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Bonkers Blog September 2011

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9 September (Part 2) - Lies, damn lies and website statistics

I’ve often been asked how many hits the Bonkers site gets and I have tended to dodge the question because I don’t regard the statistics as a very useful measure. Welcome though they are to come and look, readers in Vietnam aren’t going to worry Bexley council and there is not a lot of point in counting people who arrive by mistake and leave two seconds later. Taking hits and visits at face value is probably a fool’s game and to be honest I have little idea what sort of figures a local website should be knocking up to be rated a success.

Publicly accessible websites that try to assess web usage via those annoying tracking cookies that clog up your computer will tell you that Bonkers is about the seven millionth most popular website in the world - which sounds pathetic - and another will tell you Bonkers is getting about 30 hits a day; which I know for a fact is wrong.

Councillor Colin Campbell revealed the figures, with the same weaknesses that concern me, for the council’s website. I’m still not inclined to give away much by way of site statistics, but by the measure that satisfies Councillor Campbell, Bonkers is around twenty times smaller than, perhaps a little worse by some measures. (†) Maybe if I issued parking fines and collected the money on-line things would be busier.

How people use the site can be fascinating. About half of visitors come in thanks to a search engine search for ‘Bexley council’, the high Google ranking doesn’t do any harm. Close to half jump straight into the blog suggesting they are regular visitors. These people tend not to use the links to older blog entries on the same subject which suggests they have read it all before, but they may be missing newly added documents.

The source of visitors can be interesting too. The biggest single group comes in from ‘NTL Bromley’ which is Virgin Media’s local internet hub, so exactly what you would expect. Over a period of time one could name drop almost everyone but I shall confine myself to visitors this week (Monday to Thursday). Most of the nearby local authorities and The Greater London Assembly have visited including the two boroughs north of the river, and from as far away as Kensington. Nothing from Bromley and nothing from Bexley of course, Tuckley’s Kim Jong-il style censorship is working well.

The local media has dropped by quite often and two mid-range national tabloids have nosed around quite extensively this week. The BBC too.

Council contractors can’t stop looking either, Serco, FM. Conway and the council’s Thames Innovation Centre customers. All this week.

And welcome to the readers from central government and Parliament and Conservative Central Office. Into double figures of visits in the last four days.

† Comparing last April’s stats from the council with more recent ones from Bonkers.


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