Today’s Tuesday Think Tank is all about Site Meters. I’m talking about how unreliable they are, how readers of your blog can stop them from working, how you measure your worth as a blogger, and possible ways you could increase your traffic and make sure readers stick around once they get to your blog.
Sephy has written a companion piece to this post – Track Your Visitors with Google Analytics which you should check out. :)
Site Meters Are A Free Service –
It’s rare on the internet to find something that is actually free. Blogger is one thing that is free, and it provides you with a lot of options and things you can do at no cost whatsoever. But if you stop and consider for a moment how much it costs to provide this service to any man – and his dog or cat! – who want to blog.. it costs bandwidth, it takes up CPU time (computer processing unit, your computer has one but so do all the computers at the other end when you look at something on the internet).
Most people who run a website have to pay to run it. They have to pay for server space. That could be as little as $7 a year but the more people who visit your site, the higher that cost can increase.
Consider The Source –
Free can sometimes mean you get what you pay for – i.e. nothing. If you consider these services which are used by so many bloggers but also websites across the www, it takes an enormous amount of “internet juice” (bandwidth, CPU, etc) to run these things. So these people are supposed to provide you with a great service which *costs* them money to provide it and is always reliable and always works, for free? Err, are we asking a bit too much here?
Things Happen –
Servers go down regularly, as any good internet host will tell you. You cannot expect that the information given to you by a free site tracking service is going to be 100% accurate. Unless you want to sit there and check it is working 24/7, which would be a great waste of your time. ;)
These sites also have customers who are paying for the service and if anything goes wrong the first people who they will look after is their paying customers. It makes sense from a business point of view. We cannot expect this free service to be accurate. You can use it as a guide, but that is where it should end.
There May Be Delays –
The information available to you may not be live information. There can be delays – sometimes up to 24 hours or more – with information being tracked and translated. If you post something and then check your counter and think “Nobody’s reading my post!” you may have incorrect information. There could be 50 people reading your post. You might see that days later in your tracker – or maybe not at all, if there was an outage.
It Matters Where You Put It –
People Can Hit Stop –
If your page load takes too long, most browsers have the “Stop Loading This Page” option. You would be surprised how many people use it and how quickly they use it, too. If they stop the page loading before your counter script runs? No data will be sent re their visit.
It Matters What Kind Of Code –
Why No Script?
Results Can Vary Widely –
I run two site meters on the site currently – Google Analytics and Statcounter. Feedburner also has a counter built in. Last Wednesday September the 5th –
Statcounter shows – visits 419, page views 861
Google Analytics shows – visits 349, page views 802
Feedburner shows – visits 323, page views 810
Do you see now how these are a bit unreliable? That is a huge difference, especially given two of the scripts (Statcounter and Google Analytics) are right next to each other in the sidebar. Which one of the above should I believe? How can I know how many people actually visited my page?
Don’t Invest Yourself –
If you define your worth as a blogger in how many people visit your site and you are relying on these free tracking tools, you are setting yourself up for heart break. For no good reason. Site Meters should only be used as a guide to the general traffic on your blog, and not as the bible of internet usage or any kind of measure of how many people are reading you.
How Do You Measure?
How can anyone possibly measure their worth as a blogger? At the end of the day, it could boil down some or all of the following –
If you are happy with what you are writing
(if not, work harder on the writing)
If you are happy with your blog template
(if not, test out a new one and consider changing it)
If you are happy with the look of your blog
(if not, take a good look at it, remove anything you don’t like)
If you are happy with your header graphic
(if not, create a new one. If you don’t have the tools, ask for help from other bloggers, run a competition on your blog to have your readers create a new one for you)
If you are happy with the amount of comments you receive
(if not, network. Get out there and meet new people, comment on their blogs, they will comment back)
If you are happy with the quality of your content
(if not, learn more about writing, edit, improve, read this- 10 Easy Ways To Improve Your Blog Writing. )
If you are happy with the relationships you have built with other bloggers
(if not, work on building relationships with other bloggers)
If you are happy with the amount of links back to you from other bloggers
(if not, link to them more and you will find they link back to you, a weekly wrap up is one good way to achieve this)
If you are not happy with any of the above, these are all things you can work on and improve.
