The Truth About TTAG: Q3 2012

It’s that time again. Time to give our ad man (Dan Hall) proof positive that his firearms industry clients should spend their ad bucks at The Truth About Guns (TTAG); a website playing host to 10 times the number of eyeballs as your garden variety gun mag. And to give TTAG’s writers a sense of pride for the publication to which they’ve contributed their blood sweat and ammunition. To paprahrase Spose, Dude, we’re awesome. Yes we are. No lie . . .

Q2 was a little disappointing. After the MASSIVE surge created by our SHOT Show coverage in Q1, the only good thing we could say about Q2: we didn’t backslide (despite major hosting issues). Since then we’ve returned to our normally scheduled reliability (mostly) and turned in three fairly dramatic months in terms of traffic.

TTAG has been subject to fits and spurts of pageview growth. This quarter has been no different. August was a banner month for traffic, going from about 2 million pageviews to damn near 3 million pageviews in less time than it took for Red Jacket Firearms to assemble a pre-built piston kit for an AR-15.

September was comparatively disappointing–until you realize that the difference between August and September was less than 100k views (which is roughly the equivalent of a single Monday these days). And we were hit with the GoDaddy DNS issue this month, resulting in a couple days of crappy traffic. So, all in all not bad. Either way, we still beat the trend (which would have had us at 2.5m views).

In terms of the main drivers of content, gun reviews remain king. As we found out not too long ago in our survey, people seem to really like our reviews. But some of the newer features, like the Ask Foghorns and such, are starting to make their way up the charts. Not in the top ten quite yet, but getting there.

Here’s the top 10 articles from this past quarter:

  1. Gun Review: Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport
  2. Gun Review: Ruger LC9
  3. Gun Review: FN Five-SeveN
  4. Gun Review: Glock 19 Gen4 9X19mm
  5. Gun Review: Ruger SR22
  6. Gun Review: SIG SAUER P226
  7. Ammunition Review: .300 AAC Blackout
  8. Oops: Red Jacket Firearms Loses Their FFL
  9. Gun Review: Beretta Nano
  10. Defensive Gun Use of the Day: Just Lending a Hand Edition

Cool, huh? There’s a definite trend in the stats towards concealed carry handguns and AR-15 rifles, although the good ol’ FN Five-seveN seems to never stray far from the top spot.

Something else we put in this quarter (although a little late in the game): the new reviews search feature thingy.

Interesting fact: after we implemented the search feature, the number of pageviews we get from the “Gun Reviews” page dropped by 1,000 pageviews per day (which makes our September stats even more impressive given the 1k views per day handicap and lack of a 31st day).

My hypothesis: people are actually finding what they’re looking for, and so don’t need to go back and forth looking for the right review. Then again, it could be that the page is a piece of crap and people just aren’t telling me.

Some of you may have noticed that the search thingie is actually hosted on a different domain, and there’s a reason behind that: it allows me to track what people are looking for.

FYI: no logs are kept on those servers beyond standard Apache error logs and some WAF stuff, so no personal info is recorded. We know what you’re looking for by tracking the incoming links, or “referral” links as you click them. Which lets me do things like this.

Top 10 Manufacturers by Reader Interest:

  1. Smith & Wesson
  2. Sig Sauer
  3. Ruger
  4. Springfield
  5. Glock
  6. Heckler & Koch
  7. Beretta
  8. FNH USA
  9. Mossberg
  10. CZ

Note how (primarily) handgun manufacturers are listed here? Might be something to do with the fact that people seem to be looking for handguns over rifles by a factor of 2:1.

TTAG is still growing. Our growth rate is no longer exponential, but it is linear. People seem to like us, and keep coming back. In fact, there’s been a subtle shift in traffic source. Whereas before it was almost exactly a 50/50 split between new and returning visitors, it’s now 60/40. What does that tell you?

Hopefully, one day, advertisers will recognize the strength and value of the TTAG brand and start paying us enough that we don’t need to pimp ourselves every quarter. Until then, we’ll just keep on keeping on. And after that too.

Oh, and for that one guy who doubted the validity of last quarter’s results, here’s a dump from Google Anlytics for you. Enjoy!

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About Nick Leghorn

Nick Leghorn is a gun nerd living and working in San Antonio, Texas. In his free time, he's a competition shooter (USPSA, 3-gun and NRA High Power), aspiring pilot, and enjoys mixing statistics and science with firearms. Now on sale: Getting Started with Firearms by yours truly!

