Anatomy Of A Big Day On AVC

I generally take a quick run through audience stats every morning. I saw this chart and thought "hmm, big day yesterday, why is that?"

Avc stats
So I went to google analytics, which confirmed the big day.

Avc stats google 

And then I went to the makeup of the traffic:

Avc stats sources 

Like most big days on AVC, it was referring traffic that caused the bump. Search and direct traffic are very consistent at about 2,500 visits per day. But referring traffic can be as little as 1,000 visits on a slow day or as much as 5,000 visits or more on a big day. Yesterday was such a day.

Here's where it came from yesterday:

Avc referring links

The twitter traffic is probably undercounted because so many of the twitter click thrus are coming from twitter clients that register as direct traffic. The stats on my post yesterday say that there were close to 1,200 clicks on that link from the twitter ecosystem. So that means google analytics is undercounting my twitter traffic by about 75%.

The traffic from is direct traffic coming from the old URL that this blog ran on.

But regardless of all that, yesterday's big day was largely a Hacker News event. Hacker News runs on and has been an increasingly large source of traffic for this blog in recent months.

This blog used to get a lot of traffic from TechMeme but since labor day, Hacker News has sent 5x the traffic that TechMeme has sent. I believe that is because TechMeme is largely focused on large professional blog networks and mainstream media whereas Hacker News is peer produced and links out to small blogs like this one all the time.

In any case, yesterday was a big day and like most big days it was because others linked out to a post on this blog. That's how the web works and it's always useful to get your head around where the traffic is coming from and going on the pages you control on the web.

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Comments (Archived):

  1. Allen Burt

    I love the obsession with data, I can relate.Fred, have you ever done a post about what’s in your google reader (aka what blogs you read religiously)? If not I’d be curious to hear. If so, can I grab the link from you.

    1. Mark Essel

      Fred’s got a blogrollr, but I don’t remember seeing a full list. Who’s got time to keep up with their readers and friends suggestions ;)?

      1. Allen Burt

        Fair enough.

    2. fredwilson

      i don’t use an RSS reader and never have, although i’ve tried unsuccessfully a few timesthe blogrollr widget on the right sidebar shows which blogs i read the most and what i’ve been reading recently

  2. Mark Essel

    I’ve had similar although smaller scale experience with Hacker News but also Reddit. I submit my blog (shameless) to both (picking appropriate subreddits can be an entertaining challenge).On a good day I can see nearly 3000 plus referrers from HN. It’s kinda groovy to see this democracy of attention. But it comes down to timely upvotes to keep you on the first page, or slow update days when visitors really crank up. My direct and search traffic is tiny (~100-150) a day but steadily going up with deeper back links and long tails of posts. The one thing I’m really jealous of is the great group of commenters/readers you have here Fred. You’ve made solid and diverse posts to keep us all coming back. I do get a little excited when I see a momentary spike in my blogs traffic, but I realize (like in business) it’s the sustained growth of repeat visitors that makes a community.

    1. im2b_dl

      “you’ve made solid and diverse posts to keep us all coming back” – agreed … Fred I think thisa proves ..what is that old sentiment…what is it… lol “Content is king” and your ability to create content that is worthy (and your knowledge base/reputation based on experience and history of the subject) is keeping you in that “king category” – love that. No laurels …just creation.

    2. ShanaC

      Reddit I found difficult. Some of the reddits I’m just more interested in (say art), aren’t as developed as I would like to be. I don’t want to womp people with a whole conversation about something way too obscure. There are net groups about it, and it’s frustrating to see how you would think these sorts of sites would cause the overlap, but no, it isn’t like you see the crossover of some long tails of these communities that are appearing on reddit, but where the actual production of content is elsewhere.I’m not going to reddit to get the hot news on art. I don’t think anyone is going to care, or will get confused by the discussions that are for some reasons happening on crosslinking tiny blogs. That on really specific art blogs, and really specific message boards. For some reason, they’re not picking it up…Why is that? Who is building these communities that would cause say twitter to pick up more steam, but not digg or reddit?So frustrating.

