Sabine Kirstein at CT Biz Blogs posted today that you should be a statistic skeptic.
In the article she points out two problems with stats:
- Spammers leaving (or trying to leave) comments are counted as visitors.
- Readers who don't accept cookies are counted as new visitors.
Then she says that stats can help you identify reader behavior, but not consequences. For example, she lists:
- Articles clicked on (behavior) does not equal articles read (consequence).
- Time spent on a page (behavior) does not equal article read (consequence).
- Visitor to a page (behavior) does not equal new client or customer (consequence).
So why bother with stats at all? She finishes the post by saying "stats lie" and "they're just a small part of the story."
Ah, so they are at least some part of the story.
Are they accurate? Not 100%. Maybe 50%, maybe more.
The point is that it's impossible to find out exactly how many readers visit your site, how many are returning visitors, or whether or not they actually read anything on your blog.
But what you can find out...how is your site doing compared to yesterday? Where are visitors coming from? What are your most popular posts?
Just yesterday, I used my stats service to find out what my most popular posts are so I could create a list of my Top 10 Posts. You can see it on the left sidebar.
In addition, I can tell immediately when a well-known blog or website has linked to Pajama Market because my traffic jumps. I can even find out the exact website my visitors used to find Pajama Market. Then I can visit that site and find my link, and leave a comment on someone else's blog. It's a great way to extend your online community.
Or, I can find what search term in Google they used. Some of these terms totally shock me, like "kirby salesman" (PJ is listed around 40th on Google).
The most important part of reviewing stats for me, is that I can see the concrete progress that I'm making with the blog. I know the actual visitors are less than what show up in my stats, but as long as the number keeps going up, I know I'm headed in the right direction.
By the way, you can see the stats for Pajama Market by clicking on the square multi-colored sitememter logo in the sidebar on the left. In addition to Sitemeter, I've just started using Google analytics. My favorite part of GA so far is that it shows a nice map of the world and puts push-pins on the map from where my readers are reading from. Cool.
These are pretty superficial uses for stats programs, I know. You probably expected me to ramble on about qualitative analysis, CPM and ROI, but I don't use my stats for this. At least, not yet.
Free stats services:
Which stats program do you use? What's your favorite part of looking at your stats?
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