March Statporn

Posted by Tim Ireland at April 1, 2008

Category: Updates

This entry was posted on
Tuesday, April 1st, 2008
7:16 am and is filed
under Updates.

Server logs show approx. 71,000 ‘unique’ visitors to the site. Google Analytics says 25,016 Absolute Unique Visitors involving the main weblog alone.

Server logs show approx. 400,000 page views site-wide, but only approx. 168,000 involved real people (the remainder being indexing robots, spambots etc.). Google Analytics says 46,452 page views involving the main weblog alone.

Site-wide, the logs give a total of just over 1.4 million hits this month.

Here are my top 20 linking sites (i.e. incoming ‘hits’ to my ‘blogsite’) for March, according to Google Analytics. The arrows denote whether a site has sent more, less or about the same traffic since February:

1. Lainey Gossip 2,775 NEW 2. B3ta 1,064 ^ 3. Justin McKeating 777 ^ 4. Guardian (News) 436 ^ 5. Guardian (Comment Is Free) 419 ^ 6. AdFreak 271 NEW 7. Paul Linford 223 = 8. Liberal Conspiracy 183 v 9. Garry Smith 180 v 10. Iain Dale 146 v 11. Tom Watson 140 v 12. Pickled Politics 122 = 13. Gawker 118 ^ 14. Septicisle 108 v 15. Bad Science 105 ^ 16. Ministry of Truth 100 v 17. Lay Science 84 ^ 18. Blood & Treasure 74 v 19. Bob Piper 69 v 20. Blair Watch 67 v

The most popular individual post of the month was Fred and Sharon’s movies (make your life go better) with 6,055 page views. In second place was the Staines/bankrupt post with 1,059 page views (from 768 unique user profiles). Third was The Iraq War (according to Page 3) with 611 page views.

UPDATE (12:30pm) – OK, it’s past midday, and you’re probably waiting for the punchline. Here it comes…

The numbers above are genuine. I had to extrapolate a bit on the server data, but these are fair estimates on numbers that have yet to be crunched (I’ve not bothered with log analysis since the Usmanov move, and the bean counter has only just been switched on in the past few days; only 9 days worth of data has been processed). I should have the full/actual data within a few days, for those who are interested or in any doubt

The figures from Google Analytics are far more conservative (no pun intended) because they only track traffic to the front page and individual blog entries in MT format (the code is not in place for any of the feature pages, videos, special projects etc.).

Iain Dale and Paul Staines claim to get almost 5 to 10 times as many ‘unique’ visitors as I do. They also never tire of telling their readers that I only bother them because I’m jealous of their success and/or desperate for more readers.

As unreliable and meaningless as Alexa data can be, I would expect its comparison engine to at least show an indication of a gap this massive. But take a look at what you see when these three sites are compared over the last three months:

It’s even more illuminating when you look at it over 6 years and include Backing Blair and the old URL for Staines’ blog.

I think they’re having themselves on a bit. Especially when they wave their numbers about (every bloody month) and wonder out loud why the left side of the blogsophere “never took off”. One also needs to remember that a lot of their traffic from 2006-2007 resulted from ‘old media’ interest resulting from their repeated claims to be the almighty rulers of the blogosphere.

So they each appear to have outperformed Bloggerheads and the like – just – by claiming to have outperformed my and other websites tenfold. Quite a confidence trick.

For more, we turn to an anonymous blogger who has, in the recent past, enjoyed prominent inbound links from Bloggerheads, Iain Dale, and Devil’s Kitchen:

Looking at my own numbers, a link [in the blog] from Dale is worth 220-250 hits, occasionally 280-290. Links from either Bloggerheads or Devil’s Kitchen bring in a steady 160-190 visits, which does suggest that most of Dale’s traffic is transient. Now I don’t know what Bloggerheads is pulling down but DK’s getting about 30k visits a month IIRC, around a tenth of Dale’s statporn numbers and yet a link from his blog is worth only 50-70 or so fewer visits than one from Dale.

