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The Cyclical Nature of Blog Stats

Articles about blogging tipsIn 2006, I completed a year long informal study on several of my blogs about the best times and days for me to publish content on my blogs and published what I learned in When is the Best Time and Day to Post on Your Blog? My conclusions were that Mondays and Tuesdays were the highest traffic days, thus the best days for publishing content with the hopes to be seen by regular readers, and that I needed to publish my posts prior to 0400 EST for my content to be there before my readers showed up.

With the improvements in the WordPress.com stats feature (available for self-hosted blogs with the WordPress.com Stats WordPress Plugin), I’ve been noticing another interesting trend that supports my original conclusions.

Lorelle on WordPress blog stats, day by day cyclical fluctuations

There is a clear cyclical nature to my blog traffic, which drops every weekend. In this example of my daily stats across a month, the low points on the chart are:

  • Saturday, May 17
  • Sunday, May 18
  • Saturday, May 24
  • Sunday, May 25
  • Saturday, May 31
  • Sunday, June 1
  • Saturday, June 7
  • Sunday, June 8

Monday and Tuesday are high traffic, with the numbers dropping towards the weekend, except for the occasional drift upwards for a day due to a popular post released midweek.

Lorelle on WordPress blog stats over six months

When I compare the numbers across six months, this cyclical nature is not as clear as it is close up, day by day. It’s there. In spite of the traffic spikes, the cyclical up and down of the weekends continues. There is consistent growth, but the weekend downturns keep the growth slow by averaging out the daily numbers. Looking at just the numbers doesn’t help. Seeing the visual chart does. And seeing it across weeks shows slips down in my blog stats, right?

Many stats watchers freak out when they concentrate on the day-to-day stats. Like watching the stock market too closely, decisions are made without looking at the big picture. I’ve heard panic from many bloggers who scream their stats have suddenly plunged. When you change the view from day-to-day to week-to-week, or even month-to-month, the picture changes. It’s now about the big picture of trends, not the daily fluctuation, some of them normal but noticed for the first time.

Lorelle on WordPress blog stats over two years

Since blog statistics were introduced at the end of 2005 on blogs, my blog has seen steady growth over the years. By focusing on the long term, I see the big picture of growth and stop worrying about the day-to-day fluctuation – unless I want to learn something from those statistics.

In this case, my conclusions from early in 2006 were supported. There is a weekend fluctuation in the numbers that I’ve been able to track for the past two years, in addition to the historical research I did in 2006. Mondays and Tuesdays continue to be my best days for traffic.

This applies to my blogs and would be different in different cultures and countries, as well as different blog subject matters. Have you looked at the different groups of stats available on your blog and found similar or different conclusions?

And if you are still daily checking in with your stats, stop it. Live a little. Spend more time writing quality content, not checking the numbers. The numbers over weeks and months will tell you more about how your blog is doing than the daily obsession checks. However, there is still something to be learned from the daily numbers, when compared to the overall whole health of your blog traffic.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, the author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.

19 Comments

  1. Posted June 16, 2008 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    I have been blogging for about 2 years. It use to be that weekends would get 0 traffic on my blog. Then about 6 months ago I increased my weekend traffic to about 20 percent of my weekday traffic. Basically it is still a ghost town on my blog on the weekends.

  2. Posted June 16, 2008 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Great post.

    I have noticed the exact same thing on my blog. My lowest traffic days are Saturday and Sunday by far.

  3. cristinar
    Posted June 16, 2008 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    I’ve just helped spike your graph a little ;) How invisible am I in those stats, given I never come to the blog, but always read the articles via RSS?

  4. Posted June 16, 2008 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    While I agree that you should push your flagship content to your busiest days, the simple fact is that content drives traffic.

    If you have no fresh content over the weekend then your chances of getting large amounts of traffic are almost nil. I actually wish that more blogs would post quality content on the weekends, as I have more time to digest it properly.

    Not sure about your other readers, but I check Google Reader a few times on Saturday, and at least once or twice on Sunday. If there is good content then I read it.

    Kevin

  5. Posted June 16, 2008 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    I look at my stats but don’t worry much about them. I have a small but loyal core of visitors and have made many connections over the years. I participate in a weekly meme and get much of my traffic that way.

  6. Posted June 16, 2008 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    I’ve also noticed a drop in traffic during weekends, and on Monday the stats shoot right back up and tend to continue throughout Tuesday. Wednesday traffic takes a slight dip, and then traffic picks back up on Thursday and Friday.

    I don’t check my stats (Woopra) constantly, nor do I obsess over the number of the subscribers shown on Feedburner (the typical fluctuations can be maddening), but I concentrate my attention on writing quality content and let the cards fall where they may.

  7. Posted June 16, 2008 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    What I don’t understand is why some posts are way up in the stats and others not at all. I constantly have dozens of hits for three posts, but none for others. But you’re right about the weekend. Lots of office workers with blog-reading time, I guess.

