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Real Estate Blog Traffic, How Many Hits Should I Expect ?

Kool-aid-statsBlog Visitor Statistics - Don't Drink The Kool-Aid

At Bloggers Connect 2007, a woman from the audience during the panel I spoke on (Show Me The Leads) asked a great question.  A question that I hear everyday.  A question that I know every new and soon to be blogger is asking: “How many hits should I expect to get to my blog?”

I was surprised to hear the answer by one of the panelists:
“After a couple of months, you should be getting a couple of thousand a day.”

As far as I know, based on most statistic metric counters, there are only a handful of blogs in the real estate blogosphere that can boast that they are generating visits in the thousands per day. 
Statements like these are reckless and misleading. 

There is a need for a common measure of traffic to a website, and that measure should be that of the “unique visitor”.  Where the (ahem) confusion lies is in the distinction of the following:

Visits – The instance of someone coming to your site.
Hits – The instance of anything visiting your site.
Page Views – The instance of someone clicking on a page in your site.
Impressions – The instance of your site appearing in a search result.
Unique Visits – The instance of someone coming to your site once, in a limited time frame.

Because all of the above represent some sort of traffic measure to your site, the answer to the question above can be leveraged by using any of them.  However, the question that the novice in the audience was hoping to have answered was “How many people can I expect to visit my blog?”  We all knew exactly what she was asking.

Let me show you an example:
Tomato Client, Gena Riede: SacramentoRealEstateVoice.com operates a well visited blog.

Gena’s statistics as recorded by: Google Analytics, Sitemeter and Webalizer
This past week: 8/3/2007 thru 8/8/2007

Google-AnalyticsVisits according to Google Analytics: Ave Visits: 217 per day
230, 198, 199, 247, 209, 219

Page Views according to Google Analytics: Ave Pages: 547 per day
490, 567, 534, 579, 547, 566

SitemeterVisits according to Site Meter: Ave Visits: 213 per day
226, 194, 196, 243, 205, 215

Page Views according to Site Meter: Ave Pages: 537 per day
480, 557, 525, 568, 537, 554

WebalizerVisits according to Webalizer: Ave Visits: 933 per day
886, 949, 968, 1005, 871, 919

Page Views according to Webalizer: Ave Pages: 2412 per day
2289, 2323, 2270, 2453, 2635, 2503

(And the most fantastic stat of them all)
Hits according to Webalizer: Ave Hits: 14586 per day
14440, 14574, 12565, 16247, 14992, 14697

OK - so what's going on here? 
Why are Google Analytics and Sitemeter so close, but Webalizer so much higher?
Well, it's not perfectly easy to explain, so if you need to know, read on carefully and I'm sure the rest will pan out in the comments.

Thousands-of-visitsAs explained by an expert from an Official Google Analytics Expert Consultant:

“Google Analytics [and Sitemeter] are JavaScript page tag based web analytics programs.”

Your “visits” are going to be IP address generated only.  The default window for a unique IP visit is 30 minutes.  This means that humans are the only “visit” being counted.

However,

“Webalizer is a log-file based analytics program.  Webalizer will track everything that hits your site, SE bots, page scrapers, translation bots, and much more leading to vastly inflated numbers of irrelevant visitors.”

Webalizer Terms Explained

So what’s my answer to our novice’s question?  “It depends.”
Your site’s traffic will depend on many factors:

Location, Topics, Networking, Marketing, Participation, Frequency, Talent, Reputation, Etc.

The better answer is, that if you are serious about blogging, and aiming to make it a valuable effort, then you should aim to always be improving your reach.  Your “visits” should grow steadily because of your tenacity, improvement and experience.  And the reality is, almost all of us will never experience thousands of “visits” a day.

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Comments

Hits are actually any time a file is pulled from your server (html file, image file, javascript file, css file, etc.) So one person/bot visiting your site could generate 100's of hits (if not more in the case of a bot).

Great article though. I think a lot of people get hung up on how much traffic they "should" be getting. Since it depends a lot on how much traffic is even available (a blog focusing on a small town in Iowa obviously doesn't have as large of an available audience as a blog focusing on NYC), there is no real "right" answer.

Thanks, Jim. It might be worthwhile to dig into Google Analytics topics like Bounce Rate and Time on Site, too. The sheer quantity of visits can be fun to track, but if people aren't sticking around, they can't be absorbing your message.

