The truth about traffic on the Internet

Ahh, the Guardian got into a little dirty truth about traffic on TechMeme: there isn’t many people there.

Every time I get on TechMeme I get 500 to 3,000 visits. That matches what the Guardian and what Nick Carr are seeing.

But, truth is not many sites out there do any better. Yeah, when I get on Digg I get 20,000. When I got on the front page of the BBC a couple times in the past month I got 5,000 each time. But Valleywag? I get 100 to 1,000 visits (I’ve been on there something like 20 times including with some VERY sensational posts that would make anyone click and ask themselves “what the heck did that guy do?”)

Even when I quit Microsoft and was in 150 newspapers and TONS of blogs and such I got 200,000 visits in a two-day period.

Dave Winer? A few thousand per link, but sometimes only a few hundred. Wired? A few thousand. Stumbleupon? I got tens of thousands once, but not lately. Twitter? A few hundred, even when dozens of people put my link up.

I was on the Register one time and only got a few hundred visits even though a friend of mine claimed they had millions of visitors.

My own blog? Most links lately will drive a few hundred visits. My link blog seems to be a little bit better, but not much according to people who’ve been on it.

So, if you’ve gotten a good shot of traffic where do you find you get the most traffic?

Oh, and why does TechMeme get the hype? Because Eric Norlin said in his interview with me today that he reads it. If he reads it that’s good enough for me.

I don’t want a big audience. I want a smart audience. So far I’ve gotten exactly that from TechMeme.

If I wanted a big audience I’d go write a Paris Hilton blog or something like that.

193 thoughts on “The truth about traffic on the Internet

  1. Joe with No Website or Blog: what do you know about anything?

    Scoble just said it’s not about “influencing” the masses, but influencing smart people who actually change the world, not lemmings who follow any charismatic warmonger or leader.

  2. I think Bobby is spot on. The problem with internet communities in general is the lack of perspective of size. The world is big and the fact all the posts here are talking about a few thousand hits just demonstrates the point. These figures represent a very very small percentage of the English speaking IT industry… which in itself is very small percentage of the average person on the street.

    All these great community sites haven’t come close to cracking the egg with the average consumer.

  3. I think Bobby is spot on. The problem with internet communities in general is the lack of perspective of size. The world is big and the fact all the posts here are talking about a few thousand hits just demonstrates the point. These figures represent a very very small percentage of the English speaking IT industry… which in itself is very small percentage of the average person on the street.

    All these great community sites haven’t come close to cracking the egg with the average consumer.

  4. The most traffic I’ve ever gotten is when you linked me from your Fast Company blog. TY, btw!

    2nd StumbleUpon.

    3rd TechMeme.

  5. What about ctrl+click (right click/open in new tab) clicks? Are referrers tracked for this kind of clicking?
    I use lot of this, and for aggregators like techmeme I tend to just open new tabs for the links.

  6. What about ctrl+click (right click/open in new tab) clicks? Are referrers tracked for this kind of clicking?
    I use lot of this, and for aggregators like techmeme I tend to just open new tabs for the links.

  7. @ Chris Coulter – I believe that happens moreso because of the overall lack of understanding of what is traffic, what makes for good traffic, etc., within the broad market (advertisers, bloggers, media, etc.). Everyone expects every site to have huge numbers but that’s never been consistent with media business, or television, for that matter. Niches are just going to be smaller and that’s that.

    The top vertical publications in print media, for example, has about 50-80k circulation and that’s considered high for a vertical. I think the web is going to prove basically the same, but the industry overall is still a little closed minded and inexperienced to understand it yet. People haven’t really even really discovered that Alexa has flaws as an analytics tool, or that traffic can be and is bought/engineered. I think it’ll be a long while before anyone fully understands what traffic should look like in niches, like techmeme.

    So, you hear a lot of that garbage but don’t blame the messenger.

