Sunday, September 16, 2007

Traffic incidents

I got Blaired on Friday.

Tim Blair linked to one of my posts and as a result this blog got more traffic in one day than it did in its first year.

As a matter of habit I regularly check the traffic logs, not because I get much traffic but because I'm curious about where people are coming from and what they are looking for. A fair percentage of the traffic is Australian, but about 50% is international. They find this site via Google and often they're looking for stuff on the Boxing Day Tsunami or Hunter S Thompson or a range of other, usually media related subjects.

For local readers the most popular posts in the last six months have been this one on Fairfax's view about charging for online access and this post on the old death-of-newspapers chestnut.

The average number of daily readers of this blog is around 20 - I write it for myself largely as an annotation tool so it's only an accidental publication. But on Friday Tim Blair sent me 1880 visitors. And then another 500 yesterday. Traffic, or audience, is a marker of success in publishing, and on that basis Blair is extremely successful. (The vital next step as a publisher, of course, is converting a loyal audience into dollars.)

In a Fairfax piece a couple of years back I looked at blog popularity with "influence" as a key indicator. Blair featured at the top of the list then, though I used technorati inbound links as a metric rather than actual traffic. Influence is a problematic concept because it is very difficult to measure, however there's no question that large audience numbers confer a level of influence. This recent New York Magazine profile on Matt Drudge makes the same conclusion going as far as to call Drudge America's most influential journalist.

Blair and Drudge are similar in many ways. Not least of which is that when you get "Drudged" your traffic spikes noticeably. Whenever Drudge links to another site he invariably sends it a large volume of readers. I started noticing this on around the time of the Iraq invasion in 2003. My colleagues at the noticed the same thing. Since then the art of securing a link on Drudge, or Fark, or Slashdot or wherever has become a standard try-on in every young digital marketing exec's tool kit. It's far too important to be left to pure chance or, worse, to editorial.


Laurel Papworth said...

Hugh, do you monitor your RSS feed views as well? cos I subscribe to your blog but don't bop along to your actual page very often. Unless I want to ask a question. :) I'm having trouble tracking mine - Google webmaster tools only lets me see who subscribes via Google Reader for example. But from what I can tell, it seems that RSS subscribers are about 3x higher - my audience are probably pretty comfortable with the concept of RSS - than actual visitors to the site. Our appetite for "take away" social media seems to be accelerating and overtaking "dine in" options...

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