Things are slowing down here at TTAG, which is just about normal. Over the last two years we have noticed a distinct Q2 slump in traffic, which typically picks back up for Q3 and peaks right around SHOT Show. This appears to be the way of things for the foreseeable future, and to be honest that’s OK. The only times when traffic surged multiple quarters in a row was when our 2nd Amendment rights were under direct attack, and its kinda nice to not have the Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads for once. That said, we’re still #1.
I’ll be the first one to admit that we’re a little under the glideslope for our usual exponential growth. We’ve been reverting to the mean for the last few quarters, and while we had a nice little bump in Q1 it looks like we’re just about leveling off. Sustained exponential growth isn’t really possible, and we may have hit market saturation at the 6 to 7 million pageview per month level. That’s a baseline number — the level of traffic we can sustain indefinitely — that will only increase for big news events.
The reason I say that we’re leveling off is that we aren’t seeing the same wild traffic corrections that we used to regularly run into. This chart tracks changes in pageviews month over month, and you can see the little red bars getting smaller and smaller. We used to lurch from massive growth to equally worrying dips in pageviews every few months, but those days appear to be in the rear view mirror. We have a steady base of regular readers, and while the “major events” that drive traffic are still present we don’t hemorrhage the readership anymore. People come to us for the big news or big reviews, and then seem to stick around for a while. That’s a good thing.
Readership is down a bit, but in this case I’m not worried. Thanks to the massive reader spike from a few quarters ago we’re still right on the glidepath, and we seem to be leveling off here as well. The spring and summer months are particularly tough for websites about the great outdoors for one good reason: people are actually out doing stuff instead of sitting at home reading blogs. I anticipate that number going back up as school comes back into session and summer vacations come to a close.
Here’s the thing: this slump isn’t isolated to just us. The reason the numbers are down is that everyone’s numbers are down, not necessarily that there’s something wrong with TTAG. The metrics we use to monitor the health of the online gun blog industry are the independent website ranking alexa.com rankings, and they say that we are still the bee’s knees. In fact, we went up in the rankings. FYI, just like in golf, the lower number means a higher ranking. As in, there are only 3,361 websites which have more traffic than TTAG. Including porn sites.
|Website||Alexa Ranking (US)|
|The Truth About Guns||3,362|
|The Firearm Blog||5,818|
|Guns & Ammo||11,174|
|The Survivalist Blog||17,891|
|Sipsey Street Irregulars||67,391|
|Gun Nuts Media||69,543|
|Michael Bane Blog||132,420|
|The Gun Wire||165,783|
|Moms Demand Action||186,966|
|Walls of the City||541,366|
|Sheriff Jim Wilson||748,947|
|Mayors Against Illegal Guns||Too Small To Measure|
Numbers as of 7/17/2015
Notable addition to this quarter’s rankings is the new gun control propaganda site The Trace, which we have taken to task a few times now for using studies so questionable that my little sister (who double majored in English and Theatre) would laugh uncontrollably at their conclusions. They start off the chart at slightly above the Sipsey Street Irregulars, but still nowhere near the traffic that TTAG or the other top blogs draw.
Bearing Arms and Guns.com seem to have taken our advice to heart and started doing gun reviews en masse, which has kept their traffic up and boosted their rankings a bit. That said, I’m not really a fan of their reviews. We built our reputation on our take-no-prisoners style of telling it like it is, whereas the other guys seem to be following closer to the American Rifleman’s format of never really reviewing a gun they don’t like. That’s a smart strategy for making nice with gun companies for advertising dollars, but not really in the best interests of gun owners.
I say that gun reviews are the key to our success because they are. Here’s the top 25 articles from the last quarter (give or take 17 days):
- Gear Review: Velocity Triggers Drop-In AR-15 Trigger
- Gun Review: GLOCK 43
- Six Pocket Guns to Avoid Like the Plague
- BREAKING: U.S. Army Switching to Hollow Point Ammunition
- Concealed Carry Law and Reciprocity Update from handgunlaw.us
- AR-15 Muzzle Brake Shootout #2
- Gun Review: Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield
- Gear Review: 5.56 Muzzle Device Shootout
- Ohio Now Recognizes All Out-Of-State Concealed Carry Permits
- Gun Review: Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport
- BREAKING: ATF Confirms Firing an AR-15 Pistol From the Shoulder Using SIG’s Brace is A-OK
- Gun Review: GLOCK 42
- Gun Review: Taurus Millenium G2 – 9 mm
- 10 Creative Secret Gun Cabinets for Your Home
- The Home Defense Shotgun is Dead
- Gun Review: SIG SAUER P320
- Goodbye .45 ACP
- Gun Review: GLOCK 26 Gen 4
- Gun Comparison: Ruger LC9 vs. LC9s
- Gun Review: Smith & Wesson SD9 VE
- Gun Review: SIG SAUER P938
- The Truth About Barrel Length, Muzzle Velocity and Accuracy
- Gun Review: Ruger AR-556
- Gun Review: SCCY CPX-2
- AR-15 Rifle Choices
As always there are some really great articles about current events, but they will soon roll on down the list. The “big” articles from Q1 are already so far down the list that I can’t find them anymore, but the gun reviews continue to be popular and drive pageviews.
That top review — the GLOCK 43 — has been read 84,713 times since it was published in the first week of May. That might not seem like a huge deal since the review published this quarter and was a highly anticipated and advertised launch, but considering that the review was read 1,070 times on June 16th (well after it was published) is indicative of just how much traffic a good review can drive to the site.
A better example might be the M&P9 Shield review, which published in June of 2012. That gun is no longer the “new hotness,” but the review keeps trucking. It has been viewed a total 598,292 times since being published, and was viewed over 400 times on that same day (June 16th). In terms of “return on investment,” that’s a huge bang for our editorial buck.
I bring that up because, despite being the Testing & Reviews editor for a few years now, I still don’t really have a budget. Hint hint Robert and Dan.
Overall, I’m pretty happy. Our numbers are doing well, and we’re still the #1 firearms related blog in the world. We’ve picked up some serious talent in recent weeks like David Codrea, which should keep the top quality content flowing like fine champagne. And there are a ton of great reviews in the works. Things are going well, and there are projects we are working on that will aim to make things even better. We’ll launch our annual reader survey in a few days to try and take the temperature of you loyal readers to see if there’s anything we can do better and to better target our content, so keep an eye out for that. But otherwise it looks like we’re on the right track.