The Truth About TTAG: 2014 Q4

2014q4-quarterly

As we say goodbye to 2014, it’s time to once again take a look back and see how TTAG did over the last three months. Every quarter I sit down and pull the data on pageviews and readership to compile and send to the other editors to keep tabs on how our traffic is doing and see how we compare to the competition. But instead of keeping that data a closely held secret, we like to present it here in full view and for all to see. Transparency and full disclosure is the way we roll, so why not with our results as well? Let’s take a look . . .

The pageviews graph seems to show us dropping again for the third straight quarter, but that doesn’t really have enough resolution to convey the whole story. While the quarterly graph may show doom and gloom, the monthly results shows more of a “leveling off” behavior.

2014q4-monthly

The last few years have been filled with breaking news and traffic surges when it comes to gun control and new gun laws, but the last six months or so have been devoid of anything really remarkable. The midterm elections have put a damper on any real prospects for federal gun control legislation. Lawmakers scrambled to keep their seats by largely refraining from poking the sleeping bear that is America’s gun owners and our traffic growth has slowed a bit. Without anything to keep people on the edge of their seats in terms of legal action, daily visitors aren’t quite as motivated to keep hitting that F5 button as they were when threats to our gun rights seemed more of an immediate possibility.

2014q4-ms

The stacked monthly graph shows a similar trend. We beat our numbers for December 2013, but just barely. Basically we are back to where we started the year last year, which seems to be “normal” according to the monthly graph. We aren’t dropping in terms of pageviews anymore, and in fact we’ve seen a positive trend over the last few weeks. Things seem to be looking up going into the new year, and January is historically our biggest traffic month.

As for our readership, that’s still growing nicely, too.

2014q4-visitors

As wobbly as it seems, the general trend in the number of unique readers is still up and to the right. It’s been a while since we came close to dropping below two million readers per month, and the trend indicates that it’s not likely to happen any time soon. Two million readers and counting, without a step back.

Looking at how we compare to the rest of the publications with an online presence, we are still doing quite nicely. The following is a ranking of all of the major gun-related publications I can think of, where a lower number is a better score. As in, “this website is the 4,210th most popular in the United States.”

Website Alexa Ranking (US)
The Truth About Guns 4,210
The Firearm Blog 6,192
Guns.com 7,990
Bearing Arms 8,306
Guns & Ammo 11,268
Gunbot 13,803
American Rifleman 17,640
Ammoland 18,627
The Survivalist Blog 20,105
ENDO 30,219
Gun Nuts Media 42,825
Sipsey Street Irregulars 47,141
The Gun Wire 58,790
SaysUncle 60,866
JTT 67,719
Monderno 129,688
Moms Demand Action 162,903
NRA Blog 182,228
Walls of the City 884,373
Mayors Against Illegal Guns N/A

Numbers as of 1/1/2015

What’s really striking is how the rankings have changed recently. Bearing Arms was bearing down on us just one quarter ago, and while our rankings have improved BA’s have dropped fairly precipitously. In fact, both The Firearms Blog and Guns.com have slipped ahead of Bearing Arms in terms of readership and popularity. It makes their decision to sell out to a larger news website a few weeks ago seem all the more logical. TTAG, on the other hand, has moved up about 500 places since last quarter maintaining our lead in gunblogosphere. Again. Still.

All of which is reflective of the overarching theme of the year, which is, “Shut the hell up about gun control legislation or you won’t be re-elected.” Bearing Arms has depended more on the days’ headlines and breaking political news. But with that well drying up, readers seem to have turned elsewhere. TFB, on the other hand, has been Johnny-on-the-spot with the gun reviews and gear news, and they’ve flourished under that approach. Keeping a balance between the two is something that we have attempted to maintain here at TTAG, combining political and gun rights content with gun and gear reviews to keep us on an even keel. It looks like that strategy is working, and saving us from the boom and bust cycles buffeting some others.

Why do I say that the gun reviews keep us stable? Because they do. Here are the top 25 articles from this past quarter:

