Monday, July 12, 2010

Know Your Visitors - And Ignore Your Own Visits

Most bloggers don't just write blog content, they need to look at who is reading what they write.

They do this, using visitor logs and meters, like Blogger Stats, Google Analytics, SiteMeter, and StatCounter. Visitor logs and meters are demographic and statistical tools, which show how many people are reading the pages and posts in the blog.

When a blog is new, with few visitors, you'll want to examine accurate statistics. Perversely, when the blog is new, and you spend some time visiting the blog to check out the content, and test the changes, you'll see your own visits reflected in the log entries and numbers.

The newer any blog is, the fewer visits it will get - and the more statistically significant owner activity will be. Since the purpose of using a visitor meter is to monitor visitor reaction to the blog, so you can improve visitor activity, you'll want to ignore your own visits to the blog.

Most visitor logs provide one or more settings which let you identify and ignore your visits.

The settings, to ignore one's own activity on the blog, take two forms.
  • Cookie blocking. You set a cookie on your computer, which identifies your computer to the visitor meter, so the visitor meter program ignores visits by that computer.
  • IP address blocking. You set a flag in the visitor meter database, so visits from your IP address are ignored, for that blog.
Neither blocking method is completely effective, without precautions. And not all different visitor meters provide both blocking methods.

Cookie blocking requires a cookie in the browser being used. If you have multiple browsers on your computer, you'll need to set a cookie on each browser. If you have multiple computers, you'll need a cookie set on each browser, on each computer.

The cookies will be created when you are using the control panel wizard provided by the visitor activity log / meter service, and read when you are viewing the blog in question - so they will be subject to third party cookie filters. If you're in the habit of clearing cookies, you'll have to re establish your cookies, for each blog being ignored, in the browser where you clear the cookies.

IP address blocking requires that you specify the IP address of your computer(s). If you have multiple computers behind a NAT router, this is a good choice - if your Internet service provides a fixed IP address.

If your service provides a dynamic IP address, you'll have to enter one or more ranges of IP addresses for each blog, for the visitor meter. If you have to add very many IP address ranges, this is not a good idea. The more IP addresses you add, the more chance that someone besides yourself (your Internet neighbours) will be blocked from the visitor meter. This is almost as bad as having your own visits recorded.

So block your visits from your visitor meter - but know the limitations. And know which blocking methods are available, with the visitor log / meter of your choice. Blogger Stats is one service where this is a frequent concern.

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3 comments:

Chris S. said...

With Google Analytics, you can block certain "campaigns" with a custom URL. For example:

www.example.com/?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=internal&utm_campaign=internal

Then set Analytics to ignore this "internal" source, medium, and/or campaign.

Midwestern Mama Holly said...

You can block your own computer from being counted on site meter as well.

Alfredo said...

Would Opting out of Google Analytics work?
Opt-out of Google Analystics