As written earlier, in my post, Is A Hit, A Visit? we found out that a hit is not a visit.

So, is a visit a visit? It all depends on which stats program you’re using.

Today, I’m analyzing five different blogging statistics platforms. It’s going to get confusing. What you think is a visit, may be a page view. What you think is a new visitor, may be a returning visitor.

This is what I can determine, from my analysis.

WordPress.com, counts page views, not visitors. One visitor could view 20 pages, and you would see a spike in your graph. Not a true test to your visitor count. However, WordPress.com stats, does list other important information.

Google Analytics counts visitors and page views, and also shows the percentage of new visits. On their graph, it shows your visitors for the day (and last 30 days). Below the graph, it shows the page views, and the percentage of new visits. However, ….much has been written about Google Analytics, and if visits are recorded if a visitor has their cookies and/or javascript disabled. If this is the case, some visits may not be counted.

AWStats counts unique visitors and visits. The unique visitors are calculated by using an IP address. Visits would tell you how many times your “unique” visitors visited your site. So, if you had 100 unique visitors, and 300 visits, that would mean your unique visitors visited your site, an average of three times each. AWStats, separates visits from spiders, crawlers, and bots. AWStats also counts your feed traffic.

Webalizer counts visits, unique sites, and unique URLs. Webalizer does not segregate the visits from spiders, crawlers and bots, but appears to count feed traffic.

Sitemeter counts visits, but doesn’t differentiate between new, and returning visitors. Therefore, if one reader visits your site five times in one day, it will show as five visits. It doesn’t appear that Sitemeter counts feed traffic.

To confuse it even more, I’ve read that if a person is visiting on your site, at the same time your stats are being updated, (say at midnight), that visitor will be counted as a visit for each day. So…..in actuality, that’s really not a new visit.

Now, add to this, to the fact that all stats are not updated at the same time of the day…..and the numbers can get even more confusing, not to mention conflicting.

Compare all five of these, and you will get five sets of numbers.

So, what’s a blogger to do?

Watch the trend. Look for growth in your numbers. Peaks and valleys are very common to blog traffic. A popular post, or a compelling comment on another site, can create a spike in traffic, whereas, some blogs see a natural drop in traffic, on weekends. Learn the trends in your own blog.

If you’re going to learn anything from your “visit” stats, it should be:

1) What are my popular posts?
2) What keyword phrases are bringing in traffic?
3) Where is my traffic coming from? (That will be the topic of my next post)

4) But most importantly, are my number growing, based on “monthly” statistics?

If you are seeing a steady growth in your monthly numbers, this should tell you, you are doing something right.

So, are you confused now?

Let me know how you have determined if your blog is growing, or not. What stats are you relying on?

BTW: I have been comparing statistical programs for the last six months. I rely on AWStats, to chart the success of my blog.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
Look Who's Talking
  1. AsakoNo Gravatar says:

    This is a great post. Everyone is really trying to figure out the magic of how to read and use statistics!!

    I use Google Analytics, but AWstats seems good, based on your analysis.

    I pay a lot of attention to the popular search keywords.

    Another thing I pay attention is the bounce rate, pages/visit, and length of stay. If bounce rate is high, no matter how many people hit your site, it is irrelevant. So far so good on this metrics, so that means search engine terms and contents are matching the needs of visitors. (But this is a story until yesterday, now I am in the re-building mode….)

    This is because my site is so focused on a niche of small business and startup. If the blog is targeting broader topics, I may not be focusing so much on the search engine term driven approach.

  2. IanNo Gravatar says:

    For what it’s worth, the most valid information from my perspective is new visits and repeat visits. Pageloads are useful because it demonstrates how deep people dig into the site.

    I use http://www.statcounter.com which I find really easy to work with. It does clearly break these visits down into total visitors, how many of those were repeats (based upon IP address), and how many pageloads.

  3. BarbaraNo Gravatar says:

    Asako,

    Glad to hear the post helped. It sounds like you have your hands full, if your are rebuilding your site. I’ll come by and see what you’re doing.

    Ian,

    Yes, I agree, visits (or unique visitors), and the number of visits, are the most important numbers to look at.

    On Wednesday, I’ll be publishing a post on “page views”, so be watching for my thoughts, on that aspect of blog stats.

  4. KekoaNo Gravatar says:

    What a coincidence, AWstats is my favorite, as well. I’m surprised how much I hear about webalizer, actually. I don’t like the interface at all, and find it to be cluttered. AWstats is much better allowing easy viewing of unique visits, visits, and “hits.”

    Lately I’ve also been experimenting with Google Analytics. I think a smart combination of the two would be optimal.

  5. BarbaraNo Gravatar says:

    Kekoa,

    Being an ex-stataholic, I wanted to experiment with different stats platforms. But, what I found was, that each offered something different (including different visitor counts). But, with that being said, I have been learning something different from each of them.

    Google Analytics is a statistical program, filled with tons of information. Even though I don’t feel I get an accurate visitor count, (and I don’t think they count feed traffic), I like a lot of their other features.

  6. AsakoNo Gravatar says:

    Hello Barbara,
    I am re-building, but, behind the scene!! As you know SEO happens behind the scene…. so my blog will look exactly the same from outside 🙂

  7. BarbaraNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Asako

    I knew you were “rebuilding”, but you had me worried though,as your site looks so good, I couldn’t figure out what you could possibly change to make it better.

  8. KekoaNo Gravatar says:

    “Being an ex-stataholic”

    You’re a WHAT? Hahaha, the first time I read that I thought it was a different word. Haha. Thought I would share that…

    Oh yeah and thanks for replying to my comment.

  9. BarbaraNo Gravatar says:

    Kekoa,

    You like that word ex-stataholic, hey? Checking those stats just took way too much time away from more important things.

    But, the different stats programs do offer a lot of helpful information, so it wasn’t all for naught.

  10. […] the past I’ve written posts titled Confusing Blog Stats – Is a Visit A Visit?, Page Views Are Over Rated and in Blogging – Year One – Lesson 4, I share what I learned from […]