I’ve been getting many questions about google analytics and bloglovin since the announcement of google reader‘s dismise and the 99% certainty of google friend connect‘s ensuing death (read all about it here).
What it means for us bloggers if we move to bloglovin (don’t forget you can import all the blogs you’re following via bloglovin.com/import and so can your readers, so let them know!), whether google analytics & co are still recording the traffic and so on.
What is Google Analytics & co and what do they record?
Let me give you an analogy. Let me paint you a picture…
Imagine your website is a room (in a house that is the internet) with only one entrance with a doorman and a counter in his hand. He only clicks his counter as a person comes into the room.
google analytics (or any other analytics tool) is that doorman counting the visitors to your ‘room’, but he can also tell where your visitor has come from such as other ‘rooms’ like bloglovin, hellocotton, blogger dashboard, etc. But he can only tell that once the person is actually in the room visiting you.
Now imagine your blog post is a story that you’re telling your visitor in your ‘room’. If your story is being told in a different room (such as bloglovin, hellocotton, etc) the doorman can’t count those people as visitors to you, because, well, they’re not visiting you. They just hear your story in a different ‘room’.
‘Rooms’ like bloglovin, hellocotton, blogger dashboard, etc sometimes only give an excerpt of your story and then tell the listener, if they want to hear the rest of the story, they need to visit your room. Only when that person then actually comes to your room, the doorman can count the person is counted as an actual visitor.
I explained what the individual Google Analytics things like Unique Visitors, Visits, Pageviews, Bounce Rate, etc are and how to install it in this google analytics post. That post also explains its Google Analytics‘ importance and its shortcomings…
What does this mean for our blogs?
If a blog post is being read somewhere else that isn’t your website, then that person reading it isn’t counted, unless they follow the link that takes them to the post. So only when you click on the link displayed along with your post, that takes you to the website so you can read the post on your actual website.
So let’s take bloglovin as an example.
(Image 1) —- Your post is being listed and displayed as an excerpt to those who added your blog to their bloglovin reading list. If they see the post displayed as above, thats them reading the post on bloglovin‘s website. They’re hearing an excerpt of your story in a different room. Seeing your post like this means they’re not in your room and thus not counted. The post remains as ‘unread’ too (unless you manually click ‘mark as read’ of course)
(Image 2) —- If your reader now clicks on the blog post title (in this case ‘Spa Break …’) then they are being referred/transferred/redirected to the blog post on your website like in 2. They have entered your “room” and are “listening to your story” hearing it from you, so they’ve gone past the doorman and are thus counted as a visitor, and he can tell that they’ve been referred to the website from bloglovin. So seeing the post with the entire blog loading even with the bloglovin bar at the top of the window counts as a visit/view/read.
The same thing happens in blogger dashboard. Your post is displayed as an excerpt to those who have subbed to your blog via google friend connect, and only if they click the link that takes them to the entire post on your website they’re counted as visitors.
How are these other websites showing my posts?
Imagine your blog is completely stripped of everything, but the posts. That’s what’s called an Atom/RSS Feed. For this blog, my RSS feed is here. Every website has this. If you write your blog posts on Blogger, then add “/feeds/posts/default” at the end of your blog address to get to your RSS feed. If you’re on WordPress, add ‘/feed’ to your website address.
You can see that it displays your most recent posts without any design, just plain and pure content. It’s like your stories being told without any intonation, decorations, dramatic pauses and all that jazz.
Please note: If you’re viewing your feed in Firefox, it automatically truncates the feed being displayed, even when its being displayed fully (Firefox is stupid like that!)
This is what bloglovin, google reader, blogger dashboard, hellocotton (these ultimately aggregate your RSS feed, hence the overall term Feed Readers or RSS Feed Aggregators) import and display.
There is an issue, but it’s always been there!
Of course if your story, your blog post is displayed fully on a different website so that the reader has no reason to click the link that would lead to your website, then that reader won’t be counted of course, because they’re not coming to your website to read the post (of course if they nonetheless still click the link to your website then they’re counted!).
But this has always been the case!
If a post was displayed fully through another feed reader aggregation tool (Feed Demon, Feedly, etc) or website (google reader) then that reader was never recorded in the first place anyways (for the reasons explained).
Luckily, lots of feed reader aggregation websites, which are more commonly used, truncate the blog posts after a specific number of words or character anyways, whether that’s blogger dashboard or bloglovin. And just like before your readers can be selective and decide based on the first image and the excerpt whether they want to click through to your post to read it fully (and thus be recorded as a visitor).
But my stats have dropped!
I’ve been seeing this today a lot and I’m not really sure how to answer this. Technologically speaking Bloglovin is exactly the same as Blogger Dashboard, Google Reader, etc and the same actions are recorded by Google Analytics, so technically the traffic shouldn’t drop. What was counted as view/visitor before, is still being counted the same way.
I can only assume that people have decided to not check their Blogger Dashboard / Google Reader more and refer to Bloglovin instead, but that they just don’t do it as often anymore. Changing habits and going to Bloglovin on top of going to Blogger Dashboard or instead of Google Reader is something that takes time.
It’s good that we’re starting with this now, 3.5 months before Google Reader is discontinued.
Either way, views/readers/visitors is EXACTLY handled as before by Google Analytics as it did with Google Reader! BlogLovin is literally just a different website doing EXACTLY THE SAME as Google Reader and Blogger Dashboard do/did!