I want to take a little break from looking at language for this evening. Actually, I had tried to write something about language. I tried to write the post I’d mentioned yesterday: I wanted to start with the word English, and then let my phone choose which words would follow. I was hoping for some mad Dadaist poem, but was somewhat disappointed it was just recreating whole sentences from my blog or from emails. But then, having a look at my blog dashboard, and looking at other blogs, I decided to write about what I like about blogging. And when I started thinking about it, I realised I could write a lot, so I decided to focus on one aspect of the blogging experience: the statistics.
If you’re a fellow WordPress blogger, I don’t need to tell you how addictive the statistics pages are. For you lay people, let me give you a little background. When I log into my blog, I can see statistics pages which tell me all the information I could want to know about the blog. I can see how many people have visited per day/week/month/year/all time, how many visits overall the blog gets, which pages people have viewed, where visitors come from, and how they got to the blog. It would be quite easy to spend more time poring over the statistics than writing or reading. It’s really that addictive.
I think the thing that most people understandably focus on is the number of views per day. There’s no simpler metric of how popular or otherwise your blog is. And of course you get competitive with yourself. If it’s early afternoon and you’ve only got a few views, you start to worry. Have people finally got tired of the blog? Was today’s post really bad? Then maybe things start to pick up, and you seem to getting about the same number of views as recent days. But then you find yourself at 11.53PM, 8 views down on the previous day, and willing people to come visit and get your view total above yesterday’s, because heaven forbid you get 150 views instead of 158.
Of course keeping track of your views day by day can give you a good idea of which of your posts are more popular. I’ve certainly got a sense of that now, and reflecting on my posts’ content, I’m not too surprised about which ones are more popular (you really want to know how to use semicolons, how to pronounce Macron, and what Meatloaf wouldn’t do for love). Sometimes of course, a post is more popular because of a catchy title. The obvious danger here is that you start to write for your audience, tailoring your content to give them what you think they want. I try to avoid that, mainly because one of my main reasons for writing is that I enjoy it (just behind the hope that you, dear reader, enjoy reading it too), and I wouldn’t enjoy writing something that was cynically meant to be popular, and not what I really wanted to write. And what I like about your responses is that a lot of you like different things about this blog, so it’d be impossible for me to write individual posts that please everyone anyway.
The next most fascinating thing for me is where you all come from. Here’s an image of where everyone who’s visited so far has come from, with darker colours indicating more visitors:
Almost everywhere! It still doesn’t really register with me as true that when I see a country on the other side of the world appear in the list of daily views per country, it means there’s actually someone in that country looking at this website. I’m old and unimaginative enough that such instantaneous global connection still amazes me. It’s a great thrill when a country appears on the list for the first time (welcome to the club Cape Verde, Sudan, and El Salvador, my most recent viewers). So thanks, all of you everywhere, for visiting. I’d say thanks in your native tongue, but come on.
How people get here is usually more straightforward. Mostly fellow bloggers (hi), Googlers and the odd Binger (hi), Facebook friends (hi), occasional tweeters (hi) and more recently since I finally signed up, LinkedIners (hi). And email followers through their email (hi), though I imagine most now are so sick of getting an email at 8am every day that they automatically divert them to their junk folder.
I do love looking at the search terms people use though. Most are actually hidden, which I believe is due to Google encrypting data for Google users. So if you’re logged into your Gmail or YouTube and Google your way here, I won’t know exactly what you’re looking for. But I can still see a lot of search terms, and generally I can see how they led you here. And usually I can see what you were looking for, and feel reasonably satisfied that you found it here. Sometimes I can see what you were looking for and know that you didn’t find it here! And sometimes I’ve no idea how your search terms get you here, and what posts they lead you to. What I’ll often do in these cases is to Google the term myself to see how it brought you here. And this has made me realise that I must be very impatient, because when I don’t find this site on the second page of results I usually give up.
Anyway, that’s just a little insight into the behind-the-scenes fun of this site. Rest assured that I won’t get too distracted by what you’re looking for, what you’re reading, and where you’re from. I’m still going to focus on the writing. Now to work on my next post: Ten Things That Emmanuel Macron, Meatloaf, and Semicolons Have in Common.