Maybe you’ve noticed this. You upload a post and a few minutes later, the “likes” start coming in. But wait—your stats page doesn’t show any views for the post. Where did these “likes” come from?
Blog-savvy readers know the likes originate in the WordPress Reader. Readers can read posts and leave likes without leaving the Reader. (Wanna try saying that ten times fast?) Only if they comment will a view appear in your stats.
Excuse me, but this makes no sense.
The stats page is designed to suck us into blogging, especially when we begin. After all, who didn’t do the happy dance when the first readers left calling cards in the form of likes, comments, or follows? Even if someone was too shy to leave a card, that view counter went UP, telling us s/he had stopped by to visit.
All those numbers mesmerize us—daily, weekly, monthly totals, percentages up from the previous week (yes!) or down (nooo, my posts were awful!). It’s no surprise that seeing those numbers rise encourages us to write more posts so those numbers continue UPWARD. And that’s all the better for WordPress, of course.
So why did WordPress do something that decreases those numbers?
I bet anyone who was blogging before this summer’s Revamped Reader Push has noticed something to this effect:
The weekly graph is even worse. Look at the dive in my views after Week 23.
May was a great month for me, and other bloggers report the same. We noticed we were gaining an audience—we could see it in the stats. Then, the summer doldrums hit. This summer was my first in the blogosphere, and I’d heard that views would drop. I even did a tongue-in-cheek post about it. More-experienced bloggers all said the numbers would rebound in the fall. But look at that weekly graph again. Have they?
Over the summer, WordPress pushed the revamped Reader as the easy way to manage blogs and read new posts. There were lots of glitches, and I still don’t use it often. But many bloggers do.
What I’d like to know is why can’t the Reader be programmed to record a site view when someone reads one of our posts? Because now, I have no idea how many people actually read my posts.
When I started this post on the 8th, I checked my stats when that morning’s post went live. And the post had seven likes before a single view was recorded. In the old days, my views would have risen by seven. Now? Nothing, unless someone comments. Only then will the Reader record a view in my stats.
Now consider this—How many others read that post through the Reader without leaving a calling card? Two? Twenty? Two hundred? I have no way to know. As it stands, there were at least seven more views on the 8th than were recorded. Who knows—maybe there were 40 or 50 I don’t know about.
I also now have seven months of irrelevant stats. To compare numbers from pre-revamped Reader to post-revamped Reader is to compare apples and oranges. For all I know, my true numbers are better than they were in May. But I’d never know it from my stats. Maybe one person stays anonymous for every three people who leave a comment. If that’s the case, then on a slow day I might really have 40 views instead of 30. But what if it’s one silent reader for one who comments? Then a slow day is up to 60.
Maybe you see these “missing” numbers if you pay for the stats upgrade package. I haven’t looked into it. If not, those folks are paying for less-than-accurate data. But as the “free” stats stand, they’re basically meaningless.
I’m not out to be the world’s most popular blogger. I’m here to introduce potential readers to the novels I’m writing and to enjoy interacting with them. It’s not like the inaccurate numbers will cost me my job. But I’d still like an idea of how many people actually read my posts.
This is separate from the issue of people reading through feeds and such—and I don’t claim to understand them. I know those won’t necessarily count as views in our stats, either. But could we at least get a better idea of the real numbers within the WordPress community? We’re all doing better than we might think—and maybe we’d write more posts if we could see that. And then WordPress would have more advertising platforms….
Just a thought.
So do your stats graphs resemble mine? Or is it worse than I think, and I really have dropped so far?! 😉