  8. @ Chris Coulter – I believe that happens moreso because of the overall lack of understanding of what is traffic, what makes for good traffic, etc., within the broad market (advertisers, bloggers, media, etc.). Everyone expects every site to have huge numbers but that’s never been consistent with media business, or television, for that matter. Niches are just going to be smaller and that’s that.

    The top vertical publications in print media, for example, has about 50-80k circulation and that’s considered high for a vertical. I think the web is going to prove basically the same, but the industry overall is still a little closed minded and inexperienced to understand it yet. People haven’t really even really discovered that Alexa has flaws as an analytics tool, or that traffic can be and is bought/engineered. I think it’ll be a long while before anyone fully understands what traffic should look like in niches, like techmeme.

    So, you hear a lot of that garbage but don’t blame the messenger.

  9. Maybe there aren’t many people there… but those who count might be linking to your blog. I’ve never been on digg or stumbled upon much, but one link to pharyngula and wham! hit count hit the roof. It was fun.

  10. Maybe there aren’t many people there… but those who count might be linking to your blog. I’ve never been on digg or stumbled upon much, but one link to pharyngula and wham! hit count hit the roof. It was fun.

  11. Its not the traffic, but what you do with the traffic. With this blog your conversion goals might be to increase RSS subscriptions and get people to click on your advertisements to your book and show.

    Robert, how many books does this blog sell?

  12. Its not the traffic, but what you do with the traffic. With this blog your conversion goals might be to increase RSS subscriptions and get people to click on your advertisements to your book and show.

    Robert, how many books does this blog sell?

  13. toivo: I don’t have stats for the link blog.

    Paul: I’ve been on Fake Steve a number of times. Usually get a couple of thousand visits from there. A lot more than Valleywag.

  14. toivo: I don’t have stats for the link blog.

    Paul: I’ve been on Fake Steve a number of times. Usually get a couple of thousand visits from there. A lot more than Valleywag.

  15. Scoble: I think somebody else said it up there first. I wasn’t making a value judgement, just trying to get some perspective.

    I’m not sure why anyone needs to get defensive about it.

    You’re right, I imagine that the Guardian doesn’t drive vast amounts of traffic either – certainly not my little blog, which ponders along of its own accord. But since we’re not an aggregator I don’t think it’s particularly important or relevant, and nobody’s talking us up.

    Like I said, I’ve got a lot of respect for what Gabe’s doing – it just seemed to me like nobody was giving any sense of proportion to the leaderboard. Seems like a topic worth talking about, no?

  16. Scoble: I think somebody else said it up there first. I wasn’t making a value judgement, just trying to get some perspective.

    I’m not sure why anyone needs to get defensive about it.

    You’re right, I imagine that the Guardian doesn’t drive vast amounts of traffic either – certainly not my little blog, which ponders along of its own accord. But since we’re not an aggregator I don’t think it’s particularly important or relevant, and nobody’s talking us up.

    Like I said, I’ve got a lot of respect for what Gabe’s doing – it just seemed to me like nobody was giving any sense of proportion to the leaderboard. Seems like a topic worth talking about, no?

  17. I think that my ‘showgirl school’ (it is really a place for wannabe strippers to check out b4 going to work in a club is a unique blog/ idea. will you big boys help me drive more traffic to this place that isn’t that filthy- but somehow got flagged as mature… I just talk like a sailor about the facts of life in the strip. Please, I only seldom blog about PH look a likes. Could I be a better kiss up?

  18. I think that my ‘showgirl school’ (it is really a place for wannabe strippers to check out b4 going to work in a club is a unique blog/ idea. will you big boys help me drive more traffic to this place that isn’t that filthy- but somehow got flagged as mature… I just talk like a sailor about the facts of life in the strip. Please, I only seldom blog about PH look a likes. Could I be a better kiss up?

  19. We’re slightly different from most of the other tech commenters here, because Seeking Alpha is a stock market site that covers the tech sector among many others. Our conference call transcripts have been picked up many times by TechMeme, as they are primary source material for what’s really going on in companies and are often the starting point for blog discussion. We don’t get huge traffic — a few thousand page views — but the traffic we get is extremely high quality, and as a result our transcripts have now been discovered by many senior executives in tech companies. We’ve had similar experience with PaidContent.org in the media sector.