‘Transient’ is a word. Not one I’d use. ‘Bullshit’ might be better. Dale and Staines appear to be including every visit by every robot as a genuine visit from a human being, or just plucking numbers out of their arse. In February, Dale gives a figure of 51,293 for ‘absolute uniques’ almost as a throw-away line, but it would appear that this is far closer to the truth than his (and Staines’) repeated claims of 200,000 to 350,000 unique visitors a month.

The performance of outbound links outlined above supports this. So do my own figures. Personally, the most traffic Iain Dale has ever sent my way (during the brief period when he was actually linking to me) was 500 visitors in a month over two blog items, and that figure should be much higher for the numbers he’s claiming.

Here, let me show you:

Devil’s Kitchen has public stats available via sitemeter. There are no figures for unique visitors, but he appears to be pulling in just under 50,000 visits a month.

For Bloggerheads, Google Analytics shows 46,452 visits in March.

[Psst! Have a peek at Alexa for a comparison including Devil’s Kitchen.]

Assuming the majority of click-throughs will happen on the day of bloggage (i.e. when that post is a lead item) we get an average of 175 click-throughs from approx. 1,700 visits – a click-through rate for both sites of roughly 10%

About 250 click-throughs will result from a link in bloggage from Iain Dale. Working our way backwards though the figures on a click-through rate of 10%, and Dale looks to be getting 2,500 visits per day or 75,000 visits a month.

A figure of 51,293 unique visitors a month looks perfectly logical next to that

A claim of 200,000 to 350,000 unique visitors a month does not.

The punchline? The figures published by Dale and Staines are often also used to promote the (alleged) reach of the MessageSpace advertising network:

The MessageSpace site claims that; “Publishers on the MessageSpace network show 4 million adverts a month, to more than 700,000 unique readers. We’ve got publishers from across the political spectrum…”

a) Yes, the bulk of that ‘700,000 unique readers’ figure is made up of the number of ‘unique visitors’ claimed by Dale and Staines.

b) And I’m not sure if a few token lefties warrants any claim of representation “across the political spectrum”, but that’s a point for another time.


  1. Sim-O says

    I like what you've done with the new layout Iain. Very clean and uncluttered. ;-)

  2. MatGB says

    Even applying the normal caveat about Alexa numbers favouring sites visited by people that have a reason to use the toolbar and thus not showing journalists and MPs who likely haven't heard of Alexa at all, those numbers are more than a little revealing.I definitely remember links from you being worth as much as from Iain (and EU Referendum was worht a lot of traffic as well), never had a link from Guido and DK wasn't as big back then (he's got better writers since I stopped…).Wonder what Guido's advertisers will think of all this? Always knew his "more readers than Private Eye" claim was bull based just on his published graphs but…

  3. Mr Eugenides says

    An interesting post.You may be right. However, I'm not sure I buy all the extrapolations you've made.Being the recipient of frequent links from the Devil's Kitchen, and (from memory) a couple of links each from Iain and Guido over the last 18 months or so, it's my impression (don't have any figures) that the latter 2 have provided much bigger inbound traffic. That may be "Greek fatigue" on the part of DK's readers: not that guy again, they think, and don't bother clicking through.But irrespective, I'm not sure that you aren't comparing apples with oranges. There's a big difference, for example, between a link that says "go and read this post at Chicken Yoghurt, I haven't laughed so much in weeks" and one that says "both Garry and Justin have picked up on this story from today's Times". In the former case clickthrough from my blog to Chicken Yoghurt is likely to be much heavier than the latter.Frequency of posting also varies hugely. A surprising number of readers simply don't bother to scroll down; if there's nothing interesting at the top of the page, they leave. So by the same token the links from a frequently-updated blog would have a much shorter half-life than those which are sitting at the top of a blog for a couple of days. So a link to Bloggerheads that stays at the top from Friday lunchtime to Monday morning will be worth a lot more hits to you than one which is immediately superseded by a scantily-clad Finnish stripper.In other words, where it comes to inbound links, I'm not sure that you're not placing a pretty heavy strain on a fairly unscientific means of analysis.I also think, though, that "transient" is a reasonable description – you would expect that high-visibility blogs like those two would attract more "casual" traffic in the sense of people who don't read that many blogs coming along, flicking through and leaving. A lot of readers of Guido Fawkes are not interested in spending half an hour chasing links around the internet; they're just there to see if he has a photo of Jack Straw snogging – well, you get the picture.That's only a guess, but it might lead to a lower clickthrough rate from such blogs compared with one like DK or Tim Worstall, say, which, though smaller, have a proportionately larger "hard core" of committed readers who are willing to be guided by DK or Tim because they trust them to link to interesting material.Having said all of that, at greater length than strictly necessary, this is why I don't "do" statp0rn; it's not size, after all, but how you use it.

