Thursday, October 27, 2011


Not long after we started this blog, now some four years ago, I wondered who was reading it, and where. I could fairly assume that I personally knew every person reading it, but I wanted some way to know. Blogger at the time did not have any way of gathering or presenting this information (still doesn't as far as I know). But there are a number of ways of gathering analytics, as the buzzword-inclined would call it. They all work by inserting a bit of extra code into a certain webpage (in this case, the blog template), that sends off a small capsule of info from each visitor. This information can be cut, dried, spliced, diced, and sorted any number of ways. We use Google Analytics.

People tend to use this information largely for search engine optimization, figuring out what search terms lead people to their website, and how they can best draw in traffic and keep them there for longer. Since we don't sell ads on this blog and don't pay for any search terms, this information is largely irrelevant to us (more specifically, to me; this is definitely a geek's pursuit).

What is interesting information to me are the number of pageviews per day, and where they come from. Here is a snapshot of this kind of data:

As you can see, we have quite a fanclub in Rochester, NY (hello, my adoring audience!).

Then there's some location data that is just plain weird. For instance, my blog receives about one hit a day from this or that foreign country: India, China, Latvia, Brazil, Paraguay. I appreciate your interest, dear readers from afar, but I do have to wonder what brings you here (let me know in the comments).

And who are these people that flatter us with their attention? A lot of Apple users: 50% are on OS X, another 15% on iOS. Roughly half of our visitors use firefox, about a third use safari. A bit less than 10% are Internet Explorer (encouraging, but what are you all thinking?). An equal number are using Chrome.

Other information: what are the most popular blog posts. Generally, people come to the main page:, and don't delve into specific pages with specific addresses. Some, however, are just so oh so special:

A steady trickle of visitors go directly this post about the construction of our raised beds. A friend of ours in Minnesota linked to it from a blog she contributes to. In that one day our blog's daily readership went from dozens to hundreds of hits.

And although I'm not trying to make it big in search engines, I am also interested to know what search terms direct random traffic to my blog. What's the big winner? Alas, none of my carefully worded posts (and the occassional rant) about energy or politics, nor Hilary's experience in med school and doctoring. Nope, the number one search engine destination for our blog is a post debunking a chain email purporting to show a Smart car crushed between two dump trucks. Depending on the search terms, it's the #1 or #2 hit on the subject. Our place in history is secure! Slightly more satisfying: a few people find their way to our blog by searching on "oversized knee walker", and end up reading about this little bit of work I did at my last job. Search engine traffic accounts for only about 10% of all visitors.

So I guess we're not getting famous doing this blogging stuff. In truth, I think we can live with that.


Chaosbeana said...

I can see me in that map too. Yay for that. You have a fan near Binghamton.

Allyson Wendt said...

The foreign IPs are likely web crawlers and spammers, says this marketing director.