Monday, November 05, 2007

Blog numbers

One of the first questions I get when talking to people about using a blog for professional reasons is, "How can I measure it?" Usually, they are familiar with numbers like the number of newsletters mailed or the circulation of a newspaper. With blogs, this can be more difficult - but not impossible.

Anne Adrian and I talked last week about this topic I guess it spawned a blog post for each of us. Her article on measuring your blog has some excellent tips for bloggers and recommends using the tools discussed below. She's a faster (and better) blogger than me.

By using a combination of FeedBurner and Google Analytics, there are ways to count the number of people who subscribe to your feed or look at your pages.

Let's start with Google Analytics.

Go to: and create an account if you don't already have one.

  1. Click on "Add a domain".
  2. Enter the URL of your blog.
  3. Copy the code snippet and paste into the body portion of your blog template (before the "/body" tag at the end of the HTML code).
    • If you are using Blogger, add an HTML/JavaScript element to the footer of your page template.
  4. Check back to view the traffic reports for your blog.
This will count the people visiting your blog. It does not count the people who subscribe to your feed using a feed reader or get it via email. To collect that data, you need a tool like FeedBurner.

Configuring FeedBurner to collect data.

First, you'll need to create a FeedBurner account and add your blog.
  1. Go to:
  2. Create your account.
  3. Add your blog in the "Burn a feed this instant" box.
  4. When editing the feed details, enter a url for your "Feed Address" (avoid spaces). This is what you'll need later.
  5. Save the Feed Details.
Finally, change change your blog's RSS server to use FeedBurner.
FeedBurner has step-by-step instructions for the following blog services:
If you are using other blogging software and have figured out how to use FeedBurner's RSS redirection, please let me know.

FeedBurner also gives you a way for people to receive your posts via email. (Under the Publicize tab, click on "Email Subscriptions").

Looking at the data

After you've configured your blog with these tools, you'll want to periodically view the reports. Use these numbers with caution. They show trends and not absolute numbers of people reading your content. I subscribe to lots of feeds that I never get around to reading and I visit lots of pages only to realize that it isn't what I wanted and leave.

But, if you need to report a number to your boss, these tools will give you some good and useful numbers to report.

Disclaimer: I have no financial or other interests in FeedBurner other than as a user of their services. I'm sure there are other services available that offer similar tools. I just don't know about them.

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