Obsessing Over Numbers

Stats, numbers, high scores, weight lifting, golf handicap … the number doesn’t matter, it’s how well you improve.

I am hesitant to link to the post that inspired me to write this. Unfortunately the original thread is one of those name-calling-mud-slinging-blog-punch-ups that do nobody any good, least of all the readers. Inside the comments though there were one or two intelligent quotes, some sanity in a sea of bs.

The argument was about one party mentioning in passing their headline traffic figure and the other party calling them out on it. Party A obviously wanted to make an impression while basing the figure on a supportable stat taken from their (comprehensive) suite of measurement tools. And we all know how much stats packages can vary in their assessment. Fair enough right? Well the other guy decides he sees a flaw and uses other (dodgy) measures to point out what he considers … uh … an inaccuracy.

Lighten up guys! Web stat numbers matter when

  1. You are comparing your performance against your own performance
  2. You are attracting advertisers or considering advertising

They are not for competitors (regardless of if they consider you a competitor or not) to use as a club to beat you with and are not to be taken as gospel. There isn’t an IRS of web traffic, you do not need to be accurate down to the Nth visitor.

Concern with others traffic figures smacks of insecurity.

  • Where is your traffic relative to last month, last year?
  • What makes traffic increase, go down?
  • Is there anything that looks promising that we could do more of?
  • What aren’t we doing that might work?
  • How are we viewed outside of the echo-chamber?

Just like at the gym, it is your own performance you need to be concerned with, not the guy on the next rack who looks like Arnie.

9 thoughts on “Obsessing Over Numbers

  1. That is an awesome point. Alot of people worry about the guy next door instead of what they can do to increase traffic to their own sites…


  2. LOL Markus… 😉

    I think when it comes to comparing web stats, instead of comparing the numbers produced by package A to B, it is still useful to have the numbers from whichever stat package we choose (either A or B).

    It is the only way we could say “My traffic increase by 153% this month.” or have a measurement of conversion rate, expected revenue and ROI, etc.

    But, of course, Chris is blogging about traffic visitors number.

  3. Update: Some people over here say stat comparing is like comparing other things … you know what I mean 🙂

  4. Ever since I transitioned my website over to a blog, I have found out that the unique visitors stat isn’t as powerful as it was before. There are too many ping bots, search bots, and others that like to soak up stats.

    I usually look at the last-visits stat to see who was a bot, and who wasn’t. If the pages viewed and hits are the same, I assume it is a bot.

  5. I have been doing a bit of reading recently on analytics, what you should and shouldn’t measure, and generally I have to say I agree with you. Comparing the number of UVs or visits from one site to another is not overally helpfull.

    But for the insecure wouldn’t it be better to talk about “dwell times”. My readers spend more time reading my posts than yours !!

    Anyway, I’m no expert, just a thought !

  6. One of the best reason to blog I have heard in a long time. And a good usage of CAPS. Serious.

  7. I Blog as a service to my readers!

    My Blog is basically a collection of links that I think are the BEST products, tutorials, and news items that my readers need. My stats go up and hover for days and then go low and hover for days.

    My Blogs OLD posts have immense value to new readers and old readers as both can search and view OLD posts that still have value. The old posts do not go anywhere so my collection builds and my VALUE to my readers builds.

    This is why I do not care about stats – my value increases every time I post!

    (And occasionally I make a sale or readers visit my other money making sites – yeeehaaaa!


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