Quarterly review of eNitiate Website: should I continue blogging?

eNitiate Website | Google Analytics | Traffic Sources | Feature | 2020 vs 2019

It has been 3 months since the launch of the revamped eNitiate Website.

The time is right to check how the site’s traffic has performed, and analyse the impact blogging has had in the Web traffic’s performance.

Why do I want to know how blogging is doing? This activity, which has been the main source of fresh content for the Website, takes time and effort.  

Thus, I would like to know if the published blogs in the last 3 months, and before, have added value that will justify continuing with this type of content development, given the increasing range of alternatives that are available. 

As can be expected, I shall be using data to review the performance. 

The source of the data is Google Analytics, and the period is 28 December 2019 to 28 March 2020. 

For richness, the period under review is compared to the same one from the previous year. 

I share the results of my analysis in this blog. 

A note on selection of Google Analytics metrics

There are numerous metrics that I can use for the purpose I am trying to achieve in this blog. 

However, I curbed my enthusiasm and focused on anchoring the analysis on a few metrics that will become obvious when you go through the blog. 

In the end, I was happy with my metric selection. 

Let’s get on with the analysis then.

First, I analysed total numbers of users (unique visitors), sessions (visits) and pages that were visited

Here is a gallery of 3 growth graphs for users, sessions and pages. Read it anti-clockwise from the bottom. 

Finding:

  • Numbers of users and sessions have more than doubled over the 3 months under review, when compared to the previous period. While the number of pages viewed grew handsomely too, the growth rate is below that of users and sessions.

Overall, it is good news that the eNitiate Website experienced an upsurge in visits since the relaunch.

Let’s scratch the surface a bit more to see what lies underneath the growth numbers, and gain the understanding why pageview growth lags behind that of users and sessions.

Next, I analysed the behaviour of visitors on the eNitiate Website using data related to Sessions

Below is Graph 4 that plots 2020 monthly and 3-month average Pages Per Session, and growth over 2019.

Graph 4

Finding:

  •  Across the 3 months under review, users (visitors) have been viewing fewer pages per session (visit). This is shown by the declines when comparing 2020 and 2019 (the RED line).

Any clues in the Session Durations data? 

See Graph 5 below, which plots session durations for 2020, and growths of these versus 2019.

eNitiate Website | Google Analytics | Session Durations | 2020 vs 2019
Graph 5

Finding:

  • Overall, users have spent less time on the eNitiate Website over the 3 months, despite a huge session duration spike in January.

A further breakdown of session durations reveals an interesting picture about the content consumption behaviour of visitors to the eNitiate Website. 

See Graph 6 below, which plots session durations for 2020, and growths versus 2019. 

eNitiate Website | Google Analytics | Breakdown of Session Durations | 2020 vs 2019
Graph 6

Finding:

  • More than 8 in 10 sessions (visits) on the Website last up to 10 seconds, and these grew remarkably versus 2019 (compare this to the average growth in total sessions of 133%) 

Yes, the number of users more than doubled, and this is great. However, many of them do not stay for long on the site.

While short visits formed the bulk of 2019’s session durations as well, the increase in 2020 is visibly higher.

Thankfully though, there has been an increase in session durations of 3 minutes and above as well, as depicted by the 3 last bars from 181 seconds.

I shall come back to the point on session durations in the last section of this blog.

The last 3 sets of data that I analysed paint a clearer picture

1.1. eNitiate Web's traffic sources - Contributions and Growth

Graph 7 below plots 3 data points – contributions by main sources of user traffic for first quarter of 2020 and 2019, and growth in traffic over the 2 periods. 

eNitiate Website | Google Analytics | Traffic Sources - Contributions and Growths | 2020 vs 2019
Graph 7

Finding:

  • eNitiate Website’s upsurge has been due to improvement in organic search traffic – mainly from Google. This traffic is considered as gold, because it is free. 

Getting organic traffic from Google can mean a few things, 5 of which are:

  • It’s a sign of growing online authority. This is an important indicator for a Website that is serious about positioning itself as the go-to place for chosen types of content. In our case, stats on Africa’s online performance.
  • The Web content is relevant, and the quality is high.
  • The site is mobile friendly.
  • Search engine optimisation efforts are working.
  • Social media marketing efforts are successful.

Given the 5 indicators above – and I believe all of them played a role in some shape or form in the case of eNitiate Website, increase in organic traffic is a great achievement.

1.2. eNitiate Web's traffic sources - Contributions and Sessions

The graph below plots 3 data points – contributions by main sources of user traffic for first quarter of 2020, and growths in pages per session and session durations versus 2019.

eNitiate Website | Google Analytics | Traffic Sources - Contributions and Sessions | 2020 vs 2019
Graph 8

Finding:

  • Organic search traffic views the least number of pages per session and spends least amount of time per session on the eNitiate Website.

