How many people read my blog?

Posted by Bill Cammack On October - 6 - 2008

So I had lunch with Dave Ford the other day, and he asked me how many people read my blog. I answered “eh… Between 200 and 300″. I knew there was something incorrect about my answer, but I didn’t have time to figure out something I had never considered before, so I went with that.

I use several statistics programs/apps/sites to figure out what my traffic is. I’m not sure what the overlap is between them. I decided to base my answer on complete redundancy and just go with the largest numbers I see every day.

It would have been more accurate to say that one of my statistics apps reports that every single day, BillCammack.com receives between 200 and 300 pageviews. That particular app only counts the views it can “see”, though. For instance, if someone reads my site via a feed reader, it won’t register as a page hit, even though the information was served.

This is why “Between 200 and 300″ isn’t a correct response to “how many people read BillCammack.com?” That would be correct if ONLY 200-300 IP addresses were hitting my statistics app during the time period in question.

In fact, when I checked Google Analytics just now, I received this:

Bill Cammack Google Analytics Oct 04 2008

According to Google, over the last month, between September 04 and October 04, 2008, my site received visits from 4,646 “Absolute Unique Visitors”. If you divide that by 30 to emulate a month, you end up with 154 “Absolute Unique Visitors” every single day. This seems to imply that 154 people discovered BillCammack.com every day of the last month. That’s not correct either. I can’t say 4,646 people read my site any more than I can say 300 people read my site. So now, we have to figure out what they mean by “Absolute Unique Visitors”.

According to The Official Google Analytics Blog:

Absolute Unique Visitors: This report counts each visitor only once and then classifies the visitor as “First Time” or “Prior Visitor.” The question asked is, “has this visitor visited the website prior to the active (selected) date range?” and the answer is a simple yes or no. If the answer is “yes” the visitor is categorized under “Prior Visitors”; if it is no, the visitor is categorized under “First Time Visitors.” Visitors who have returned are still only counted once.

So I needed to look at New vs Returning visitors:

New vs Returning

So, 4,520 visitors arrived at BillCammack.com for the first time in September and 595 visitors had been to my site before September 04, 2008. So, do I actually have 595 readers instead of 300 or 4,646? :D

no.

If I look at “Visitor Loyalty”:

Visitor Loyalty

I see that out of my 5,115 total visits for the month, 4,520 of them only visited my site ONE TIME! :D 261 people came back for a second visit during that 30-day span and 88 people came back a third time, etc. If we select the 26-50 bracket and up, 66 people visited my site over 26 times in 30 days, or approximately once a day. I’d like to say a special “Thanks! :D ” to the visitors that made it into the 50+, 100+ and 200+ visit brackets, haha!

So, assuming I were to base my answer to Dave’s question on Google Analytics, I would say that I have a core viewership of 66 people, however, I received 7,589 pageviews from 4,646 absolute unique addresses over the last month, 88% of which only visited my site one time.

The other problem with answering “How many people read your blog?” is that my posts are ‘evergreen’… like this one. I wrote “How To Break Up With Your Girl” back in March, almost 7 months ago, and it gets hits to this day. So even if I were to say that when I write a post, 40 people read it the first day, that doesn’t honestly express how many people read it as they’re searching Google for the answers to their dating dilemmas and end up @ DatingGenius.

It also doesn’t take syndication and reblogging into account. If my posts get picked up on other people’s blogs, like boinkology, there could be an unnatural surge in my pageviews for a particular post.

So, the answer to the question is “I have no idea”. :D Three different statistics apps give me three different sets of numbers. I’d say I have about 80 hardcore returning fans/viewers/readers and I also served about 7,000 one-time site hits last month.

However… That and $2 will get you on the subway.

Chicago and New York transit cards

~Bill

9 Responses to “How many people read my blog?”

  1. Suki Fuller says:

    I read your blog.

  2. Bill Cammack says:

    @Suki: YAAAAAAAY! One Confirmed Reader!!! :D

    Sweet! :D

  3. Great post Bill. I’ve wondered too if web crawls from search engines (both legitimate and the numerous ones searching for SQL inject points) are counted in the pool of unique visitors.

  4. And if WE can’t tell how many people are consuming our media… can the major media companies? Or can the advertisers, who are (or could be) paying for it?

  5. Bill Cammack says:

    @John: Thanks. :) I was going to bring that up, but felt it would kind of dilute the post. I’m sure that lots of my “viewers” aren’t viewers at all. I’m sure there are bots and crawlers that figure into the stats.

    On top of that, if someone’s reader picks up your post, that doesn’t mean they actually read it, so the entire thing’s kind of vague.

  6. Bill Cammack says:

    @Justin: That’s what I’ve been saying for close to two years now. :D There’s no way to prove demographics, so you can’t demonstrate ROI to advertisers.

    Somebody’s going to have to come up with a different way to monetize podcasts. I’m a fan of sponsorship and product placement, myself.

  7. Annie Boccio says:

    Ow, you made my head hurt.
    I read your blog, but usually via google reader. I don’t really pay attention to my traffic, other that checking it out of curiosity once in awhile. Recently I had to provide monthly page views for something, and I just grabbed the number google analytics spit out at me, no idea what it means, but it answered the question asked!

  8. Bill Cammack says:

    @Annie: Ultimately, stats don’t matter at all, unless you’re trying to sell something to someone and promising them a certain number of impressions within a certain time period.

    Personally, the fact that I know that you, Justin, Suki and John read it and got something out of it makes the post worth posting for me. :)

    I don’t think I’d know what to do if I were serving 3,000 pages a day instead of 300. It’s not something I aspire to.

  9. RaiulBaztepo says:

    Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language ;)
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

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