Monthly Archives: March 2013

Website page read stats – what can you trust?

Sean Yeager Hunters Hunted

Hello and welcome,

When not writing the highly entertaining Sean Yeager adventures series, I do what I can to spread the word. A phenomenon I’ve come across recently is a massive disparity between website page read stats from different sources. And by massive I mean 1000% inaccuracies.

So what do we mean by a page read?  Simply – how many times did someone open (and hopefully read) a page of your content? (Or more precisely – the number of discrete page impression per browser session / IP combinations by a human being in a given time frame).

(Definitions – IP meaning IP address which can identify a single machine or at least a service provider’s bundle of active connections to the internet. Session being a period of active use of a given website before a log-off / period of inactivity. )

Now that may seem like a very straightforward concept. And it is. However, consider this:

  1. A website site counter showing 2000 reads with peaks of 100+ per day for a rolling month
  2. Google Analytics stats reporting 50 reads with peaks of 4 per day for a rolling month

And that’s for the same website and for the same month.

And on Scribd for related content:

  1. Scribd document counter showing 3000+ reads for a given period
  2. Scribd user map counter showing 12 users who have ever read the content for the same content and period

So what’s going on here and how can we interpret these conflicting web stats?

Firstly, they are all strictly incorrect as a measure of real people, because that is impossible to measure unless everyone logs in and/or saves cookies for the whole month, while using the same device / log-in. The reason being that no website can recognise and verify the person browsing the content unless they choose to positively identify themselves. (Consider a shared public or home computer or multiple log-in Ids per person or multiple devices per person).

Also, if people have Javascript or some session hiding software active that can also distort the stats. Sure, you see a trend. However it does not answer the question – ‘how many people read my content?’ It leads to an approximation, which is as good as you can reasonably expect.

In addition, we have to eliminate web crawling software, malware and robots that trawl for content from our numbers. This should be easy given that their sessions on any given page will be very short and their IPs repeat. However, many counters do not look at such information. Which means that …..

We can only gauge ‘real people’ responses based on comments, subscriptions, purchases and log-ins. Otherwise we are left with vague ‘ball parks’ and trend indicators and that is all.

From my experience Google Analytics under-counts and unfiltered website counters over-count. (I base my Google assertion on tests that bypass Google search results and use JScript =Off with cache clearing each time).

Incidentally, there are no apparent patterns that I’ve noticed to correlate between the two sets of figures either. One might expect a busy day to show up as spikes using either measuring method, but in my experience they don’t. I’ve had a spike on Google and nothing unusual on the website stats and vice-versa. I often have spikes on the website counter and next to nothing reported on Google. Which is frustrating and perplexing.

Bottom line – if you really need to know your traffic stats, you need to find a website SEO tool that is impartial and well integrated with your site / blog. Unfortunately, you can not rely on free tools and counters if you need accuracy. And you’ll need a webserver log analytics analyser to see what is really happening – but that is for the big commercial sites only. For the rest of us we simply need to make do with the free or cheap alternatives.

Hope you found that useful. That’s all for now.

Happy reading

D.M. Jarrett

Author of Sean Yeager books

DNA Thief and Hunters Hunted

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Sean Yeager Hunters Hunted

Sean Yeager Hunters Hunted

 

 

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So how on earth do you reach new readers with social media?

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Welcome,

Today’s big question is an ongoing experiment in social media and content promotion. Yep, you guessed right first time, I’ve no clue how you reach anyone including my own family on social media. By ‘reach’ I mean to make a meaningful connection with as opposed to randomly spam or annoy. ‘Reach’ as in – interest them enough to go to your website, read a sample of your book and perhaps consider a purchase. Because they want to, not because of a guilt trip, pity purchase or a clever bit of key word marketing and coding.

So here’s my run down so far in relation to my experiences promoting Sean Yeager Adventures Admittedly on a zero budget and now with two entertaining books published. And let me tell you – the writing was the easy part, the reviewing was horrible but way more productive than attempting ‘social media connections’. As I joked recently, ‘I could sell more books standing next to a motorway than via social media’.  And it’s not about some mental block thing or lack of trying – there is a giant, electronic, elephant in the room.

Amazon – virtually useless, search engines optimised for top sellers only. It’s a shop for the top, period. You’ll be dead before someone finds your book or Kindle board note. And then it’ll be a mistaken browser looking for someone else. Catch-22 is – they don’t know you, so they won’t look for you. Your book may as well be buried 300 feet beneath the ocean,

KDS Free days – virtually useless. So you give away free books, then what? Sales spike and all is well? Dream on. It might work for big name authors with tens of books in their canon, for the rest of us I doubt it is of any use at all. It also devalues the writing and the book. Also a great way for pirates to obtain content without doing anything remotely clever.

Twitter – virtually useless, an echo chamber of people selling stuff to other complete strangers who are selling stuff to complete strangers. Might work for ‘real’ celebrities, if we can glean who they are online these days. Could be their cat for all we know. More likely an impostor or an intern with a crush.

Facebook – virtually useless, a cage of rules for not bothering people and then a non-stop stream of content from people who like to transmit. Always best when you have no idea what  on earth the original event or question was – all you see is a response and some pictures. Right, for light relief of the comedy kind it’s okay, that’s all I seem to see. Jokes, viral images and comments. The spam you learn to look through and ignore. And why wouldn’t you?

Facebook has some great info groups online. Promotion – forget it.

Yes Facebook do advertising, unfortunately they do a really bad job of explaining to me why I should pay a bean for it. Free trials, stats, breakdowns – it’s not happening for me and yes of course I’ve a zero budget anyhow. Social networking and connecting? Not any more, you could throw some money into the void and pray. Now that’s a sound business investment decision right? Not on my planet.

Linked-In – fine for articles and groups, rubbish for promoting fiction. Another echo chamber.

Goodreads – good for presenting stuff, great for giving away stuff. I’ve yet to be convinced that anyone actually buys and reads unknown fiction as a result. Maybe some people do.

Scribd – good for presenting stuff, great for giving away content. I’ve yet to be convinced that anyone actually buys and reads unknown fiction as a result.

Librarything – ditto, seems to be for ‘serious fiction’ really. Held breath and died before anyone read a simple posting. Now a ghost haunting the site out of morbid interest.

Book Blogs – difficult to judge, no one is interested in reviewing Sean Yeager as it’s an adventure /  sci-fi book. (Yep, real niche stuff alongside underground stuff like Star Wars, Star Trek etc) So de facto useless, but it may work if you write books that are reviewed and hence promoted on book blogs. Which seems to be anything written for a female audience and blogged about by a lady with a love of books (who also happens to write romantic supernatural stories about vampires and men with six packs and no clothes on (I blame the TV) )

That’s all for now, I’m off to the pub for some research, And a primal scream.

AHHHHHHHHHHH!

That’s better.

Happy reading

D.M. Jarrett