In my last post, I talked about getting a feel for how the site is doing based on the amount of engagement that people might see on the site. This is a kind of pseudo-metric as it’s not going to tell the whole story about how much traffic the site is getting, so in this post I wanted to talk specifically about how Levelcapped.com is doing, and maybe a bit about some ideas for the future.
What WordPress Says
The graph above is WordPress’ intrinsic analytics display. It’s on everyone’s WP admin dashboard, and on some level one would consider this to be the best way to get a valid snapshot of the traffic on one’s site.
The stats are collated on WordPress.com, I assume, because there are values represented in the info above that’s not present in the site today. That “Best ever” value? That was for a post from 2012 which is no longer in the database thanks to the Great Purges of 2014 and 2015. I looked it up, and that post was one I’d written when City of Heroes was shutting down. I had apparently been eloquent enough for the CoH booster community to pass it around, and it helped LC.com get some decent number of eyeballs.
In more recent statistics, you can see that I get between 30 and 40 visitors on the days when I post — Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Weekends slack off and that’s to be expected. The views peak when I make my patented “Double-Day Posts”, usually gaming related in the morning and Unity development related in the afternoon. I don’t suspect that those are entirely different crowds, though, so the numbers are potentially misleading, but a view is a view!
Since I see this every day, this has been my metric that I’m interested in improving. 30-40 visitors is “just OK” because before the Great Purge of 2015, I was getting well above 100 visitors when I posted on my tri-weekly schedule. Even that number is small change for some sites out there, but it’s a serious dip in my own personal performance which we’ll talk about at the end of the post.
What Google Says
I also subscribe to Google Analytics because while WP’s stats are nice to have, an impartial third party with way more stats than I’ll ever need is always nice to have.
This tiny image shows the most popular landing pages for LC.com according to Google, and since it’s the least specific in what Google offers, let’s start here.
The homepage is the most popular according to this graph. After that we have a smattering of posts starting with my recent Firefall post, and then slinking through my not-really-gaming-related posts in which I admit that I’m a crappy blogging citizen, lament my current MMO attitude, and then poll the community about their blog subject preferences. We segue into a discussion on budget VR, pass through some specific game posts, and finally end with yesterday’s post about my comment system.
How People Get Here
I currently advertise posts on Twitter and Google Plus because those are the networks where I hang out. I don’t usually advertise to Facebook because the gamers that I follow there I follow elsewhere, and everyone else isn’t interested in my gaming lifestyle.
Obviously people head straight for specific posts because it’s the links to those posts that are advertised, but the viewership is not represented here in published order. My treatise on being a better blogging citizen sits at the top because the sum of the tracked factors make it so. People also apparently enjoyed my budget VR experiment, Firefall and The Division posts, and my dumping on MMOs. But the numbers there are pretty weak. Four sessions for the top five posts? A max of eight pageviews for my “Unwelcome Mat” post, but an overall average of five on my top ten posts. It takes about a minute to read most of my posts, apparently, which when viewed through a a writing-to-reading ratio, is absolutely horrible.
Visitor numbers from Google Plus are better, which is what I suspected because Plus is where most of my discussions happen, and where most of my posts are shared by other people. Here you can see actual groupings of posts: outside of the Firefall post, my more personal posts got the most traction, followed by the two VR posts, and then my D&D posts.
While the numbers are better via Google Plus, they’re still really, really low. The Firefall post got eight sessions, and while pageviews are elevated over those from Twitter, most of them are still under ten. People did tend to spend more time on posts if they’re coming in from Google Plus, though, so if I had to cater to either Plus or Twitter, Plus would get the nod — as it has with my integration of the Plus comment system.
And Now, The Depressing Part
Check out these two graphs for January 27th, 2016.
The first graph shows the stats from WP’s analytics which reports that I had 44 views across two posts that day. I doesn’t say which post got which percent of views, but that’s academic at this point. The second graph is from GA, which shows that I had 72 sessions that day. Although they use different terminology (views vs sessions), I am equating them here because WP doesn’t break down the views between the two posts published, and I suspect sessions encompasses the total time spent on a site by an individually identified user.
Check this out. It shows visitors by network provider. Numbers 1, 2, and 3 are kind of weird. 1 and 3 are from a telecom provider in Samara, Russia, and number 2 is just “we’re not telling you”. Those three providers have an overwhelming amount of *cough* users *cough* coming to my site, have the highest bounce rate, and also the highest average session duration. If I weren’t totally suspicious, I’d think I was popular in Russia and wherever [Not Set] is considered to be a decent name for a teleco.
