It is a late December day in 2021 and a thought occurs in my head:
why do I measure my website?
Well, that is a good question. To answer it, I have to review the reason I have this website. I turns out it has nothing to do with tracking.
The reason I blog
I blog because I like the creative exercise of writing something. Whenever an idea pops up in my head (e.g. to stop measuring this website), I try to write it down. It helps me structure my thoughts. Sometimes, I just feel the need to put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard.
I consider this blog a sort of open diary with a focus on data and technology. The number of pageviews of other posts is not something I take into account when writing new content. I never review how I rank in search engines. And really good content resonates with people, regardless of me tracking it.
Let’s review the tree things that made me decide to stop tracking my website.
1: Data minimisation
All the data we collect needs to be stored somewhere. In my case, I used a Google Analytics tracker, which I replaced with a self-hosted Matamo tracker about a year ago. Regardless of the tracker that you use, the storage costs energy (this often hidden from the end-user). The costs are probably higher when you use a decentralized setup (like Google’s) than a self-hosted setup (like Matamo). Every once in a while I opened my dashboard to look at the stats, but I never used it to take action on anything. So why keep tracking?
I am a fan of data minimization: only track what you need, only track with purpose. Call it sustainable measurement. And for me, tracking this website has no purpose. So poof: tracker removed.
2: I have SEO doubts
This one has more to do with why I blog than tracking. I used a SEO plugin on this website. It gave me an indication on how content will perform for certain keywords. Pretty neat. But I have started disliking SEO in 2021. (Heads-up: I am pretty far left on the SEO Dunning-Kruger scale.)
The internet is a beautiful place. It’s a place where every human (with a connection) can share any type of knowledge with other people. The result is that there is way too much information to go through by hand, and this is where search engines come in handy. They help you find the information you seek.
SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, is a practice that optimises content for the search engines. You rewrite content to make it easier to read for a search engine. A search engine is basically a robot that scans your website. As a result, content that ranks well is first and foremost content that works well for the search engine. And maybe it also works well for humans. As robot-friendly content ranks higher, more humans read that type of content, get used to it, and become more robot-like content consumers. Wouldn’t it be nice if Search Engine Optimisation would be a practice that optimised a search engine to better index valuable human content, without the need for humans to rewrite in a robot-friendly format? I feel contemporary SEO is somehow making content less human.
Besides that, as I have mentioned, I like the creative exercise of writing. Having a SEO-suggestion that makes me rewrite something that I enjoyed writing (or add some new piece of SEO-only content) is not something I enjoy doing. So poof: SEO plugin removed.
3: A better measure
Sometimes the content I write resonates with people. A high number of pageviews can be an indication of this, but I don’t see it as a decent measurement for good content. A high number of pageviews only tells me something about the number of people that have opened the page. I could add some extra tracking to see if people really ‘read’ it, but whether it resonates with them or not is something I can’t track easily. I could add a pop-up, asking a user, but that feels a bit obstructive for just reading some content on the beautiful internet.
Besides that, whether I track a page or not, when it resonates, it resonates. The user does not care if they were tracked.
And I don’t write for the pageviews. I do it for the creative exercise. When content really resonates with someone, the person tends to reach out (yes, people are that nice). This is, I think, the best measure for good content. And all you need to ‘track’ this is a contact page that people can use to reach out to you.
This is the first post published after I disabled my tracking. From now on, the content I write here is just content I like to write. When someone really likes it, that’s nice. If they really really like it and decide to reach out, that is a super-nice-cool bonus.