Where My Traffic Comes From

Every once in a while I like to show some analytics about this blog.

I get the sense that the sources of traffic to this blog have been changing recently. Let’s start by comparing the high level sources of traffic to this blog in the first quarter of 2007 vs the first quarter of 2008:

First Quarter 2007

2007_q1_traffic

First Quarter 2008

1st_qtr_2008_traffic

The total page views didn’t change that much from the first quarter of last year to this quarter, growing from 400,000 page views to 450,000 page views. But the sources of traffic changed for sure. Search traffic was down from 50% to 40%, and direct and referring traffic both grew by 5%, and referring sites now drive as much traffic to this blog as search. That’s a big deal. And I expect that trend will continue.

So what are the top referring sites and how did that change in the past year?

Q1 2007

Sources_q1_2007_4

Q1 2008

Sources_q1_2008

As you can see, the sources have changed a lot. First, Google in this context (at least the Google that is number one in both charts) is Google Reader – the king of RSS readers (at least for my readers). The other RSS readers on the lists include MyYahoo, which went from number 2 to number 9 over the past year, Bloglines, which went from number 3 to number 7 in the past year, and netvibes, which was number 8 in the first quarter of 2007 and is no longer in the top ten.

This post should be called "the rise of the smart aggregators" because the new big sources of traffic to this blog are techmeme, reddit, twitter, and delicious. Both techmeme and delicious were on the list in 2007, but techmeme jumped from number four to number two and tripled the number of visits it generated. Delicious stayed at number six but grew the number of visits it generated. Reddit is the real eye-opener for me. It wasn’t in the top 10 in 2007 and is currently the number four referring site. Likewise, Twitter was not on the list in 2007 and now is the number five referring site. And check out Hacker News (news.ycombinator.com), it brought this blog more traffic than my.yahoo this quarter. Thanks Paul and everyone at ycombinator.

Some things don’t change. Stumbleupon remains an important source of traffic and there’s always some big source of traffic that is probably a link to a single post. In Q1 2007 it was a cnet link to a post I wrote about not being able to buy an iSight. This quarter is a google images link that I can’t track through to the post.

There’s an important new "smart aggregator" out there, FriendFeed, that doesn’t show up in the Q1 numbers, but this month to date it is the number seven source of traffic to this blog.

March 2007 (to date)

Sources_march_2007

You’ll also note that in March, the ycombinator connection is even more pronounced with reddit ahead of techmeme and hacker news in the number five slot. It’s also nice to see my tumblog being used as a way to follow what’s happening on this blog.

Finally, I should say something about the direct visits. With a blog URL like avc.blogs.com, I’ve always felt that direct visits are most likely driven by browser bookmarks. And it’s also true that a good deal of the search traffic is a proxy for a direct visit.

Google sent almost 120,000 visits to this blog in the first quarter from almost 50,000 search terms, so it’s a very long tail. But the top ten search terms are shown below:

Google_terms_q1_2008

I figure that searches for a vc, fred wilson, avc, and fred wilson blog are basically "search bookmarks" and so 9,500 visits or 3% of my search traffic is really direct traffic.

So what is the big takeaway from all of this? First, that the two big non-direct sources of traffic to this blog are search and aggregators. That’s always been the case. But the second, and possibly more important point is that the aggregator market is changing from rss readers like Google Reader, Bloglines, Newsgator, etc to smart aggregators like techmeme, reddit, hacker news, friendfeed, twitter, delicious, and stumbleupon.

That makes perfect sense to me. I’ve never been able to use a RSS reader, as hard as I’ve tried. But I use all of these smart aggregators every day.

The other thing that is interesting to me is not one traditional content site/blog is in the top 10. Not techcrunch, valleywag, venturebeat, silicon alley insider, or other blogs that occasionally link to this blog. Techcrunch is number 13, Silicon Alley Insider is number 18, Valleywag is 20.

And just to show that this is not all business, Howard Linzon is 21, Brad Feld is 22, and my wife, The Gotham Gal, is number 26 (she sent me almost 1000 visits this quarter, more than read/write web, seeking alpha, and the new york times).

Anyway, that’s all for now. I hope you enjoyed a sneak peak behind the curtain into google analytics.