Well, it had to happen sooner or later…
I started doing these monthly blog traffic reports at at time when my site was going through a bit of a growth spurt. I knew that couldn’t last forever, though, and that sooner or later the traffic would start to slow down again: well, it looks like March was that month! This was no surprise at all to me, but before I get on to the reasons for the drop in traffic, here are the stats:
Source: Google Analytics
Pageviews: 168,972 (last month 186,584)
Unique users: 72,964 (last month 81,492)
Posts published: 31
So, why did my pageviews drop in March? A few reasons, really:
01. The Easter holiday
I know from experience that my traffic always drops during public holidays: Christmas always accounts for the biggest drop in visitors to the site, but I’ll also get less traffic at Easter, on bank holidays, and even on US holidays like the 4th of July weekend. I actually did continue posting over Easter (This was totally unplanned, by the way: I normally don’t bother posting on days when I know people won’t be reading, but I’d just got back from vacation, and, embarrassingly, didn’t realise it was Easter until a few days before. I’d already written the content by then, so I decided to just publish it as planned, and see what happened…), so I didn’t get as big a drop in traffic as I usually would, but it still had an impact on the monthly figures.
One of the things I’ve noticed about national holidays – especially ones that involve bank holidays and long weekends – is that they don’t just affect my traffic on the day(s) of the holiday itself, but normally for a few days before it, too. I suspect this is probably because people get a bit de-mob happy, and are too busy making plans for the break, and looking forward to it, to bother reading blogs. There’s a general feeling of usual service being suspended, and that includes the suspension of usual habits, like blog reading.
02. My own holiday
I spent two weeks of March on vacation in Tenerife, and although I’d written content in advance to cover the break, I was expecting a drop in visitors because of that. As it turned out, the drop wasn’t nearly as big as I was expecting, and if this had been the only thing that happened this month, I think this month’s figures would’ve been pretty close to last month’s. All the same, I’ve had to learn to just accept that my visitor numbers will drop when I’m on vacation, even if I schedule posts in advance: there doesn’t seem to be any way around that, unfortunately, which is disappointing, but I don’t think there’s much I can do about it – we all need a break, after all!
03. Pinterest’s algorithm change
Remember how I said last month that Pinterest’s change in algorithm hadn’t affected me much? Ha! Famous last words! I’ve had a fairly large drop in Pinterest referrals since the change (I guess it just hadn’t had time to kick in yet when I wrote my last report!), and that’s been the main reason behind my drop in traffic. Even taking into account all of the other factors I’ve talked about here, if Pinterest had remained the same, my traffic probably would have, too, which is why it’s a good idea to have traffic coming from lots of different sources, rather than just one!
I haven’t had the chance to really read up on the alogorithm change, or work out how to get my referrals back up again, so that’s something for April’s ‘To Do’ list. With that said, one of the reasons for the past few month’s high traffic was that I was having to spend a LOT of time on Pinterest, and, going forward, that’s just not sustainable for me. Yes, frequent pinning helps increase pageviews, but I’m finding that I’m getting those pageviews at the expense of other things, and knowing that I could spend hours every week on Pinterest, only for them to change the algorithm again, makes me reluctant to put any MORE time into the platform. I’ll definitely look into it, and see if there are any easy changes I could be making, but ultimately I might just have to accept that my traffic will be a bit lower now – or find other ways to increase it.
04. Spring has sprung!
I LOVE spring, so I’m really happy that it’s here, but if past years analytics are anything to go by, this is the time of year when my traffic starts to tail off for the summer, regardless of what I do to stop it. There are lots of obvious reasons for that: people go on holiday, they have days out – even just the longer daylight hours can lead to a drop in traffic, because people spend more time outdoors, and less time reading blogs. Spring break will no doubt have had an impact on my traffic this month, and I’m expecting that dip to continue into the summer, too.
With all of that said, although my traffic dropped from the previous month, it was still much higher than the traffic I was getting this time last year, so I’m not too worried about it. Er, I just realised that all of the explanation above probably made it sound like I was freaking out or something, but it’s all just there for those of you who are interested in the stats, and what affects them – and who don’t mind a bit of over-analysis, into the bargain!
Here are the top posts for March…
Top Content: Most Viewed Posts
The newest posts to be added to this list were the “Things I Always Pack” post, “How to Wear a Pencil Skirt” and “Simple Style, Take 1“. There are, however, also three posts on foundation for pale skin in the top 12: this is a topic that always does well on the blog (purely because it’s something a lot of people search for), but it’s not something I can post about every day or week, as foundation tends to be expensive, and also requires quite a bit of testing in order for me to review it properly. I do have a new foundation post planned for April, though, and will have to have a think about how I can make these posts easier for people to find, seeing as they seem to be popular!
Top Content: Most Commented Posts
Comments were slightly lower than usual in March, which might have been due to the type of content I was posting, or might also be down to the fact that I was on holiday for two weeks, so regular readers might not have wanted to comment, assuming I wouldn’t see it. (I did read all of the comments I got while I was away, but I was reading on my phone, and I find it hard to type responses on it, so I get why people might have been reluctant to comment!) The most-commented post of the month was ‘Thoughts on a Decade of Blogging‘, closely followed by ‘The Holes in My Closet‘ – I find that people like to give me advice, so I’m assuming that’s why that one generated more comments than I’d have expected!
I’ve already talked about the drop in traffic from Pinterest, which is illustrated here: it went from around 23,ooo referrals in February, to 15,000 in March. Although I’d obviously rather not have had any loss of traffic at all, I actually think I got off quite lightly here: I’m still getting a healthy amount of traffic from the site, and I know a lot of bloggers have really suffered since the algorithm change, so if this is as bad as it’s going to get, I’ll consider myself lucky – fingers crossed!
What I did differently this month
As I was on holiday for half the month, I didn’t do as much I’d have liked on the blog, but I did make a few small changes, including:
Spent less time on Pinterest: partly due to my holiday, but also due to the realisation that I was having to spend much more time pinning than was really reasonable. The lesson for this month is that you can’t chase pageviews at the expense of other things – they’re not the be-all and end-all!
Made some small updates to the homepage layout: I’m constantly tweaking the site design, and towards the end of this month, I had a bit of a spring-clean, which involved updating some pages, and making some small aesthetic changes to the homepage. This is mostly for me, really – I’m basically never happy with the way the site looks, and when I change it a bit, I find it helps motivate me again. None of the changes are ones that I’d expect to see affect the traffic, but they made me feel a bit happier, which was the whole point!
April Action Plan
This month I have a few things I want to tackle:
Read up on the Pinterest algorithm change. If there’s something simple I can do to regain the lost traffic from Pinterest, I’ll obviously do it: first, though, I need to do some reading, to find out what the situation is!
Create a landing page for my foundation reviews: As I said in the “top content” section, my foundation reviews are some of the most popular posts on the site, and although I do have a category dedicated to them, I’d like to try making some kind of landing page, to bring all of that content together, and make it easier for people to find what they’re looking for.
Finish and publish my ebook! I feel like I’ve been talking about this forever – er, probably because I HAVE – but I’m absolutely determined that this will be the month I finally publish that blog tips ebook, so watch this space!
If past experience is anything to go by, however, my blog traffic will probably continue dropping until the end of summer, before picking back up again in September: that’s the pattern its always followed in previous years, so I suspect it’ll be a long time before I reach my goal of 200,000 pageviews, and that next month might see a further dip on traffic: here’s hoping I’m wrong!