  3. Felix

    I have your blog in my RSS reader but i only read RSS feeds a few times per week. Your posts show up in Hacker News much faster so that almost always the route i take to read them.

  4. awaldstein

    Fred…I’m a believer that comments are content and that consistently good content drives an interesting community of commentors. I come back regularly because this blog feeds my day. Congrats on that. No trivial accomplishment by any standard.

  5. Joe Siewert

    What traffic analytic tools are people using on their sites? Is there a particular combination of tools that provides a more complete view of your traffic data?

    1. kidmercury

      i use google analytics, not because i think it is great, but because i’m banking on google increasingly using this data in their search algo, and if you have a site you think is sticky, i think this is a good way of proving it to google. google analytics is also an industry standard so lots of folks prefer that others use it, as it is their benchmark for reality, even if the stats are not entirely accurate. so it is helpful for business deals in that sense as well.the javscript analytics stuff (i.e. cut and paste code into your web pages, like google analytics) is going to be quite error prone IMHO. server log file analysis is the way to go for the data junkies i think, or at least it was a couple years ago when i was more involved with analytics. i’m not much of analytics junkie anymore and haven’t kept up with all the changes going on in the industry, but some of my most trusted web pros use sawmill:

    2. fredwilson

      i am a fan of triangulating from a number of servicesi use sitemeter, chartbeat, google, feedburner, quantcast, and a few others

  6. @joshfleischmann

    Google Analytics data on downstream traffic from Twitter is not reliable, for all the reasons mentioned. However, click data is also unreliable and while useful for benchmarking or tracking trends, it probably shouldn’t be used to calculate what percentage GA’s reporting is off by. There are some ways to mitigate the problems GA has in counting Twitter traffic, see Also check out this explanation of the issues (and all URL shorteners) have in overcounting clicks on their shortened links-

    1. kidmercury

      i often think analytics is the biggest problem with the web. no one knows wtf is actually going on, yet tons of folks pretend like google analytics is this infallible data source.that’s why i like ecommerce. when the cash shows up in your bank, and when the customer gets the product/service they wanted, you know it’s real.

      1. Joe Siewert

        Haha, I get that impression with Google Analytics too. Thanks for your earlier response as well.

      2. @joshfleischmann

        As long as you know the strengths and limitations going in, you can use an analytics tool to improve your site design, ecommerce, traffic, whatever. Good information about web analytics is pretty accessible, and allows anyone with access to a site and some time to read books, blogs or watch youtube videos to jump in and start learning.Clickstream data can be validated with info from other sources- Focus groups, surveys, competitive intel all help to bring traffic stats out of the vacuum and into context. Testing changes to a site is a great way to drive improvement. All web analytics tools have limitations (what in this world doesn’t?), but all web analytics tools can be used to track the best, and worst, parts of a website and drive information based decisions. Ya?

        1. kidmercury

          when you are doing CPC/CPM pricing, which is what finances most of the web (at least for now), analytics errors are significantly less tolerable. they even more intolerable when you are trying to do a site valuation. for instance, if fred’s direct traffic stats are overreported and that is actually twitter traffic we are seeing, that will impact a buyer’s valuation as well as the overall terms of a deal, should a deal go down.

        2. fredwilson

          the only way i’ve figured out to get the the real numbers is triangulate between multiple services

  7. Bruce Upbin

    It’s great when site owners share stats openly. You just gave me a great idea for a Forbes story.By the way Fred, when it comes to getting people to subscribe to your comments and keeping them subscribed, which do you think is the least spammiest, email, RSS or something else?

    1. fredwilson

      disqus does this automatically

  8. david927

    I <3 Hacker News. It’s partly about the news aggregation but much more about the community. It has somehow become the Homebrew Computer Club for our times.

  9. Bruce Upbin


  10. Bruce Upbin


    1. ShanaC

      roger roger.

