Chartbeat & Statcounter

October 25, 2010 | By | COMMENTS

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What you see above is a screenshot from a website called Chartbeat, a site that shows you how many people are on your site at any given time, what they’re looking at and how they got there. (Click the above image to see it in greater detail.)


I first heard about Chartbeat from Amanda Hesser who was using it to track traffic to her site, Food52. As a long time fan of Statcounter (a site that I still use), I didn’t see what Chartbeat could offer me that Statcounter couldn’t. [This is a screenshot from Statcounter; click to enlarge.]
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I check Statcounter on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. The reason is: when you’re a blogger and you’re putting new posts out there, you never know when one of them might catch-on in a big way. Through statcounter, I discovered my Janet Jackson Breast Cupcake linked on collegehumor.com and instapundit.com; more recently, I discovered my El Bulli post linked on Metafilter.com and my “It Gets Better” post linked on Dan Savage’s blog.
Those discoveries–to see something I’ve done linked on a big or prestigious website–is a thrilling part of the blogging experience. But even when my posts are linked on smaller food blogs, it’s usually Statcounter that alerts me to those links: and so I click over and check out the blog that links to me. I’ve discovered many excellent blogs that way.
Chartbeat is a different story. Where Statcounter is more like a constantly updated Captain’s Log, Chartbeat is like the dashboard of a racing car. It tells you what’s happening on your site at THAT VERY MOMENT. So, I took that screenshot from the top of this post a few minutes ago. Let’s take another one and see how it’s changed:
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Well, at 3:45 PM I had 107 people on my site; at 4:00 PM I had 121 people on my site. Most of these people are here because of the “Spaghetti and Meatballs” post I’d just posted, and as you can see in the gray box on the right (which tells you specifically where they’re coming from) most are coming from Google Reader or by clicking to my blog directly.
The instant feedback that a site like Chartbeat provides you is useful because it gives you a sense of how much your latest post is catching on. I’ve done posts that I think are going to be huge hits but when I click over to Chartbeat, people are barely clicking through; the red line (which tracks how much traffic your site is getting today vs. the gray line which is either yesterday or last week) basically flatlines and I have to think about why that post didn’t do so well.
Yet, at the end of the day, my heart still belongs to Statcounter. I like those line-by-line updates of the specific sites people are coming to me from; more fun than that, I like to see the keywords people search that bring them to my blog. Let’s take a gander at a few:
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These are the words and phrases people Google that lead them to me. So people came to my site searching for: “roseanne halloween,” “candied orange peel,” “amateur glasses,” “how to cook a rib eye steak,” “jambalaya,” and, my personal favorite, “In this essay I am going to teach you how to bake a cake from scratch” which, I believe, must be a student looking for an essay to copy for class.
It’s fascinating to have this archive of old and new posts that sit there on the internet waiting for people to hit upon them. Sites like Chartbeat & Statcounter make it fun to watch that process unfold: and if you want to know what I’m doing 20% of the time, it’s checking them to see who exactly is reading this junk I put out there into the world. And now that I’m about to hit post on this post I can’t wait to track its progress as you read it.

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Categories: Blogging