Sunday, February 21, 2010

Blogger Tips - Analytics, LinkWithin, Bring On The Pics

I've recently seen a large increase in traffic to this blog from, meaning more and more bloggers are following me. Great to have you! Just in case it's helpful, I thought I would share a few tips picked up from analyzing traffic over the last few months.

We all have different goals for blogging, and it's totally fine if you don't ever analyze your traffic or try to boost your readership. But I will say once you start looking into it, you will be surprised how many people are connecting to your insights. Here a few quick and simple ways to boost your traffic:

1) Use an analytics service. Wonder how I knew about the increase in traffic from My analytics service helped me track it. If you aren't using one, I would suggest you do. Most of these services are free - StatCounter and Google Analytics being two of my favorites - and will start giving you fascinating data immediately after you add a few lines of code to your template or add a widget. Imagine being able to see who sends the most traffic, which search words bring people to your site, and how folks navigate your blog. This week my top referral sites were (Stan Jensen's encyclopedic site on ultrarunning), wikipedia (largely on Dean Karnazes inquiries), and (from a forum conversation that linked to toenail removal), and my top search terms were "caballo blanco", "coconut water", and "cross country championships". It's a fascinating time suck. ;-) Once you get some analytics, a few of these other suggestions will make sense.

2) Add the LinkWithin widget. If you look at the bottom of my blog entry, you'll see a thing that suggests other blog posts you might like. That's LinkWithin, and it's a very simple free widget to add. On average, it has increased my traffic 18% without having to do a thing. But more importantly, it helps convert a lot of first time visitors into reading 2-3 pages. Odds are a few of them will be more regular readers.

3) Bring on the pics! Behind Google, my #2 contributor of traffic is This is from people looking for pictures of trail running, parks, people, etc., and has continuously been one of the big attractors of new readers to my blog. You can help Google figure out what your pictures are about with some clever image naming, such as "2009_xterra_trail_running_world_championship_hawaii_max_king_winning.jpg". Think about how many image searches might hit that - xterra, max king, hawaii trail running, etc. - especially over time. I've found a direct correlation to the number of pictures in a blog entry, and the number of visitors over time. Basically you can't ever have too many and if you name the images correctly, they will pull readers in for years to come.

On the flip side, I recently tried out "Snapshots", a widget that popped up a pre-link window that did not do much for traffic so I turned it off. I've also added "recent comments" on the right, but haven't seen a noticeable change in traffic. But I find it useful, so I will leave it up a bit longer.

Got a great tip? Let me hear it! It's how we all get better.

Thx, SD


  1. It's funny that you mentioned the toenail pics, I'm pretty sure that's how I found my way to your blog. Then I did some more reading and figured I'd follow it.

  2. Thanks Scott for the tips! I would love more. I'm still struggling to embed photos in the middle of text entries.

  3. Nazzer - it's all about the toenails! The "toenail necklace" story is still my biggest of all time, and my only 2m+ reader article. But it's a gem!

    Mark - I know, the simplest things are rediculously unintuitive in Blogger. Note that I can't get my pictures centered anymore thanks to their latest upgrade. Oh well, I guess it's free. ;-)

    I had another person e-mail me saying "how do you get the spam comments to stop? I've had enough Viagra...". Unfortunately it's not enough to have verification to stop Viagra or those crazy Chinese spammers. But you can set your Blogger comments to require review if posted on an article older than 30 days. That gets 80% of them for me.


  4. Thanks for the tips, Scott! I read your blog all the time but never comment. This is a kindhearted post. Incidentally, I found your blog several years ago when you linked to an article I wrote for my local paper about my first 50 miler (Stone Cat: 50 Miles Without the Scotch -- or something like that). I have no idea how you found that article, but I'm glad you did. I have been coming back here ever since.

  5. Ah ha! More fodder for my "What I learned from Scott Dunlap" post! ;-)
    I already learned about photos and syndication links from you, and I've been meaning to add Linked Within. Now that it has the SD stamp of approval, well, I'll be sure to get around to it here eventually.
    Seriously though Scott, your tips are awesome. I get a lot of traffic from Google images too, but I never considered the name of the image as being helpful. Good to know.

