Even though I have been blogging since 2006, and looking at statistics on my blogs all that time, I have never really gotten any clear idea of what those “analytics” tell me about my readers.
Are they actually readers? Do they read these posts or are they merely “hits” on the page?
“Hits” is a curious term. When a web page is viewed (downloaded) from a server the number of “hits” is equal to the number of files requested which can include images and other files on that page. People get excited about the number of hits their blog or website gets but it is not that significant. A more accurate measure of web traffic is how many page views or impressions you get. My own favored stat is “unique visitors.” This is the count of the number of different individuals who have generated at least one hit.
The term “visitor” sounds more human than all the others and I do like to think of people reading these pages rather than computers hitting server files.
As I type this, 308,723 people have visited this blog from all over the world. Who are you?
More analytics tell me what words they searched on to find the site, the search engine they used, whether or not they were on a computer or mobile device, their browser and other tech stuff. But that doesn’t help me form a picture of them.
This image is a look at the countries of recent visitors: mostly Americans, certainly English-speakers but still not much more of a sense of who you are.
The only glimpse I feel I have of my readers comes in comments and followers. Actually, the comment sometimes leads, via an included link, to the same place which is their blog or website.
I look at the sites of people who comment or follow my blogs and sometimes I follow them. I know that some are poets, some have an interest in art, books or exploring science or spirituality. This small sub-group of visitors seem to be seekers and I feel very comfortable with them. We will never have a real world meetup, but I imagine that it could be a quite pleasant event.