Blog Traffic Numbers Inflated?
Patrick Ruffini argues that the traffic numbers for Daily Kos are “fishy” owing to the oddity in how SiteMeter works. The technical details are laid out in some detail and are interesting, if a bit confusing. Essentially, as I understand it, SiteMeter can’t keep up with massive amounts of traffic flooding a site and thus inflates the extreme high traffic blogs. Additionally, the disparity between “unique vistors” and “pageviews” is an issue.
There’s no doubt that SiteMeter’s numbers are skewed. The only reason bloggers with their own domains, who have substantially more useful statistical data at their disposal, even bother with SiteMeter is that its ubiquity allows cross-blog comparison.
There are, however, other metrics. Perhaps the most useful publicly available one is the BlogAds order page. It’s not as widespread as SiteMeter, since those who aren’t BlogAds network members aren’t included, but it’s all measured by a common server. So, for sites using both measures, we can compare their BlogAds weekly numbers and their weekly unique visitors (daily average multiplied by 7):
|Site||BlogAds||SM Uniques *7||Ratio|
|Crooks and Liars||1,780,917||1,206,947||1.48|
|The Smirking Chimp||284,194||156,359||1.81|
Granting that this is a fairly small sample, there doesn’t seem to be any obvious pattern here. The ratio of BlogAds impressions to SiteMeter unique visits ranges from 1.19 to 2.17 with some clustering in the 1.3 range. If anything, SiteMeter seems to be slightly undercounting the extreme high traffic blogs compared to those with more manageable numbers.
UPDATE: Meryl Yourish explains more about how SiteMeter works and why Ruffini is off base. She also explains how to increase traffic by writing about sex with Democrat superheroes.