Think before you act
BLOG Visitor Counters and their close relatives FLAG Counters are very attractive blog widgets. At least, they were at a time I was starting my small blog. However, most people are unaware of their potential drawbacks. You might reconsider embedding that flashy FLAG COUNTER before it is too late.
Seems that statistical data analysis tools are a modern time’s solution for everything these days! :) Even inside Google’s Blogger platform you have automatically embedded detailed visitor’s stats and what not. Of course, privacy is guaranteed, you never see actual info from your visitors like particular computer they are running, IP addresses, and so on. Just a bunch of grouped data like general location, operating systems by percentage, browsers, time spent and so on. Same as with YouTube.
So, how do you embed such a counter into your blog at the first place? Well, for start, you usually have to register on their website and create an account. That way you will have a special URL link that you can place on your blog and whenever someone visits your blog or a page on your blog, that link will “phone home” and pass your data to them, like your Country you are coming from, or simply just that you visited your page and they can increase the counter by +1 digit. Nothing wrong in this, its simply a fact how it works, and they cannot find out about you any more than they already know. But, you do realize a privacy concern here, do you? Well, you can’t do much about it if you don’t know anything about programming and creating a clean counter by yourself, so you have to make a compromise – you want it desperately or not?
Here is how a typical code looks like (simplified of course, click to enlarge):
And the part we are talking today is that <a href> part thing. On honest counters the URL is usually directly leading to the website of the company which is providing the counter functionality to your code. And that is fine with me. But, there are those counters that I’ve seen on ocasion which leads you and your visitors to some 3rd party websites with fishy purposes, selling products and what not without your approval or awareness at all! That is kind of counters sort I am having problem with.
So, how do we solve this part? Some counters have a detection system built-inside them, so if you simply remove the green highlighted part in above image, your counter will stop working. Simple as that. But, is there another approach we can get around this? See below for solution (click to enlarge):
Simply, adding rel=”nofollow” construct immediately after <a part (bear in mind to leave spaces between each block so they don’t glue to themselves) will tell good guys such as Google and Bing that you are not affiliated or supporting those fishy links directly. Problem solved!
If you use WordPress blog platform, there are now many plugins from different developers that can achieve the same thing.