In a guest blog post on Problogger, "Statistical Analysis of a Blog’s Traffic" by Eric Rosenberg of The Israel Situation and Narrow Bridge Adventures, he talked about how he is a hobby blogger and MBA student trying to understand how all this works. After taking a statistical analysis class at school, he decided to take his blog for a numbers ride:
As a hobby blogger trying to increase readers to my Israel blog, The Israel Situation, I have always been glued to my site traffic. What does a spike mean? How can I bring more readers? Is there anything I can do to help my blog grow?
...To summarize what I found and apply it to you, the most important factor in growing your blog is persistence. Sticking with it will lead to a real increase in visits. If you write good content, it is inevitable that you will gain more readers. Traffic spikes, like the one I hope to get from guest posting here, are nice. However, most people that visit in a spike don’t really care about your blog, they care about the single post. If you can pick up a few regulars, great, but don’t expect a whole lot.
If you are still starting out, do not give up from a low reader count. I almost did a few times, but decided to stick with it because Israel is something I am passionate about. If you are writing about something you love, you will have a readership increase in time. Other than that, the statistics of blogging are fairly inconclusive.
Eric makes several important points in his article. First, numbers are great, but play with the numbers in different ways and you get different conclusions. If you stop at any of those conclusions, that's your final answer, but dig deeper, and you might find out even more than you thought about your site and your demographics.
What he discovered is also important. Perseverance does pay off. Blog traffic is not just a numbers game. It's a patience game. Traffic spikes, then goes away. Over the short term, that's frustrating. Over the long term, you should hopefully see a rise, but you have to pull back and look across time, not at the moment.
Determining what attracts and keeps people coming back to your site is part of the bigger picture that often goes beyond the numbers.
Have you done some of the statistic testing like he did? Have you found a specific stasticial analysis that works best for you? What's not working?
Web analytics is still a new industry and we're learning all the time about which numbers to watch and what they mean. What do the numbers tell you?