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Seduced By Statistics.

It is easy to be seduced by statistics. I know several friends who have websites and blogs and are rather obsessed with their web statistics. They are always checking to see how many hits the site gets or what pages or posts are most popular or what search terms are being used to find them. Social media has encouraged this with Likes and Retweets and Reposts. Our smartphones love to send us notifications that someone has engaged with some piece of our content.

I got this alert last month about this blog:

Your page is trending up
Your page clicks increased by more than 1,000% over the usual daily average of less than 1 click.
Possible explanations for this trend could be:

  • Modifications you did to your page’s content.
  • Increased interest in a trending topic covered by the page.

Of course, I am happy that people found this post from 2010 and are still reading it and hopefully enjoying it. Google’s “possible explanations” for this are both correct, as I did update the page last month and the topic of the Winter Solstice was probably trending across the web as we slipped into the new season.

I do glance at my websites’ analytics occasionally. I have ten sites and blogs that I do, so it can’t be a very regular thing. I do like to look at the end of the year at each of them to see what has been happening. I also have a half dozen clients that I do websites for and they are always interested in their stats.

What did I learn this year about this blog and its main website at / One big takeaway is that people are more likely to find this blog than find the website. In fact, people tend to find the monthly writing prompt on this blog rather than on the main website. For that reason, I have tried to make the blog version of the prompts a bit more expansive – more examples, images, links.

One issue that came up with the website this year is that since Google has demoted “insecure” websites that still have an http at the front of their address rather than an https, (“s” for “secure”) some people can’t access the website anymore. I could make the website be S secure but that costs money and since Poets Online is a non-profit that actually loses money each year, I don’t really want to lose more money.

There is no business plan for Poets Online. I had always hoped that if people clicked on any of the Amazon book links on this blog or on the website when they shopped that those pennies would add up to enough to cover web costs – but that has never happened. Still, it would be great if you did use the Poets Online link to shop at for books or anything. It doesn’t cost you anything extra and a very small percent is passed on to us.

Poets should not be seduced by statistics. It’s nice to know that people are reading your poems or buying your books but if number s and dollars are your intention in being a poet, you’re in the wrong vocation.

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