  11. Kevin

    “It’s who you know, not what you know” still applies. Don’t get me wrong – you know you’re stuff, I’m not trying to imply differently; but so many emerging technologies really just change the distribution channel for what people have done forever — listen to people and sources they trust and try what things their network of people and sources suggest. The ability to leverage others’ networks is increasingly amazing though.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s the secret of this blog community. i learn a lot from it.

  12. RacerRick

    Hacker News is like our Drudge Report. Get on the front page and you better buy a little more bandwidth for the day.But get in the top 5 and it’s even more so – I think because techie folks still use feed readers of some sort.

  13. davidu

    The real metric I’m curious about is how many more emails requesting meetings did you receive yesterday than you would normally? 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      that’s funnyactually i don’t know because i haven’t done much email in the past 48 hours and have almost 500 unread emails to wade through at some point

      1. ShanaC


        1. fredwilson

          that will be my day today (sunday)if i get serious, i may be able to get through all of them

  14. ShanaC

    I’ve been poking at hacker news. They’re interesting folk. Mostly good taste. I occasionally comment there as of recently. Among other places. There is definitely more diversity of choice of what will be shown there. The comments can be brutal.I just heard secondary sources about the crit. Sometimes brutal is good (turns out the brutal in this case was good). Some conversations there, I’m a bit scared of because I’m afraid of the downvote and the criticalness of those who disagree..But they do have excellent taste. Of a wide variety of stuff.I still like Techmeme for the headlines. It is like an old style wall street journal. Mostly tech, every once in a while something wierd. Sometimes, I just don’t want to know about other stuff. Life is easier that way. it’s a faster read through of what’s going on in the tech world than hacker news, though in an odd way, hacker news can be more current, because it reflects a variety of what people are interested in.

  15. sigmaalgebra

    Fred, in some of your recent blog posts you have explained in good detail the techniques you use to look for valuable, new directions. Your efforts represent a LOT of time and effort. Similarly for reading the comments on your blog — hundreds of comments — and for the content and uses of social media, e.g., for employee recruiting.A valuable direction for such things, and quite generally, would be some good automation. Cycles, bytes, and bandwidth are cheap! Hmm …. I don’t know how to automate all of it right away!Here in the 21st century, fortunately for US national security and also for progress in health care, e.g., decoding the human genome and protein folding to connect genes to molecules, for how to automate, quite broadly we know how to proceed.One of the best directions for information technology (IT) is how to do such automation. Sorry, but mostly IT is “digging in the wrong place”. That Indiana Jones movie was correct: Need a way to know where to dig.

    1. fredwilson

      this is my kitchen cabinet. i don’t think you want to automate that

  16. john

    kinda fun building your own business while your port companies are building their own..isn’t it.

    1. fredwilson

      I get a little bit of entrepreneurship out of it but not a lot

  17. Eric Friedman

    I had a post up for two days on HN this week for the first time ever and was surprised by the commentary. One thing the community has is the ability to articulate opinions and discuss them openly without any serious trolls or criticism that isn’t constructive. I have only participated in threads before with others and jumped in where I thought I could add something valuable, but the genuine back and forth about most posts is very helpful to the readers, but especially the authors.One of the main reasons I stick around HN is that my comments will get read, vetted, and challenged as necessary – but that transparent feedback is invaluable.It total it sent about 3K uniques over 2 days and a ton of PV’s but now its “back to normal” numbers

    1. sigmaalgebra

      Yes, as you are illustrating, it is unusual to find a ‘social media’ site that is close to an interest of yours and where the comments are thoughtful.Since there are over 100 million blogs tracked by Technorati and maybe additional relevant Web sites, tough to try them all.Can note the Ken Auletta comment about “vertical search” “in flux” in his PBS ‘News Hour’ interview.Could type in a few keywords, say, about hackers, technology, and news. Hmm …. Would you believe 24.5 million hits? Gee, we cut the 100 million down to 24.5 million! Hmm ….How are we going to dig our way out of this one?