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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

About Blog Traffic Counters: Pageviews

When I first started blogging back in 2006 I had no expectations about how many people would read my blog on any given day. Looking back I think my lack of interest was a blessing because all too often I talk to new bloggers who are frustrated by how long it takes to grow their readership. They want immediate gratification and when that doesn't happen they give up and quit blogging.

Hyperbole and a Half receives millions of pageviews each time author Allie posts, which is only about once every other month or so. But her fan base is so strong that on her last post, a sad/funny one about depression she received 4264 comments. Those are stunning numbers. But you can look back in her archive and see that early on, she was building her blog slowly and steadily, post by post before Hyperbole and a Half went viral.

There are exceptions to the rule, people who are able to gain a huge audience to a new blog are kind of like Rock Stars, Movie Stars and Super Models. It can happen but most people have to work their way up. I can only say that (imo) for most bloggers it takes several things to grow your readership:
  1. Writing quality posts that are informative and/or entertaining
  2. Frequent posting
  3. Consistent posting
  4. Good SEO (search engine optimization)
  5. Time
Though I started blogging in 2006 I didn't add a traffic counter until 2008. Then I added the free version of Statcounter and began tracking my blog traffic. This graph shows the growth The Flirty Blog has experienced between 2008 and 2011. Four years is what it's taken to grow my readership six times over and my pageviews almost seven times over.

But here's the thing. While milestones are always fun to hit I don't get too hung up on what the totals are mainly because different traffic counters can give you vastly different results. For instance while Statcounter shows my pageviews for December 2011 at 22,087, for the same time period the Blogger traffic counter shows my pageviews to be 64,720.

The same month, two very different pageview totals.

What? How can the pageview totals vary so widely between two different traffic counters and which is right? Simple answer: I have no idea. Each company uses their own algorithm and all keep their algorithms secret. So I don't get too wrapped up in what the totals are.

The thing I enjoy most about using a counter is if you stick with the same one, over time, you can see the relative growth your blog is experiencing. Since I started with Statcounter it's the one I use even though the Blogger numbers are more impressive. I suspect the actual count is somewhere inbetween.

In 2011 more people read my blog when it was cold outside.

Using Statcounter has also shown me some interesting information. For instance my blog receives the least amount of traffic during the summer and on Saturdays. And every year October is my heaviest month for traffic because of my dog Kitai's Halloween costume post. People love funny dog costumes.

If you haven't added a counter to your blog I'd recommend Google Analytics or Statcounter. Don't check it every day. You'll get too preoccupied with it. I'd say to initially check it once a week or month to see how things are growing. A cool thing is you can see who's linking to your blog and leave a comment or send them a thank you for helping to share you with their readers.

But most of all I use the traffic counter as a guide, not the measure of my blog's success. You will most likely find your readers will reward you when they reach out to you to let you know how something you wrote helped them, made them feel better or inspired them to do something new. At least that's what means the most to me :)

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