When I set up my first Web site in 1995, Web counters were the big thing. Virtually every site had one of those (rather pointless) rolling counters at the bottom that tracked how many “hits” the page got. We were, at that point, obsessed with the idea that our pages were being read and could care less by who. The whole idea of international publishing was still new and exciting.
Later counters became more evolved, the term “hits” became meaningless and we focused on “visitors” or “users”. A variety of new trackers, most with their own buttons, began to pop up. Those slowly replaced the hit counter as the new metric to watch.
However, as the millennium rolled over and the first tech bubble burst, we saw even more advanced metrics rise out of the ashes. Attention became the most valuable thing to track, especially in an AJAX Web where page views and visitors would be almost meaningless. It was no longer a matter of just how many people visited, but how long they stayed and what they did.
Now we’ve moved forward again, this time it’s “engagement that we’re looking at. Services such as PostRank allow you to track comments, tweets and links to your site as part of your “Engagement Score”, combining that info with your other, more traditional data.
But with so many metrics to track. There’s a legitimate question about what stats are the most important for a blogger to track. The answer is simple: All of them and none of them. [Read more…]