Since stripping back the blog theme to basics, I’ve been toying with whether or not to re-introduce some of the elements previously available. Namely Monthly archive links, Category links and Links links (as in links to other sites). My thoughts so far had been
“I’m sure no one ever used them so they were just noise/clutter”
and I’d not bothered to include them.
I eventually twigged I can get some idea as to the value of these things from my Google Analytics info and deduced the following:
- Users do not click monthly archive links
- Users do click some category links
- You need to hook up GA to track outbound links
To my surprise people were seemingly actually interested in other things I may have written about. In fact I learned quite a lot about the topics people were interested in. By far the most popular category was NHibernate, this isn’t surprising as a long time ago I wrote an introduction to NHibernate tutorial which is by far the most popular page on this site and seemingly performs very well for the search nhibernate tutorial in Google. Unfortunately, other than that tutorial I really haven’t written much about it (although I do think it is an excellent library) despite my long lost promise to do so in that post (it’s still on the to-do list). There were of course also categories that people weren’t so interested in and on reflection that’s no surprise either… I currently have a category called “Vista Gadgets”… WTF!?.
My list of categories is a mess and has been neglected for some time with only a half-hearted attempt at flagging the appropriate category for each post. This exercise has been a lesson learned and I’ll make time to sort the categories on this blog out by making them more focused and relevant and I may even go back over the past posts (SIX years worth!?) and re-categorise those.
So the moral of the story is use your analytics to find out what works and what doesn’t work on your site. For me Categories will be making a comeback but the monthly archive won’t be. This behaviour was also confirmed by @steve_fenton on Twitter. Let me know if you have any other similar insights.