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What a difference a little code makes

So yesterday, when I pointed to the new Blog Traffic Ranking at TTLB, I noted that I hardly got any Sitemeter referrals from search engines, even though I got tons of them on my old Blogspot blog. This led Prof. Cooper to point out to me that I didn’t have the Sitemeter code on any of my archive pages. I went ahead and added it, and boom! Tons of search engine referrals, which combined to add 150-200 hits to stats yesterday. (And yes, to answer my own question, that appears to be new Sitemeter-counted traffic, not merely the conversion of “unknown” referrals to something identifiable.) Combine that with a recent spike that saw my numbers climb above 400 before any Google traffic was counted, plus the seven-day-average nature of Sitemeter, and the end result is that I’m #99 on Bear’s list. Woo hoo!

I had no idea that putting the Sitemeter code on my archive pages would have that big an effect. My old Blogspot blog gets maybe 20 search engine hits a day, but of course this blog has nearly a year’s more stuff, and it’s updated daily. In a way, I miss my fairly clean-looking Sitemeter reports. I know that the boost I just gave myself is artificial – let’s face it, maybe one Google searcher out of 100 stays long enough to look at anything beyond what they’ve found – but if everyone else is doing it, I ought to be allowed the same basis for comparison. Besides, now that I’ve rebuilt all of my archives I’m not going to go back and remove the code, but I am glad to know approximately what percentage of my traffic is real people.

This also explains why the counter that you see, which is based on CGI code provided by my web host, is about 8000 hits higher than what Sitemeter says. A little bit of that is due to the brief lag time between when I set this page up and when I officially announced it on my Blogspot site, but most of it, I now assume, is search engine referrals. Nice to finally realize that.

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  1. paul says:

    But is it really important to track these visits? Probably very few of them ever return, or even stay long enough to find whatever it was that triggered the Google hit. Don’t mean to rain on your parade – I’m just always a little skeptical of Google hits because they’re not really readers.

  2. I agree. I’m just saying that for consistency, blog traffic should either always count search engine hits or it shouldn’t. My assumption is that most people’s traffic includes them (all Blogspot blogs that have Sitemeter counters have the Sitemeter code on all of their archive pages, which is why they see so many search engine referrals), so I may as well also.

  3. Jeff Cooper says:

    I’m with Charles on the consistency point. Beyond that, the search engine hits provide great entertainment–it’s intriguing to see what searches lead to one’s blog (and to see how few people actually know how to formulate a search).

  4. Matt says:

    Remember – your RSS feed points to the individual archive pages. Those of us who read through RSS generally go straight to the archive page. I rarely, if ever, download the main page.

  5. Matt, I’m not sure how Sitemeter tracks hits from those who use an RSS feed. I know if such a person is using Radio Userland or a similar aggregator, I see some referrals in my webhost stats, but nothing in Sitemeter. My assumption is that these show up as “unknown”, but I can’t say for sure.