I have a confession to make..
I care about my page views too much. In fact, I tweeted about it two days ago and was quite proud of my accomplishments.
But then I woke up the next day, and I realized something..
Views are great, but us bloggers glorify them too much.
Let me explain.
. . . .
Look, I’m not here to bash page views. I think they’re fantastic, but I also think they’re a bit overrated.
Like a good-but-not-great NFL quarterback, views sometimes get more of the spotlight than they deserve.
. . . .
Here’s how it goes in our minds..
Page views = Traffic = Email Subscribers = Income
This is cool, right?
Page views basically just equal income, and it’s true!
Bloggers write online for a variety of reasons — to unleash their creativity, connect with others, and make a living sharing their expertise.
And trust me, we aren’t writhing our hands together writing our posts, figuring out ways to trick everybody into buying something from us.
If that’s what every blogger was doing, none of us would be making money.
But, somewhere along the lines, some blogger made the connection that page views actually equal email subscribers, money, etc…
And they — along with everybody else — have been shouting from the rooftops about it ever since.
And this has no doubt changed everything.
The most tragic change is in the WAY bloggers write out headlines, posts, and call-to-actions. We’re now (myself included) trying our hardest to get clicks, reads, and yes, views, because we know it means more engagement, notifications, and yes, inadvertently, money.
But now our priority is on writing posts to maximize popularity instead of writing them to maximize learning.
Link to the rest at Medium
Some long-time visitors (Thank you!) to TPV know the background of the blog. For those who don’t, here’s the short history.
- PG has been happily married to an author for a long time. (She was a child bride.)
- Mrs. PG was traditionally published with 10+ novels to her credit when PG discovered the then-nascent world of ebooks and self-publishing.
- After a lot of discussion and further research, Mrs. PG decided to try writing and self-publishing a book or two. She enjoyed the experience, including the contrast with her traditionally-published career. She liked to run the whole show. PG acted as a technical assistant.
- At the time, while some people were very helpfully blogging about indie publishing, PG couldn’t find anyone who addressed some of his interests, including legal issues that might be involved for an author with a good number of traditionally published books.
- PG can’t go into any detail, but magically, some of Mrs. PG’s traditionally-published books became available for her to self-publish.
- Somewhere during this period, PG started The Passive Voice to talk about changes he was discovering in the options an author might consider for publishing her work and earning more money from her writing.
- PG also started receiving inquiries from authors to whom he was not married, about how they could rescue their books from unhappy bondage with traditional publishers and lead their titles into the promised land of indie publishing.
Regarding the OP, prior to the self-publishing era, PG had responsibility for managing some large commercial internet sites. In the process, he became familiar with various (and sometimes changing) metrics for a successful commercial site and how to goose those metrics to improve a site’s traffic and ranking on various lists of top sites.
Suffice to say, PG learned there can be a substantial difference between the total number of visitors to a site and the total number of commercially-useful visitors to a site. But if the majority shareholders were interested in the total number of visitors and pageviews, PG could deliver lots of those.
This is a very long introduction to PG’s response to the OP.
Like virtually all serious website proprietors, PG keeps track of various site statistics for TPV. He doesn’t attempt to artificially boost those statistics, but uses them to monitor the general health of TPV – a blog’s equivalent to heartbeat, respiration and blood pressure.
PG almost never checks page views because, as the OP suggests, they’re easily manipulated without really adding much value for the intended audience of the website. (That said, pageviews can be entertainingly volatile. PG just realized that he started seriously boosting pageviews on a major commercial site almost twenty years ago.)
The stats PG pays attention to are focused on people and their responses to the content on TPV. He generally tracks these stats on a daily average basis over the past 30 days. Here’s what he looks at:
- Number of unique visitors
- Number of sessions (this will track visitors who check TPV more than once a day.)
- The average length of a session (once someone comes to TPV, how long do they stay?). This has been an interesting stat to PG for some time. Visitors to TPV stay on the site for much longer than is the case with a typical commercial site.
- Number of subscribers to daily emails that include all the TPV posts on a particular day. Not everyone engages with site content by actually visiting the site.
As the OP recommends, PG’s most important metric is the number of people who show up at the site on a regular basis and how long they spend with the information on TPV, including the posts and useful comments they find here. (Thank you, intelligent commenters!)