The three most common questions we get about our Ghost(Pro) service are "What is a view? How do you count them? And what happens when I go over the views in my plan?" - Today, we'd like to give you some answers.
We count a "view" as a each time a page loaded and someone views it. In most analytics programs this is referred to as a "pageview". If someone visits your site and looks at 1 page, that's 1 view. If they click on related links and read 5 different consecutive posts on your blog, that's 5 views.
How do we measure "views" ?
How views are measured is very important to us, because views determine what plan you should be on, and how much you are billed.
Initially, we tried a simple approach where we counted views based on requests to the server. Unfortunately this was far from ideal, as we found that when compared to a standard tool like Google Analytics - our view count was about 300% higher. Because of this, we haven't enforced any plan limits based on views up until now, to make sure that nobody gets billed for more views than they really received.
So we went back to our cauldron to whip up something new.
Our goal is always to make sure that we report a view count which is the same or lower than a standard analytics tracking service so that you are always billed fairly and accurately.
Today we're announcing the new Ghost(Pro) viewcounter which is a big improvement all round on our initial attempts.
How it works
To get an accurate count, we want to make sure that we only count a view when an entire page has been fully loaded. In order to track this, we insert a 1 pixel image file called
view.gif at the very end of your blog's source code. When this file is loaded, it counts it as a view and tracks which page has been viewed.
<img src="/view.gif?page=/about-me" alt="" style="display:none" hidden />
This image is completely invisible and hidden, so it never shows up on your blog. It just counts views in the background and nothing else.
We count each view received by this file, and then we reduce your total viewcount by 5%. So if you receive 100 views, we count 95.
Why? Because we want to be certain that we report a view count the same as, or less than, a standard analytics tool. You may occassionally be billed too little for your usage, but you should never be billed too much.
How many views did I get?
In order to keep track of how many views your blog has been getting, we've created a viewcounter which will appear on your blog management screen on Ghost.org. It looks like this:
This counter tells you how many views you've used in the current billing period out of your plan's allowance. It also has a small black chiclet to indicate how many days are left until your view count will reset and begin the next billing period.
If the black chiclet is ahead of the green bar, you're probably on the right plan. If you find that the view meter is filling up faster than the black chiclet is moving, that's a good indication that you're probably going to run out of views before the end of the month!
What happens if I get a lot of views and go over my limit?
First, we try to let you know before this happens. Every day, the Ghost(Pro) systems check for blogs that are getting close to their view limit for the month. If you've used more than 80% of your views, we send you an email to let you know in advance.
As soon as we notice that you've exceeded your limit for the month, we send you another email to tell you, and from this point you have a grace period of 3 full days to upgrade your Ghost(Pro) plan.
So, if you're right on the limit, and you run out of views just 2 days before your viewcount is due to reset - you don't need to worry about upgrading. Your view count will reset by itself.
If 3 full days have gone by and you still haven't upgraded your account to a higher plan or come to the end of your billing period, we will temporarily suspend your account until you are able to upgrade it. We send you an email when this happens, too, so you're always in the loop.
When will this be starting?
We're planning to start the rollout of the new viewcounter across all (Pro) accounts over the next few days. Today, we just wanted to let you know in advance what's happening and how it works.
Everyone's view counts will be starting from zero. No nasty surprises.
If you have any questions about how this works, please let us know in the comments below and we'll do our best to answer all of them!
By the way: Our viewcounter is only intended to track basic usage as it relates to your Ghost(Pro) plan. If you want full data on your blog traffic, we recommend installing a 3rd party analytics system in your theme. Google Analytics, GoSquared and Piwik, are 3 of our faves.
Awesome cauldron photo from Flickr: 64790426@N03