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Monday, May 2, 2005

Philocritics in the aggregate.

Partly because I haven't given a traffic report in several months, and partly because March and April brought a surge of new readers to this site, I'm offering an extended review of recent stats — after the jump. I'll also be reviving the Philocritics Poll, but because data are so dull, I'll put the poll in a separate post. Thanks to everyone who stopped by, and thanks especially to all new readers who've made Philocrites part of their week's reading. I always welcome your comments and suggestions.

According to Awstats (which the company that hosts my site provides), Philocrites welcomed 12,171 unique visitors in 30,596 visits during April for some 82,530 page views. That's 1,000 visitors more than in March and 3,500 more than in February. On April 12, the day I asked how the Unitarian Jihad was doing, 1,467 people visited Philocrites — the heaviest traffic this site has seen.

Those are amazing numbers to me, but the more meaningful numbers — the ones that seem to indicate how many individuals stop by every day — are actually more modest.

I use two other traffic monitors to gather more specific information. SiteMeter tracks only visits to blog content pages; it doesn't count Comment Preview pages, hand-coded pages like my sermons and essays, or the syndicated but invisible pages that Bloglines or Kinja "visits" to pick up the latest entries. SiteMeter gives me a general picture of the number of people who actually visit blog content — and it gives me a pretty good idea of which Web pages are pointing people to my site.

 SiteMeter visits and page views in April This graph of April's traffic shows the Unitarian Jihad surge in the second week of the month. At the end of that week, Beliefnet launched Blog Heaven — featuring yours truly — and introduced a steady flow of new readers. SiteMeter's long view — here's the last twelve months — shows how quickly the rate of audience growth has changed. (Minor note: I had disabled SiteMeter last May, so this graph looks like a rise from nothing over twelve months; in fact, the traffic in April, May, and June 2004 looked very similar.)

What do I learn from SiteMeter? That I'm averaging just less than 500 readers a day; that people stay around for 1:47 on average — and that during the Unitarian Jihad week, the average visit was 2:31; that between 40 and 60% of my traffic on any given day comes from search engines; and that Google is much more accurate in directing people to relevant entries than MSN Search.

I also use AddFreeStats to track visits to the front page only. And this is where the most interesting piece of data shows up for April: The number of unique visitors to the front page actually dropped by a few dozen in April, from 4,416 to 4,341, while the page views and visits went up. I interpret this to mean that a growing number of readers visits individual entries from RSS aggregators like Kinja, Bloglines, or Beliefnet's Blog Heaven rather than coming through the front page, and that front page visitors are coming back more often. AddFreeStats does show, however, that Blog Heaven directed 240 visitors to the front page in April — the top referral site. (Awstats counts 392 visits from Blog Heaven overall.)

Now for the fun part: In April, 960 searches brought people to Philocrites looking for "Unitarian Jihad." Forty-six people went looking for "Philocrites" last month, too. Friends, you've found him.

Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 2 May 2005 at 8:26 AM

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