On November 29, when I started uploading my stories, I experienced a mini-explosion in web traffic. According to the statistics on Weebly (the website design site that I use), I was usually lucky to have 25 visitors, and that day, I had almost 600.
And yes, the amount of visitors dropped off sharply after that—after all, I was no longer a novelty—but still, even on a slow day, Weebly tells me that I get 70 to 80 visitors...three times what I’d been previously getting
Unfortunately, that’s not what Google Analytics says.
Google Analytics, for the uninitiated, is another way to count the number of folks who check out a website. It includes many more dimensions to look at traffic, including where people come from, the languages they probably speak, and the particular device that they were using when they checked out the site.
And if Google Analytics is accurate, I get a whole lot of traffic via people who read this on their cell phones. That’s fine…I seem to have (I think) a quick, short-attention-span style that lends itself to reading while standing in a crowded train. For me, the thing a writer aspires to, above all, is to have people read their stuff, and if creating a cell-phone-friendly style means that I have more readers, all the better.
The trouble with Google Analytics, however, is that, well, according to them, on an average day, I’m lucky to get 10 visits. And on that day that I supposedly got, according to Weebly, close to 600 folks visiting my site, Google Analytics claims that I maybe got 50. Maybe.
It all has something to do with the different way that each of these folks count website visits, ways that, technically, go over my head. Something about Google only counting hits when people accept cookies. And something about bots and such causing exaggerated results in the Weebly figures.
The most that each of the bulletin boards of each of these places can tell me is that my results are…somewhere in the middle. Somewhere between 50 and 600.
That’s a lot of somewhere.
I do see these little indicators that Google doesn’t quite get it right. My friend Tom, for example, lives in Burlington Vermont, and obviously read a number of my stories, as he made a point of liking a whole lot of them on Facebook.
Yet on the Google Analytics breakdown of the location of my web traffic, there is no sign of Vermont at all. And my friend Bob reads my stuff from his home in Gales Ferry, Connecticut, but again, there is no sign of web traffic from his home on Google Analytics.
Maybe Google Analytics just doesn’t like Vermont or Connecticut very much. I really don’t know.
Still, though, there are times where I see a scrap of statistic, and smile. Because my traffic is so small, comparatively speaking, I can spot a particular spike in the amount of time folks from a particular location checked out my site, and know that it was a specific person.
It is always nice when I see that the average time for a visit from one of these locations is longer than, say, two minutes, because it means that a friend of mine actually spent some time reading my stuff. There, are, of course, long sessions from Ronkonkoma, New York (thanks, Dad), long sessions from Beverly, Massachusetts (thanks, Megan), Palmer, Massachusetts (thanks, Sarah), Hubbardston, Massachusetts (thanks, Joe), and Los Angeles, California (thanks, Angela and Laura). There are also sessions from Glen Cove New York (thanks, Naiya, I think), Reston, Virginia (thanks, Christina), Scituate, Massachusetts (thanks Tom F., as opposed to the Tom H., who lives in Burlington), and Bridgewater, Massachusetts (thanks, Linda).
Finally, there are the sessions that make me wonder: who, from Colorado, went to my website for a grand total of zero seconds? And who did the same thing from Georgia and Illinois? No doubt some Russian hacker looking to steal my identity, I’m sure. Or bots. Many bots.
If Weebly is at all accurate, you really liked my story “Pluto and the Interplanetary Mean Girls,” and also liked yesterday’s essay about the ideas that come to me in the middle of the night. I’m glad about that.
Of course, as addictive as it is to check out the numbers for these sites and try to determine which statistic is the most accurate, one statistic stands out above all: more people visit my site when I write, and add to it. This is a good thing. It means that there is at least someone out there who reads what I write, and wants to know what I write next.
For that, I thank you, however many you may be.
Some number in between one and, I don’t know, ten thousand. Yeah.