  1. Combat Medic’s Advice: “Shoot the heaviest rifle round…shoot at what (you) can hit, and then shoot it again”
  2. AR-15 Rifle Choices
  3. BREAKING: Remington Agrees to Replace Triggers in ALL Model 700 Rifles
  4. The Home Defense Shotgun is Dead
  5. Gun Review: GLOCK 42
  6. Gun Review: Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield
  7. Truckers Support ‘Mike’s Law’ Federal Right to Carry for Interstate Drivers
  8. BREAKING: 9th Circuit Court Denies Peruta Appeal; California Gun Rights Restored
  9. Gun Review: GLOCK 26 Gen 4
  10. Gear Review: 5.56 Muzzle Device Shootout
  11. Gun Review: Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport
  12. Gun Review: SIG SAUER P320
  13. Gun Review: Heckler & Koch VP9
  14. Project Build: The Ultimate Mosin Nagant
  15. The Truth About Barrel Length, Muzzle Velocity and Accuracy
  16. Gun Review: Smith & Wesson SD9 VE
  17. Gun Review: SIG SAUER P938
  18. ‘Sons of Guns’ Stephanie and Kris Arrested for Child Abuse
  19. ATF Contradicts Itself: Don’t Use SIG Brace As A Shoulder Stock Without An NFA Stamp
  20. The Three Best Budget Hunting Rifles (2014 Edition)
  21. Building the Perfect 300 AAC Blackout Rifle
  22. Gun Review: Walther PPX
  23. Gun Review: Cobra CA380 – The Cheapest Handgun in America!
  24. Gun Review: SIG SAUER SP2022
  25. Calm Down, The ATF Hasn’t Changed Its Mind on the Pistol Arm Brace

While the top stores are about breaking news an interesting topics, the vast majority of the “top” articles from this quarter (and indeed this year) are mostly gun reviews. Breaking news stories come and go, but gun reviews are something that people come back to time and again before they make a decision to buy a gun. What I find remarkable is now, at the end of the year, which guns are still popular and which ones aren’t. For example, the GLOCK 42 review is still the 5th most popular article on the site for the last quarter, but the R51 is nowhere to be seen despite being launched at the exact same time.

Curious about the top articles for 2014? Me too. Let’s take a peek at the top 15.

  1. Gun Review: GLOCK 42
  2. Gun Review: Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield
  3. AR-15 Rifle Choices
  4. Gun Review: Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport
  5. P320 Entry: “I’ll Only Be Out For A Few Minutes”
  6. BREAKING: Dianne Feinstein Introduces Federal Bill to Confiscate Guns
  7. BREAKING: Obama Administration Bans Import of Izhmash & Kalashnikov (Saiga) Firearms
  8. The Coming Crash in Ammunition Prices
  9. Gun Review: Ruger LC9
  10. Gun Review: Smith & Wesson SD9 VE
  11. Gun Review: GLOCK 26 Gen 4
  12. Gun Review: Remington R51
  13. Gun Review: SIG SAUER SP2022
  14. Gun Review: Glock 19 Gen4 9X19mm
  15. Gun Review: Beretta Nano

Ah, there’s the R51 review.

Once again, the point has been proven: gun reviews are where we get most of our pageviews. Breaking news stories are like the croutons in our salad, the marshmallows in our Lucky Charms, the bacon in our cheeseburger — it they definitely help and drive traffic, but it’s not a substantial or sustained boost. Gun reviews are where we make our money, and what keeps us in the lead.

As each year has been 2014 was our biggest year in terms of pageviews and readers. We’re looking to that trend in 2015 and have some great stuff in the works we think you’ll really love. Stay tuned and thanks for reading.

comments

  1. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    Here’s a thought:
    Get rid of the autoplay video ads and see if that helps.

    God knows it can’t hurt.

    1. avatar PeterW says:

      Adblock Plus + Hosts file = no ads at all

      1. avatar Omer Baker says:

        Is there a way to do that on iOS? These ads are HORRENDOUS!!! Creep and annoying. I understand that ads are a necessity, but most of them turn my stomach. I wouldn’t mind some gun store ads and gun accessories ads. Heck, I may actually click on them and maybe even buy something.

      2. avatar Curtis in IL says:

        Ok… so I should make TTAG less annoying by downloading and installing some software on EVERY device I might possibly use to access this blog, which might work until the advertising people figure out how to get around it.

        Or… I could just not visit TTAG, which, if you look at the graphs above, some people are already electing that option.

        Hey, I don’t mind ads per se. TTAG stockholders and employees need to make a buck. I don’t have a problem with that. We’re all accustomed to reading articles next to advertisements in newspapers and magazines. No big deal. Just stay out of my speakers. Is that too much to ask?

        1. avatar Wayne says:

          Honestly, I quit reading TTAG for most of the year until I got adblock plus. Those were my only 2 choices– The site makes my smartphone crash and my table slows down considerably. I put adblock plus on my laptop & now it’s the only way I can read TTAG.

        2. avatar David PA/NJ says:

          When the mobile site changed earlier this year I almost completely stopped coming to the site. It would crash all of the time. I used to check the site a few times a day on my phone and maybe once a week on the computer, but no I hardly come on at all.

