This post was contributed by Aaron Brazell, a regular ProBlogger contributor.
Last year, in the early days of my “problogging”, I was in New York City with a friend of mine who was attending Ad:Tech. He was attending, I was working on a book. Later in the evening, he was telling me about some of the encounters he had at the conference. One of the encounters struck me as odd.
As time has gone on, I’ve noticed a frenzy among the self-named top echelon of bloggers to display Sitemeter stats in some publically accessible way. It’s almost a mantra in some circles. I’m not sure where this trend that says respectable blogs must use SiteMeter got started, but WebLogsInc made it popular – and where they lead, hordes of others follow.
But is it really necessary? My answer: No, not at all.
Jeremy Wright has this thought about SiteMeter:
There’s two sides to the SiteMeter coin. First, as a blogger, if you have no other stats it’s better than nothing. Personally, I wouldn’t display those stats, though, because I don’t believe SiteMeter has “integrity” in its statistics.
It’s nothing wrong with SiteMeter per se, it’s just the reality of using non-server based stats solutions: they simply will never be accurate. I know for most bloggers a server-based solution isn’t possible since they’re using Blogger’s and TypePad’s and they really just want more detail than those services provide. In which case, rock the SiteMeter (or Performancing Metrics)! Just don’t think it’s the be all and end all of statistics.
Stats are important. They are VERY important. Are they necessary for a blogger? Yes. Are they necessary for an advertiser? Absolutely. Are they necessary for the general public? Probably not.
Should choosing not to display public stats alter the net effect, net reach and net approach of the blog? Absolutely, positively not.
If I’m a reader, I read because of content. I don’t care what the blogger is making in terms of money, if any at all. I don’t care what kind of traffic the blog is getting. If I like what I read, I’ll read some more.
Tangent: At b5media, for instance, we don’t talk stats specifically. It’s our policy. it’s how we operate. We may talk generally, but we offer no specifics? Why? Because to you, the reader, it doesn’t make one bit of difference to your reading experience. Advertising deals are handled behind closed doors with the advertisers, mano y mano. There’s no need to air “the business” in a public forum.
So what is the best means to collect stats?
- AWStats – AWStats is my bread and butter. It provides the best overall analysis on my traffic but has the shortfall of only being updated once a day.
- Feedburner – Feedburner stats are the only stats I publically display and I do it more as a motivating tool for me. I see the numbers and if they dip, I need to do better. Feedburner (the Pro package) gives great insight on where my feed is being used, and how well my RSS subscriber base is doing.
- Google Analytics – I don’t use this often, especially since I’ve removed most of my Adsense, but it does offer another perspective on performance.
Bottom line, no single stat package will give a completely accurate assessment. It’s usually best to try to use a handful of tools that each major in different areas to get an accurate assessment of what your traffic looks like, and none of that information is necessary for the public to enjoy your blog.