I posted a basic overview of how awesome we’re doing on Sunday, and according to the trends I’m seeing we’re doing FANTASTIC. We raked in about 10 million views in the last year and haven’t dropped below 1.1 million views per month since October. But being a gigantic statistics nerd I wanted to take a closer look at why people visit our site in order to better understand what you (the readers) want from us, and I thought it would be interesting to share the results from studying all of 2011’s data. Because seriously, what other website publishes in-depth analyses of their traffic for people to study? Call it tacky and attention whoreish if you want but I think it’s just plain cool…

In order to better understand what people like to see on our site I took a look at the top 200 posts (ranked by total pageviews) for 2011, sorted them into categories, and popped the numbers in a pie chart. The top 200 articles represent well over 50% of the traffic for the website but make up only about 3% of the total posts published, an interesting statistic that proves that volume isn’t the only thing driving traffic (quality uber alles?). I removed “housekeeping” items, such as the front page and categories, in order to get a better idea at the content. Here’s the result:

Let’s break that down a bit:

  • Gun Reviews: 59.51% — Gun reviews have always been the biggest driver of traffic to the website. Whether its our honest opinions or our brilliant writing that keeps people coming back I can’t say, but what I do know is that our gun reviews influence people’s buying decisions every day and we get plenty of emails thanking us for telling it like it is and steering them clear of bad firearms investments.
  • News: 11.86% — “News” includes everything from new product announcements to breaking news related to firearms. We get tons of traffic off every article about a new firearm or a breaking situation, but once its old news the article tends to fade into the background.
  • Opinion: 10.73% — Opinion pieces are where our writers express an original opinion on a matter. These usually do pretty well for a few days before fading away.
  • Culture: 7.64%: — Things like our lambasting of FPS Russia for his lack of safety, our coverage of American Guns’ debut, and other TV and “culture” related material that isn’t necessarily about the guns. These account for a small fraction of our traffic only because we don’t write about them a lot, so while two articles about FPS Russia and one about American Guns made the Top 10 list the traffic from that category is relatively small.

That trend — anything but gun reviews quietly fading away — continues with every other category as well. The vast majority of our traffic comes from people linking to our reviews (“hey, check out this gun I bought! It’s awesome and these guys say so too!”) or people using search engines to find reviews for prospective purchases. That’s the reason gun reviews never die and dominate the top 200 articles — gun reviews account for 50% of the articles on the top 200 list, BTW.

To give you an idea of how big an impact these referrals to old articles are, on a given day only between 9% and 16% (on a good day) of the traffic is generated by articles published on that day. The remaining 91-84% of our traffic is to articles we’ve published previously. In other words, even if we were to stop publishing tomorrow we would still expect to see at least 84% of the current traffic to the site continue.

That’s not to say that we don’t have an active following. If you count “housekeeping” pages such as the front page and our gun reviews list in the above pie chart Gun Reviews drops to 33% of the pageviews and Housekeeping accounts for just under 45%. So while a good portion of our traffic comes from search engines showing people the way to reviews we did months or years ago an even bigger portion of the traffic comes from people who go straight to our home page for new content, people (like myself before becoming a writer here) who simply have TTAG open in a tab at work and refresh it every so often waiting for new content. In other words: loyal readers. You guys.

Before I get to the conclusions I thought I should dump the Top 25 list of articles from 2011 for your reading pleasure:

  1. Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day: FPS Russia. Again.
  2. Gun Review: Ruger LC9
  3. Gun Reviews
  4. Confirmed: FPS Russia (a.k.a., FPSRussia) Isn’t Russian
  5. Gun Review
  6. Gun Review: SIG SAUER P250 9mm
  7. Gun Review: Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport
  8. Gun Review: Ruger SR9c
  9. Here We Go Again: “American Guns” to Debut on Discovery Channel, October 10th
  10. Gun Review: Kel-Tec Sub-2000 .40
  11. Gun Review: Springfield Armory XDm-45ACP
  12. Gun Review: Ruger SR1911
  13. Gun Review: Kel-Tec PF-9 (Take Two)
  14. Mossberg Unveils “Tactical .22”
  15. Gun Review: Century Arms WASR-10 (Romanian AK)
  16. Gun Review: Springfield Armory M1A Scout Squad
  17. ATF Death Watch
  18. Hi-Point .45 ACP Carbine: Are Handgun Caliber Rifles the New Home Defense Shotgun?
  19. What Could Possibly Go Wrong: Pistol Tat Edition
  20. Gun Review: Smith & Wesson M&P15 ORC
  21. Gun Review: Remington Model 700 VS
  22. Gun Review: Mossberg 930 SPX Tactical Shotgun
  23. Gun Review: SIG SAUER P238
  24. Gun Review: Mosin-Nagant
  25. Gun Review: Springfield Loaded 1911-A1

So here’s what these numbers tell me:

  • MANY more gun reviews
  • More new product articles
  • More stories about dumb TV shows, preferably about them being dumb

Onward and upwards, then.

Those interested in advertising please contact guntruth@me.com for information. Because I’m going to keep posting articles like this at least every quarter until someone pays me to stop.

15 Responses to The Truth About TTAG: 2011 In Review

  1. While it’s not a huge deal, and may skew your stats a tiny bit, hyperlinking the top 25 articles would be a nice touch. Especially for relative newcomers to the site.

  2. Congratulations Robert and Team! It’s no easy feat to build a site with that kind of traffic. You’ve got a great product, hats off.

    • That’ll probably happen at some point, either through a current writer (or guest writer) going on their own, or when the site has the revenue to send someone.

  3. 1.2 million views a month…nice. Your in the realm of off beat fetish porn sites, and that is an accomplishment.

  4. Do you have a category for “TTAG is one of the few firearms related sites that make it past the internet filters on my work computer”. That’s about the size of it for me.

  5. Congratulations on this well-deserved success. Your site fills my desire for firearm-related news and commentary without having to put up with all the usual bullshit in typical firearm-related fora. The fact that you’re willing to post stuff that I completely disagree with doesn’t matter – it’s the fact that at least everyone’s TRYING to be rational MOST of the time that makes the difference.

  6. I’m an anomaly. I’m neither a gun owner or enthusiast. I’ve enjoyed The Truth About Cars for years and when I saw Mr Farago had created TTAG it was natural to stop by to check it out. I haven’t been disappointed.

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