As a newbie, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to blog about, finding the right style for my blog and obsessing over whether or not my posts were any good. What I forgot to do was to track my traffic.
The only way I could find out if my blog was in the least bit popular wasn’t by waiting for people to post comments; it was by analyzing my traffic to see where it was coming from. It wasn’t until I was several months into blogging, after I stopped being so high-strung and realized that blog popularity for the most part doesn’t happen over night was when I calmed down enough to realize that I needed to track my traffic.
Free traffic counters
I searched online for website tracking services. Of course, being the frugal person that I am, I looked for free services only. My searches lead me to two free services, and time and experience lead me to the third free service. The services are Sitemeter, Statcounter and, of course, Google Analytics.
Not knowing which one to use, I use all three. You may say that it sound like overkill and I might be a little anal-retentive with my stat counting but the reason why I do it is because each stat counting site uses different methods by which they count visitors.
For instance, Statcounter’s stats always seem to come in higher than my Sitemeter stats. Google Analytics on the other hand seems to come somewhere in the middle. In my book, having more than one stat counter comes in handy for a couple of reasons:
- If one of the stat counter sites goes down, I still have two other sites as backup.
- Each one offers different features. Statcounter, for instance will tell me where each of my visitors came from and the number of pages they visit. Sitemeter on the other hand may tell me where they came from and the number of pages each visitor visited but it will not detail which page each visitor clicked viewed. Google Analytics the other hand will give me a lot more information that is not available by either of the two listed above. Honestly, Google’s statistics overwhelm me.
In my own experience I found that Sitemeter was a little more accurate in counting new hits to my site. Statcounter, on occasion will confuse page loads with new visitors. Google Analytics on the other hand, as I said before comes somewhere in between and I don’t really spend too much time on with Google Analytics because at this point in time, it has way too much information for me to digest.
I’ve found that checking my stats from time to time gives me an indication of my popular posts and the posts that are growing cobwebs from lack of readership. It allows me to review those posts and tweak the SEO to see if it improves traffic for those lonely and forgotten posts.
It also helped me to discover that Thursday’s seem to be a slump day for one of my sites, while Saturday is for another one. I’ve got the option to accept that as a pattern or try to come up with something to change it.
A word of caution
Don’t become addicted to your stats. Checking them from time to time to measure the health of your site is good. Obsessively checking them every 5, 10 or 15 minutes is not.
Think of stats as like getting on the scale. Getting on the scale several times a day can make you an emotional wreck if the scale says the wrong thing. Don’t let your stats do that to you too.