When I first converted abulsme.com from a static website into a blog, one of the other changes I made was to add one of those visit counters that everybody had way back then in July 2003. This June 28th at 01:30 UTC, that counter flipped over 300,000 visits:
Yeah, yeah, I missed the exact moment, even though it was probably me hitting the site that pushed it over. In fact, most of those 300,000 visits were probably me. Sitemeter wasn’t great at removing robots either, so a bunch of them were automated web spiders.
But whatever, the counter was pretty high. Go me!
But, a little after that, after reading one article or another complaining about how many web trackers were on various pages, I installed the Ghostery browser plugin. Of course one of the first things I checked was my own website.
I knew I had Sitemeter. I knew I had a couple other tracking bugs I’d added over the years. And only very recently I’d finally gotten Google Analytics working properly after having botched a job of it a few years earlier. And as a result of an experiment years ago, I had ads from two different vendors up in the header of my site. So I expected about five trackers from my own inventory of ones I remembered adding.
WRONG. Each time I loaded the site I got a different number of trackers, and it varied from a low of about 12, to a high of around 25.
I systematically removed them.
First I removed the ads. They had been on the site since probably 2007 or 2008, and I had yet to see a single penny from them, and I don’t really expect to. I don’t do this site for money. Duh. Anyway, no need to give free ad-space on my site.
Then I removed a thing that gave cute little automated avatars for comments on the site. (I hadn’t realized this was doing tracking… GONE.)
Then I removed the “number of people looking at my site right this very second” widget that I had in my footer.
With everything else gone but SiteMeter and Google Analytics, I still had many many trackers reported on the site.
I said despite any sentimental attachment, it was time for Sitemeter to go. And lo and behold, as soon as it was gone, I was down to one tracker. Google Analytics. It was Sitemeter that was adding all the extra trackers. It wasn’t just putting it’s own little tracker in, it was “sharing” with many many other tracking services.
Sorry, the little visitor count wasn’t worth it. (Especially since all the other stuff that Sitemeter does seems barely paid attention to since they did an ill-advised “update” to a flash based website a few years back and had to roll back because it was universally hated… it seems like the actual functionality you get on their website to see how people are using your site was barely on life support.)
Anyway. There is now one tracker on my site. Google Analytics.
I am leaving it for the moment.
And yes, I know that means the evil Google has all the info from the visitors to my site. I actually am not that thrilled about that.
However, and this is always the tradeoff, Google Analytics actually is very nice, and gives me good info about my site and what the people who visit here look at. Since I got it up and running almost two months ago, here are some nice learnings:
- This is no surprise, but guess who is responsible for by far the largest number of visits to my website? Well, duh, it is me. This is a tiny website, with an average of about 30-50 visits a day. While I’m doing various things on my website, I visit a bunch of times every day. So of course I’m the biggest visitor. The last month or so before the 2008 and 2012 elections, the number of site visits increased by a a factor of 10. Maybe even more in the last week before the election. No idea if that will happen again, but if it does, for a few short weeks, I will not be the the biggest factor in my own site’s traffic. But the “normal” state, which it inevitably returns to me being the main visitor to my site. And I am good with that.
- The most popular page on my site is actually one that hadn’t looked at in years, let alone updated. Namely, my True Binary Clock page. I have to make some time to update and improve it a bit. After all, people actually do look at it. People other than me. About a dozen people every day! :-)
- The next most popular page is another I have neglected lately, my Random Spot Tool. Haven’t updated that in years. It is still centered on my old house in Bellevue instead of where I live now! I moved almost three years ago! Need to fix this page up a bit too.
- After that comes my blog home page, then my Random Trip page. Then come a few pages that I know pretty much only I visit before you start to get random other pages people are finding via random google searches. It is always interesting what kinds of things people are finding like that, but the numbers are small.
Anyway, I’m keeping Google Analytics because it is actually useful to me. To me. Not JUST to whoever runs the tracker. None of the others had any use for me whatsoever. I was just giving information about my site’s traffic and visitors away for absolutely nothing in return. So all the rest are gone.
Next thing to look into… moving the site to https, because plain old http makes the traffic wide open to a completely different kind of monitoring and analysis…