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Looking at stats

I check my blog stats practically every day, more out of idle curiosity than for any marketing insight. The traffic to my site is pretty steady, not in the grand sense of the word, but in terms of an established small core audience, and it fluctuates wildly only on days when I post a mildly profound essay related to our expatriate experience (e.g., lessons learned) or finish an above-average Travelog article (such as this one, for instance) – and Natasha advertizes that inside Fodor’s community.

I’m fairly vigilant with keeping my blog at least PG-13, so I don’t get any weird or porn-seeking keyword searches leading to me (except this one, and there were only a few occasions of that). The vast majority of searches that result in clicks through to actually have the word “burlaki” in it or look for information on destinations and attractions featured in Travelog.

Nor do I have visitors from far and strange lands en masse. About two-thirds of all visits come from the US, and another quarter from the UK. The rest is spread across several dozens of countries. The most exotic place which I notice is Oman, with two visits averaging 8 pages and about 3 minutes on the site.

Of moderate interest is the information on referrers to my site, but the numbers are fairly settled on that as well, with various Fodor’s threads combining to be the top referrer source, and blogs by my brother, Janiece and Eric being the fairly regular gateways.

All in all, unexciting stats and a very little source of amusement.

What does baffle me is that I use two statistics-gathering engines, Google Analytics and stats, and their output, while following similar patterns, is never ever close to each other enough for me to be comfortable that the numbers are correct. For instance, my most recent record-setting day, October 1st (due to the aforementioned “lessons learned”), shows 345 main blog pageviews on Google (differentiated from hits to the picture gallery, Travelog or Becky’s Blog), but only 311 views in WordPress stats. I accept this as the same ballpark, but it is still a big discrepancy. I am considering getting a third opinion, from something like Sitemeter, but I expect that it will provide yet another ballpark number without making the picture any clearer.

Any website statistics engine that you particularly trust?


  1. Brian Greenberg

    Actually, I can help clarify this. Two things:

    1) As long as you keep cookies enabled (and are logged into WordPress), WordPress will ignore pageviews that came from you. So, in a perfect world, you’ve now learned that you looked at your own page 34 (345-311) times on October 1st. But…

    2) Different stats engines have different ways of defining pageviews. If you open a page, then click a link on it, and then click the “Back” button – is that one pageview or two? What if you click the Refresh button? What about partial page loads? Deep links to content on the page? If you’re very interested, most of these tools have definitions that you can investigate (I know Google Analytics has them, I haven’t played much with my WordPress stats…)

    Anyway, happy ego surfing (my term for reviewing my own stats – which I do every morning as well…)

  2. Ilya

    Yep, if when editing a new post and clicking “Preview” several times, Google counts each such click as a view, while WordPress does not, we have a difference. I can’t imagine a whopping 34 clicks from me to my blog on any given day – and I don’t stay logged in when I’m not editing – but that most likely explains the discrepancy at least partially. Thanks, Brian.

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