21 Responses to The Truth About TTAG: Q3 2012

  1. avatarjwm says:

    FLAME DELETED

    • avatarjwm says:

      My post got flame deleted. I did not point out a name when I stated that 1 doubter was our village idiot. Maybe I’m to straight forward in my barbs? Subtle as a sledgehammer?

  2. avatarSanchanim says:

    Sweet!!!
    I guess if folks are able to search find and read the reviews without endless clicking then it is a good thing.
    I am wondering compared to the big rags, how do we fair? I would love to see us hover around 3 to 5 million. It is huge, but one thing you can bet on is when we have more viewers than most of the online online groups out there we will certainly be in a position to grow, financially that is. Hopefully that will mean manufacturers will start looking at us for sending their stuff for review as well. As apposed to being last on the list we will be sitting somewhere in the top five, to ship away!
    Then maybe, just maybe you guys can get a paycheck for all this work..
    As far as personal stuff, Dan and Robert already know where I work and have my cell phone number! ;-)

    • We have more monthly readers than Guns & Ammo (based on their 2011 numbers), and we’re closing in on Field & Stream. American Rifleman is still a bit further out there, mainly because it comes free with your NRA membership.

  3. avatarRalph says:

    We’re Number One on merit. Unbiased reviews, great writing, variety in coverage, more posts in one day than most blogs will post in a quarter — what’s not to love?

  4. avatarBob H says:

    Now if “someone” would just update the FN Five-seveN review with prices for non-lead free ammunition I would be really happy!

  5. avatarJohn Fritz says:

    TTAG is awesome! So that must mean it’s time for The Dollyrots.

  6. avatarBLAMMO says:

    This is where I come first to find out what’s going on in the World o’ Guns. Kind of like the Drudge Report for guns but with a much better interface. You guys do the heavy lifting. Keep it up.

  7. avatarAccur81 says:

    Nice work, guys!

    I appreciate your reviews, commentary, and analysis. It would be very cool to have a group shooting trip / shooting competition / meet the TTAG staff and / or drink the TTAG under the table event. I probably won’t be able to afford to go after going on a cross – country hunting trip, but it’d still be pretty cool…

  8. avatarAccur81 says:

    Other than your FLAME DELETED spam filter, this site is FLAME DELETED awesome!!!

    I would enjoy a meet the TTAG / shooting competition / hunting trip / drink the TTAG crew under the table competition immensely.

    Keep up the great work and unbiased reviews.

    • avatarCarlosT says:

      The upper corners and Texas are covered pretty well. From what I’ve gathered, Robert’s in Rhode Island, Ralph’s in Massachusetts, Joe is in Vancouver, Washington, Chris is in Portland, Oregon, Foghorn’s in San Antonio, and Tyler’s in Austin. I might have some of that wrong.

      Anyway, if I’m even close on that there are a few TTAG clusters out there that could serve as nuclei for such events.

    • avatarJohn Fritz says:

      Please do something in southeastern Pennsylvania if the opportunity ever presents itself.

  9. avatarNikeratos says:

    Discovered y’all this summer with the” Red Jacket Loses FFL” article, and have visited several times a day since. Congrats for the well-deserved success and many thanks for the great writing and scope of coverage. Love all the great comments too!

  10. avatarJim Scrummy says:

    Congrats gentlemen. Keep up the good work!

  11. avatarPapaBear says:

    I have no problem with the occasional pats on the back. After all, you guys turn out a relatively good product (props). However, the ever increasing boastfulness is this space is becoming tiring and somewhat unwarranted. I find myself (eyeballs included) coming to this site hoping for something new and exciting, and usually leaving more disappointed than the last. Maybe it’s me. Maybe it’s you. Either way, much like that summer fling, the luster has sure worn off.

    • avatarRobert Farago says:

      TTAG posts at least 12 times a day. We post the quarterly stats once a quarter. We toot our horn once in a blue moon. It rallies the troops and acknowledges our readers. Please disregard as needed and tell us what you’d like us to do instead.

  12. avatarObscura says:

    I like that you can tell it like it is because you’re not beholden to advertisers.

  13. avatarMatt in FL says:

    The recent lack of email notification of replies has dropped my pageview contribution by at least 20-30 a day, if not more. When I can simply click directly through to the reply in question, to either read it or respond, I frequently do so, but I don’t have time to return to all the posts and scroll through just to see if someone has responded to me or written something else interesting.

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