My 12th traffic stats report sees the SideGains blog reaching it’s first birthday. A full year of blogging deserves it’s own post detailing the entire journey… this will come later this month.
June was a really hard month for me in blogging terms. After completing my 30 day blogging challenge in May I was pretty burned out. Committing to an increased blogging schedule while maintaining quality and depth was a tough thing to attempt.
Although I managed to complete the challenge it left me exhausted so I took a few days off. As you’ll see below, this dovetailed with an unexpected month-on-month traffic decrease in early June, which knocked my morale.
As a result I struggled to find motivation to return to even my normal posting schedule of 2 to 3 articles per week as I attempted to try to understand why my visits had taken such a hit. I’d fully expected to see a big hike in traffic in July, since I’d added 30 new posts to SideGains in May as opposed to the 10 to 12 posts I usually publish over the course a normal month.
As of today, I understand how my traffic has decreased (a search result position change on 2 high ranking pages in Google) but I don’t yet understand why it’s happened.
Into every life a little rain must fall, and the same is true for blogging life! Your blog posts are never fixed in a position in search results and you need to rely on more than just a couple of pages to drive visits.
Nonetheless, it’s still tough to see a dip in traffic when to date pretty much every month has seen upward growth on the month prior.
Anyway… the following are my blog traffic stats and analysis for June 2020. As always, you can see all my monthly stats since July 2019 here: SideGains Blog Traffic Stats.
June 2020 Blog Traffic Stats from Google Analytics
You’ll see from my Google Analytics report in June that SideGains has “enjoyed” a traffic decrease last month. As I mentioned in my preamble, I’ve seen a ranking drop on two posts that were driving decent traffic every month.
I should add there was a day less in June than there was in May, but in reality an extra day would not really have made that much of a difference: there would still have been a marked decline.
Like I said earlier, I know how traffic was affected but at this moment I’m not sure just what caused it. There are a few possibilities:
- New pages from other domains have been picked up by Google and deemed to be more relevant for the terms my posts were ranking higher for previously.
- The increased posting schedule I worked on in May has somehow caused Google to reappraise of all my content and that has somehow shuffled the decks and affected those two posts.
- There’s a problem with something in my posts that Google suddenly didn’t like but hadn’t noticed before.
- Something changed on my blog to make these posts drop down the relevancy chain.
Before I talk about what I’ve done to try to fix things, let’s talk stats so you can see the numbers.
Looking at June 2020 and comparing it to May 2020, Google Analytics shows the following:
|Month||Users||Sessions||Pages Per Session|
- Users have decreased by -19.47%.
- Sessions have decreased by -19.25%.
- Pages Per Session has decreased by -0.04 pages.
You can see a big decrease in users and sessions: 455 users and 521 sessions less than in May. There has been a small drop of 0.04 pages per session in Jun also.
Given my target month on month growth is 30%, you’ll understand why I’m disappointed. Having said this, it’s a lesson that as far as search engines are concerned, upward growth is never a given.
It’s a reminder of how fickle search engines can be and that you can’t rely of Google alone for traffic.
SideGains Search Console Stats (Search Type: Web) June 2020
Here’s how my Google Search Console Stats for May 2020 compare to April 2020.
|Month||Clicks||Impressions||Avg. CTR||Avg. Position|
According to Google Search Console:
- Clicks have decreased by -24.82%.
- Impressions have decreased by -34.92%.
- Average CTR has increased by +0.14 percentage points.
- Average Position has decreased by –0.9 places.
Google Search Console shows a similar percentage decrease in clicks as Google Analytics at -24.82%. Impressions are substantially lower percentage-wise at nearly -35% compared to May. The drop in impressions of -59,819 is largely down to the two posts losing positions in search.
This highlights two things:
- You need lots of content ranking in search results.
- You need to build traffic from lots of different channels.
What’s interesting to note is that overall an average position decrease across all my posts and keywords is relatively small (down by 0.9 places) but the impact in traffic is not linear.
The one positive is Click Through Rate, which shows an increase of +0.14 places. Had there been a decrease in CTR the impact on traffic would have been more marked.
If you haven’t read one of my monthly reports previously, I use GSC Web Search Report as a rough guide to indicate what’s happening with SideGains. I cross reference this with other tools for my own personal analysis.
So What’s Happened and How Have I Responded?
Back in April, I noticed some warning flags in the Core Web Vitals report in Google Search Console. This is a relatively new report showing performance from actual users visiting your URLs.
The Core Web Vitals report focuses upon two areas for mobile and desktop users. Both are related to the experience visitors have when landing on your pages:
- CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift)
This equates to how much your page layout moves around during loading. Page elements that move when users attempt to interact with them give a bad user experience.
- LCP (Largest Contentful Paint)
Largest Contentful Paint measures the perceived load speed of your pages. Fast LCP times are important because they reassure users that your pages are loading quickly. Google suggests a load speed of no longer than 4seconds.
Find out more about Core Web Vitals here.
Google assigns a score to each of these signals that results in them being seen for mobile and desktop visitors as:
- Need improvement.
If you see your pages being listed as “Poor” on mobile for CLS and LCP, that’s a sign you need to do something.
But Why ?
These signals are important since Google wants to provide results to pages that deliver a good experience for users… and not just in terms of content relevancy. Google wants to serve pages that load quickly and seamlessly so users have the best experience possible, especially on mobile devices.
One of the things I was concerned about when seeing these warnings for SideGains back in April was how to fix them. At that time I was using the MH Newsdesk theme, a mobile optimized theme, which at one time loaded very quickly for me. As time has passed I have customized the theme and my concern was my customizations had degraded page load speeds, and as a consequence, the user experience.
