This one is tricky. Getting an absolute number is very very hard. Getting 'comparitive' numbers is very very easy. Comparitive numbers is good enough.
In this post, I will use some technical jargon. If something is tricky, skip it and continue with the next question.
In this post :
- What tools exist to determine readership, and the weaknesses of them?
- Why using indicators is good enough?
- What indicators so I use?
What tools exist to determine readership?
Webserver logfile.This is the original method of tracking traffic, included for comparison purposes, but I do not use it.
This can (but does not always) track:
- The apparent client IP address
- The web resource accessed. (Web page, picture, RSS feed are all seperate requests)
- Date and time information.
Some users bounce around the website often once per page and often multiple times from a home page. Other read several pages via an RSS feed in one hit. Proxy servers (see above) can 'remember' the last time a page was read and only retrieve it once.
Not only that, but as a user of the free blogger service, I do not have access to this logfile.
Blogger statsEvery user of blogger has this, as a 'tab' on the top right. It has a very nice set of stats, showing a guess of pageviews, traffic sources, with some drilled down information. I use this as a primary measure of readership.
It also has shortcomings (this is my observations that may or may not be correct):
- It think it does not capture people reading with feeds, unless they click through to your page. I have many readers using feed readers. I read many websites just from their feeds, using a feed reader.
- I think readers who block tracking (either employers or personally) will be missed.
Google AnalyticsIt does not matter what blog software you use, provided you have the ability (both permissions and technical skill) to modify the page headers, then Google Analytics works. It seems to form the basis of Blogger Stats above. The same shortcomings for Blogger stats above apply.
Google Webmaster ToolsI use google webmaster tools primarily to track RSS subscribers, but it also provides more information regarding web searches and 'pagerank' information.
Why indicators are good enough.Bloggers have a vanity streak. We have something to say, and think enough of it that we want you to read it too. But unless you are getting paid per page impression, the exact numbers don't matter so much. What matters (to me at least), is what makes my readership go up or down.
Sometimes it is systematic, (Cata comes soon - readership goes up. Cata released - readership goes down). Sometimes it is site specific (no new pages, political rants vs a method to get 7 guild levels in one day).
I have an additional advantage of being able to see the readership of a meta wow blog site network.phase3profit.net to assist with determining site specific stuff with general trends.
What I want to (normally) do is write posts that interest both myself and the community. Increased readership shows that whatever I am writing of is interesting. Decreased readership shows that it is not.
What indicators I use.
Primarily I use blogger stats. It is there and easy to access. However, I use all three of the tools available to me (google analytics, and webmaster tools) to look at additional information.
And for the record :
- If you are reading my blog, you love reading posts about upcoming stuff - especially major content. This applies when I post known stuff, or just guesses.
- If you are reading my blog, you like reading posts about the in's and outs of glyphs.
- If you are still reading this post, it is because you also are a blogger, or are thinking about becoming one
- If you read my political posts, you either live in Australia, or will read anything that I publish.