A shout out to my international visitors, or at least their automaton surrogates

It’s been fun to study the data collected by Google Analytics about visitors to my site. It’s not terribly surprising when looking at the world map that the United States is dark green and all of the rest of the countries are either light gray (no visits) or very pale green (a few visits). Frankly, I’m quite surprised though that most of the countries are the pale green. Pretty much the only gray on the map is the majority of Africa (all but six countries), the cluster of former Soviet republics between Russia and Pakistan, Mongolia, a couple of smaller South American countries, and, vastly over-represented by Google’s use of Mercator projection, Greenland.

That’s pretty amazing. Nearly 2,500 (68%) of the slightly more than 3,700 visits my site received in the last month were from the United States, with the fairly obvious (for language reasons, if nothing else) U.K. and Canada following at 200 (5%) and 160 (4%) visits, respectively, and Australia in fifth place with 63 visits.

Among non-Anglophone nations, France was first, and fourth overall. Again, not terribly surprising. What is surprising is the sixth-place country: Poland, ahead of Germany by 10 visits. I’ve been to Poland. I enjoyed my visit; it’s a fine place; but I just didn’t expect much site traffic from there. Brazil, Italy and Spain round out the top ten countries with a combined total of 120 visits.


Looking at the top ten cities was even more surprising, to some extent. Well, OK, the top five cities were not surprising at all: Minneapolis, New York, Chicago, London and San Francisco. (I guess London was a little surprising, as the fourth most frequent source of visitors to my site. But, you know, it’s a big city.)

It was cities number eight and nine that really surprised me: La Victoria, Peru and Kissimmee, Florida. What? Well, OK. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Kissimmee visits were entirely due to this, but I’m at a loss as to what it might be about my site that is so uniquely appealing to the residents of a district in Lima. If you live in Peru, please share!

No one city jumps out from Poland in the same way. My popularity there is far broader! But no more easily explained.


Sadly, though, all of this enthusiasm over my burgeoning international popularity fizzled when I took a close look at the stats for a particular country: China. I had a mere 7 visits from the world’s most populous nation. But given that country’s reported restrictions on access to the Internet, the low number is not so surprising. What is revealing, though, is the duration of the visits. All but one of them were for precisely the same amount of time: 0 seconds. One determined soul in Shanghai did actually spend 19 minutes on 3 of my pages, but the rest were blips too small to measure. Which suggests to me that either Chinese web surfers are experts at frightfully clicking instantly away from questionable online subject matter, or these visits were not from humans at all, but spider bots.

I suspect if I were to dig deeper into these international visits (as well as some in the U.S., particularly from San Francisco), I would find that many if not most of them are from search engine spiders simply undertaking the thankless task of indexing my site for the benefit of Internet users in their countries who are thoroughly indifferent to my unengaging drivel.