How DO you measure the effectiveness in attracting traffic of a change in your website?

The number of hits that myself and Wendy have been picking up on our main blogs has gone up quite dramatically over the last month or two and, ideally, we’d like to know why that is but, of course, the problem is that we’ve not just done one thing with the blogs over that time.

First off, we moved the blogs from a UK based host to one based in America. Since both blogs are targeted at a UK market (if one could call a 40/30 traffic split targeting) one would have expected that this would reduce the number of hits thanks to the geo-targeting that the search engines get up to. Having said that when I say we target the blogs what’s actually happening is that we’re writing in British English rather than American English and we’re writing about topics that arise in the UK rather than those that arise in the US. That said, the differences in British and American English are so small and so little used within the blogs (I’ve not used one word so far in this post that is in country-specific English) that I can’t see it affecting the search engine hits to any substantial degree. Also, many of the topics that we write about are international in scope which presumably explains the almost equal split between British and American readers. Thus, on balance, the change in ISP shouldn’t have made a difference.

Next, we changed how the titles come out on the blogs. Previously they would have been listed as, for example, “Foreign Perspectives » Blog Archive » Title of the post” whereas now they come out as “Title of the post | Foreign Perspectives”. Now on a really top ranking blog it might well be to the advantage of the blog to have the blog name coming first but Foreign Perspectives isn’t, yet, in the top ranks of the blogging world so perhaps it’s best to have the post title coming first? I suspect that’s contributed to the rise but I don’t know how great the contribution has been.

Then we thought we’d have a go at promoting the blogs on social networking sites. You might think that this would have a very large and noticeable effect but whilst it is noticeable in the stats it’s not, usually, that large. Some posts do pick up a bit of a following in Twitter but most don’t. I suspect that I could work on this is a promising area to develop but I’ve not done so as yet. The other social networking sites rarely pick up on the posts or at least people reading it elsewhere aren’t clicking on the link to the post. So chalk up some rise to this one.

Finally, we compared note as regards topics we were writing about. In my case I’ve written a little more stuff in the entertainment category and that’s certainly had a bit of an impact on hits but, again, not an overly substantial one.

So overall, there are a couple of things that would seem to be contributing to a rise in readership but none that seem to be sufficient to produce the doubling of hits that we’ve noticed over recent months.

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