        3. avatar OWG says:

          My OS is Windows 7 which has an effective pop-up blocker, so no problem there. My problem is this site is constantly freezing as I am scrolling down an article. I’m using IE 11, and am always getting messages such as “TTAG not responding” or “IE has to close “. I have to use Ctrl/Atl/Del-task Manager to unfreeze my
          computer sometimes. This doesn’t happen with 99.9% of other sites I frequent. Writing comments are also a problem as letters and spaces don’t “take” a times. I think the server gets overloaded. Having said this, I have been coming to TTAG from close to its inception, a couple of times a day…good site overall.

  2. avatar Kory says:

    I always subscribe and get them in my e-mail. I only click on them if they are interesting. I wonder how many others do this and it could be resulting in the decline?

    How many e-mails go out to subscribers?

  3. avatar lionsfan54 says:

    Another vote to ditch the auto play ads. At least on my browser there is no mute or pause button either

  4. avatar brentonadams says:

    I love seeing these numbers. Its interesting, thanks.

    I got a pop up blocker just for this page. Is there a reason the ads here are more virulent and obnoxious than other sites?

  5. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

    interesting how MDA ranked above the NRA’s Blog. surprised they haven’t tweeted that out yet

    1. avatar brentonadams says:

      The page stats for MDA are interesting too. College educated women logging in from home…

      Its to bad we cant see an age and race demo. I can take a good guess though…

    2. avatar Avid Reader says:

      Maybe Shannon and her minions have been too busy combing the malls for after Christmas deals – and open carriers.

    3. avatar Daily Beatings says:

      I think there’s more focus on everytown.org, which has a higher ranking:

      http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/everytown.org

      Even this ranking is not very consistent when looking at the historical data. What’s interesting is the demographics. College educated women seem to be overrepresented in the sample size.

  6. avatar Phillip R says:

    After all these years of not feeling the need for one, the ugly, slow, and intrusive ad changes on this site finally prompted me to install ad blocker plus. It’s absolutely beautiful. And it keeps my pageviews being recorded.
    But, now I won’t have any opportunities at all to click through ads to support this site. I would love to support the site through relevant ads but celebrity gossip, cleavage-addled click bait, and other complete nonsense is not something I can get on board with. I hope it’s working to create revenue for the site but it’s clearly taken some of us out of the “paying” column. I can only imagine how difficult it is to balance income with intrusion, good luck!

  7. avatar dph says:

    Of any site I frequent this one is the slowest loading by at least a factor of 20. Click to continue reading, go get a cup of coffee, then come back only to find the page still loading. I like the site, but its slowness is convincing me to visit less often.

    1. avatar Daily Beatings says:

      The data supports your claim:

      How fast does thetruthaboutguns.com load?

      Very Slow (3.723 Seconds), 88% of sites are faster.

      http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/thetruthaboutguns.com

      1. avatar doesky2 says:

        That needs to be fixed pronto. You’re not really serious about your site if you let that persist. That’s a HUGE turnoff for new people just happening to be surfing by.

    2. avatar Chill says:

      are you stealing your neighbor’s wifi?

    3. avatar Fuque says:

      I agree… slow as all getout.. and this is the only site i have issues with.

  8. avatar Narcoossee says:

    There’s a “Donate” button here: http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/about/

  9. avatar Pg2 says:

    Aside from the obnoxiously long time it takes the pages to load, and the suspiciously high percentage of posters that toe the official line on every watershed event, the site does have some decent gun reviews.

  10. avatar Adam says:

    I too have had trouble with the website in Q4 that has reduced the amount of time I spend reading. I’m not sure if it is all the ads, something to do with chrome, or the result of a recent workstation patch, but often TTAG causes chrome to go crazy and use up all the CPU on my machine forcing me to close every instance of chrome or reboot. TTAG is not the only website that does this, and those that do seem to have a lot of dynamic content on the side panels.

    1. avatar J in Ga says:

      I’ve noticed that too. On my iPhone 5 it hangs a lot too which has definitely cause me not to check out the site as much as I used to. I would often check it out on my phone, but now wait until I have a few minutes at my laptop.

      good news is that I just got an iPhone 6 last night and the site is better. Hence the reason why I’m going back through older articles.

  11. avatar doesky2 says:

    Wondering if some of the limp performance might be due to the lack of Israeli supermodels?

    1. avatar Pg2 says:

      Ha, probably some truth to your humor, and also lack of truth or objectivity in the forums is a likely explanation to keeping people away.

  12. avatar jwm says:

    TTAG has settled into it’s slot. White guys fearful of cops and .gov. It ain’t gonna grow much past that so long as it stays that course.

    And since white guys are an ever shrinking group in the US TTAG will eventually shrink also.

