When a WP blog shows off on its sidebar the following:
• 3,000 visits
without any additional information, I start asking: “What exactly does that mean?”
If a blog stats are presented in this fashion, the numbers look like a block of meaningless information.
Blog Stats widget dialog box
I know this may be hard to swallow, but that is the truth.
Let me just backtrack a little bit and elaborate before someone starts calling me names.
1. Currently, there is no method which can claim to produce web statistics with 100% accuracy. And the resulting numbers are dependent on what methodology is applied to generate those numbers. The fact that even Google has to explain the terms used in its analytics and how the Google numbers are calculated shows the difficulty in coming up with commonly accepted standards. You may wish to check out this page as an additional background.
2. Without being critical, WordPress.com in its Support page provided not enough information as to what the Blog Stats numbers are. Perhaps, to others the numbers need no explanation? Or perhaps there is another related Support page which I missed? I certainly don’t have the answer to that.
3. Again, without being critical, the same WordPress.com Support page says that we, the bloggers, can choose which word to use in describing the numbers. The two popular words, according to WP, are: “hits” (which is the default label in the Blog Stats widget dialog box), and “views”, the label “views” being more consistent with the label “Total Views”, used in the Blog Stats Dashboard | Summary Table.
4. The use of “hits” was okay, and even a buzzword, many many years ago. Is it still okay to use “hits” these days without defining what you mean by “hits”?
5. In technical terms, “hits” is not “visits” nor “views”. “Hits” are the number of files served when a web page (no distinction here between WP “post” and “page”) is requested from a server. A graphic, an icon, a banner and all sorts of files that make up a page are, technically, “hits”. For example, when you opened this page, the server’s log should have recorded at least 40 “hits” just on the bullets, icons and images alone displayed on this page.
Given this background, where does that leave us if we want to show off our WP blogs stats?
You may have other ideas, but right now I can think of only two things we can do to correctly show off our WP blog stats:
1. Stick to using “Views” to label those numbers. I will not use labels like “hits” or “visits” if I were you. In the absence of additional information from WP, these labels may be inaccurate information. You may be describing the numbers something that they are not. In the Blog Stats dashboard, the numbers are labeled “views”, remember?
2. Disclose the period covered by the stats. Again, the numbers are pretty much meaningless unless the period to which they relate is described. Here is an example to show how futile and frustrating it is to read blog stats crafted using the Blog Stats widget:
If you are the owner of this blog and you know that your blog stats are for 12 months, no problem. You know what your stats stand for. But if you are a visitor of this blog and you don’t have that same information, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? What do these 3,000 views represent? Are these yesterday’s views? Or perhaps, last week’s? Or last month’s? Or, last 12 months’? And how do I compare the “popularity” of this blog with another blog with only 1,500 views but I know that this other blog has been online for only 2 months?
Any suggested wordings?
By the way, I am not fond of showing off my site’s stats whether here at WP or in my company’s websites. We also do not display in my company’s websites any stats counter or meter. But if I were to show off my blog stats on the sidebar, I would probably disclose the numbers this way:
• xxxxx page views from (date blog or the Blog Stats started) to date
or something like:
How popular is my blog?
• xxxxx pages had been viewed by my friends from (date blog or the Blog Stats started) to date. Oh yes, they are very pleased too!
A little bit long, you think? But no one will argue the suggested wordings are not misleading. And they are easy to understand.
Again, in a worst-case scenario too, you can present a screenshot of your blog stats dashboard plus some other information about your blog to prove that the blog stats you are claiming are factual. That is, if someone starts questioning your numbers and you need to show proof. About your friends being very pleased? I am sure your friends would be happy to come to your rescue and say they are pleased with your blog!
End Notes: The WP Blog Stats inside my blog’s dashboard is an excellent tracking and management tool. With the Blog Stats, I learn a lot about my blog. But when used as a widget and without additional information about the numbers displayed on the sidebar, the stats are meaningless. Did I step on sensitive toes with this post? I hope not. But if I did, that’s a risk I take.