Analytic Cold Turkey

Analytics Anonymous

cold-turkey-featureTo coincide with my recent traffic report for July I’ve opted to take an analytic cold turkey session for a whole English month (totaling 31 English days).

Addictive Background

Having been a big fan of coffee after not being able to drink tea anymore I was blissfully unaware that my intake of caffeine was soaring as my stress and workload in a busy department began to rise. At one point I was drinking 2-3 litres a day and was having some horrible side effects with severe migraines on the weekends when my caffeine intake had dropped. I had to stop drinking caffeinated drinks of all forms in order to maintain a good neurological health and it was hard going.

I can frankly say that I was addicted to computer games for a long time. There are claims that there is no such thing as an addiction to gaming but I can vouch that there is. What changed for me was the realisation that I’d wasted a lot of my precious time and that I played these computer games out of some form of depression. What changed was that I had to dedicate more and more of my time to my part time degree study and it made me wake up to the fact that I’ve really not performed as well as those of similar years and younger.

I’m a big metric fan. I currently only use Google Analytics and the built in statistics that come with WordPress.com but I find that’s enough for me. I could use other metrics more frequently but I find that my favoured options provide the best information quickly and without cost.

Why cold turkey from Analytics?

One of my deep seeded rules that I had established in my development journal was that I would not be lost in the numbers. To elaborate that means I don’t want to get caught up in statistics and miss the value of writing from the heart. What Google Analytics tells me following my Zero Second Bounce saga is that what I see is a tiny trickle of people viewing my words. Taking an Analytic break will not hurt in the grand scheme of things. Whilst you can say it is useful to know who has viewed what, at the moment of posting, producing quality is more important. I’m still committed to my start of week post where they normally perform well. Because my current Study diary is aggressive this current week has taken a bit of a progress hit. I will have spent upwards of 7 hours during the week on study and an additional 10 hours on the weekend. I’m also under pressure because I’m behind the curve and there is a deadline for the fifth and final assignment of this module. (a small violin plays for me).

Am I addicted to the metrics?

I check the stats an unhealthy number of times during the day and for my 3-10 minute scan (depending on whether I’m routing through GA or WP) I could have probably written a good 200 words. I often have a sense of guilt after looking because I’m wary that I should actually be doing more. That sense of guilt seems to be driven by others trying to sell gadgets to make you more productive. As a core exercise it is a time to dial out the negative monologue, the constant checking, the guilt.

From the 1st to the 31st August I will observe a Blogging Analytical black hole. It is not quite as solemn an event as 2 minutes silence but it is just as valuable. I will steer clear of WordPress.com and Google Analytics and log my attempts to try and visit and my thoughts along the way. I will also not be allowed to contribute in the Google+ Analytics Community until I return to viewing my analytics. The very notion of the word Analytics may be enough to trigger me to look.

Analytical Methadone?

Methadone_3492c

Who swapped the methadone for the fairy liquid? – Credit The Times

Is there an analytical methadone on the market? No because it is cold turkey. 1000 hail Mary’s if I break my own rules.

For any poor sufferers of real addiction that may involve a padded room and a few restraints you have my sympathy.

Fortunately there aren’t any negative side effects like heart palpitations or extreme sense of anxiety (well at first anyways).

I opted to dispense with a special mantra if I feel my wayward self start to be pulled to the Metric tow:

Not gonna look, not gonna look, not gonna look!”

Check back with me in September and see how I did! See if I beat July or failed miserably.

To conclude; how do you cope with your analytic/metric addiction? Are you disciplined enough to look once a week? What’s your coping strategy? Let me know in the comments below.

3rd December 2013: The followup to this post entitled Analytic Cold Turkey: A month on provides the log of how August went. You may be surprised by the results.

End of Month Traffic Report: July 2013

The traffic report is going to become a feature on Blog Prefect as I’ve been using my traffic data to some useful effect. Unfortunately for next month the first view I’m likely to get is on the 2nd September because I have imposed a Cold Turkey from all analytics to better focus on producing sterling content for this site. The data I’m going to be showing is an extrapolation of information from Google Analytics and WordPress.com Stats. I have been recording data on Webalizer and AWstats as well but this information is slightly less useful than the form pair.

traffic-jam-blur

Anomalies and Anomalous data

Before I begin to properly go through this report I have to inform you of an important fact about data. Data in itself is fine but often there is a chance of anomalies. These anomalies are a fact of life, because no matter how perfect a programmer has created a monitoring tool, certain influencing factors will skew figures.

Obviously as a good website and blog owner occasionally I have tested my pages to make sure that the posts are legible and don’t produce the dreaded 404 based errors. I’ve also occasionally gone back to edit some posts with updated links. WordPress.com stats don’t differentiate between test views and real views so although I’m quite happy about my stats there are some anomalies. The highest page view of the month is actually all me. I was in the process of physically printing a load of pages out and viewed 25 pages. That is 25 views and 1 visitor that I can chop off the result.

Google Analytics handles these anomalies better than the WordPress stats and following my Zero Second Bounce article I have introduced some useful advanced segment filters which work effectively at screening out my anomalous information. As a recap of what Zero Second Bounce is; it is the phenomenon where people appear to have visited the site but have not registered any time on site, therefore a visitor’s average time on page was < 0. My filter also filters out local views from Crawley (but I may have to rethink this and block out certain IP addresses in future). At this stage I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who has taken a look even if it has only been for 30 seconds.

The End of Month Report

As I’m new to blogging there is no way I can tell if what I am seeing is good or not. I would admit it is not as good as it could be but it is hard to be critical straight off the bat.

EoMTR GAF

Pageviews

WordPress Stats = 122

Google Analytics after “ActualTraffic” Filter = 64

Visitors

WordPress Stats = 52

Google Analytics after “ActualTraffic” Filter = 18

Average time on site

Google Analytics after “ActualTraffic” Filter = 10 minutes 22 seconds

Demographics

WordPress Stats Demographics for last 30 days.

Demographics July 2013 WP

WordPress Stats Demographics

Google Analytics 1st July – 31st July.

Demographics July 2013 GA

Google Analytics Demographics with ActualTraffic filter

Traffic Source

I don’t get as deep a field of view from WordPress.com Stats although it does give a lot of good information on referrals and search terms. Direct is best supplied by Google Analytics.

Traffic Sources July GA

Google Analytics Traffic Sources

Direct

Google Analytics after ActualTraffic Filter = 9

Referral

WordPress stats last 30 days shown below (38)

Referral July WP

WordPress Referral info for the last 30 days.

Google Analytics after ActualTraffic Filter = 7

Search

Google Analytics after ActualTraffic Filter = 2

Paid Search

I have no paid search at this time so am unlikely to generate any meaningful data for this.

Content

Content July 2013 GA

Google Analytics Content Information – July 2013

There are no big shocks for content. I’m fairly happy with the results for the moment. Zero Second Bounce is the winner in terms of individual posts. I think this is because of the long tail but genuinely it was a good icebreaker for the Google Analytics Community on Google+ and created a little bit of buzz. It is surprising that some of my older content has been churned up. My aim is to put a bit more on my public profile of Google+ to get a second bite of the cherry. I now have nearly 200 people with me in a circle so hopefully I should see a boost.

Conclusion

Going on I will try and better publicise my work as I need more velocity out of some of the posts that I write. As I am entering an analytic cold turkey month (see my next post). I will not be obsessing with my data. As such my next update on traffic will not be coming out until 2nd September at the earliest. I will continue to try and write involving posts on Google+ and try and be friendly, opinionated and joyous.

How did your first full month go? Was it below expectations? What did you learn? Please share in the comments below.

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