We are HUGE fans of transparency and openness here at TTAG. We don’t hide anything from you guys when it comes to reviews or editorials, and we try to achieve that same level of transparency about how we run the site. It also gives our advertising partners something to compare us to the rest of the field (spoiler alert: we’re the best) to make sure they’re getting the most bang for their advertising buck. So once every quarter we take a moment to reflect on how we’re doing, what articles seem to be the most popular, and where we’re planning to take the site in the next three months . . .
The first quarter of 2013 was amazing in terms of traffic, but for all the wrong reasons. The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary was taken as a sign for the gun control advocates that now was the time to push through all of the draconian and illogical gun control legislation on their wish list, and we were right there in the thick of it bringing you guys the latest news. That constant drumbeat of gun control related news lead to us almost doubling our traffic compared to November.
Admittedly it didn’t last long, but it happened. December of last quarter was artificially inflated due to the coverage of Newtown and the immediate aftermath, but the gun control fervor of January combined with the SHOT Show coverage meant that we had doubled our numbers from November (the last “normal” month on record). We came 500,000 pageviews short, missing the target by less than 10%.
In terms of our performance, we beat the expected numbers for this metric by a wide margin. I was anticipating being well under 4 million pageviews per month at this point still, but it looks like we skipped straight over that threshold. Based on past performance I’d expect a slower second quarter, with the new baseline somewhere around 4 million pageviews per month, but that all depends on how hard and fast gun control advocates continue to press the issue.
That gun control fervor is evident in the top 20 most read articles on TTAG for the quarter. Usually only gun reviews make it into that rarefied air, but this quarter there are a couple notable exceptions in the top slots.
- BREAKING: Illinois Bill to Ban All Modern Firearms
- Feinstein: Veterans Have PTSD, Shouldn’t Own “Assault” Rifles
- List of Proposed California Gun Control Measures — 500 Round Max, No Grandfathering, No Detachable Mags, Mandatory License
- This is How the DHS Seizes Your Guns
- VA Man Arrested for Following “Double Barrel” Biden’s Armed Defense Advise
- 9mm Subcompact Pistol Roundup – Because You Asked for It
- Gun Review: Hi-Point C9 9mm Pistol
- Gun Review: Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport
- Gun Review: Ruger LC9
- Gun Review: Springfield Armory XD-S .45 ACP
- Gun Review: Beretta Nano
- BREAKING: LaRue Tactical Plans to Limit Law Enforcement Sales to Civilian Standards
- Ask Foghorn: What’s Up With the Ammo Shortage?
- Midway: No LEO Mag and Ammo Sales Where Civilian Bans Apply
- Gun Review: SIG SAUER P226
- Gun Review: Smith & Wesson BODYGUARD 38 and BODYGUARD 380
- Gun Review: SIG SAUER SP2022
- BREAKING Colorado Approves “High Cap” Mag Ban Bill
- Gun Review: Mossberg 930 SPX Tactical Shotgun
- Gun Review: Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield
Those political articles up top had about twice the number of pageviews for the quarter than the gun reviews just a few slots lower. And the percentage of articles written by yours truly that made it into the top slots hasn’t gone unnoticed — a point I’ll be making to RF when bonus time rolls around.
While gun control dominated the first quarter, the fact that it didn’t completely drown out the gun reviews is promising. It indicates to me that while people are starving for the latest news about the proposed infringement of their second amendment rights, they also want to read the same content that brought them to TTAG. Namely gun reviews and general interest articles about shooting. Things that remind them what it is about guns that made them fall in love in the first place.
In terms of readership, it looks like we had a sizable bump over the last couple months but we’re back down to the expected increase. Interesting to note is the fact that we haven’t dropped below 1 million readers per month since the middle of November. Keep in mind that Google calculates this based off their proprietary algorithms (things like unique IP address and browser configuration), so the number may not be precise. I anticipate that this metric will remain constant or continue its increase over the next three months, given that we’re back on the “normal” curve for increasing readership.
What I’m taking away from these numbers is that we’re awesome, on the right track, and will continue to see increased readership assuming that we keep pumping out good content. I’m also interpreting these results to mean that while current events and politics are hot topics on people’s minds, they still want the “old” mix of articles that TTAG is known for: gun reviews and stories about firearms. So I’ll make it my mission for the next quarter to try and bring some balance to the force, cranking out more general interest stories and leaving RF and Dan to continue their awesome coverage of the politics of guns.
One more bit of good news to finish off. Some months ago, Ammoland listed the top gun related websites on the internet and noted that TTAG beat out every other non-NRA non-forum news website, Ammoland included. At the time, we were ranked as website #6,755 on the internet in terms of traffic.
At the moment, we’ve moved up to #3,148. And rising.