I have never done all these stats - I just use the statistic feature on my blog. I think my record high was 19 visits in a day. You may not be impressed, but I was thrilled. My blog is pretty local so I can't imaging thousands of people wanting to read it. Thanks for the great article.

We human beings are funny creatures, are we not? We tend to drift to who has the biggest, the best, the most, etc. In the blog world it is not any different. We all watch our site meters like crazy and then tend to compare who has the most. Don't take me wrong, I do the same thing.

What I am most pleased with, in my new 3 month old blog, is that people are staying and reading. My average visit has gone WAY up from my previous blog. I suppose I have found the right niche and have something to say that people want to read. To me, if I can continue to have people read my articles, then over time that has got to be the biggest metric to be watching.

I think that your blog traffic also depends on your market. If you are doing a local blog in Provo Utah, expect less traffic than if you are writing for Las Vegas Nevada.

If you are targeting a national market, your traffic depends as much on how you write, as wall as how many referring sources direct you traffic.

Every time I think I've learned something 'techie', a guy like you comes along and shows me something new. I've told my resident blog-geek to ensure mine counts only unique visitors, using the strictest definition.

Wow, I said 'unique visitors'. :)

Thanks for the info.

Florence,

Thanks for the clarity on "hits". I tried to make as much of this in plain English as I could to keep people reading on. Comments like yours and the links I included are a great source of further understanding. Thanks again.

Greg,

Great to see you back in the comments. You are right on. For brevity on this article I didn't pour it on - but plan to in a subsequent one. I get so many questions about the value of traffic and what to be looking for. My concerns from the stats programs I look at: length of stay, and juicy keywords. The rest for me is just fun to know.

Jim,
It looks like Sacramento Real Estate Voice is undressed! Good explanation on all these hits and numbers.

One thing, I might add is that comments are great but I have found that most people read for awhile and then pick up the phone. Very few feel comfortable actally commenting...just a side-note.

-Gena Riede

By the way, love the Title and the Kool-aid photo is GREAT! Such a talented guy, you are, you are!!

-Gena Riede

Very helpful article Jim. I am pleased to know that it is ok if I am not getting thousands of hits! I am watching my stats and seeing what posts seem to get the most hits, so I know what interests people and what doesn't.

I'm surprised no one here mentioned something to the effect of, "Who cares how many hits-visits-page views you have as long as your blog is bringing you readers that have the ability to turn in to clients and then do actually turn in to clients."

After all, aside from niche segmented national celebrity and glamour we achieve by reading and knowing about each other's blogs, it boils down to attracting business.

Thanks Jim-
I blog not because of the traffic I might get but more to deliver the message to those that are already reading.

I have to argue with the sitemeter quote: This means that humans are the only “visit” being counted.

Sitemeter grabs all the bots that hit me.
Here's a screen capture from a Chase Bot visit
http://www.patagoniafinance.com/uploaded_images/sticky2.jpg


Looking forward to more explanations! I remember being amazed several years ago when someone told me they were getting 8000 hits a week on their website--and I thought I was doing so well with 1200 visitors. I was with Realigent in those days and called technical support for an explanation.

It was then that I began to understand the huge difference between a hit and a visit.

Apples and oranges.

As Joe said, hits are only important if they are leading to potential clients ("leads"), having a lot of hits is a nice way to feel better about yourself and have a little more confidence and motivation to continue blogging. But at the end of the day, those numbers, unless they're attached to a dollar sign being offered to you, they do not hold much real significant meaning.

If you are interested in tracking your traffic, however (why not? it's fun :D) you should take into consideration your audience. PHP-based or JavaScript? They each have their own benefits (as long as done, correctly). A PHP-based tracker that doesn't record IPs and as thus doesn't offer 'unique hits' is not very helpful, while a JavaScript based tracking software is just as useless to a blogger when a % of their audience has JavaScript disabled.

There are variables involved that could drastically alter your hits daily (though not always!) and so, relying on hits to know how read/visited you could be misleading and incorrect.