In mid May, Google Search Console was telling me that 108 of my URLs were “Poor” for mobile users in terms of both CLS and LCP. I figured I should try to understand how to fix some of the CLS issues and work on trying to increase my page load speed, since my traffic driving pages were in the 108 showing as “Poor”.
I made a lot of tweaks but lot of the things I tried to implement did not go far enough… so I started thinking about changing my theme.
A New Theme
To be honest, I’d been planning a new theme for a while. This wasn’t because I didn’t like MH Newsdesk, but because I was ready for a theme to take me in a slightly different direction. MH Newsdesk is great but it’s really a theme for news type blogs and I wanted something more “bloggy”.
So on the 16th June I decided to move SideGains to a new theme: Genesis.
I’d been looking at the Genesis Framework for a while as a lot of uber bloggers use it. I won’t go into the full details of what it brings to the party: I’ll save that for another post. To shorthand it here now though, I know it’s a very slick, “grown up” and lightweight theme that would give me what I wanted.
It took me a day or two to get the basics set up and I put it live on 18th. I could see page load speeds were much improved and so I resubmitted an evaluation request of all CLS and LCP scores for mobile.
These pages are gradually being reappraised. At current standing for mobile, I have 0 pages showing as Poor LCP and 29 showing as Poor CLS… these are decreasing daily.
So things have improved but I’m yet to see a return of traffic to the pages that have lost ranking in Google search, though their positions are bouncing around a little so I’m hopeful. I’ll report on what difference this has made at the end of July 2020.
Blog Posts & Pages
Here are all the posts I made in June 2020.
|Date||Post Title||Word Count|
|2020-06-03||SideGains May 2020 Blog Traffic Stats||2,149|
|2020-06-11||Tailwind Tribes for Bloggers… 12 Tips From What I’ve Learned||1,912|
|2020-06-15||The SG Optimizer Plugin for WordPress… SiteGround’s Cherry on the Top||1,136|
|2020-06-23||How to Add Google Analytics to WordPress to Understand Your Traffic||1,493|
|2020-06-26||The Pros & Cons of Working Online – Is It Really the Dream Life?||1,782|
|2020-06-30||Affiliate Marketing for Bloggers: How to Start & Grow An Affiliate Income||3,528|
|Total Word Count||12,000|
At the end of June 2020, I have published a total of 167 posts since I started in July 2019, having published 6 posts in June 2020. That’s 24 less than May (my 30 day blogging challenge month). The total word count for June is 12,000 words, which is 32,758 words less than the month prior.
It’s a healthy word count as each of the articles are substantial, but I’m down on my usual monthly publishing frequency in June to the tune of around 8 articles.
I need to up my game in July 2020!
As per recent months, I’ve mostly kept my focus upon Pinterest and Twitter. Instagram and Facebook have taken a back seat again through necessity.
Here are my June 2020 social media stats broken down by channel.
Twitter – @gains_side
*Tweet counts include Tweets and Replies.
I was a little less active in Twitter in June in terms of the number of tweets I made…. 58 less than May. Even though I was less active, followers have grown by 70. This is the second best month for Twitter follower growth after May 2020.
My objective for June was to increase my Twitter following to hit 500, so I’ve missed the mark on that. But at present it seems likely I’ll surpass 500 in July.
Pinterest – @SideGains
I’ve put a lot of work into Pinterest and I’m not getting the results I want right now in terms of visits. I’d been confused by this since my bio, boards and pins are all well optimized and I’m getting lots of repins.
I know my pin designs require improvement so that’s something I’ve worked on from mid-June onwards. However after modifying my pin designs and seeing no improvement I reached out to Pinterest support to ask if there was something else happening with my account.
I previously had my Pinterest account suspended for spam by mistake but it reinstated earlier this year after I contacted Pinterest support. Since then I’ve not been fully convinced there wasn’t something amiss still.
On 15th June Pinterest told me that indeed there had been an issue with my account that was now resolved, though the specifics of the issue have not been provided.
It’s frustrating to find out you’ve been laboring (possibly for months) under a misapprehension… but there you go. I hope to be able to report on improved visits from Pinterest next month, but again, we’ll see.
|Month||Total Pins||Impressions||Total Followers|
I’m still using my sociable strategy for Pinterest, which is still growing my followers, despite the issue on my account that wasn’t fixed until June 15th. My sociable marketing strategy would not be possible without Tailwind to manage the heavy lifting of scheduling posts and amplifying my pins through Tailwind Tribes.
If you’re serious about Pinterest I highly recommend Tailwind… read my review to find out why.
Want to Really See a Difference on Pinterest?
Check out my review of Tailwind App for Pinterest… a tool to super-charge ALL your Pinterest activity!
Instagram – @SideGains
|Month||New Posts||Total Followers|
You can see I’ve gained 10 followers. I started making more posts in Instagram in June but my progress stopped with the redesign of pins, fixing my Core Web Vitals issues and generally just keeping going post 30 day blogging challenge.
Instagram is not my main focus, but I’d like to build my following in line with my other social channels, so I’m aware I need to give it some love.
Facebook – @SideGains
|Month||Posts||Page Views||Total Page Follows|
I won’t dwell too much on Facebook since, like Instagram, it’s not been an area I’m focussing upon right now and I’m not sure how best to use it at this time.
More to come on this in future monthly reports!
What’s Next for August 2020?
June was another challenging month for me, but unlike May it wasn’t due to my increased posting schedule.
Pinterest problems, traffic losses from Google and general burnout from May all conspired to make blogging feel to me like swimming in treacle. I also put my new theme live.
I’ll keep working to try to get traffic growth back on track and hope to report that fixing my CLS and LCP issues, a new theme and a fully functional Pinterest account all make a difference here.
That’s it for now. You’ll see another report like this one for July 2020 at the start of next month
Thanks for reading!