When do the majority of your site visitors arrive on your site? Is there a pattern?
When is the Best Time and Day to Post on Your Blog?” and the follow up to it, “When is the Best Time and Day to Publish a Blog Post” I reported upon my own research as to when was the best time for me to publish on this site and other sites I’ve worked with over the years. In the first post, I talked about understanding your community, your audience, the ebbs and flows of their lives through your site, using examples from within your own community.
Your goal with this exercise is to time posts to publish your posts before your audience arrives. If the majority of your site’s traffic comes from the east coast of the United States and you live on the west coast, the starting time for most working folks is 8-9AM. If you wish your post to be there before they hit the Internet, you need to publish your posts by 7AM in their time zone which may be 4AM in yours. Don’t you love being able to schedule posts in advanced, timed to the minute, in WordPress.
Look at the time, but also look at the day of the week. If you live in a city, there is often no time out. It is 24-7. Maybe you have people arriving 24 hours a day with no dips or peaks. If you live in a farming community, “free time” is saved for weekends, most often Sundays. In Muslim regions and countries, the week begins on Saturday. In Jewish communities, the work week begins on Sunday while in North America, it is Monday.
Every culture has their own schedule, as does your blog and your audience. Which days of the week are your most popular days?
For this site, over the many years of analytics, Mondays and Tuesdays are the busiest for visitors, dipping down through to the weekend. Saturdays, things pick up a little, but nothing like Mondays and Tuesdays when my server is hopping.
Consider timing your “best” material for the days when you know the most visitors will be exposed to it.
It is these people who spread the word about your wonderful posts. They are the ones who like, share, and talk about your stuff on their sites. Help them by being ready with the best of your content at the time when they need it and are most likely to share it.
A professional blogger told me of analyzing his traffic patterns to look for the ebbs in visitor counts. “That’s when I bring out the big guns.” This is when he publishes his most viral content, the sharable, water cooler content that he hoped would increase his traffic with new visitors and bring back the enthusiasm of long time visitors. His goal was to keep his traffic counts level or increasing.
Over time he found that while traffic numbers kept increasing, return visitors did not. They steadied and stayed there. It was fascinating to see his research and compare it to my own. He told me he’d put so much energy into going after the new visitors, he’d forgotten about his regular visitors. He was all about the dazzle and not about the show, the quality content – his words. A couple years later I ran into him and asked him how his research had held up. He told me that focusing on delivering content to regular visitors before they arrived at the door kept them enthused, coming back for more, and more willing to help him spread the word about his site, increasing steadily his loyal readership until he built up quite a community. “That’s the only way to do it – and do it right.”
This is why it is so important to pay attention to the patterns, use it to motivate you, but be careful about letting them become scoreboards rather than feedback. If you are all about the numbers, he told me, you forget these are people – beautiful people you really need to get to know.
Today’s blog exercise to determine when the best day and time to publish your most important content of the week is, and when is the best time to publish a post in general on any day of the week.
Check your stats. You may use WordPress.com Stats, Google Analytics, Woopra, or any stats program, free or paid, as discussed in the post introducing you to blog stats and analytics.
Look at the demographics. Where are your visitors coming from geographically? Your country? Another? Your region? Your state? Your community?
If your content serves a specific geographic area, planned or unintentionally, what is their calendar and schedule for their culture and habits? Consider working within those schedules if they represent the majority of your audience.
Your stats or analytics program may not give you full details but it will show you patterns. Look for highs and lows and compare them over time.
- Look at the charts for each day to determine which time each day traffic is at its peak.
- Look at the weeks, comparing them across months and years. Which days of the week get the most traffic?
- Look at the months, measured and compared across years if you have the data. Which months do you get the most traffic? Which months the least?
- Look at the seasons. Do you get seasonal fluctuation in traffic? Summers tend to be slow on this site, peaking in January and again in March, April, and May, then falling off again as the school year and holiday travel times influence even those learning about blogging and WordPress.
- Note these trends and patterns in your editorial calendar this year and into the next year or two to plan your posts accordingly.
Remember to include a hat tip link back to this post to create a trackback, or leave a properly formed link in the comments so participants can check out your blog exercise task.