UK Web Focus

Innovation and best practices for the Web

How People Access This Blog – 600 Posts On

Posted by Brian Kelly on 6 August 2009

This is the 600th post since the blog was launched in November 2006. As I have done a couple of times in the past, I will use this occasion to document some statistics related to this blog.

Blog referrer statisticsHow do people access the blog site? Well as the WordPress.com service provides me with analytics on the Web site usage I can easily answer that.

Unsurprisingly Google is the Web site which has delivered most traffic to the blog site since it was launched, as can be seen from the accompanying image. However unlike conventional Web sites, it is the Google RS Reader which delivers the traffic, rather than the Google search engine.

In second place is another RSS reader: Netvibes.

But perhaps of most interest is the Web site to be found in third, fifth and sixth place – which is Twitter. Yes, although Twitter has only became such a popular service after this blog was launched it is responsible for delivering a significant amount of traffic to the blog.

I noticed recently that Twitter was frequently appearing in the list of referrers to this and to UKOLN’s Cultural Heritage blog. I then came across the TechCrunch articles on “For TechCrunch, Twitter = Traffic (A Statistical Breakdown)” and “The Value Of Twitter Is In ‘The Power Of Passed Links’“. The latter article  suggests that:

Twitter “will surpass Google for many websites in the next year.” And that just as nearly every site on the Web has become addicted to Google juice, they will increasingly try to find ways to get more links from Twitter. Because Twitter equals traffic.

Hmm. It could be that the Twitter users who follow links to this blog would have viewed the posts anyway in their RSS reader. But maybe Twitter is becoming a replacement for RSS for many users.

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5 Responses to “How People Access This Blog – 600 Posts On”

  1. My first thought was that these statistics were very suspicious, because I link to this blog from time to time, and (if I may be humble) drive enough traffic it should have shown up somewhere on this list.

    But of course, click-through from email leaves no referrer, and a click-through from an RSS feed will simply show the RSS feed reader as the referrer, for example, ‘Google Reader’. So probably most people I would have referred to this blog are subsumed under this.

    But it shows how these services are at once misleading and anonymizing. Referrers are no longer individual people, who might know you and read you and send their friends. They are, increasingly, the corporate provider of the service the individual is using.

    Not sure of the significance of that, but I’m sure there is some.

  2. Hi Stephen

    Your links do drive traffic to my blog. However these are displayed as the individual blog items, rather than being aggregated: for example Universities, Not Facebook, May Be Facing Collapse has delivered 130 views and How Is HE Embracing Web 2.0? How Is Web 2.0 Changing HE? 111 views.

    But, as you point out, I suspect a large proportion of your viewers will use an RSS reader and when they follow your links this won’t be shown.

    I agree such figures can be misleading – something I will address in a forthcoming post.

  3. Chris Rusbridge said

    You ended with “But maybe Twitter is becoming a replacement for RSS for many users”. However, a collection of RSS feeds in a reader like NetNewsWire is in some sense a purposeful collection; one adds to it or subtracts from it depending on a view of whether the posts presented are interesting. I think the blog posts I link to through Twitter are much more a serendipitous collection; they include some I would have seen anyway (but perhaps see sooner, before the time I set aside for scanning NNW), but also some I might never have come across. So I see these approaches complementing rather than supplanting one another.

  4. A useful distinction – RSS as a purposeful collection of (potentially) useful resources, complemented by Twitter which can provide serendipity. I suspect that’s how it works for you and me. But remember than many ordinary users *don’t* have an RSS reader (I often ask this question when I run Web 2.0 workshops and often find only small numbers who use an RSS client). It’s those users who I feel may be even more disinclined to sign up for an RSS reader.

  5. What is twitter if it is not an RSS reader? Who are your twitter contacts if not (among other things) a collection of potentially useful resources?

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