A good post but the real answer should have been that the lady should not be concerned about hits. She should make her blog user friendly to consumers and rich in content. If she does that, the old " Build it they will come" statement will be true. If she doesn't build it correctly, they might still hit on hersite but these hits will be meaningless. Probably a waste of time focusing on them. Better to focus on your content and seeing that it gets distributed properly.IMHO

For me its about quality not quantity. Who cares if you are 1200 hits in one day if they clock in at 0 seconds?

I've been using my stats to find out how people get to my website, what people have been searching for, what they actually stay to read and mostly importantly ideas for future posts. And I've gotten a few.

If you jumpy into the frenzy about getting more traffic- you lose focus on what you're trying to do- unless, of course, that's what you are trying to do.

Nice job Jim. I am still waiting for someone to show me the relationship between the number of visits and the number of closed real estate transactions or even appointments. Can you explain it?

Greg touched on the issue of bounce rate and time on site, but I think it boils down to quality over quantity. I'd rather have one good reader who enjoys my site and hopefully develops into a lead than 1000 people/bots/wingdings that come and go without making a mark and most importantly becoming a lead. Don't get too caught up in the numbers game, no matter which numbers you're using.

I am the "novice in the audience" who asked the question. Thank you for the technical explanation. The point of my question wasn't really to try to generate maximum "hits", "visits", whatever. Like Teresa above me, I am wondering if there is a correlation between the number of people who read your blog, and the number of clients you might one day hope to win through your efforts. If RE is a "numbers game" than such a correlation ought to exist. However, because this is a relatively new beast for us, it may take a while for us to get at an answer.
Those of us who are "novices" (6 months for me so far), are eager to know that we are following the "right track" -- whatever that may be. That was the gist of my question. And, just from surveying other audience members seated next to me, that concern is shared by many others. We are putting in intersting, helpful, personalized, valuable, unique (etc) content, and we want reassurance that one day that will pay off.
Like Maureen, I use that "stats" tab on my typepad blog to check the daily activity. Is it useful at all?! There seems to be no rhyme or reason to it. It's up and down.
Thank you, in any case, for an illuminating (and somewhat reassuring) post.

Justyna- I think the answer is- you get what you put into it. I got my first lead this week from my blog and I started posting in July. That was alot faster than I got a lead off my regular website. This lead- which just may turn into a buyer- was impressed with the time I took in my blog. She is a teacher- so she appreciated all the effort and thought that went into my posts. How did I get her? I focused on one condo community, wrote about it and the surrounding neighborhood- that post was picked up in her search for that neighborhood.

I think you have to define your audience and try to reach it. It's alot more work than buying a template website or sending out direct mail. You are more exposed in a blog- more personal. And I don't think blogging is for everyone.

I got 4 listing appointments from my blog this week. I can't keep up. Yes, others have more visitors. Good for them. I don't get paid by people who visit. I just want people to call...

I should also note that the stats reported by blog sites are not accurate. In fact, they are woefully inaccurate. My stats are recorded daily by About.com, and they are tens of thousands above what blog sites report. Since I am paid on page views, I highly doubt that About.com would inflate its page view stats, leading me to believe that the blog sites are inaccurate. Hey, check them. Every site is different. Why aren't they identical or even close to each other? Because they pull numbers out of you know where. My average hits are 4 per visit, meaning readers go to three other pages on my site before they leave. And that's not high by any standards.

OK... Now I'm even more confused. I see you are on a Typepad platform so I'm guessing you understand it.

What is Typepad telling us on our meter?

Elizabeth,

Given that all measures are inaccurate, if everyone who cares about their rank in relation to their peers' used the same platform for measuring traffic, then I would think that this would at least provide that understanding. Who gets more than me, and who gets less?

I know that this has nothing to do with business, and is only relative on a competition level, but that vein seems to be popular.

Brian,

As a user (handcuffed user) of Typepad, I mostly ignore the stats they provide. This is because the stats are limited to page views. Which, although important, is not the same as "visitors". I generate around 800-1000 page views a day. More than twice the number of visitors, I suspect.

Justyna,

Thanks so much for coming forward. I felt terrible that I didn't have your name.... and my labeling of 'novice' was a shot in the dark as well. I assumed by your question that this was a fair description, but mostly wanted the readers to know that if they had the same question that this answer was for them.

I am writing a post with Teresa right now on the Hit to Lead Correlation, I can't wait to see how she rips me :)

Thanks again for coming by, we are thrilled to have your readership.

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