An alert reader has asked me for a chart on the effect of blog entries on site traffic. I took the time to create a little data table from the Google Analytics reports for APA for Progress.
Please be aware that the Jun-09 figures were run on 6/22 so the figures are incomplete for June. These figures run from 1/1/2009 to 9/31/2009. In essence, I’m adding 3 months of extra data.
As you can see in the chart above, there’s a high correlation (.883) (previously .945) between the number of blog entries and the level of site traffic. There’s also an even higher correlation (.903) (previously .820) between the number of blog entries made per month and the number of Google searches that drove users to the site. The correlation numbers have switched mainly because some of the original content on the site in the last month turned out to be tremendously popular and generated a lot of social media buzz. That drives the correlation figures down and especially so for the correlation between blog entries and site traffic. That the correlation got even stronger between blog posts and Google traffic pretty much validates my thinking about blog posts, SEO and Google search traffic. Blog post volume does more to enhance your Google search traffic than it does to enhance your general site traffic volume. However, if your content quality goes up due to the practice involved in making posts and strategizing that comes with it, don’t be surprised to see your site traffic rise in an uncorrelated way with your blog post volume.
The lack of external events makes this data set almost the perfect illustration of a pure SEO play. Properly tagged blog entries with good metainfo will basically cause Google to better index your site. In turn, it will drive more traffic to your site, thus generating more loyal readers. This is because visitors do stay after hitting the site through a Google keyword search. They tend to accumulate on the site and get used to visiting it every so often. Think of Google as a way to give your website a shot at presenting itself to new users. In effect, each new blog entry complete with tagged keywords, is a way to hook more visitors into your site. The more attempts you make, the more likely you’ll be able to snag users into your traffic stream. And the more likely you can add these users to your blogging community. This should result in a workflow that looks like this:
So here’s my thinking: I don’t think it really matters whether a nonprofit blogs to update a site. As long your posts conform somehow to already mentioned guidelines for building out your site, I’m pretty sure that if your nonprofit has the resources to post 2 or 3 times a day with its own people that it could eventually manage a similar growth pattern.
Here’s the kicker: most nonprofits don’t have the resources to post two or three times a day to their website. However, their volunteer base does. And this is why I believe blogs are essential to cash-strapped nonprofits. It allows you to get a chance to do multiple posts to your website with minimal cost. I don’t see how APA for Progress would ever have been able to sustain this torrid pace over six months without a blogging community. They’re set this month to break their monthly records and probably end up with around FOUR posts a day due to the addition of new bloggers in recent months.
Of course, the harried nonprofit manager will probably say that you’ll end up with new headaches as your try to fit your new bloggers into your existing communications strategy. Agreed, but first things first. Which problem would you rather have? The problem of managing of thriving a blogger community for your nonprofit or the silence that accompanies your nonprofit’s web initiatives? I opt for the noise.