I don’t obsess over this blog’s traffic stats. Doing so would be an example of kicking my own ass.
So while I use both Google Analytics and the WordPress Stats plugin, I don’t care a whit about the numbers. I don’t even have to check them to know that they are meaningless; they’re close enough to zero that they might as well be. (Words I’ve never spoken: “I had 12 pageviews today, up from 10. High and to the right, baby!”)
I can’t separate bot traffic from human traffic, and for all I know, I’m probably responsible for some incidental pageviews… at least if I happen to load pages when not signed in to WordPress. And why should I care about pageviews, anyway? It’s not like I’m looking to sell ads.
So why do I continue to use not one, but two solutions to not give me numbers? For the qualitative data. I can’t get enough of those.
My two favorites are as follows: referrers and search terms (which are, themselves, referrers, anyway). Both of these give me information that is actually useful, right now. Search terms tell me about a case where someone was looking for something and found my post’s title and/or summary promising enough to actually click through. And referrers, clearly, show me who (if anyone) is driving people my way.
(Even in my past life on Multiply, I hooked my account up with Site Meter’s free service to see if they could show me any insightful stats. I took a look through what they offered and found that all I really cared about were the referrers… which were, more often than not, hilarious. Web browser, OS and screen resolution can be interesting for seeing how my visitors stack up against Web users as a whole, but what am I going to do with that sort of insight? Fix IE6 CSS issues? Ha.)
The qualitative data that these services collect from my blog have shown me that people have found my post about the crappy Vivitar Clipshot, some even wondering if it’s OS X‑compatible. (Hint: it isn’t.) A bunch of different search terms brought people to my logo/visual puns post. And one search that didn’t even logically match up with content I’ve posted, recently learned words reappearing, gives me a great idea for a future post!
Should I be worrying more about appealing to the masses, or about creating the sort of content that people who actually do visit are interested in? That’s easy. The searches and referrers have shown me that (please cue the schmaltzy music) I’ve touched people’s lives… even if I didn’t necessarily give them anything of value, and perhaps even wasted their time with content that wasn’t relevant to their interests. I made a difference!