Thursday, June 16, 2011

Estimating Blog Traffic

In my previous post I raised the question of how many people read this blog. Blogger gives statistics on pageviews, showing about a thousand a day. But I have no idea either how many additional views I am getting via Shrook or its equivalents or how many of the views I am getting are by robots rather than eyeballs—web spiders or something similar. I gather that statistics on web pages are generally overstated because of such.

Does anyone reading this know either how I can calculate such things or whether there are sites that maintain the relevant statistics?

Part of my curiosity is personal,  part has to do with wondering to what degree the internet is  replacing print publication. How does the number of readers I can expect for a post here compare to the number of people who read an article in a relatively small circulation print magazine, such as Liberty, for which I used to write? I have not found any precise figures for its circulation, but my guess is between two and eight thousand. If I assume that any single article was read by half that number, the total is probably comparable to, might even be less than, the average number of readers of one of my posts here.

And, of course, the question is also relevant to the usefulness of blogs as marketing tools, in my case for my self-published books.


Breno said...

You will need Google Analytics.

After installing it to this blogger it will collect unique visistors data and a lot more. Unfortunally only will work for future data.

Ps: I am from Brazil. Loved your speak at mises, changed my life.

Kid said...

You also reach a different demographic by blogging.

Among your readers born after 1985, very few would read articles in a paper magazine. A blog has far more reach with these readers.

And surely there are still people that hardly read blogs at all.

Jonathan said...

I was born in 1954 but I must admit that I hardly ever read paper magazines myself these days.

thorastooth said...

I read your blog on an RSS feed via my Friends page at LJ. It quotes the entirety of your entry for me. I suspect that makes me invisible to your statistics generator save in instances such as this, when I use the URL on my Friends page to go directly to the blog to leave a comment.

EdK said...

Add one for Flipboard on the iPad.

Anonymous said...

Have to say that your comparison is funny - you don't trust the substantially more accurate page view counts on your blog, and compare it to a hand waving percentage of a number of magazines printed.

Anyway. If you want better numbers, use Google Analytics, or embed an image in your page and RSS feed that references a server under your control so you get logs, and use a log analyzer. There are many open source ones, and if you wish to pay, Sawmill is a wonderful tool.

Mike Kenny said...

i think everyone who has blogger has a feedburner account for free, so you might want to check that out to cross-reference w/blogger stats. they seem to yield different info. also sitemeter seems to yield different info than blogger--counting about half as many visits it seems, and you can see google bot visits--which for my blog look around 8% of overall visits.

Unknown said...

For what it is worth, Google Reader reports that your articles news feed has another 777 subscribers. Not all of these may read every article, but that seems like a substantial addition to the daily page views you observe.

Amber Jones said...

Hi David,

I'm the manager of John Goodman's health policy blog, and we use Google Analytics to determine how many unique visitors we receive daily, monthly, etc. I'm also the online marketing director for the NCPA. Google Analytics is the best, free web analytics tool out there, in my opinion. Compared to other tools that count web bots and give you extremely inflated (and, therefore, useless) numbers, GA counts the number of warm bodies visiting your site.

You really don't want to focus on pageviews to determine your traffic. It's better to watch the trend, month over month, of the number of unique visitors, visits, number of comments, and subscriptions to RSS/email that you receive. One caveat on comments, though... 99% of people who read blogs will never leave a comment.

By using Google Analytics, you can also see what sites are referring traffic to your blog, so you can see how people are getting to your site. That's useful if you want to develop relationships with other bloggers.

As for your question of the degree to which the Internet is replacing print...I'm an online marketer, so I'm on the everything-is-going-digital bandwagon. I believe your online strategy IS your marketing strategy, whether you're marketing a blog or an entire company, as I do for the NCPA.

Blogs are excellent marketing tools, especially if you're promoting some other content, like a book. The blog gives you a greater reach to audiences that might otherwise never have been exposed to the content. I would suggest, though, that you consider offering your book as an e-book in addition to print.


Michael K said...

I second the use of Google Analytics; it provides a broad number of data points about traffic to your site (and costs nothing!).

Capturing your RSS readers is considerably harder to do. Google Reader, which is typically the only way that I view your posts, provides the number of people that read your blog through their RSS feed at 1,188, which I think should be roughly added to your in-site statistics (though there is probably some overlap as a percentage of those readers click through to comment, etc. -- you will see this in your Google Analytics statistics). However, this doesn't capture other RSS feeds, such as Feedburner (and smaller feeds like the one that thorastooth references above). I think its fair to approximate that the number of other RSS readers is roughly equal to your Google Reader readership (though that's just a guess and it may be greater). Consequently, I think its safe to estimate a daily readership of at least 3,000.

Unknown said...

@Michael K

How strange. Google Reader (where I too read almost all the content of this blog) still shows the number of readers of my feed at 777, not 1,188.

Perhaps Google Reader does not add up the readers of the same feed in different RSS formats? I am subscribed to . Are you subscribed to another format?

If you add them up, you may get more than 2,000 Google Reader subscribers alone.

PS: Yes, Google Analytics is pretty good. I use it for my blog.

Anonymous said...

The way to fully capture counts is to serve an image with every blog post, and look at unique visitors to that image.

The reason that's good is that the image will show up in rss feeds, on livejournal, and here. It can be a small 1px by 1px image.

Google analytics will get you most of the way there, though, especially since I think there's a way to get it to track rss feed posts, and I'm pretty sure that will be easier.

Michael K said...

I subscribe to, so I bet we use two separate feeds. So, Professor Friedman's daily readership is probably more than 4,000, then.

Anthony said...

Probably printed magazines also have
bad statistics, because maybe people buying the magazines aren't actually reading them or aren't reading your specific article.

Unknown said...

I am in the process of estimating blog readership now for one of my clients. I am an online marketing consultant in Charlotte.

I have gathered Google Analytics data specific to each blog post URL. The specific data I am analyzing in total visits, unique visits, average time on site, visitors who entered the site on the specific post URL, bounce rate, and exit rate. I have then added these social sharing data to add to the analysis (the number of): Facebook likes, Facebook shares, overall shares, email shares, tweets, and blog comments.

I am finding this is not a perfect science, but more of an estimate based on the data. I would say the most important factors for my analysis have been the number of unique visitors, the average time spent on the site and the total number of shares.

If the share number is close to the unique visitor number, and the average time on the site is high (more than 2 minutes), I feel confident to use the unique visitor number as the number of likely readers.

I see this post is have you decided to measure?

Thanks for your post!
Laura Greeno