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Posted by on Apr 11, 2011 in Blogging, Featured | 10 comments

Blog Post Views: To Show or Not To Show?

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Shameless Egotists

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:

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?

10 Comments

  1. I guess its human nature to want recognition for our efforts. If those post views do it for youn why not.

    Personally as a reader, like you say, I only see the views once I visit the post. And even then it doesn’t change my decision to come back here later.

    It doesn’t matter to me whether I’m #1 or #10000 to read a post. A much stronger influence on me wanting to read something is the headline – a good headline will almost always get me to visit.

    • “It doesn’t matter to me whether I’m #1 or #10000 to read a post.” Good on you, I wish more readers took that attitude! And it’s true, a good headline will result in a read regardless.

  2. Hi there, nice to see this topic being brought up again, it’s been a while 🙂

    This is a topic that has been discussed for hours and hours by various bloggers and it really does boil down to personal taste. Is it about ego? Naaah, that’s a silly way to fuel an ego because chances are that some posts will get lots of views and others will get very few, there’s little chance of every post getting lots of views, so you’d be setting yourself up for a bit of a smash if it’s about ego 🙂

    I used “post views” for a number of years and then dropped it, but have now reinstated it. I have mixed feelings about it to be honest, sometimes I like having it, sometimes I don’t, guess my opinion changes a little like the weather in Cape Town.

    Personally, I use it for exactly what you mentioned about kittens and beer, it guides me towards what the readers are interested in, however, there are some flaws:

    1. Regular readers read vie the home page or RSS feed – Neither of these add post views.
    2. Caching plugins can mess around with statistics – I have this problem
    3. Other bloggers could explore and see which posts do best and “steal” strategy

    All sorts of things which give post views thumbs up and all sorts of things which give post views thumbs down.

    Give it a go and see if you like it 🙂

    • Hi Chris

      Appreciate you stopping by and giving us your view. Your point-of-view of course, not just the post view 🙂

      Your point about post views being a rather daft way to boost the bloggers’ ego is exactly why I wrote the post. Seeing the results could possibly work against me. If I only get a handful of views on a post that I have laboured over and believe is a brilliant piece of writing, then I’m going to be more inclined to feel ‘rejected’ by my readers. I should be using the info to identify areas of interest and the like, and to improve my connection with my readers. But it could be potentially disheartening. (And that’s a generic blogger “I” and “me” there.)

      Also, I honestly never considered the impact of readers via the Home page and RSS/email readers – that’ll obviously skew the view numbers somewhat. Also, I don’t think our counter is picking up views via mobile devices for some reason, which again is a fair percentage of total site visits here. Either way, I think you’re right – it is a personal choice, and as long as we don’t put too much significance on the numbers that appear we’ll keep them running for a bit…

      • It’s a pleasure, thanks for having me over 🙂

        I think in the beginning it’s an ego stroke when you write a post which gets a whole ton of hits, but that soon falls away. I can honestly say that I don’t often look at the numbers. I’m an Analytics junkie, so I’m always looking at Top Content and seeing which posts are getting the most traffic, so that’s where I really determine what my audience is interested in, then again, just because a post has many hits, doesn’t mean it’s good, it might have a keyword which indexed well in search engines and people happen to stumble over it, but only stick around for 5 seconds and then leave, still counts as a view, but a very useless one. The home page, mobile and RSS reading definitely don’t count as reads and that’s a huge set back, because those are the people you actually want to understand.

        As I mentioned, big topic, tons to discuss 🙂

  3. This is a subject I’ve been thinking about at great length. It’s interesting that you cite The Only Cin; I only removed the stats from being visible about a week ago, after overhearing one of the speakers (who is heavily sponsored on her blog) at the Food & Wine Blogger Indaba saying that it was the right thing to do. I don’t understand why this would be the case, I am neither ashamed nor proud of TOC’s stats.
    Chris’s comment about ‘stealing strategy’ is interesting, not something that would bother me. On the contrary, I’d lean towards ‘lending strategy’ to new bloggers who want to increase their hits.
    mmm … will have to think some more on this one.

    • @cindy – When you’re blogging in a very competitive manner, competitive in the sense of getting advertisers and traffic, then allowing the other bloggers in your niche to see your most popular posts is a big risk. I’ve actually watched how other bloggers have studied my blog and copied things, quite unfortunate, but I choose to show those views, so I have to take the hit and I don’t mind too much.

      I’m intrigued about this “heavily sponsored” blogger who said it’s the right thing to do, please tell me more?

      • I guess I am blogging in a competitive manner as I am – from time to time – acting as a brand ambassador for several products and make no secret of the fact that I am soliciting to provide content for business blogs. I have worked hard to build TOC as a personal brand and believe that I have been successful in my efforts.
        As far as copying goes, I’ve been alerted on occasion and found the copycats to be newbie bloggers; I generally just let it go.
        The sponsored blogger I referred to is a highly respected writer and speaker in the international food blogging community:
        http://www.cooksister.com/
        Thanks for the dialogue, Chris, I am enjoying this.

        • Morning 🙂

          Yeh, in a lot of cases, those bloggers who are being competitive are fairly experienced and would thus know that copying isn’t the way of getting ahead, so I agree with you, in most cases it is newbie bloggers. I guess it also depends what niche you’re in, right? I reckon it plays a role.

          Ah, I know CookSister 🙂 Would love to pick her brain as to why she doesn’t think it’s good to show post view counters.

          I love a good discussion too!

        • Thing is, if everyone is hiding stats, there’s no way of measuring one’s own ‘success’ by comparison?
          If you do pick CookSister’s brain, I’d love your feedback.

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