Many bloggers, online entrepreneurs and affiliate marketers choose WordPress as a solution to setting up a free website for their business, since WordPress offers a comprehensive set of web publishing tools that includes a CMS (content management system), hosting, statistics, etc.
But, of course, the free WordPress package has its limitations, the main inconvenience being that you don't have full control of your site's set-up and can't effectively tune it to your needs. However, quite often this is because web publishers are simply not aware of the capabilities a free-hosted WordPress blogs has, and that's what I'd like to cover in this post.
Checking web statistics (traffic and engagement) is an integral part of any online promotional campaign. You may have a stunning blog with amazing content, but you need factual data to determine if your blog actually resonates with your audience.
The free WordPress platform has the Stats section that allows one to view:
- the number of visitors to the blog;
- referral links that brought visitors to the site;
- what links have been clicked and how many times;
- the number of syndicated blog views (RSS);
- the number of comments and followers on the blog;
- the number of social shares your blog has got, etc.
Also, when in the Stats tab, be sure to check Summary Tables (there is a link just under the progress graph, on the right) that let you see visits per month, traffic averages and peaks.
In the Referrers section (on the left), you can see through what links visitors came to your blog, what search engines they used, etc. Just click Summaries to access the full mode.
Then, under Search Engine Terms (on the left), you can see what keywords people used to find your blog in the search engines, which provides valuable insight into how you could drive more traffic to your site or convert your visitors into buyers. Again, remember to press Summaries to get full information.
And finally, you can see the geography of your blog's visitors in the Views by Country section:
Google/Bing Webmaster Tools for WordPress
Another way to track your blog's performance is to create an account with Google/Bing Webmaster Tools and then verify your free-hosted WordPress blog with these online services.
Previously, it was impossible for free WordPress blog owners to use third-party Webmaster Tools for their sites. But I guess WordPress received many requests to incorporate those tools into its free platform, so, WordPress now has a section for that called Webmaster Tools Verification (under Tools in your Dashboard).
Just click on the question mark icon for detailed instructions on how to set up a webmaster tools account and how to enter your details into your WordPress dashboard. Tip: choose Alternative methods >> HTML tag when generating a verification code for your Google Webmaster Tools account.
In fact, Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools are similar in many ways. They provide you with information on how the search engines crawl your site, what accessibility issues there may be on your site, what links it has, whether there is malware on your site, and more.
Besides, as WordPress now automatically creates an XML sitemap for your blog, you can submit it to the respective SE via webmaster tools as well as ping the search engine to come and crawl your site right away (true of Bing). In Google Webmaster Tools, you can set a geographic target in Configuration >> Settings to target visitors from a particular country.
Moreover, Bing now has a link explorer tool you can use to see what links are pointing to the site you specify (it doesn't have to be your own site) according to the Bing search engine. Just look under Diagnostics & Tools in Bing Webmaster Tools:
For a more complete backlink analysis, however, we recommend using our in-house backlink checker, SEO SpyGlass, that provides exhaustive statistics on any site's backlinks and their SEO parameters.
Making your WordPress blog popular
Apart from tracking your blog's popularity with the search engines, one also needs to take certain steps to popularize their blogs in the online community. Some time ago, I wrote a detailed post on how you can use numerous WordPress capabilities to attract traffic to your site.
In addition, you can use Rank Tracker to discover frequently searched for keywords that could get you lots of new visitors. The same SEO tool can be used to check where your blog ranks in the search engines for the keywords you specify (let's say, the keywords that you see in your WordPress Stats or in Webmaster Tools).
As you see, even if you use the free version of WordPress, you can still get access to analytics and other data you need to wage a successful online promotion campaign. Besides, you can tie your WordPress account to Google/Bing Webmaster Tools to tap into some serious crawl, keyword and backlink data pertaining to your site.
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