    1. avatar pg2 says:

      True to a point, not sure I agree on the readers here being fearful of cops and .gov, in fact one of main inconsistencies I’ve noticed about this site is the seemingly much larger percentage of people here than in the average public that almost violently defend every official position, except when they openly discuss the perceived lies from the official state regarding the right to own firearms. Sometimes the content(and related posts) here really comes off as propaganda, and inconsistencies like this very likely drives off a percentage of objective gun owners.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Can you cite an example of propaganda or supporting the official line?

        1. avatar pg2 says:

          I said “comes off as propaganda”, which of course is subjective. But toeing the official line is endemic here, whenever watershed events such as 9/11 or Sandy hook are referenced, just to name 2 relevant and recent examples, posters here come out of the woodwork here and often use ad hominem attempting to derail any objective conversation. I’ve seen this play out countless times. There are many other occurrences here besides 9/11 and Sandy Hook.

        2. avatar ThomasR says:

          So pg2, what would be an example of the “official line” and what is an example of an “objective discussion” about Sandy Hook or 911’that gets “derailed” by adhominem attacks?

          Personally, most of the “objective discussion” being derailed I see are various gun control ideas pushed by anti-gun people that come onto this site after a big event.

          They are then just shown the error of their ways; sometimes with adhominem attacks; which I don’t agree with. Especially when adhominem attacks are the bread and butter of gun control people since they don’t have facts on their side, only irrational emotion.

          Paid trolls? Sure, the IRS was targeting conservative groups during the last election and Holder was targeting gun companies by telling the banks to deny them loans; why not have paid trolls to try to derail discussions that talked about the governments on going corrupt and un -constitutional actions.

          Then there is the long and accepted history of Agent Provovateurs that incite illegal activities by groups the government dislikes so it gives them the excuse to arrest the whole group.

          Anyone that dismisses the idea of government involvement in this type if activity is either incredibly naive or is probably a paid government troll.

      2. avatar Fuque says:

        No propaganda on this site.. you get cop haters and uniform worshipers, and people in between..

        1. avatar Pg2 says:

          There’s loads of propaganda on this site.

    2. avatar doesky2 says:

      ….white guys fearful of cops and .gov. …

      Get your facts straight……it’s my hatred of cops and .gov

      Not all cops, but yeah most of them that are younger then 50 or so.

      Hatred and fear……two different things.

      1. avatar pg2 says:

        You are prime example of my post above…do you get paid to troll, or just for shits and giggles?

        1. avatar Fuque says:

          ..he is entitled to his opinion…

        2. avatar AllAmerican says:

          Give him a break. He got a ticket once and he’s enraged by it. How dare they. But in a reality guys there are no paid trolls on here. The government isn’t paying people to troll online. But could you imagine what a cush, sham job that would be if it were real?

        3. avatar Pg2 says:

          @allamerican, how do you know as fact there is no paid trolling from the US?

  13. avatar Devin says:

    Several changes I might suggest to keep the site growing:

    1. Give us the option to subscribe to our own comment, so if any replies are made directed at the comment, we can answer. Currently my only options are to subscribe to the site, and ALL follow-up comments for an article.

    2. Keep the ads from making noise.

    3. Speed up the time it takes to load an article. I don’t know what it is, but fix it. TTAG is the only site that does this for me.

    4. Spend less time on the soap-box about gun control. I know it sucks. I hate it, too. But make your point, give good examples, cite them, and end it.

    You do this, I will view more articles.

    1. avatar JSF01 says:

      It’s the ads that are making the site run slow. I had hung on to not getting an ad blocker for as long as I could, but back in October, I finally broke down. Now in general ads had never bothered me, as I understand that they are needed for a website to make money, but between the constant auto play ads with sound and the website seemingly starting to really slow down, no mater how much I liked this site, I did not want to. So I got an ad blocker for chrome, and not only did it put an end to the annoying auto play ads, in a surprise to me the website sped up to normal website speeds. This website is the only one that I routinely, that I block the ads on, every other website I frequent I have ad blocker turned off.

  14. avatar CarlosT says:

    Site design and load issues are paramount, especially on mobile. I’m here everyday anyway, but it would really make the experience much better.

  15. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    Keep up the good work. I spend way too much time on here.

  16. avatar CA.Ben says:

    The emphasis on cops and other non-guns news has gotten me reading less. I get all I want of that from DRUDGE. I’ve been reading since early 2012, and used to skip through every single article, reading most of them. Now I skim the headlines, picking only the real gun material out of what is posted. I’ve found myself spending more and more time on TFB.

    The one thing you could do to make me come back here religiously: get TheDyspepticGunsmith to start writing articles for you.

  17. avatar Marshall says:

    Any latest info on your “Modifying-and Modernizing-your Classic M14/M1A” article dated March 3,2013, It was a great article very interested in any additional info.

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