  8. Posted June 16, 2008 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    My blog stats have the same trend too, but it’s about 25-40 percent less traffic from weekdays.

    I check stats once a month. I had one month when my web host fail to create log file properly, so I miss an entire month worth of stats. Luckily I had Google Analytics too.

  9. techsta
    Posted June 16, 2008 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    I would agree with Kevin though I am new at blogging I think content drives. If you hit a good subject on Saturday with a post other people will spread word of it and Sunday will be busy as well :)

  10. Posted June 16, 2008 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    @ Kevin:

    Content does drive traffic, but like the saying if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it…if there is no one there to read it… :D I like to think that content builds traffic, but traffic ebbs and flows over time. Tracking that flow helps you time when you want to get your best work out to your audience at rush hour instead of just relying upon them finding the information later.

    Tracking stats is not the end all and be all. Content continues to be king. However, stats give us information that can help us build our blog content and understanding all the nuances is important to help us make the right choices.

  11. Posted June 16, 2008 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    @ cristinar:

    Actually, you bring up a good point. WordPress blogs have native feeds (build-in feeds) but many add Feedburner, FeedBlitz or another feed service to their blogs. Now they have their own feeds, but those feeds, and where do the numbers get tracked? WordPress.com has yet to get a real handle on all the feed tracking confusion, so I’m not sure if all feeds are incorporated into those numbers or not. We need to learn more about what is trackable and what isn’t and how to make our choices accordingly.

    The issue is really: when do you read your feeds? Monday through Wednesday and then not again until Monday? Or every day? ALL of your feeds? :D

  12. Posted June 17, 2008 at 12:20 am | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle,

    I was seeing the same thing on my blog and stopped posting on weekends. I felt like a good post might be getting “wasted”. Personally, I now don’t do much blogging on the weekends, and I’m guessing others do the same.

    Stats are great to watch over a period of time. The most difficult thing for a new blogger is that they don’t have anything to compare to, so when they see their daily stats fall, they aren’t seeing the whole picture(yet).

  13. Posted June 17, 2008 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    What about the stats for different seasons of the year? Has anyone noticed specific cycles for certain times of the year?

    Lori

  14. Posted June 17, 2008 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    @ Lori:

    In my earlier research, which included blogs of a variety of types, if the blog contains seasonal topics, like a Christmas blog or ski blog, it will get an increase in traffic accordingly. Non-seasonal blogs tend to get a bit less traffic during the summer, with a downhill slide when school season starts but rises by October, at least in the northern hemisphere. I’ve found that from January to June is the highest traffic levels annually, though these are just general observations, not statistical facts.

    Each blog is different and attracts a different crowd. I’ve worked with a couple of bicycle blogs and they found that their traffic from the US Pacific Northwest is consistent year around, and traffic from other geographic areas are highest in the spring and summer. It depends upon your audience and their online habits, something that would be fun to really explore thoroughly in detail.

  15. Posted June 18, 2008 at 4:13 am | Permalink

    :D
    And if you are still daily checking in with your stats, stop it.

    Seems to be directly aimed at me… :D I get worked up over the daily hits and misses… I KNOW it’s not helping at all, but I guess the habit kinda stuck. And for sites like mine, even single digits count, so it’s easier to think that way…

    Anyway, I took a look at the monthlong statistics, and for what it’s worth, there HAS been some sort of a climb, which is good anyway.

    I’d like to think I’m not really obsessed about the stat count, but then again, I guess I’m not sure anymore.

    Anyway, great post, as always…

  16. Jig
    Posted August 30, 2008 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    You are right about the stats. Most people are so impatient that they freak out. People need to relax and look at the big picture. It is the long term trends that are important. Mondays and Tuesdays seem to be high traffic days for me too, and the weekends are usually not as great. It seems kind of contrary when you think about it. Aren’t people home on the weekends? I guess it goes to show that most web surfing is done on the job, LOL.

  17. Posted March 4, 2009 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    I assumed this as well (thus never bothering to post on the weekends). Then a couple of weeks ago, I began using the weekends as catch-up time for the rest of the week and found my numbers were just as high, if not higher than the weekdays. I’m not sure if this is because my regular readers don’t have anything to do on weekends…. (no kids, spouses, etc).

    But thanks for sharing this post, extremely helpful

  18. canlı sohbet
    Posted October 24, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    What about the stats for different seasons of the year? Has anyone noticed specific cycles for certain times of the year?


3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] at the sitemap with a little more detail, and in particular the entry for her most recent post, the Cyclical Nature of Blog Stats – a post worthy of a link anyway so this is a 2-in-1. This entry was written by Lorelle VanFossen [...]

  2. [...] at the sitemap with a little more detail, and in particular the entry for her most recent post, the Cyclical Nature of Blog Stats – a post worthy of a link anyway so this is a 2-in-1. This entry was written by Lorelle VanFossen [...]

  3. [...] on word press had a great post about “The Cyclical Nature of Blog Stats“. It seems that so many people, my self included, get hooked into this idea that their blog [...]

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