Some people get a kick from cocaine. Others can’t pull themselves away from crystal meth. Personally, I’ve been addicted to Google Analytics. If you don’t spend the majority of your time holed up in an office writing a blog that nobody reads, you might not know that Google Analytics is a free software tool that allows you to see how many people visit your website on a daily basis. It provides you with a barrage of metrics to tell you whether you’re clearly on your way to an IPO or if you’re clearly wasting your time.
For the first several months I spent blogging, I must admit that I had an unholy infatuation with Google Analytics. I would pull it up constantly, praying to God that my latest Facebook post had instantly propelled thousands of readers to visit my site, after which I’d be showered with Kim Kardashian money and regularly featured on various internet magazines to discuss “internet stuff”, like privacy, and the Huffington Post, and kiddie porn. Within minutes of a particularly brilliant Tweet, I’d run back to Analytics, certain that my latest 140-character punchline had attracted tens of thousands – no, HUNDREDS of thousands – of shut-ins who have nothing to do with their day other than read humorous parenting blogs and feast on the carcasses of neighborhood children that they’d just harpooned.
I couldn’t go eight hours without checking the progress of my site. More experienced bloggers begged me not to do it but those were the same guys who told me that all I had to do was write one blog each day and, within three months, I could quit my job and supermodels would be throwing themselves at my feet. After a year though, I was still employed and, worse, still married.
So, as I do with my children, I didn’t listen to any of those people. I sucked on that Google Analytics crack pipe like I was a redheaded Richard Pryor. “Navigation paths”, “keyword effectiveness maximizer”, “entrance/exit summaries”, I had no idea what any of that garbage meant but I couldn’t get enough of it.
The problem, though, was not inhaling my statistics five times a day, it was what the statistics were telling me and, trust me, it wasn’t good. Simply and ebonically put, wasn’t nobody showin’ up. If you read one of my blogs, I gotta tell you, you were probably the only person who looked at the stupid blog that week. And honestly, Mom, I wish you would’ve told some of your book club friends what they’re missing.
Google Analytics spent an entire year advising me that, regardless of how hysterical I (and my mom) thought those blogs were, apparently, nobody else seemed to share that opinion. I opened up the Analytics site on occasion and the thing spit on me. For other people, the software displays charts and graphs; for me, it shows cobwebs. Really, people, what the hell is going on? The second month my site was live, my readership went down 5% from the previous month. I knew something was wrong there. I was right. The third month, my readership went down another 20%.
I talked to everybody I knew in the blogging world (which means I talked to one girl and one guy who haven’t left their living rooms since the early ‘90’s). They told me that I had to break the Analytics habit. “You can’t look at Analytics every day. You don’t weigh yourself every day when you’re on a diet,” they said. That made sense to me considering the fact that, as fat as I am, I’ve thrown away 15 or 20 scales that my wife tried to bring in the house. “You don’t measure the height of the grass before you cut it,” they also said. This, however, made no sense to me since I speak too much English to be a gardener.
In any event, I realized that they were right. It’s not my blog that’s the problem. It’s the stupid visitor counter that Google Analytics was pasting on my site. What the hell does Google know anyway? If they were so smart, they wouldn’t have gotten kicked out of China. The two computer dorks who started the company have been billionaires for years, what do they care if their stupid application is ruining my life? They’re probably sitting in some nerd circle with their fat nerd girlfriends and dumb nerd dogs trying to figure out how they can game the numbers to piss me off.
So I decided to quit – cold turkey. No more stats, no more monitoring my site. I didn’t look at Analytics for months and I was the better person for it. Sure, the numbers sunk so low that the software eventually turned itself off but, in the end, what’s it really matter how many people read that obnoxious crap? My wife still gets half my stuff, my kids would still choose their Wii over me and nobody at my new publisher will ever know that their new author had a readership in the single digits.
Wait, did Google Analytics say I had two readers yesterday, or three?