Instead, I suspect that my site — like so many out there — is being pinged by bots from the country formerly known as the U.S.S.R. That in itself is off-putting, but the fact that they occupy the top three slots for traffic means that they’re padding my stats while no doubt not actually reading anything because, you know…bots. This means my stats are way lower than are indicated on the GA graph. Boooooooooooo 🙁
My best visitors are potential WP hackers from the near side of the Urals.
My Own Analysis
I’m not pouring over these numbers and lining them up in Excel and drawing charts or anything. What both WP and GA tell me is that I get a handful of visitors three times a week, that most of them (59%) are loyal, returning visitors, and that G+ provides the best source of traffic. Also, lonely Russian bots want to meet me.
Here’s a mega-graph of GA’s “sessions” from January 2013 through January 2016.
Check out that decline long about January 2015. That was the most recent Great Purge, and after that I didn’t just spring back to my average session count of about 500-600. Things look pretty weak on that tail end. So what changed?
December 2014 was the last Great Purge, and my return in January of 2015 marked my decision to stop crafting positive posts about the community, and I think that decision really changed the tone of the blog. In the preceding years, people seemed to appreciate my positive approach to gaming. I was really preachy back then, and I really didn’t have the kind of reach that could affect change for the better, but many who did read my posts apparently liked them enough to RT them, leave comments, and even mention me in posts of their own. I even had conversations with people who told me that they admired those posts, and that I was a positive influence on their own outlook.
At some point, though, my outlook changed. There didn’t seem to be any end to the depths that the community would go in strangling itself. Having lived in the era when being a geek was actually difficult and not as celebrated as it is these days, I was saddened to see that the only lesson the community took away from it’s heritage was that being an asshole to others was how the popular kids got ahead. My tiny corner of the Internet didn’t seem to be doing any good, and I questioned the purpose of even bothering, which is why I tried several times to take down the site and get out of the blogging business.
Like they say about the mafia, you might try to leave but you keep getting drawn back in, and I guess my need to write posts overwhelmed my desire to distance myself from the toxic environment of the wider community. I rebuilt my social network lists and restarted the blog, but I haven’t since written the kinds of posts that made people think well of me. Now I’m sometimes finding it difficult to write some days, while other days find me writing more posts than I can possibly release in 24 hours.
What this tells me is that whatever I’m doing is not really resonating with people these days, which might be part flakiness on my part thanks to the Purges, part abandonment of a positive tone, and part being all over the place in what I write about. I’m a grab bag on a schedule of Monday, Wednesday, and Friday where my topics fluctuate so often that no demographic can count on me to provide consistent coverage on the topic that might have drawn them to my site. Maybe it’s that blogs are finally passe and I’m clinging to a dead medium without even really knowing it. I’m not discounting that people also might not like me personally, might hate my writing style, my long posts, think I suck at writing in general, or were told by their astrologer to avoid anyone born in January. I’d like to find out from those people what they feel that I could do better, though, because while I can’t just make up news the way some “video game journalists” do, I can do my best to be a better person for you, dearest reader. Except the being born in January part.
A Wild Idea Approaches
In the previous post, my esteemed Internet colleague Sir Dusty of Of Course I’ll Play It offered a laundry list of advice for potentially increasing my traffic here. One of his suggestions stuck with me, though, and that was to use this site as a kind of “hub” for the sum of any endeavors I might undertake. As you may or may not be aware, I have/used to have a YouTube video series that I un-creatively called “In The Car” because, well, it was filmed on my phone while I was driving to and from work. This video blog featured me talking about a subject for 15 to 20 minutes, and that was it. I got points for the creative setting, but I’m not sure my topics were really all that worthwhile. However, due to the fact that my state enacted a “hand free driving” law last year which put our police force on super-alert for people doing distracting technological things while driving, I was forced to suspend the series.
But I like the idea of producing stuff for the community, even though I’m struggling with my place in it. I’d like to continue with “In The Car”, but don’t like the idea of getting a ticket for it. I am trying to stream more often, on a regular schedule, and games that people might enjoy watching (i.e. not Elite Dangerous). What I might do is find a way to create a short video blog at home, a la “In The Car”, but with a better production value. I’ve got a HD video camera, a green screen, and a video editing suite, so maybe I can find some time to throw together a test and see how it comes out. Maybe it’ll be so absolutely horrible that I’ll bury it in 20 feet of concrete, like this picture of me from high school.
Actually, I should bury that in 20 feet of concrete…
So, if you’ve reached this point, congratulations! You have impressive stamina! Now, if you could summon just a bit more, leave a comment below on your thoughts on blogging, this blog, my graphs, or even the travesty that was my hair when I was younger.