  4. MatGB says

    Mr E: "That may be "Greek fatigue" on the part of DK's readers"Actually, have you registered how much bigger your average readership is after each link? When DK started linking to you he wasn't as big as he was, but you got a lot of links from him. Given that you write with a similar style, odds are a lot of them became regular readers of you as well.Dale and Staines, OTOH, don't have a big crossover of readers and thus will now give you much more traffic as you don't share such a big reader base. That's certainly my experience back when I was counting stats, first link from a blog would give a spike, but 2nd would give a smaller spike, 3rd smaller again, the more regularly the link the less the spike, but my overall readership was going up and up, as people stayed and kept reading independently.

  5. mjrobbins says

    Wow, I'm amazed that my LayScience managed to get into your top 20, although I did link to several posts at various times. I get about 250 unique visitors a day now, although less at the start of March since the site only launched in late February. The Obi posts on my site got a lot of traffic though.

  6. Tim Worstall says

    I think DK might have the germ of an idea here:-"Do go and read the rest. The only thing that I would add though, is that your humble Devil cannot claim even "transient" visits in the few hundred thousand range, so where are all those hits coming from? People refreshing for comments perhaps?Anyway, I think that most of us are aware that visitor stats should usually be taken with a pinch of salt; they are a useful indicator, that's all. After all, I publish full RSS feeds too and I have no idea how many people click through or just read the feeds without doing so."-Guido and Dale have something really rather different from the rest of us I think. The "value" (an entirely subjective matter and thus the "") of the sites is not so much in what they actually post: it's in the comments sections that then follow.This will lead (I think, at least) to two things.1) Many more will click through from RSS to the posts so that they can see the comments. It might be that other numbers are lower given that this happens less at other sites.2) Many will refresh on the same post many times, to follow the comments thread.I'm not technical enough to know whether this explains the numbers you've got: but I do think that those two sites are different in form from most other UK blogs.

  7. Manic says

    mjrobbins: "The Obi posts on my site got a lot of traffic though." You just answered your own question; all of your links to me involved that fun-loving fool.Mr Eugenides: I used to do a stat-porn post annually and mix it up with a run-down of the year's events. Dale and Staines managed to turn me off even that small indulgence with their monthly circle-jerk. In fact, this post would have started very differently if it weren't April Fools Day today. That 'hits' statistic, for example, is completely meaningless as anybody who crunches numbers should know. You may note also how often the line is blurred on both blogs between hits, page views, visits and visitors.I'm aware that links with different prominence are likely to have different click-through rates and that readership patterns may vary, but the discrepancies involving the former are considerable and the latter raises questions about the limit of Dale and Staines' reach/influence regardless, yes?After all, what good are a 250,000 page views to you if it only results in 250 click-throughs? (This question applies to bloggers *and* advertisers.)MatGB: I seem to recall Iain's outbound link traffic outperforming me 2-to-1 at times… once as high as 3-to-1, but never 10-to-1.

  8. Manic says

    Tim W: Sorry, missed your comment while writing mine. I've thought about this, and have the following:1) Frequent refreshing may explain an increase in page views, but not unique visitors.2) As Dale and Staines have themselves admitted, their sites are crawling with sock-puppets on most days. There are fewer people than there are puppets, I can assure you.3) And what about all those people who keep tabs on a comments thread by opening the window in a new tab and staying there? They won't turn up in stats at all.Nothing to suggest a mysterious build-up of unique visitors there.

  9. Paul Linford says

    Whatever the truth of this, I am glad you have challenged the oft-made assertion that your campaigns against Iain and Guido have been based on envy. This is, and always has been, bollocks.

  10. Manic says

    And quite deliberate, I'm sure.Thanks, Paul.

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