Stats Wrangling IV: Referrers and Clicks

This summer, we provided a bird’s-eye view of your Stats panel and have taken tours of various modules (Days, Weeks, and Months and Top Posts and Pagesthat offer data about your site’s visitors and your most popular content.

Today, let’s take a look at two more sections: your Referrers, which tell you where your visitors come from, and your Clicks, which tell you where your visitors go.

Why thank you, internet, for referring others to me!

Just how do people find your blog? On your Stats page, look for your Referrers section. Here, you can access your referrers for the current day and yesterday. These lists display other blogs, websites, and search engines that link to your blog. (A view is counted as a referrer when a visitor on another site clicks a link there and lands somewhere on your blog.)

Many of you will see a mix of items, including:

  • Search engines (Google Search, Google Image Search, AOL, Yahoo, etc.).
  • URLs of posts from bloggers who have mentioned and linked to one of your posts.
  • Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and the like (as a result of readers sharing your stuff on their social networks).
  • Discovery and recommendation services (like StumbleUpon and Bloglovin).
  • And the good ol’ Reader, of course!


Also, click on the Summaries link on the top right of the Referrers section to view your 7-day, 30-day, quarter, year, and all-time summaries — here, you’ll see which sites and specific URLs have brought visitors to your blog, consistently, over time.

After studying your referrers, what can you do to make it easier for people to find you and your posts in the future?

If visitors find you via search engines, tag your posts appropriately as you’ve been doing. Take a look at another section on your Stats page, Search Engine Terms, to see what people have typed into search engines, like Google or Bing, to land on your site:


Do more of the same. Publish more content on these topics. Refresh your posts on these subjects with up-to-date information or add links to related posts to drive people to other pages on your site.

Notice referrers from image searches, like Google Image Search? Continue to optimize the images you upload to your posts: use clear, succinct file names and add alternative text and captions, which you can do with each image via the Edit option in your Media Library. In short, if you want your images to be found, label ’em appropriately.

Continue the conversation and highlight your mentions. If someone quoted your latest think piece on racism and pop culture, consider a follow-up response and link back to the site. If you were included in a “top 20 travel blogs” roundup, toot your horn — c’mon, you deserve it! — and tell your readers in a post. You’ll find great fodder for content in your referrers. Use it!

See referrers from the same blog or website multiple times? Visit these sites often and engage with the readers and communities there, and network with and have ongoing conversations with the bloggers who continually mention you and your work. Build bridges. Or better yet, form a collective with people who share your interests or experiences.

Fill in any holes. See lots of referrers from Twitter and Facebook, but nothing from other networks? Connect to Google+, Tumblr, Path, or LinkedIn to tap into social and intellectual circles you haven’t reached.

Click, click away: where do your readers go?

While it’s enlightening to see where your visitors come from, it’s also interesting to see where they go next. Now, head over to the Clicks sectionThese are readers’ actual clicks, primarily on links that lead to other sites on the web. These links include the links you add to your posts and pages, links in your blogroll, links that visitors leave in your comments, and links attached to usernames, too.


Some suggestions and things to think about as you browse your clicks:

Are readers clicking through your blogroll? Be sure the blogs you’ve listed are active, and refresh your list periodically — if these are your favorite blogs and go-to sites, they should reveal more about you and your current interests.

Are your other social profiles getting love? If readers are clicking over to your Instagram or Flickr profiles, or seeing what you’re up to on Tumblr or LinkedIn, keep these accounts updated with new stuff, too. Lead your readers to more of your awesome creations online.

Notice lots of clicks on specific (or certain types of) links? Is a particular New York Times story link or YouTube video extremely popular? While it’s possible the content in the story or video is the real draw, it’s worth revisiting these posts to see what you wrote about and how you wrote it — and brainstorming ways to give readers more of what they want.

Ultimate questions to ask yourself: Where are you sending people once they leave your blog? Do you see any connection between your posts and the places your readers go? If many people click over to your photography elsewhere ’cause they just can’t get enough, keep publishing your awesome images. If readers love visiting a certain blogger-friend’s site, continue suggesting her posts as complementary material to your own.

No blog is an island — you’re part of a very wide web, and the richer your connections, the better. Both your referrers and clicks offer insight into how and where your blog fits in on the internet: how other users find you and your work, and how your own cozy corner here at is a part of a user’s serendipitous journey of reading and discovering on the web.

More reading material for you:

Other Stats Wrangling posts in this series:

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Comments are closed.

  1. Maggie

    Love checking out my stats – thanks for the tips!


  2. MikeB (@g1antfan)

    Question. Regarding the Search Engine Terms. Most of the time the stats page shows hits from “Unknown search terms”. Why would the terms be unknown and why do most Search Engine referrals end up here.



  3. Matt M.

    Is there a firm number of clicks required to activate WordAds? I heard “in the thousands”, but I’m not really sure what to shoot for.


  4. rubble2bubble

    I love the stats where it shows the different countries. My primary frustration with stats is that when people come onsite, they simply scroll through everything….and, although my ratio of followers in relation to views is really good, there’s no evidence that they’ve taken the time to view each post…tho they plainly have (based on the fact that they want to follow!)


  5. christrocks

    These “Stats Wrangling” posts are super helpful–thanks! 🙂


  6. manny20132013

    This is a Continuing Education blog. Thank you.


  7. MorningBerryz

    I’ve always been curious about the ‘unknown search terms’ which always number so highly, thank you for the explanation and for broadening our understanding of referrers and how to analyze them effectively =D.


  8. seweverythingblog

    Thanks for this post. I love looking at the stats (never knew there was a country named Reunion until it showed up in the stats), and am slowly but surely recognizing how and what are the ways to bring in unique visitors and views to my “baby” blog — just 6 months old. At this time it’s just a blip but I’m working on expanding the reach; and of course, look forward to posts like this from WordPress.


  9. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    This is interesting, but I just don’t know how anyone would find you from ninesmsn?? Or LinkedIn. Curious. But interesting.


    • Cheri Lucas Rowlands

      Hi there — I think there’s a field in LinkedIn to display a URL (your blog, portfolio, etc.), so people can click over from there. As for ninemsn, I’m listed on a top blogs roundup (yay!), hence the referrers.


  10. The Urban Daddy

    Thanks for this Cheri.

    Off to check my stats as well, but now for a different perspective!


  11. ejmortimer

    ‘Wrangling’… Definitely an appropriate term!


  12. reyajoy

    I’m so curious to know how I’m attracting traffic from other countries? I still haven’t figured it out. Only been blogging for 2 months now. It’s been fun learning. Thanks for the info!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cheri Lucas Rowlands

      What’s great about having a blog, and publishing posts about things you’re interested in, is that other users can discover them (especially if they’re interested in the same things!). For instance, if your blog is public and you tag your posts, users anywhere in the world can find them — in the topics page in the Reader, via searches on search engines like Google, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

      • reyajoy

        Thank you for the insight. I haven’t really discovered my niche yet, so I guess I didn’t figure anyone would happen upon my content. Although, I have published… It’s just not good! Ha! Well, thanks so much, Cheri.


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