Trying to wrap my head around this. My different stat reports are wildly unsynched. Maybe you have the same conundrum.
This blog. I loaded stat counter onto it right away. Blogger says I have 1160+ hits, stat counter says I have 398. However, blogger shows 10 countries have visited, stat counter shows 13. What gives?
My dotcom. Same thing, loaded stat counter right away. WordPress says I have 481 hits, stat counter says I have 644. WordPress shows 39 countries have visited, stat counter shows 40 countries. These two counters seem to be more synched on their numbers.
My Lexx blog. Same thing, loaded stat counter right away. Blogger says 1060+ hits, stat counter says 260... *wow*. Blogger says 9 countries have visited, stat counter says 16. That kind of backwardness boggles the mind.
Obviously stat counter and wordpress pick up my audience locations pretty well, but I'm wracking my brain over the disparity between the visit numbers. I am aware there are 'unique' visits vs returning visits, and that most spam is generally filtered out from being counted as a visit, etc, but as far as I can tell, even though stat counter allows google search pings and a couple of other pings to get through, their visit numbers fall below what blogger calls visitors, and wordpress stats are so dismal by comparison (while on the page itself it displays a 'hit brag' that is ridiculously higher than the stats it shows) that it makes 75% of the possible incoming look like it must have been filtered out spam that it just threw away. But as little spam as I'm actually having to trash, that just isn't making up for the lost numbers.
I've got about ten years' experience with site trackers. If we wanna drag my old site meter account into this mess, then I can see that over the last 8 months on my original Lexx blog I have gotten 1212 hits on stat counter, while site meter says 746 unique visits and 1176 total page views, so it looks like stat counter is apparently catching page views just fine. So if stat counter is comparing well to site meter on total views, what is wordpress dropping the ball on? What is blogger additionally catching? Because I know site meter is very stringent about not counting spam, BUT I also think it's so old that it doesn't recognize newer mobile devices very well. Stat counter and blogger do a fantastic job catching mobile hits, but site meter reverts to 'unknown' for the operating system even when it does a brilliant job identifying the browsers used, and I've been suspecting that the newest devices don't even get counted. And honestly, I can't help wondering if site meter is somewhat abandoned because I no longer receive support and I can't log in any more without my Kaspersky going crazy blocking phishing downloads.
So what do the visitor numbers actually mean when 4 different tracking systems don't match? How can you tell if it's a real visitor, or an automated ping from someone linking your site somewhere, or an automated spam trying to leave something in comments, or a stalker that comes back every single day for several months? (I've had several of those, gets a little creepy but I've learned to ignore them.)
I used to triangulate my trackers trying to pinpoint the difference between two different visitors, and found out that even when I get a solid comment with a timestamp, not a single tracker showed I had a visitor that time of day from anywhere near where that person lived. Some visitors are like ghosts and don't show up at all. Imagine that.
What you really want out of a good tracker, besides seeing how many countries visit (because that's really cool), is seeing who keeps coming back. I think the most flattering stats are the ones that show return visits. WordPress doesn't seem to count those. Honestly, WordPress is so ridiculously counterintuitive that I'm just stunned when I finally stumble on a follower list and find 80 people there. And that's another thing, if your blog winds up in a 'reader', those emails or views in the reader don't count as hits on your blog. Amazing as this sounds, hundreds of people that never show up in your stats could be reading your material, and this is especially nearly untraceable if people like your stuff enough to copy (and even translate) to their own sites. Even if they link back there is no guarantee their own readers will backtrack to your blog, so you don't see those hits on your content.
I like that.
I must be crazy, you say.
I've had some really cool surprises discovering that some of my content has been translated into other languages, not by a software translator, but by real people who took the time to rewrite my words into their languages. My first experience with how cool this feels was realizing that what I was seeing on my original site meter years ago was that someone in underground China was opening every single page of my old Lexx blog post by post, in order, in too short of a time frame to actually read, and back then there was no such thing as google translate so I don't know if they even used a software translator, but I'm pretty sure my entire Lexx blog was copied and then translated into Chinese, and may even still exist somewhere. Considering how limited their internet is from contact with the U.S. I found this extremely flattering. Some of my stuff has also been translated into Russian (I've seen it), and maybe even other languages, which I think is wonderful.
But they're ripping me off, you say. I figure it like this- there are several billion brains on the planet, any ten thousand of us could be having nearly identical thoughts at the same time, I just happen to be writing them down. Whatever I splash out onto the internet for FREE is open season. I don't quibble. I also don't put anything on public blogs that I don't want ripped off. In ten years I've never asked anyone to remove anything of mine from their sites, even if it wasn't linked back. I take it as a compliment that people take my stuff. Besides, if I croak off, who cares?
Stat trackers are fun little toys, but until you spend some quality time playing with them, you really have no clue what those numbers represent. They still frustrate me. I would love to take them apart like tinkertoys and cobble them back together into my own frankensteinian tracker.
Did you see my title up there? It's just reaching 10 a.m. and look, I've got all this writing practice in, lol.