Stats

Google Authorship Social Shares

Top Traffic Source: Direct Visits (1,956 Visits), Google Organic (1,732 Visits)

This is the full in-depth information behind the #1 post of the year above. I was originally going to publish this case study alone (28 printed pages) when my friends Josh Braaten and Angie Schottmuller convinced me to write a summary post for easier consumption. Their instincts were right, as the summary post is what ended up drawing all of the visitors.

What did I learn? People love case studies, but not as much as posts about case studies.

How to Customize the Buttons on the AddThis WordPress Plugin

Published: April 30, 2013

4,452 Pageviews

7:24 Average Time on Page

12 Comments

Social Sharing Stats

Addthis WordPress Social Shares

Top Traffic Source: Google Organic (4,081 Visits)

When my AddThis plugin buttons were showing Pinterest and not Google+, I had a problem on my hands. I needed to find out how to customize the AddThis WordPress plugin for my needs and I couldn’t find any information online. After checking 20 sources I finally had the answer. I decided to write about the experience and it turned out that thousands of others had the same problem. Google rewarded my thorough post by ranking it highly for queries related to solving this problem.

What did I learn? Solve a problem where Google can’t find an answer and get rewarded with tons of traffic.

Google Analytics 101 Presentation: Getting Started with Google Analytics

Published: February 7, 2013

4,366 Pageviews

7:06 Average Time on Page

5 Comments

Social Sharing Stats

Google Analytics 101 Social Stats

Top Traffic Source: Google Organic (1,547 Visits)

I presented to a group of marketers about how to get started in Google Analytics. When Adam Singer at the Google Analytics marketing team noticed the presentation he shared it on the GA social networks and traffic started flowing. Thanks Adam!

What did I learn? Useful content matters, but sometimes it just takes people with an authoritative presence to notice your content for it to take off.

PPC Strategy: These 3 Paid Search Strategies Are All You Ever Need

Published: May 30, 2013

1,877 Pageviews

5:20 Average Time on Page

0 Comments

Social Sharing Stats

PPC Strategy Social Stats

Top Traffic Source: Google Organic (1,509 Visits)

This is a post I wanted to write for about 3 years and I finally got around to it. There was literally NO reaction to it. No comments, few social shares, etc. I thought it was a waste of time to even write the post until I am now noticing it’s the #9 post of the year. I guess sometimes you can get traffic without receiving vocal visitors.

What did I learn? Just because you don’t get a lot of social media traffic to your site doesn’t mean that it wasn’t worth writing a post. This was a very satisfying post to write and it ended up getting rewarded with traffic in the end.

Common Internet Service Providers in Google Analytics and an Advanced Segment to Filter Them Out

Published: May 23, 2013

1,803 Pageviews

3:36 Average Time on Page

2 Comments

Social Sharing Stats

ISP Social Shares

Top Traffic Source: Google Organic (1,537 Visits)

Josh Braaten wrote a post on Search Engine Watch about Google Analytics advanced segments that ended up becoming one of their most popular posts of 2013. Being a good friend, he invited me to submit a segment into the study and I shared a segment I had been using to filter the traffic I received on Jeffalytics. The only problem was that I had to publish the post after the SEW column went live so I did not benefit from a direct link. However, I did end up benefitting from organic search traffic that came in over the next several months.

What did I learn? Writing posts where nearly every single word is a potential organic search query can yield quality results.

So what worked in 2013?

  • Publishing in-depth case studies
  • Giving up several weekends to write content and create experiments
  • Creating the best answer to a question and reaping Google benefits
  • Using a good designer to make decent writing more appealing
  • Understanding that social media provides an immediate impact while organic search provides tons of long term traffic benefit
  • Creating summary posts to share your findings rather than forcing each visitor to read long research papers
  • Live blogging continues to pay dividends
With this knowledge of what works well for this blog, I am going to set goals for 2014 to ensure continued success.

Jeffalytics 2014 Goals

Continue to publish a piece of “big content” once a quarter

Most people have found this site through “big content” – in depth articles that are thousands of words long and involve some element of graphic design. If I want to continue to grow an audience in 2014, continuing to publish big content will be vital. There are already plans to create a large industry survey in January/February and surely other awesome ideas will come into play as the year moves along.

Grow my email list to over 1,000 people

I started experimenting with a monthly newsletter in November of 2013 and I am working to grow the newsletter to be a “must read” for people each month. Currently around 250 people read the newsletter when it is published and I would like to grow that list significantly. One of the methods I plan to use for growth is a really cool product from LeadPages called LeadBoxes, which allows you to capture an email address from visitors with minimal effort.

Teach people in a new format

In person classroom teaching is a wonderful way to help individuals gain an intimate understanding of marketing and measurement, but it doesn’t always scale very well. This site received requests for training from hundreds of people all over the world, and I would like to train them all. This is why I have been considering offering online training courses that will allow me to reach all of the people who are interested in learning from me. While I have been thinking about this for almost a year, I am finally holding myself accountable by making it a goal for 2014 to offer an online training course.

Receive 500+ organic search visitors a weekday

By the end of 2014, I would like to see this site receiving 500+ visits a day from organic search. With traffic currently in the 250-300 visits a day from organic search, this should not be too difficult to achieve.

Learn more and share what I have learned

Never stop learning would be the theme song to the soundtrack of my life. As each year passes I strive to become better at a skill in life, whether for my personal or professional. I call these learned skills life internships and each life internship makes me a more well rounded person. While I’m not going to share my 2014 life internship right now, I will surely be talking about it at some point along the way. If you are serious about improving your skill set as well, I highly encourage you to take on a life internship as well!

There you have it, 2,000+ words on the past, present and future of Jeffalytics. I hope you stick with me through an awesome ride in 2014 and beyond!

Photo Credit: dkshots via Compfight cc

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About Jeff Sauer

Jeff Sauer is an independent Digital Marketing Consultant, Speaker and Teacher based out of San Francisco, CA.

  • AaronWeiche

    Jeff- Cool to share what took place with your posts in 2013. I especially like your analysis on each one to what contributed to their consumption.

    • http://www.jeffalytics.com/ Jeffsauer

      Thanks Aaron!

  • http://www.benchmarkemail.com Dorothy Le

    Of course quality content is king, and social media can reach thousands of people, but nothing can reach customers at a personal level than emailing them directly with a campaign that is custom-tailored to them.

    Email marketing softwares allow you to segment your contact lists into different groups for better targeting. Imagining sending one Tweet to thousands of people compared to create 3 specific campaigns to 3 specific
    groups. Target marketing can bring much more response, and that’s an advantage email marketing has that none of the others have :)

    For WordPress users, Benchmark Email has a plugin that called Benchmark Email Lite that allows you to reap the benefits of a its software right off your WordPress dashboard. You can install an email sign-up box on any page of your site, send previews of your most recent box right to their inbox, and even track down analytics of when and where your clicks are coming from :)