Like Me? Follow Me.
I looked at the stats from our site and on the face of it things were good - our key metric, enquiries received, was up by 165% (when looking at a six month period this year and comparing it to the same six month immediately prior to the launch of our blog in 2008).
However not satisfied with that I then looked at the number of visits that had generated enquiries and contained a visit to the blog. The picture here was less satisfactory, less than 10% of enquiries received included a blog visit.
My next stop was to look at actual page visits and I became more disgruntled to discover that site traffic was down 14% when comparing the two periods.
Armed with this information I asked the team the question why do we bother? I got back several responses:
- "To increase our brand awareness"
- "To reinforce our brand values by showing the personable face of I-COM and building relationships"
- "Because we encourage our clients to blog - we need to be seen to be blogging"
- "Well we've not touched the main site since the blog was launched - just imagine what might have happened if we hadn't been blogging"
To me the first two answers were all well and good but I like my results to be more tangible. It's all a bit too like the arguments for advertising in traditional media - I like to know our money is well spent and how to measure the results.
The third answer did not hold any water with me - because we certainly shouldn't be recommending things to our clients unless we were convinced it had a positive effect.
The final answer had more merit but I didn't want to take it as read. We certainly would expect search traffic to decline on a site that's had no attention in the last two years - the situation with the I-COM site. So it was worth looking in more detail at the I-COM site statistics to see if the expected decline had been countered.
In an endeavour to assess if the impact on natural search traffic was positive I eliminated all blog traffic from my analytics results and looked at the volume of natural search traffic over the comparison period.
Thankfully the reuslts were fairly conclusive: natural search traffic to the non blog pages of our uncared for site were up by over 50%.
To Blog or not To Blog?In summary I think it's fairly safe to conclude that blogging has a positive effect on natural search traffic to a domain, not only to the blog pages themselves but also to other pages on the site.
Not really a blogging related conclusion this but I think it's also safe to confirm that success on the web is not all about traffic. Our overall traffic is down but enquiries are up - perhaps because we're getting more focussed visitors from search, perhaps in some way as a result of our blogging.
What this study has also told me though is that blogging may not have a direct and easily measurable impact on sales or enquiries. However, it certainly seems that by building a body of expertise in your subject area such enquiries and sales will surely follow.
I'm pleased to say as a result of this I'm happy that we should keep on recommending blogging to our clients, and for us to continue to keep pushing ahead at I-COM.
There is however a lesson here for I-COM; imagine what the result might have been if we'd worked on the site at the same time. Fortunately, our forthcoming site is much easier to work with and I'm sure it will continually develop and evolve.