If you’ve been following my previous blog traffic reports, you might recall that last month my blog took a bit of a hit, mostly thanks to Pinterest, which changed its algorithm, causing me to lose quite a bit of traffic.
This month? Well, this month the traffic dropped a bit again. Here are the stats for the month:
Pageviews: 155,779 (168,972)
Unique users: 67,618 (72,964 )
Posts published: 27 (31)
This month was actually pretty interesting (er, to me, anyway) in terms of traffic, and, once again, it was all down to Pinterest. Here’s my Pinterest traffic, from March 1st, to the end of April:
The highest point on that graph is March 13th, at which point I was averaging around 800 referrals from Pinterest per day. On that day, however, something obviously happened, which caused the traffic from Pinterest to literally drop overnight, down to around 200 referrals per day – so it was still sending me traffic, but significantly less than before. Now, sudden drops like that generally have some kind of reason behind them: I hadn’t made any changes to the blog, or to the way I was using Pinterest at the time, so I can only guess this change came from Pinterest’s end – a theory which is supported by the fact that traffic from every other source remained stable, meaning that March’s drop in pageviews was completely down to Pinterest.
Honestly, I was pretty disappointed by this. I mean, no one likes seeing their traffic freefall like that, obviously, but I’d spent a lot of time building my traffic from Pinterest in the months prior to this, and the site had been doing really well as a result. Now I felt like all of that hard work had been for nothing, and those months of growth were now about to go into reverse, leaving me pretty much back where I started. Talk about a waste of effort!
Then something strange happened: on April 13th – so, exactly a month after the traffic jumped off a cliff – Pinterest referrals suddenly started to rise again. Again, this happened overnight, and, again, there was no explanation for it, other than something happening at Pinterest’s end which affected the traffic it sends to my blog. Unfortunately the traffic didn’t go back to where it was before the fall – I’m now averaging around 400 referrals a day, rather than the 800 I was getting at the start of March – but it’s at least better than before, meaning that traffic was much healthier in the second half of the month than it had been in the first.
What did I learn from this? Not to rely on Pinterest – or any single referrer – for traffic, basically. As I said, I didn’t make any changes which would explain the drop in referrals, and I didn’t make any changes which would explain the sudden rise, either: all of this is down to changes made by Pinterest, which I have no control over, and which could easily happen again. I wouldn’t say the effort I put into Pinterest was a complete waste of time, but it’s not something I’d be in a hurry to repeat, really, given that they could change their algorithm at any time, and completely reverse any growth I’d managed to achieve.
At the time of writing, I’ve cancelled my Boardbooster subscription, and am no longer scheduling pins: I am continuing to pin each new post that I publish, and to go through my newsfeed every so often, to re-pin anything that’s of interest to me, but I’m very wary of investing a lot of time in a platform that could change again overnight. I don’t blame Pinterest for doing whatever it is they did, obviously – I mean, they’re a business, and they presumably made that decision because they felt it was in their best interests. It sure didn’t help me, though, so rather than effectively attempting to build my house on rented land, this month I’ve been concentrating on the blog itself. Speaking of which, here are the months top posts!
Top Content: Most Viewed Posts
Pinterest may have been the sole cause of March’s drop in traffic, but there were a couple of other factors at work in April. I had a few technical issues, for instance: one morning I woke up to find the blog had been down for most of the night, for reasons unknown, and I also discovered an ad script was causing pages to load really slowly for a few days. Both of those issues caused the traffic to drop, and on top of that, I didn’t post quite as often as I normally do, either. 2016 is turning out to be a bit of a tough year all round, really, and while nothing too bad happened in April, thankfully, I wasn’t feeling quite as motivated as I usually do, and was suffering from a bit of writer’s block, which meant I didn’t have much to say, and posted less as a result of that. I know this all sounds very doom and gloom, “woe is me”, but it’s not meant to be, I promise: there are always going to be days (and months!) when you’re feeling a bit less inspired than usual: this just happened to be one of them!
Top Content: Most Commeted Posts
Because my blog is essentially still a “diary” at heart, and I tend to go through phases where I’m into one thing more than others, the content generally reflects that: this month I’ve been in a very fashion-centric kind of mood – I’ve been working hard on organising my closet and trying to build a wardrobe that really works for my lifestyle, so I’ve published more fashion-related posts than I usually do, and the comments have dropped because of that. This wasn’t a surprise: I’ve mentioned before that my outfit posts don’t normally generate many comments, so I knew engagement would be lower than usual: the posts are still worth doing, though, because they’re the ones that do best on sites like Pinterest etc, so I’ve learned to just accept that they don’t generate as many comments as some other types of content.
Pinterest is still by far the biggest single referrer of traffic to the site, although obviously it’s fallen quite a bit from a few months ago. Now that the traffic from Pinterest has risen again a little, I’m hoping next month’s totals will be higher, but I’m definitely not counting on it: nothing would surprise me any more where Pinterest is concerned!
What I did differently this month
Posted less. This was mostly due to a lack of inspiration on my part, obviously, but I said a couple of months ago that I wanted to try to get out of the mindset of thinking I HAVE to post something every day, even if I have nothing much to say, and this month was the first time I really put that into practice. Pageviews do dip on days when I don’t have a new post to publish, but I still think that’s better than publishing something just for the sake of it, so next month I’m going to continue to post only when I feel I have something to say.
Stopped scheduling pins. I started to spend less time on Pinterest back in March, when the referrals from the site dropped, but even although the Pinterest traffic started to creep back up again this month, I made the decision to cancel my Boardbooster account (Just FYI, I still think Boardbooster is a great service, it’s just not worth my while to invest in Pinterest, knowing they could change their algorithm yet again), and go back to using Pinterest as I had before: so, I still pin each new post, and I still visit the site every day, but I no longer schedule pins, or re-pin older content. I’m not saying I won’t ever give Pinterest another go, obviously, just… probably not this month.
Started using SumoMe. SumoMe is a WordPress plugin which has tons of different features, mostly geared around helping you build your email list, promote your posts and gain new followers on social media. I’ve been gradually testing out different functions, but so far I’m quite pleased with it: thanks to the Facebook box which slides out from the bottom of the screen, for instance, I FINALLY got my Facebook followers to over 4,000: it had been hovering just below that number for literally months, so while it’s still far below the rest of my social media channels in terms of followers, I was pleased to finally break that glass ceiling!
May Action Plan
I almost didn’t add this last section, because I’m embarassed to admit that I didn’t do ANYTHING on my April Action Plan AT ALL. Whoops. Hopefully admitting that will prompt me to do better next month, though, so here’s May’s ‘To Do’ list:
Create some landing pages: I talked a bit about landing pages in this post: I have a few ideas for pages I’d like to create, but so far I’ve been really struggling to find the time: hopefully May will be my lucky month!
Finish and publish my ebook! So, it turns out that writing an ebook is a much longer process than I’d thought, as you can probably tell from the fact that I keep talking about it, but I never seem to actually DO it. I HAVE actually been working on the ebook every week, so it’s not like I’ve been completely ignoring it, but right now weekends are the only time I really have to work on it, and when my weekends get booked up with other things, I don’t get time to do anything at all. I’ll do my best this month yet again, but don’t be surprised if this one pops up again NEXT month…