One of the first things I discovered about blogging is that checking stats is alluring. I might even go as far as to call it addictive. When I first started my blog, I put a gadget at the bottom of the page that was supposed to track pageviews. Somewhere in the back of my new blogger mind, I had the idea that if you post it, they will come. So, every little bit, I would come to my blog just to check the stats. Five pageviews! Nine pageviews! Twenty pageviews! I was ecstatic! I thought I was on my way to being a power blogger!
But then I discovered a little message that says, "Don't track your own pageviews." You click on it and it's supposed to put a cookie in your browser so your own pageviews aren't counted in the stats.
"Drats!" I thought, "Probably at least half of those twenty pageviews are mine!"
"But, what's this?" I pondered to myself as I looked at the lines listing referral traffic in the "stats" section. "There are sites referring my blog?"
I clicked to another section and checked out my "audience" - Visitors from Russia! Visitors from Germany! Visitors from several places at the far reaches of the globe! First, I wondered how someone from Russia, Germany, or the far reaches of the globe could be reading my English language blog.
Translators? I've clicked "translate this page" on Google before. "Maybe that's it," I thought.
"Ex-pats?" I pondered. "Maybe my visitors are living a long way from home in a foreign land and just think my blog is down-home, back-home goodness?"
For a brief moment, I was an international superstar. I told my husband, with a smug smile on my face, that I had people from all over the world looking at my blog!
And then I learned the dirty little secret - those sites are "spam" sites. They are not real people. I felt deflated. There were no homesick ex-pats in Russia reading "the drafty doublewide". No one far away in Germany had read my post about Jingle Bells. And no one in the distant regions of the earth had even glanced at my post on how to defrost a frost-free fridge.
Still, the stats addiction continued. I reasoned with myself that not all the pageviews were referrer spam, and I'd stop by my blog a couple times per day just to look at the numbers on that little pageview counter.
Then, I removed that particular gadget. But not because of my stat checking addiction; I removed that gadget because I started thinking that the two people I'd convinced to come and read my blog would also look at that stat counter. I imagined they'd say, "Poor Kathy! She was excited about starting a blog and the pageview stats haven't gone up at all!"
I wanted no pity. So, minus the pageview counter, and undeterred, I trudged on.
Finally, after some time, I began to get legitimate traffic - real people started coming to read my blog! I was over the moon! Until the traffic picked up and I entered the next phase of stat checking addiction - signing up for Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a wonderful and useful tool, but it also has lots of info to feed one's stat checking addiction. With Google Analytics, you can find out, among other things, which sites referred your blog, you can find out which keywords sent people to your blog, you can find out what country your visitors are from! There are listings for "pageviews," and "unique visitors" and average time people are on your site, and "bounce rates" and "landing pages!" I was in stat checking addiction heaven! For a while.
I started to fret over why I was only having x number of visitors. I read up on "bounce rates" and wondered if mine were too high. My face fell along with the time my visitors stayed on my site.
Then one day, as I stared at my Google Analytics stats, I realized that becoming a successful blogger takes a lot of work, and for one brief moment, I thought about the "delete blog" button.
I took a deep breath and let it out.
I went and got a fresh cup of coffee.
I returned to my blog and with all the determination I could muster I clicked the tab that reads:
To be continued...
Update - Like this post? Visit my blog Lessons of a New Blogger