Why I don’t worry about blog stats, not even a little bit

I don’t ob­sess over this blog’s traf­fic stats. Doing so would be an ex­am­ple of kick­ing my own ass.

This graph is unim­por­tant.

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!

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