Monday, March 05, 2012

What Does Stats Provide, That Third Party Visitor Activity Meters Cannot Provide?

Not all blog owners realise how unique Blogger Stats is, in its design.

Some owners may idly suggest that Stats can easily be replaced by any third party visitor activity log / meter.
Why bother to use Stats? Since Blogger Stats shows referrer spam, it's pretty useless - just use SiteMeter or StatCounter.
They have no idea why Stats was designed as it is, nor what information Stats provides, that no competing product can possibly provide.

Every add-on accessory, such as any visitor activity log / meter, has to be manually installed in your blog.

Simple accessories, which depend upon your visitor clicking on a link, can be installed easily - just add a clickable link on your blog - either in a post, or anywhere in the body of the blog.

Visitor logs or meters such as SiteMeter or StatCounter, in order to produce usable statistics, can't depend upon the blog readers clicking on a link. Most such accessories use add-on JavaScript code, installed in the body of the blog (as an accessory gadget), or in the blog template (installed using "Edit HTML"). With add-on code, that references any external server, the installed location of the accessory code is crucial.
  • Install the add-on at the top of the web page (or in the template code), and as your reader loads each page, he / she gets to watch the page load pause, as it waits for a distant accessory server to respond (while recording the visit).
  • Install the add-on at the bottom of the page, and any reader, who closes the display before the page finishes loading, will not be counted by SiteMeter / StatCounter.
In either case, the page takes longer to load. This causes reader impatience, and motivates the reader to close the display before the page finishes loading. The result - your blog gets one less new reader.

Besides reader impatience caussing statistical inaccuracy, all third party accessories that use JavaScript have a second problem - script filtering by our readers. Both SiteMeter and StatCounter are known to be explicitly blocked, by some browser setting or third party application that may run on any given client computer. Some security products specifically list "sitemeter.com" or "statcounter.com" in their Block Lists.

A lot of malicious activity, encountered when surfing the web, can easily be blocked by proactive script filtering - just permit scripts, from any given domain, only when explicitly told to do so. Every reader uses security accessories in the browser and on the computer - and many security accessories and settings provide script filtering. Most security is now provided as "deny by default, permit only on demand".

Many of our readers, who are concerned with security, or who use computers that are well protected, may not be counted, by SiteMeter or StatCounter.

Blogger Stats avoids the issues of page load delay induced impatience, and client filtering, by not using JavaScript add-on code. Since Stats is a Blogger accessory, it can retrieve from the access logs maintained by the Blogger servers. Access to server access logs:
  • Does not cause page load delays.
  • Is not subject to page load delay impatience.
  • Is not subject to reader security settings.

Besides the problems of our readers visits not being counted, we have the issue of what information is provided, and for what period of time. If you have installed SiteMeter or StatCounter on your blog, look at the displays provided. Each product will mention a limit of either 100 or 500 log entries - and will display details or statistics based upon the log used.

Many Blogger blogs get more than 500 visits in a single day, requiring blog owner visits to SiteMeter / StatCounter at least daily, or to pay for extra service, to provide any benefit. And of course, that log was started only after the product was installed. Blogger Stats, on the other hand, is able to provide statistics for the current day, week, month, and for "all time" (starting in May 2009, for all blogs in existence at that time).

Stats does not discard old statistics, they just extract from the server access logs, as needed. Any blog owner can see any statistics for any given time range, at any time - and Stats was never installed, by any blog owners.

Unfortunately, the biggest strength of Stats - use of the server access logs to gather the visitor activity data - leads to its best known weakness - abuse by referer spammers, which leads to inflated blog read counts.

Besides the concern of referer spam, we see various evidences of confusion about Stats displays.All of these limitations are simply the direct result of how Stats is designed.

In reality, both Blogger Stats and third party visitor activity logs or meters have their respective advantages - and neither choice completely replaces the other.
  • If you want to see demographic details about some readers of your blog, you can use SiteMeter, StatCounter, or any number of third party visitor activity logs and meters - after the chosen accessory has been installed.
  • If you want to see comprehensive statistics about all readers of your blog - without being limited by install time or reader security policy - only Blogger Stats will help you.
Fortunately, all products are free - and Stats requires no installation. Your Stats data is there, waiting for you.

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13 comments:

The American Homemaker said...

Very nice posting! I've been wondering why my analytics only show about half of what my stats are showing :)

Angie said...

Thanks for replying to my query re: Blogger stats versus Analytics.

Your post was clear, concise and means I don't have to do anything tricky like editing HTML. Yippee!

So I'll just stick with Blogger stats ... they make me feel better about my blog. :)

Decian said...

Nitecruzer! You are simply the best. So generous with your time and so knowledgeable. I've been watching you for a long time -- and whenever I see you, I always smile with deep appreciation. Thank you so much for all that you do for us to help get even more mileage out the wonderful Google contribution to a much, much better world. As usual, this latest posting is superb. Gratitude is really big here!

Chuck Croll said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Decian!

John Kennard said...

I'd SO much prefer just reading my own blogs' server access log entries.

Any chance we'll ever get that?

It actually seems like it would be simpler to do . . . .

Lil Blume said...

All my stats disappeared. Everything was reset to zero. Any idea what happened?

Chuck Croll said...

Lil,

We have a statement from Blogger Support. And I've just gotten word that the problem will be resolved with the next Blogger release.

~T~ said...

My "for all time" stats include visits made before I started the blog...

Chuck Croll said...

~T~,

Are you certain that the blog did not exist before you published it? If so, you are probably looking at referer spam counts.

http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/2011/11/referer-spam-does-not-represent-real.html

Sathya Priya said...

Thanks for your help .I really appreciate it.

Donny Duke said...

Thank you for the post, and the help on the blogger forum. It's the time you give that matters, and to simply other people, putting a value on us 'out here' who you don't know; that's what will make a better world, if we all did that.

zaidiboy said...

excellent post and thank you for replying to my site visitor forum question... all the best keeping the momentum going Nitecruzer (i am sooo jealous ;oP)

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