    Traffic from Digg is spiky and tends not to result in recurrent readership.

    We get a relatively larger and higher quality traffic stream from the sites for Apple fans, such as appleinvestornews.com and Mac Surfer, which we are on frequently because of our extensive recent coverage (again, from a stock perspective) of the iPhone.

    Also, we have a tag for housing for content covering the housing market, and there’s a lot of traffic from housing related sites.

    Hopefully this is a slightly different perpective than the pure tech focus you guys have.

  20. We’re slightly different from most of the other tech commenters here, because Seeking Alpha is a stock market site that covers the tech sector among many others. Our conference call transcripts have been picked up many times by TechMeme, as they are primary source material for what’s really going on in companies and are often the starting point for blog discussion. We don’t get huge traffic — a few thousand page views — but the traffic we get is extremely high quality, and as a result our transcripts have now been discovered by many senior executives in tech companies. We’ve had similar experience with PaidContent.org in the media sector.

    Traffic from Digg is spiky and tends not to result in recurrent readership.

    We get a relatively larger and higher quality traffic stream from the sites for Apple fans, such as appleinvestornews.com and Mac Surfer, which we are on frequently because of our extensive recent coverage (again, from a stock perspective) of the iPhone.

    Also, we have a tag for housing for content covering the housing market, and there’s a lot of traffic from housing related sites.

    Hopefully this is a slightly different perpective than the pure tech focus you guys have.

  21. The whole question of traffic flows versus traffic ranks is very interesting, particularly as it applies to ranking “services.” I had a post yesterday about geek t-shirts (one shirt has a graphic equalizer display on the front that measures ambient audio, the other is a wifi detector, both are battery powered). Doc Searls linked to that post and I got a huge (for me) traffic boost from his linkage. Today Norm Jenson linked to it and I expect an even bigger boost from Norm than I got from Doc. Doc is on a new blog, but his readers seem to have moved with him, and he probably picked up quite a few in his new community. Norm just keeps plugging away at One Good Move year after year. We’ve all heard of Doc, but how many of us know Norm? Hard to say, but I’m guessing Norm’s traffic dwarfs most tech bloggers. So he has this huge volume of readers, but I’ve never seen him on the top bloggers lists. There is food for thought in that. As the real number of people using the net goes up, I wonder what that does to the relative percentage of tech blog readers and to the real number of tech blog readers? I think we’re in a very small and specialized niche.

  22. The whole question of traffic flows versus traffic ranks is very interesting, particularly as it applies to ranking “services.” I had a post yesterday about geek t-shirts (one shirt has a graphic equalizer display on the front that measures ambient audio, the other is a wifi detector, both are battery powered). Doc Searls linked to that post and I got a huge (for me) traffic boost from his linkage. Today Norm Jenson linked to it and I expect an even bigger boost from Norm than I got from Doc. Doc is on a new blog, but his readers seem to have moved with him, and he probably picked up quite a few in his new community. Norm just keeps plugging away at One Good Move year after year. We’ve all heard of Doc, but how many of us know Norm? Hard to say, but I’m guessing Norm’s traffic dwarfs most tech bloggers. So he has this huge volume of readers, but I’ve never seen him on the top bloggers lists. There is food for thought in that. As the real number of people using the net goes up, I wonder what that does to the relative percentage of tech blog readers and to the real number of tech blog readers? I think we’re in a very small and specialized niche.

  23. Scoble said “I really don’t care about non-English sites.”

    Unfortunately if you say so it contradicts the definition of Techmeme.

    Do you want my definition, or Gabe’s ?

  24. Scoble said “I really don’t care about non-English sites.”

    Unfortunately if you say so it contradicts the definition of Techmeme.

    Do you want my definition, or Gabe’s ?

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