You’re in charge –
You can create positive change in any area of your blogging. If I can do it, you can do it. Anyone can do it. Daisy The Curly Cat is doing it, even though it must be hard to type with kitty paws. ;) Love your work, Daisy. :)
Bloggers, don’t make excuses for your inaction. If you don’t have the time and energy to put into your blog, that is one thing. People have real lives. We all have to do the chores, etc. Some of us have jobs to go to. Some of us have kids and family. There is only a certain amount of time and energy we can each devote to blogging. We have to accept that, and be ok with it.
If you DO have the time and energy and you waste it by constantly checking your blog stats instead of networking and building relationships with other bloggers and the zillion things you can do to improve your blog- that IS something you can change.
Consider taking some time to learn to manage time better. To begin with, you could try setting yourself a target – for example, comment on 5 new blogs a day – and then set out to hit that target each and every day. Be pro-active and you will see results :) Be inactive and you’ll get exactly what you put in – nothing. :(
There Are Ways –
To improve the traffic to your blog. See the article – 75 Ways to Increase Your Site’s Traffic – by Tay from Super Blogging for some great ideas. Try some of them out. If they don’t work, try something different.
They Say –If you build it, they will come. I have found this to be partially true. They won’t come unless you tell them where it is first. It is like throwing a party and not inviting anyone, yet expecting people to somehow know you’re having a party and find it anyway, and when nobody shows up you fret and get depressed about it. What did you expect? That people are psychic? ;) That they are somehow able to read your thoughts? That people would magically find your blog out of the literally millions of blogs out there on the net?
Stay Positive –
If you look at your stats and find it makes you negative, unhappy, or inspires you to write posts lamenting the lack of readers and traffic, stop right there.
It is one thing to say to your readers – how can I improve this blog – and actually listen to them when they tell you, and make the changes they suggest. That’s fine, and something we should all do as bloggers from time to time.
It is another thing to throw a full blown tantrum which makes the people who do read and are loyal to you feel like they aren’t worth anything to you as readers. Vent elsewhere. Never do it publicly on your blog.
Don’t Be Negative –
You may remember me writing – 14 Reasons Readers Unsubscribe From Your Blog. As a blogger, it is also not good to –
– engage in bitch brawls with other bloggers (not only will the blogger feel attacked but their readers will too, it’s one way to make many enemies at once!) or spend time attacking other bloggers in a negative manner
– post whiny, whinging posts regularly (more often than positive content)
– post things which made your readers feel physically ill (keep your poop and vomit stories away from me!)
Some Things Should Never Be Blogged About.
You know how we all have topics we simply refuse to write about? For some of us it’s sex, religion, drugs, rock and roll, bowel movements, whatever. I suggest it is in a bloggers best interest to add “lack of blog traffic” to the list of topics they will never ever blog about. But feel free to blog up a storm when traffic is good or exceeds your expectations.
I Know This Is True –
Once they arrive, if you do not build it, refine it, work on it, tweak it, make it better, make it load fast, make it pleasing to their eye, and create good content, they won’t stick around long. It’s no easy task and it requires you to be the master of many different subjects – or at least to know a little bit about them.
Blogger can let you down-
Sometimes my page load is slow because of Blogger – again we’re back to what you get for free. Sometime in the next few months this blog will be moving to WordPress, and I will have a lot more control over things like that. It will cost me money but I’m worth it – and so are my readers. :)
Further Reading –
I want to draw your attention to the section – Bloggers Are Helpful – in my sidebar for your further reading today. There’s a lot of great posts in there from bloggers that can help you to improve your blogging.
Over To You – What are your thoughts on blog traffic and site meters? Have you ever run any kinds of tests to investigate how accurate they are? How many times a day do you check your stats?
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