by Robert Wilkinson
6 years ago today I signed up for site meter to track my visits and page views.
First, a little backstory on these numbers. I began this blog at Salon.com in late April 2004. (Yes, we'll celebrate the 7th anniversary of launching the Aquarius Papers in a few weeks!) I moved over to the Typepad blogware I now use in August 2005, as the Salon.com blogware was a joke.
From the beginning in Spring 2004, I noted that the Salon.com page view counter tended to be inconsistent, but it served a valuable search engine need in those ancient times even though it tended to undercount page views. By February 2005 I found site meter, and started its counter at 0 while linking it to the Salon.com site counter to measure the inconsistencies.
As of today, the Salon.com counter shows about 4,426,000 page views (since April 2004), a far cry from the current site meter total of 6,545,000 which started 9 months after I began the blog on Salon.
That said, even the current internal site meter tallies are inconsistent. For example, the front page counter at the bottom right of the site shows the total I put in the headline, though when you click on that link it takes you to a page showing about 35,000 fewer visits. Then there have been the inevitable times when the site meter counter malfunctioned for various amounts of time, which I estimate would boost the total visits up about 40,000 more and the page views up about 180,000.
Anyway, it's now been six years of tracking hits using site meter, and it's been a true joy to work with the Typepad blogware (which has its own counter, showing 5,600,000 page views since August 2005.) Which brings up one last thing. Why do these numbers matter?
As a long time blogger who has known a LOT of other bloggers using various types of blogware, I will leave you with the thought that there are many tracking and counting systems out there, and none of them agree with the others. Each has their own way of counting, and the reason they exist is that with more traffic, blogs can supposedly get more advertising revenue.
Since blog ads drive the revenue stream in almost all commercial blogs, it's to a blogger's advantage to have high numbers of visitors. Here's the rub:
I've heard more than a few people proclaim their relatively new blogs as "in the top 100," or "in the top 1000" of all blogs and websites on Earth in traffic to their site. I've heard people who have been blogging for a relatively few weeks tell me their blog has very high search engine rank, with thousands suddenly finding and consistently coming to their relatively new site.
Most of this is a fiction created by web developers and SEO providers cheerleading people into believing they do, or can, have more traffic than they do. From years of experience, it is only possible to have that much traffic a short time after startup if you
a) get extremely lucky via something you put on YouTube going viral,
b) are flacking for a major media corporation, or other global player (google, facebook, yahoo, msnbc, etc.),
c) create a search engine or and/or blogware that catches on,
d) somehow jump into the controversy du jour on a hugely trafficked site like Daily Kos (happened to me during my Political Physics days, when two articles I wrote there drove about 50,000 people to my site in a week),
e) dabble in porn,
f) start intensively blogging about a movie or music star shortly before they become hot nationally or globally,
or g) get lucky and create an innovative technology site where you and thousands of techheads can swap knowledge and feedback about "the 10,000 things."
(There may be others I've overlooked, but you get the picture. While it is possible to find "lightning in a bottle" it's very rare.)
So that's why numbers of visitors matter to most bloggers and websites. As I don't take advertising (but do accept "Site Sponsors" when appropriate) the quantity of hits really don't matter at this site, except to let me know how many of you out there are stopping by the Cosmic Cantina for information, conversation, and community.
And that's a good thing! Glad to know there are so many who enjoy this place. Just figured you'd like to know there are at least a few hundred thousand out there who also feel the way you do!
© Copyright 2011 Robert Wilkinson