Would you believe? Figuring numbers!

I don’t know what it is but statistics and percentages  have always fascinated me and most days I look at simple figures related to the number of people who read the Read-out (and my personal) blogs not to mention those who sign-up to follow us on facebook, twitter and linked-in. Every so often I blog about these but the fascination continues. The last time was in February of this year – Of pages, blogs and stats,  and a a year earlier and in more detail we spoke of, Lies damn lies and statistics (Jan 2010).

Algorithms of search defeat us!

I have not got into anything too sophisticated, things like SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and stuff like that which I am inclined to leave to the experts. In fact what little I’ve seen (or understood) of these things seem in some ways fruitless because Google (and presumably other search engines) seems to change the algorithms they use just as soon as anyone seems to be getting the hang of how their calculations are made!

I suppose one could say that statistics are the “old way” of measuring things! It used to be the only way of measuring reaction to what was published on the web, and it does do that!  However they are somewhat impersonal when one considers what the web and the internet has become. Now that everyone is a potential publisher or webmaster numbers possibly become less and less relevant. The market has shrunk as it has grown! Seth Godin asks the question “What does the world look like when we get to the next zero?” in his blog Consumers and Creators. In any case I enjoy statistics, especially if they can be interpreted favourably, and they nearly always can!

Read-out has never shied away from giving these stats and have maintained archive of statistics of visits – sessions – hits since the start of the century. These show rises and falls over the years. Take a look, starting at this years stats to date.

Sometimes there is a big surprise in which items achieve the most visits, sometimes not. For instance the most looked at blog in the last seven days is Abominable security commitment! (11th Aug’11)  And it is also the most looked at during the past month. Not surprising really with all the controversy and worry around Stuxnet and its implications and the work of Eric Byres and others has been invaluable to the automation sector.  The number of people visiting this particular item has no doubt been helped by an item and link in Control Global last week – Stuxnet Overview!

(The more recent news last Thursday of the link-up between Byres’ company and Belden which we reported last Thursday has attracted a fair few viewers over the usually slack weekend period!)

However when we look at the past year – or indeed at the whole period since the inception of our WordPress blog site (March 2009) the most visited blog has been a paper Radar level measurement best practice (10 Sep”10) by Emerson’s Sarah Parker. I certainly could not have predicted that.

As always I suppose the interesting places perhaps are those in secondary positions in the field, creeping up, as it were, on the front runners.

Average monthly visitors to Read-out blogs!

Looking at the All Time figures well number two is again a Stuxnet page, this time Nick Denbow’s Stuxnet – not from a bored schoolboy prankster! (27 Sept’09). So I guess we should continue to keep an eye on anything to do with security. This is followed by a story Taking Invensys seriously!  (2nd July’09) on the belief that that company was “poised for a renaissance.” Jim Pinto’s recent item Invensys for sale, in his newsletter no doubt will lead to more blogs on this company. This is followed by an article from Newson Gales’s Mike O’Brien, Static earthing protection for road tankers  (26 Nov’10). Is there a pattern emerging? I’ll leave that to you dear reader to decypher!

Of course most of these figures are false in one way or another because by far and away the most visits are paid to the story of the day which obviously changes from time to time. Today’s story may be looked at frequently but without too much time consuming work I can’t work out over a period which story has the most “look-at” stats while they were the “home page” or the page looked at if the visitor just goes to the blog willy nilly.

So how are we progressing – blog wise – in the statistics stakes.

As we said we started blogging in March 2009 and since then have been fairly consistent in our blogging stories with what can be said to be an eclectic mix of automation stories or at leaset loosly related to that discipline. From low of 62 in that first month we have progressively climbed to an average of 2500 per month. Whether that is good bad or indifferent I leave others to decide but indubitably 2500 is a better figure than 62!

And what about the other social networking platforms?

Twitter

I’ve been on twitter for nigh on two years and the number of followers has steadily grown, not exponetially but the numbers exceed 400 now and there is a steady increase of a few a week of relevent followers. We do get the odd follower collector but I do take a look at each newbie and block those who are merely selling recreational and other drugs, themselves or just like to add people to their list. We don’t list aor link all our blogs here but those we think will particularly be of interest. We also put some personal links (in several languages!) here but Read-out related material will be in English or American. In fact I notice rater alarmingly that I have tweeted almost 5000 times since I started.

Facebook
The Read-out facebook page is where all our blogs are listed as they are uploaded. In some ways this was the most disappointing of all the social-media sites in that it took a very long time to take off. We got about 30 “likes” in the first few weeks and then it crawled up to the current level of 112. It has a nice feature though in that this can be included in a box on our website which shows the latest two or three stories and has a scroll-up/down feature. (I also have a personal facebook page which is usually purely social, hobby and family stuff and for revealing personal peeves!) See Jon DiPietro’s 7 Reasons to Include Facebook Fan Pages In Your Marketing to understand the marketing importance of having a facebook presence.

LinkedIn
LinkedIn is our latest social media presence. I actually haven’t yet worked out how fully to use it properly though the number and type of followers accumulated is by far and away the most and the most relevant to automation. Currently standing at about 420 “connections” it is also the place where I find more Irish automation people than either facebook or twitter. All tweets are automatically posted on my LinkedIn site.

On occasion we have looked at the possibility of measuring email effectiveness. How many people actually read your e-newsletter? This blog from Chris Rand, Open Rate: just an indication that your emails arrived, expresses our feelings exactly.

In passing the figures for our read-out.net main website remain relatively stable now at an average of around 15000 visitors looking at 40000 pages.

Average visits versus number of pages viewed on read-out.net

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