As traffic has been increasing on this blog, I’ve been looking for ways to monetize it effectively.Â Â One of the biggest hassles has been thatÂ huge discrepancies exist between the various website tracking engines out there, and much of the information is just plain wrong.Â For advertising networks that depend on these engines, and for individual site owners like myself, this is a real problem, since pricing is driven from these statistics.
Take a walk with meÂ through my statistical garden…
On Technorati, Saunderslog.com is listed as having 1,069 links from 379 sites. Google says 710 links.Â By comparison, Alexa shows just 32 links.Â Alexa also claims I own a bunch of porn sites in addition to Saunderslog as well.Â I do own one other site, and it’s not a porn site… it’s a suprise for my wife for our 20th anniversary.Â
These numbers are important because they drive search engine ranking.Â I’m not sure whether the Technorati number is correct, or whether the Google number is correct, or how they’re calculated respectively.Â Alexa isÂ clearly wrong.
Webalizer, the statistics engine that comes with my blog hosting, shows about 6500 visitors yesterday.Â Awstats, which weeds out bots, feeds, 404’s and so on, claims 2410, while Google Analytics calls it at 1542 visitors, and sitemeter says 1500.Â Who’s right?
And what about the advertising numbers?Â Â This site has three kinds of pages: multi-post pages which aggregate a bunch of posts (like the front page), story pages (long pieces that are designed to persist), and single posts.Â Â
Google Adsense, yesterday, showed these statistics:
|Multipost Bottom of Post
|Single Post Blob
|Single Post Bottom of Post
|Single Post Footer
|Single Post Header
Clearly, the multi-post pages of the site (including the front page), get very few views. Perhaps that’s because it’s ugly, as Om Malik once told me over drinks…Â However, if we focus on the single post pages, each of those runs exactly 4 GoogleÂ advertisements.Â A text link bar at the top (labelled Single Post Header), a blob at the start of the story (labelled Single Post Blob), a banner above the comments (labelled Single Post Bottom of Post), and a bannerÂ below the comments (labelled Single Post Footer).
Notice that theÂ header block claims 2014 impressions, while the footer claims 1967.Â All the ads are loaded whenever that page loads, so why the discrepancy?Â Â IÂ buy the argument thatÂ readers might not ever scroll to the ad blocks at theÂ botto of the page, but how can adsenseÂ determine this?Â Â Moreover, how is that Google Analytics can claim 2635 page views, while Adsense claims 2379 total impressions.Â Does that mean Google is not loading any advertising for 256 of those page views?
And, just to add a little more confusion to the mix, Adbrite, which I am experimenting with for advertising, runs on myÂ multipost pagesÂ andÂ claims 510 page views per day, from 200 visitors.Â
Here’s how I’m thinking about it. Â
I don’t believe Alexa’s results.Â Period.Â I don’t own any porn sites, andÂ there are a bunch more than 32Â links coming into this site.Â Alexa’s traffic numbers (expressed in reach per million, and so on) are hard to compare to anyone else’s because they require me to know how many millions of users there are on the internet.Â For links, I’ll stickÂ with Technorati, andÂ I’m not going to focus on Alexa’s reach numbers, at all.
Since I can’t be sure whether the advertising is being loaded or not, I am simply going to ignore Google Adsense’s numbers.
Webalizer clearly overstates the number of visitors I get, since it includes bots and so on.Â There’s a wide gulf, however, between Google AnalyticsÂ and Awstats.Â Sitemeter and Google Analytics corroborate each other, which is unsurprising since both require code to be inserted in your page.Â However, neither Google Analytics, nor Sitemeter,Â include the readers coming in via the RSS feed.Â Feedburner shows about 650 feed readers on my main feed any day, but doesn’t record statistics for the secondary feeds (I have to fix that).Â If you add the 1563 viewers claimed by Google yesterday and the 655 readers claimed by Feedburner, you get 2218 viewers, which is a difference of 192 from the 2410 claimed by Awstats.Â
For me, Awstats wins the day.
And me?Â I’ll be redesigning the site to provide consistent advertising space across the whole site.Â I’ll experiment a little longer with Adbrite and Text-Link-Ads but if they don’t produce results (likely because they sell the space using the wildly inaccurate Alexa statistics), I’ll drop them.Â