The importance of stats

April 13, 2007 at 1:22 am Leave a comment

When you run a website, specially a large one – 100k uniques or more – stats, and more important, stats along time, are crucial. The only true empiric number that will tell you how well you are doing, is the number of readers you have. It doesn´t matter if you think your contents sucks, if you have a nice traffic maybe it doesn´t suck, this is rule number one of content sites, weblogs or business´ of any kind, what you think is cool doesn´t matter, what matters is what your clients/readers think is cool.

I always think the best way of tracking your stats is using more than one system. There are lots of different site counters and almost all of them use different methods to count pageviews and uniques. If you use two of them, you will have a more precise picture of your traffic. Keep in mind you will never know exactly how many people read you, but you can always have an idea of it. On the other hand, some stat counters may make your site loading slower, avoid those, a slow site is a no-site.

In our websites we´ve been able to see a strange phenomena: the traffic growth day to day or even month to month is not linear, it´s not even an exponential function, if you graph it, it would be something like this:

traffic.png

It tends to grow for a period of time and after it stabilizes. The trick is to keep the good work even if you are not growing in the short term, that work will eventually have a return when the “growing time” comes. If you are in one of those no-growth periods and you throw less content, chances are that the bonanza will arrive more later than sooner, that you won´t grow anymore or what is worst, you will start loosing traffic.

What we also try to do is keeping a log of the growth of registered users in our discussion forums and on other similar forums. Nothing tells you better how you are doing than having a clear picture of how others are doing. You can compare growth rates during time between you and a couple of forums and maybe even see better your flaws or your strengths. If your registered rate growth is 100% maybe is not terrific, maybe your neighbor is growing 1000% in the same period.

What is a healthy growth rate?

I cannot tell you what growth rate is good, but I can definitely tell you what rate is not good. Internet has it´s own natural users growth, this is the number of new people who adopt the internet every year. To keep your market share during time, you need to at least grow exactly what the internet adoption rate grows. If all your visitors come from Jamaica and their rate of new internet adopters over 2006 was 20% and your traffic growth during 2007 is 20%, you didn´t really sum up market share. If your growth is 30% you can be happy, if your growth is only 10%, that means 10% of your potential readers are not reading you and are visiting other people sites.

Don´t get me wrong, I´m not talking about overall income, if your traffic grows 10% and the internet grows 200% over the same period of time, you will earn more money than before anyways. But remember, resources are limited, and advertisers prefer to spend money on the succesful sites, not on average sites. Resources on the internet are plentiful, in my case it´s not only money, it´s also relationships and review samples, trust me, my Intel rep. gives more time on me than on a 100 reader a month tech blog, and it´s not only because I´m good looking.

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Entry filed under: Dot Com Biz.

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