Chasing Visitors - The Web Analytics Rabbit Hole
25 Jun 2021
When I check my web analytics the response is often frustration, or even mild anxiety. I'm in a perpetual cycle of thinking it's not enough! This obsession isn't healthy, so what's the point?
Picture the scene - I publish a new post on my blog and share it on social media. Maybe even Hacker News and Lobste.rs too. I leave things a few days, then check my analytics.
The post did fairly well. It garnered a 1,000 or so visits and my site is averaging thousands of visits every month. Life is good.
But then I read a post that's akin to “How my post went viral and I got 20,000 new subscribers in a week!” I know they shouldn't, but these posts really deflate me.
I start to ask myself why my post didn't do better. Why did theirs do so well and my post only got 1,000 visits? Was it a bad post? Am I bad writer? Is the UX of my blog not up to scratch?
The web analytics rabbit hole
At this point I head straight to my web analytics tool of choice, Plausible, and start diving into my traffic. Instead of focussing on my successful posts, I immediately focus in on the posts that I feel aren't doing well.
I then start searching for ways of improving engagement, improving my writing, just improving.
The fact of the matter is, 10,000 visits in a month would be a bad month for me. And those 1,000 visits to my post is a lot of people. That is successful!
When I first started out, I wanted to get to 100 visits/month. Then it was 1,000. Then my approach flipped and I started looking at why my blog wasn't performing as well as I wanted it to.
But it was performing as well as I wanted it to!
It's the same story with my newsletter. It has around 700 subscribers and the last issue had an open rate of approximately 37%. That's rubbish! I thought. But the fact is, that's really good, as the average newsletter open rate is around 20%.
What can I do?
I started this blog because I enjoy writing. If anyone reads my drivel, that's a bonus. I need to remember that.
So I've decided to go with the time tested mantra of ignorance is bliss. My Plausible Analytics subscription was due to renew in July. I won't be doing that, in fact, I've removed all analytics from this site.
My hope is that by doing this, I won't have the data available to go down the web analytics rabbit hole, even if I want to.
I must stress that I'm not unhappy with the service Plausible provides. They offer an amazing service that is a privacy respecting alternative to Google Analytics. The problem is me - I like numbers, but my compulsion with analytics isn't healthy.
I'm probably going to unsubscribe from the “grow your blog” blogs I read. Honestly, most of them are spammy and I use very little of the advice they produce.
I'll probably write an update at some point to let you folks know how I'm getting on without my precious analytics. My hope is that I'm more focussed on writing content and engaging with those people who get in touch than worrying about whether I'm getting enough readers. I get more than enough readers!
Do you have web analytics on your site? Please do let me know your thoughts on the topic - I'd love to hear other people's opinion on this one.