12 January 2008
A Spy Like Me
About three weeks ago I stumbled upon one of the coolest things I've ever discovered since being introduced to the Internet over 12 years ago. I felt a bit discouraged by the lack of comments and poll votes I'd gotten in response to a lot of my posts, and I wondered if there was a way for me to find out if anyone other than my wife, mom, and sisters was reading my stuff. So I poked around Blogger.com and did a Google search and found a site called Statcounter.com . A lot of what it advertised was over my head, but it promised to be able to track the number of hits my page was getting, and that was really all I was interested in. So I added the element to the bottom of the blog that reads "Number of visits since 12/22/07" and let 'er rip. At first it was counting a visit every time I opened the page, so I had to dis-count the first week's numbers, but when I found the feature that allowed me to disclude my own IP address the numbers started to mean something. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was reaching a lot more people than I suspected. But somehow it was still enigmatic to me, because I really want to know who they are! I know my mom and my wife both tell folks about the site and that some of them read it occasionally. And The Born Again Birdwatcher added me to his "Blogs I Read" list, so I get a little traffic from that. But the wheels were constantly turning, wondering who exactly I was reaching.
Then the other day I was poking around on the Statcounter site and found some stuff that truly blew me away. I was looking for a way to try to spy on my readers and I came upon the "Recent Visitor Activity" tool. Eureka! I had found in this tool more information than I thought could possibly be available on an obscure little blog like mine. And I hadn't paid a dime for it (I am, after all, still one of the three cheapest human beings alive). This tool not only tells me what city and country my visitors are coming from, but what page they linked to me from, how long they stayed, how many times they've visited, and what they typed in to Google to find my page. It's unbelievable. The usual suspects were there . . my sister at work, Mandi at work, and John at Born Again Birdwatcher. I expected to see those. But Tokyo, Japan? Brooklyn, NY? Summerville, GA? England? Toronto? Who are you people?
The Google searches were interesting too. Some were obviously searching for my page, as they typed "Mandi, Corey, Lily, and North Carolina" into the search engine. Others found me by searching for "pull-ups" or "recipes for dads". Imagine the horror someone must have experienced if they searched for pull-ups and found the "Poop Is Comical" post. They've probably never been back. I also found out that Avery's teacher has visited the page . . twice. I guess that shows that adding the link to my email signature is producing visits. Although I can't imagine she'll ever visit again after seeing the "Internet Porn" post from a couple days ago.
So I guess what I'm saying is that you may as well go ahead and start leaving comments and saying "Hello" when you visit, because your anonymity has been compromised! I know where you live, when you're online reading my posts, how often you come back, and even what color your underwear is. Wait . . I think my imagination might have started to wander a little bit there. Check out Statcounter.com if you've got a page that you want to get more info about, you'll be amazed by what kind of cool stuff you find there.