  6. Scott, its really kind of you to give such information to your followers as you are great at this blogging malarky. I had actually thought of e-mailing you to find out how to improve my own. You read my mind. Thanks again and you will always have a loyal follower in me. Malcolm.

  7. It's allways good to see that you post are being seen. You spend the time too post.

  8. Scott - Currently run in adidas Supernova Sequence. Running my first 100 and wanted your thoughts on a trail shoe. Have tried soloman and brooks - hated them. Want a neutral shoe that is light. Any recommendations?

  9. Congrats on tackling the 100! That is a huge step up.

    Shoes are such a personal fit that it's hard to recommend. Add to it that you're doing a 100, so comfort is going to be key. Depending on the 100, you might consider using your Adidas.

    Most Sequence runners are larger, but like a lightweight shoe with some padding. My favorite recommendations for that type of shoe are the North Face Chinscraper, New Balance 875, Montrails, or the Inov-8 320's (my personal favorite, naturally). But I've seen a lot of successful 100-milers in road shoes too - if the Adidas work, go for it.

    I always pack an extra pair that is 1/2 size bigger in my 70-80 mile drop bag. Some times swelling can make your feet a nasty crampfest and little room goes a long way.

    Best of luck!


  10. Thanks for the tips Scott. As spanking brand new blogger, I can put these tips to immediate use. I thought I had a busy race schedule this year but I see you've been doing your homework to find some awesome races to participate in.

  11. Scott,

    I'd be interested to know what percentage of visitors to your blog are direct vistors vs. referral or search engine traffic.

    I suspect the core of your loyal readership (obviously Grecthen and myself etc. are in this list) visit your site because of the great writing, we like to see photos and we have a connection. We'd be classified as direct visitors and thus, pretty much oblivious to blogger optimization tips.

    Another good feature of your blog is that each of the articles are complete -i.e. you don't post too often with less meaningful article.

    I think the idea of cross-posting on facebook is a good idea.

    Cheers, Paul

  12. Scott, thanks for the tips. I recently started blogging and I have experimented with adding video of trails that I have run. The problem is they shake so much that I'm afraid I'm giving my audience motion sickness. Have you ever tried running video, and do you have any tips?



  13. Kgoose - I race FAR too much. My problem is drunk-dialing race entries at the beginning of the year, only later to find out that I have a 1500m race six days before a 100-mile race. Damn you, (and UltraSignup)!

    Paul - Current direct readership is about 28%, being mindful to count bloglines and other blog readers as "direct". I do auto-post to Facebook too (you are right, a great idea) which reaches another 2%. Thanks for the "less is more" comment - I figure twice a week is enough. I do cheat sometimes and just post interesting stories I find.

    Dax - Matt Hart is the master of trail running videos (search on YouTube), and his yearly summaries are just amazing. I'm with you - not only do videos come out shaky, but I end up adding 20 minutes to my race time! For that reason, I tend to keep the videos to interviews and stills on the few occasions I use it.


  14. Thanks for the thoughts on shoes. I am Margie's little brother and met you a few years back in Death Valley. Doing the San Diego 100 with about 15k of vert so not too bad. Nervously looking forward to it. Cheers,

  15. I don't even remember how I found your blog, but I do like how you write your race reports. sometimes we run in the same race and I come back and read your report just because I want to know how you perceived it. I also like the interviews you've done. May I suggest an interview with Anton Krupicka? He has a great blog too, but I would love to see you interview him. Keep up the awesome work. See you on the trails!

  16. Hi Scott,
    I'm trying to contact you directly but I can't seem to find your email address. I just wanted to notify you about the event this Saturday (2/27), we will make sure not to block your driveway. You can email me back at info[at]


  17. Scott...I see that you know/knew Dave Acosta. I grew up with that kid. Well, sort of... we spent a few years together in Ft. Benning, Ga back in the 80s. I would love to get back in touch with Dave. Anyway you could help?

  18. Thanks for all of the tips. I need to start incorporating them on my blog.

    I have always been a fan of Google Analytics, but how do you set it up on a blog where you don't own a domain?

  19. Thanks for the tips..there is one more suggestion for all of you...
    use digg and facebook buttons in your posts..:)

  20. Thanks for Sharing!!

    Really informative


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