Blog Post Views: To Show or Not To Show?
Let’s be honest here: most bloggers are shameless egotists. Some are perhaps less obviously arrogant than others, but all harbour dreams of online fame and fortune.
One of the ways which we use to stroke our egos is by monitoring our site statistics: Unique Visitors, Page Hits, Inbound Links, Ad Clicks. I doubt that there is a non-pro blogger anywhere in the world who does feel a sense of satisfaction when they notice an upward spike in their stats results.
But it isn’t all ego-driven all of the time. The stats can also serve some practical benefits if they are used properly. Take the number of Views or Reads that our Blog Posts receive. The more reads, hits or views that a post gets, the more popular it is, the more our fragile and sensitive egos are rewarded sure. But this information also provides important pointers to the style of posts and subject matter that a site’s readers like.
Say, for example, you simultaneously post two articles with similar structure and length. One covers the subject of “Kittens Playing”, the other touches on “Belgian Beer Brands”. A week goes by and it’s time to post a follow-up. You see that the kittens have attracted 150 Post Views since the article was published. In the same period your beer post has just 12 reads to its credit. Which topic are you going to focus on in the follow-up post?
Positive or Negative?
So, there clearly are some benefits to using the stats information. But should we be giving our readers this information? Does showing the number of Post Views on an article influence readers positively or negatively or not at all?
If it does provide a positive influence on readers, why don’t many bloggers display their Post Views? If a low view count works negatively, why do many bloggers display this information? If the effect on your readers is neither here not there, why do we worry so much about these numbers in the first place?
Do You Post View or Don’t You?
Regular and observant BlaBla Blog visitors may notice that we’ve just added the Post Views data to all our articles here. (For the not so observant, it’s in the post information just below the article headline.)
An impromptu run through of some other local popular and personal favourite sites reveals a mix of situations:
- The lovely Cindy doesn’t over on The only Cin
- The clever Quirk Media folk don’t on their Gotta Quirk blog
- The funky guys over at Don’t Party don’t
- Robert, The Brave Programmer doesn’t bother
- The LazyGamers sort of do – they show a ‘Popularity’ graph on each post
- The web-savvy folk at MemeBurn do
- Chris M does over on his iMod – A Cape Town Blog
- Henno “Running Wolf” Kruger doesn’t on each post, but does show a lot of visit stats in his sidebar
Clearly there doesn’t seem to be much consistency in approach here. Ultimately, the two sites that do display their individual post views are both notable for their high levels of popularity and for being produced by noted tech-wise netizens. Does this mean that they know something others don’t. Sure made me pause and consider the addition of Post Views on The BlaBla Blog.
If You Are Going To Do It, Do It Honestly
Unfortunately for us, when I decided to include post views on your articles here, I couldn’t work out how to include past views into the figure. So, every post showed “0 Views” – not very appealing to readers I guessed.
Now, it’s not a huge issue for us here as we don’t get visits by the thousands around here every day, so the view counts are going to be fairly low. But there are some posts that have had a lot of traffic well above our average – two of our U2-related posts for example reached over 18,000 views each. We’re justifiably proud of these posts (he said, humbly) and want people to know that they’re reading something that has had a lot of interest.
What this meant was that I have to manually edit and insert pre-existing post views into our posts. I’m using the information collected by our WordPress Stats plugin for this as it does not count page views made by post Authors or site Admins and is therefore fairly representative of genuine visits.
Am I inflating the numbers as I go along to make things look more popular? No I’m not. But you’ll just have to take my word for that. I honestly can’t see any reason to inflate things artificially.
What’s Your Opinion
Specifically when you act as a Blog Site Reader (whether here or elsewhere). Do you think that the number of Views/Reads/Hits influences you in any way? Does a low number make you think that the site is bad? Does a high number suggest to you that it is a popular site and therefore must be worth visiting again? What number would you feel is high anyway?
You don’t get to see the posts’ View Count until you actually read the article, so whether it’s high or low doesn’t necessarily impact on your initial decision to read the post.
Does any of it really matter to you at all?