Getting serious about web analytics - Part 2

Continued from Part 1.

As a convenience to the readers, besides the generic Atom feed, I have added, to the sidebar on your right, subscribe buttons for popular online feed readers. Surely everyone has a different opinion on what the most popular ones are, so I simply started from the ones provided on our CEO's blog --Jonathan must have an online-marketing specialist working out these details for him-- and added a couple I had heard of. My apologies in advance in your own favorite is not on there, but drop me a note and I will add it!

To add such button, many of these sites provide you with an online tool that generates the HTML code for you to insert, based on some preferences (e.g. button size), such as with Google. You should be able to find these pages by following some kind of Tools link at the bottom of the homepages or googling on the "subscribe button for xxx" or "subscribe badge for xxx" keywords.

Off-Site Buzz

There is a third kind of audience to a blog's content, besides on-site traffic and subscribers. It is the off-site viewing of the content as picked up by social bookmarking sites like del.icio.us, Digg, etc. I do not know at this point whether it is possible, and how, to track the many off-site audiences in a centralized and/or automated way. What I can do though is to provide courtesy bookmark buttons directly in the blog posts and apply the onClick trick to them so I can count how many times visitors have bookmarked them and thus have some idea about the off-site buzz of individual posts.

Creating these buttons was fairly similar to creating the subscribe buttons for the online feed readers. With three exceptions. First, some sites (like Yahoo! Buzz) give you Javascript code instead of plain HTML which may not be practical if you intended to add your own Javascript --in my case, I'm instrumenting the outbound link with an onClick action-- so I had to decode the Javascript to locate the image and subscribe URLs, and reconstruct HTML code. Second, I needed very small icons (16x16) because these bookmark buttons would follow each blog post. I used the following trick if a site was not offering such an icon; I grabbed the website's favicon.ico which you typically access at http://hostname/favicon.ico. Third, the bookmark URL typically requires as parameters the permalink and title of the blog post. And they change for every blog post! I use the Roller variables $url.entry($entry.anchor) and $entry.title which you URL-encode through $utils.encode(). Finally, this is the code that I added to the bottom of the entry-footer in my _day Roller template:

           | <a href="http://del.icio.us/post?url=$url.entry($entry.anchor)&amp;title=$utils.encode($entry.title)" onClick="javascript: pageTracker._trackPageview('/social/delicious');" title="post to del.icio.us"><img src="http://static.delicious.com/img/delicious.gif" width=16 height=16 /></a>
           | <a href="http://digg.com/submit?phase=2&amp;url=$url.entry($entry.anchor)&amp;title=$utils.encode($entry.title)" onClick="javascript: pageTracker._trackPageview('/social/digg');" title="Digg it!"><img src="http://digg.com/img/badges/16x16-digg-guy.png" /></a>
           | <a href="http://slashdot.org/bookmark.pl?url=$url.entry($entry.anchor)&amp;title=$utils.encode($entry.title)" onClick="javascript: pageTracker._trackPageview('/social/slashdot');" title="submit to Slashdot"><img src="http://images.slashdot.org/favicon.ico" width=16 height=16 /></a>
           | <a href="http://reddit.com/submit?url=$url.entry($entry.anchor)&amp;title=$utils.encode($entry.title)" onClick="javascript: pageTracker._trackPageview('/social/reddit');" title="submit to reddit"><img src="http://www.reddit.com/static/spreddit5.gif" alt="reddit" /></a>
           | <a href="http://co.mments.com/track?url=$url.entry($entry.anchor)&amp;title=$utils.encode($entry.title)" onClick="javascript: pageTracker._trackPageview('/social/comments');" title="track in co.mments"><img src="http://co.mments.com/images/track.gif" /></a>
           | <a href="http://www.stumbleupon.com/submit?url=$url.entry($entry.anchor)&amp;title=$utils.encode($entry.title)" onClick="javascript: pageTracker._trackPageview('/social/stumbleupon');" title="submit to StumbleUpon"><img src="http://cdn.stumble-upon.com/images/16x16_su_solid.gif" alt="stumbleupon" /></a>
           | <a href="http://www.furl.net/storeIt.jsp?u=$url.entry($entry.anchor)&amp;t=$utils.encode($entry.title)" onClick="javascript: pageTracker._trackPageview('/social/furl');" title="store in Furl"><img src="http://www.furl.net/images/logo-favicon.ico" /></a>
           | <a href="http://ma.gnolia.com/bookmarklet/add?url=$url.entry($entry.anchor)&amp;title=$utils.encode($entry.title)" onClick="javascript: pageTracker._trackPageview('/social/magnolia');" title="add to Ma.gnolia"><img src="http://ma.gnolia.com/favicon.ico" /></a>
           | <a href="http://buzz.yahoo.com/article/pub/$url.entry($entry.anchor)" onClick="javascript: pageTracker._trackPageview('/social/yahoobuzz');" title="vote on Yahoo!Buzz"><img src="http://buzz.yahoo.com/img/badge-logo.png" /></a>
           | <a href="http://www.facebook.com/sharer.php?u=$url.entry($entry.anchor)&amp;t=$utils.encode($entry.title)" onClick="javascript: pageTracker._trackPageview('/social/facebook');" title="share on Facebook"><img src="http://www.facebook.com/favicon.ico" /></a>
           | <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/shareArticle?mini=true&amp;url=$url.entry($entry.anchor)&amp;title=$utils.encode($entry.title)" onClick="javascript: pageTracker._trackPageview('/social/linkedin');" title="share on LinkedIn"><img src="http://www.linkedin.com/favicon.ico" /></a>

Among the off-site buzz the blog, one is of particular interest. It is the references other bloggers make to your blog, giving you visibility/access to their own audience. I use Technorati to track blog citations a.k.a. authority. For it, I had to register on the site and claim Openomics as my blog. Of course, I added a Technorati button to make it visible that this blog was claimed there and give a chance to people to add it as a favorite blog of theirs. Here's a snapshot of how Openomics stands on Technorati today. There is a long way to go to celebrity...


Concluding Remarks

Am I getting too serious about web analytics? On one hand, I am guessing/hoping that, as I learn more, I will settle on a more lightweight analytics infrastructure --running analytics from 3+ sites and tracking down to every single link do seem like an overkill. On the other hand, I cannot imagine blogging without doing a minimum of tracking. Many of us at ISV Engineering blog as an extension to our technology-adoption function at Sun, so we must seek to know how successful we are at conveying the value proposition of Sun technologies and at harnessing the Web to drive technology adoption. That is, in Google Analytics terms, how effective the blog is in the goal conversion of OpenSolaris downloads e.g. I'm lucky I have an onClick action on that link! ;-)

Comments:

Probably you are a bit serious but heyyo know what you are talking about,

Posted by eva on November 11, 2009 at 06:30 AM CET #

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How open innovation and technology adoption translates to business value, with stories from our developer support work at Oracle's ISV Engineering.

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