Is the finding above an indication of poor quality of organic traffic?

Or can something be done with the structuring of the Web content to keep the visitors longer?

Clearly, the answer is much more complex.

But let’s dig some more data to see if we can get closer anyway.

2. eNitiate Web's Traffic: Top 10 Countries

Graph 9 below plots 3 data points – contributions by top 10 countries to user traffic for first quarter of 2020 and 2019, and growth over the 2 periods.

eNitiate Website | Google Analytics | Top 10 Countries: User Contributions and Growths | 2020 vs 2019
Graph 9

Finding:

  • South Africa leap-frogged the US with a massive growth in users, and this lead to switching of the top 2 positions from 2019, with a combined 2020 contribution of almost 70% to total number of users.

What has lead to the growth in the South African visitors? The answer lies in the pages most viewed during the 3 months under review. see Table 1 below.

eNitiate Website | Google Analytics | Top 10 Pages By Pageviews | 2020 vs 2019
Table 1

Finding:

  • The showing by South Africa in the top 10 countries is supported by the top 10 most viewed pages on the eNitiate Website, where 4 of the top 5 pages are all blogs about the country. 

A  blog on eNitiate Website stats that was published in November 2019 indicated that there has been an increase of traffic using mobile devices.

So how have the mobile devices performed during the period under review? 

3.1. Access to eNitiate Website by Device

Graph 10 below plots 3 data points – contributions by devices to user traffic for first quarter of 2020 and 2019, and growth over the 2 periods.

eNitiate Website | Google Analytics | Devices: User Contributions and Growths | 2020 vs 2019
Graph 10

Finding:

  • Traffic from mobile phones has more than quadrupled in the first 3 months of 2020 versus 2019.

Here are the facts about mobile phone users, when compared to desktop users:

  • Mobile phones are used to access the Internet while on the go, or being disrupted by other online and/or offline activities.
  • The attention span on mobile phones is much more limited, partly as a result of the above point.
  • Mobile phone users, especially from a South African perspective, use their data sparingly due to the high cost thereof. Is this behaviour going to change in the future as mobile data costs come down? Time will tell.

Does the growing use of mobile phones to access the eNitiate Website alone explain the decline in the Pages Per Session and Session Durations? 

Let us check this here below. 

3.2. Pages Per Session and Session Duration by Device

Graph 11 below plots 3 data points – contributions by devices to user traffic for first quarter of 2020, and growths in pages per session and session durations over the 2 periods – 2020 versus 2019.

eNitiate Website | Google Analytics | Devices: User Contributions and Sessions | 2020 vs 2019
Graph 11

Finding:

  • Pages Per Session have declined for both desktops and mobile phones, while Session Duration grew for desktop and declined for mobile phones.

As Graph 11 shows, both desktop and mobile phones contributed to the overall decline in the Average Pages Per session (see also Graph 4), while only mobile phones contributed to the decline in Session Durations (see also Graph 5).  

Note that I am not mentioning anything about the tablet. This is due to this device’s small contribution to total users.

Time to respond to the question of the day - is blogging adding value to the eNitiate Website?

To be able to respond comprehensively to “the question of the day”, I analysed various stats from Google Analytics in this blog. 

The 3 key metrics that I used in an attempt to provide the comprehensive response were Users, Sessions and Pages.

The stats show that blogging played a major role in the increase in traffic overall. This is indicated by the many blog posts that are in the top 10 pages for the Website (Table 1).

Most specifically,

  • In addition, the published posts have been the main magnet for organic search traffic, as shown in Graph 7.
  • The types of blog topics used have also increased traffic from South Africa.
  • Lastly, blogging has has led to increase in users of mobile devices. 

However, I do have a concern about how long people stay on the site – as shown in Graph 6, mainly because my preferred blogging approach is long form, as informed by the types of topics that are tackled and the associated volumes of analysed data that get shared in the blog posts.

But then again, my style of blogging is more about thought leadership. Naturally, this appeals more to the niche market. It is not geared to an average online reader.

Granted, the “top 10 crowd pullers” included the 2 posts that tend to appeal to the average reader due to the topical subject thereof. These are the O Jewa Ke Eng posts that are ranked 1 and 4 in the top 10 pages in Table 1. But when you assess the style of blogging even for these two posts, it still follows the thought leadership approach.

Overall, I would have been even more concerned if growths of longer session durations – as measured by session durations of 181 seconds (3 minutes, 1 second) and above, as found in Graph 6, declined while shorter session durations increased.

The moral of my story is that my blogging is highly data-rich and somewhat scholarly. Thus, I must expect that average readers will most likely have much shorter stays on the eNitiate Website, while “vampire readers” will stay much longer. 

After all is discovered, said and done, do I continue blogging? Yes, but there still more work in refining and improving blog content, layout and search optimisation efforts; to ensure the eNitiate Website continues to attract and keep the right target reader. 

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