Just recently, WordPress.com, which I use to host this blog, “improved” its stats tracking for blog authors by adding visitor counts. Previously they only counted pageviews. Here are my stats for today, so far (be warned: this blog is pathetically unpopular — and if you laugh I’ll cry):
5 visitors looking at 45 pages.
This makes no sense at all. Here’s a few reasons why:
According to another statistic on the same stats page, 22 pageviews were the result of people following a link from elsewhere, 11 from search engines, and 14 from other sources:
So if we are going to believe that only five people visited the site today, we have to assume that those five people visited the site, left it, went to Twitter, clicked a link, looked at a page, then left the site, went to Facebook, clicked a link, looked at a page, and so on. Each of them did this approximately five times each, to arrive at the “25” number of views from referrers.
That’s not all that I find fishy. Let’s have a look at today’s search terms:
11 visits to this site were the result of people using search engines. Remember that 14 other visits to the site were the result of people clicking links from other sites (14 Facebook/Twitter/whatever clicks + 11 search engine links = 25, the number of visits from referring sites). And remember that there are only five people, presumably, generating all of this activity. There are ten search terms represented here. So each person who found the site via a search engine found it separately, twice — once by searching, for example, for “Andy Warhol Penis,” and another time by searching for, say, “church swing icon.”
Not likely, sorry.
One possibility that immediately springs to mind is that I personally am being counted multiple times as I test links in Twitter, Facebook, etc. — but I have told WordPress not to count my clicks (it’s an option in their dashboard), and I have been logged in as myself all day, so unless that functionality is broken (and that’s as likely to be broken as the stats themselves, I guess) … well. I dunno, really.
I just know that these stats don’t make a damn bit of sense at all. I wish they’d let us put Google Analytics bugs on our blogs. Dear friends, please do not send me links to plug-ins that will do that. This is not a private WP install I’m running, it’s WordPress.com — I can’t install plug-ins except for a hand-selected few — and overall I do like it that way, for security reasons. I want to be clear: overall, I am very happy with WordPress.com. But these stats suck.
It’s not like these stats are life-and-death for me, though. I type stuff in here that’s too long for Twitter or Facebook, basically, or stuff that I’d like for people other than just my personal friends to have access to if they want to read it. I’m not fiercely dedicated to making it more popular. But these numbers are so transparently wonky that they make even me kind of irritated, and I really have nothing to lose. How bad must it be for people trying to build an income, or some notoriety, or whatever, off their blogs?