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unexplained rise in stats

  1. Sorry if I'm repeating something that's been dealt with. I've just read the last few weeks' back posts about stats and haven't found an answer to my question.

    In the last two days, I've seen a hugely dramatic increase in views of one particular post of mine. Since I wrote it in January, it's gotten 2-5 hits per day. The Blog Stats count two days ago for it jumped to 92, then yesterday to 179, and it's headed up again so far today. The Referrer page list doesn't show any unexpected new activity or the source of all the new hits. Many of these new views appear to be coming from search terms; has something changed that makes my page more visible to search engines?

    But none of these new hits -- not one -- has generated a comment, so I'm wondering if they're being caused by some sort of error, or if for some reason search results are being counted rather than actual visits. It's not a huge deal; I'm just curious about what's up.

    I've just added SiteMeter, but apparently it won't show me the URLs visitors come from, so I'm not sure it will help me figure out what's up. Thanks for any insight.

  2. Maybe google's finally clued in to what you posted, or maybe what you posted has suddenly become topical. My September post about Daniel Radcliffe in Equus is my third-highest today, because obviously there's some Daniel Radcliffe news around that I haven't seen yet.

    Readers to commenters ratio is usually about 100:1, so I see no particular reason to think there's anything incorrect about the stats. People who come through searches tend to be far less likely to leave a comment than people who come through WordPress links, etc.

  3. Have a look at the Search Terms in your stats. All of those add up.

  4. Thanks for the explanations; I guess the traffic is coming from the searches.

    On a related note, how can a visit last for zero seconds? I just checked Site Meter for the first time, and most of the visits logged consist of a single page view that lasted 0.00. It seems that even if someone clicked a search link, got to my page, and saw that it wasn't what they wanted, the hit should log as lasting at least a second or two.

  5. Sometimes if a page takes too long to load people kill it before it fully opens; that might be the case, or if they tried to hit a password-protected page, it would register the hit, but probably not register any time on that page, because they wouldn't have been able to get all the way there.

    Sounds to me, though, like some spiders just found your blog. This means it'll get picked up by search engines much more quickly in the future, as they've now got it mapped out.

  6. OK. Thanks very much!

  7. The zero second visit may also be a search engine spider. Got an IP address for it?

    edit: May also be a visitor with images turned off or using a text only browser.

  8. WordPress has always said they don't count spiders. Perhaps they need to be tweaking their statcounters then.

  9. @tiffanytaylor:
    I use SiteMeter, too, and i have wondered about the 0:00 visits. Here's what their FAQ says:

    Why do some of my visitors have visit lengths of 0:00?
    That means the visitors are only staying to view a single page and then leaving. The only way that Site Meter knows how long someone is on a site is by the times of each page view. If they only look at a single page and then leave, we don't know how long they looked at the page. If they looked at two pages and left we would know they at least were on the site during the time of the first page view and the second page view. The difference between those two times would be the length of the visit.

    @Raincoaster:
    We're talking about SiteMeter, not the WP stats. I think those already filter out the spiders as you say.

  10. Ah, right, thanks for the clarification. Also, that's really quite a primitive way to count things; the MAJORITY of visitors would have times of 0, since most visitors read only the main page of the blog, scrolling down.

    This goes quite a way towards explaining why we always hear that stats are inexact.

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