WordPress Stats

Sorry if you’ve clicked on this post expecting some advice. It’s really about the apparent uselessness of WordPress statistics other than acting as a flannel to massage our egos.

Every day I look at my stats, not the bar chart that shows how many people have clicked the wrong link and ended up at my blog by mistake, but the words and numbers. I mean what is the point?

What is the point of telling me, for instance, 15 people have visited via a search engine, but then don’t tell me what the search terms were. Search engines no longer track search terms (with one or two exceptions), so I can’t make use of this information. Eight people found me using Google, one using Bing. How is that helpful?

On Sunday, four people were referred here via Facebook. To read what? It doesn’t say. They’ve been coming from Facebook for a couple of days now. Does this account for a surge in the popularity of my Ghosts of Motley Hall article? (It’s spiked in popularity.) The stats don’t say.

Last year a rock guitarist poll went through the roof. My stats gave me no clue why. It was only when Delain’s guitarist Timo Somers left a comment about him sending his fans here via his Facebook page that the mystery was solved. WordPress stats told me nothing.

The post stats are useful, but interpreting the figures is a different exercise entirely. In recent days my Arthur Daley post became popular. The death of the actor who played the character of Arthur Daley explains some of the post’s popularity. Likewise, my post on the Malandanti is a regular feature on the stats page. I suspect this is because a successful author has a series of Malandanti books and his fans are accidentally coming here.

I know the picture of Faora-Ul from Man Of Steel is popular because the stats tell me people keep clicking on that one image. (Obviously I’m not the only one who thinks she was the best feature of the film.)

I suppose the most informative aspect of the stats is the information they don’t give: no one comes to my blog via Twitter or Goodreads. No one clicks through to Amazon or Smashwords. Instead my stats suggest the blog is haunted by all these lurkers with their anonymous search terms, fans of Antje Traue and someone else’s Malandanti.

How useful are your stats, and have you used them to improve your blog’s popularity?

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12 thoughts on “WordPress Stats

  1. I made a pact with myself the day I started my blog that it would not be about worshiping stats or trying to reel in as many viewers/subscribers as possible. It would be about me, and me first, because at the time I started I needed a potentially (but not necessarily) public venue for me to vent and/or express myself. I still approach blogging that way today, as a sort of unofficial journal or soap box for my artistic interests. The moment I become dependent on stats (i.e. readers) for blogging satisfaction, blogging ceases to be fun for me. The internet is just too big and and too wide.

    That being said, I do appreciate the likes and comments when they come, but it’s sort of a “great if people read it and like it, but fine if they don’t” sorta thought process. In that sense, the stats page is kind of a ego massage, as you put it, but at the same time I never put to much stock in it, and like you so eloquently pointed out, it’s really not that helpful in explaining how viewers are getting to your blog and how you can keep them there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can understand. If I was only blogging for the satisfaction of having somewhere to write I’d be happy with the regular followers and commenters I have.

      But my blog is about promoting my books, and without decent stats I don’t how to do that effectively. I had a look at Google Analytics yesterday, but to use it on WordPress requires a $299 upgrade! I’ll stick with the bog standard stuff for now!


  2. I find I can usually deduce a decent amount from my WP stats, Chris, but that’s only because I like doing sums. Regarding Facebook referrals, I don’t see any way of giving more information without infringing upon the privacy of people we have no connection with on FB, and I’d rather it was this way than the other. It was much better before Google started encrypting the search terms. Although I’m not sure how much of that I really want to know. I could live without seeing that someone came to my blog using the search terms ‘bulldogs bought from 1990 to 2014 in graph’ (eh?!) for instance or ‘mother porn enjoy sites’ (thank you EL James)


  3. I may be the lone holdout here, but I do find WP stats useful with tracking sales to my books. And although WP doesn’t reveal all the stats, since google encrypts their searches, I can put two and two together to track how a particular post is doing through out the day. For instance, if I post on Twitter and I get a surge of twitter hits on my blog and it’s the post stats climb, then sure, Twitter did help to promote my post for the day.


    I’ve had posts go viral and it took me a couple of hours to try to understand which post and how. In this case, last November, I had one of my zombie posts–I think it was the “Why Do Zombies Eat Brains”–get hundreds of hits an hour because ask.com’s question of the day was “Why Do Zombies Eat Brains”. The only reason I found out about it was because the referrers had pointed to a site on one of the foreign ask.com’s site with the question.

    Anyway, I wish there was a way to track keywords, but that comes from using Google Analytics, which I’m not sure how WP supports with a pluggin.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve just been looking at the sample download stats for my books on Smashwords. A lot of activity in the last thirty-one days and I need to sit down and look at the correlation, if any, between downloading and what I was posting here. Unfortunately, WordPress stats indicate no click throughs to Smashwords, and I hardly ever tweet, so the mystery continues.

      I would suspect though, that if you have more traffic to your blog and sales of your book, you have a bit more statistical raw material to deal with to make those connections. Six anonymous visits from Google and no book sales is a bit tricky to analyse 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, man. The only thing they do for me is help me track traffic from indirect sources to my book–and that only vaguely, and with guesswork. I’ve thought about putting Google Analytics on here instead of Amazon sometimes, but I’ve hit a total sales lull, so I’d be lying if I told you I thought that with more than passing apathy.

    Well, there is one other thing it’s good for. My blog is ‘Piss, Coffee, and Vinegar’, right? The unencrypted search terms are good for a laugh sometimes. Some of my old school favies:

    baby’s first piss shower
    girl pissing in guy’s coffee
    piss indie sex

    My favorite is when I can see they stuck around. Plainly, this is not what they were searching for…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had one search term the other day for superman licks boots! I bet the air turned blue when that weirdo found a website full of incomprehensible bollocks.

      I might look into Google Analytics; get a more detailed description of nothingness.


    1. If WordPress can’t obtain statistics from search engines there must be a way of showing how the site visitor clicked through from the search engine page to a blog post. We wouldn’t know the search term, but we would have a some indication of what they were looking for.

      Liked by 1 person

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