2015q4-quarterly

Happy new year everyone. I know exactly what you want to see on this day off: bar graphs! And statistics! As is our practice at the turn of each quarter, it’s time once again to throw back the curtain and show our loyal readers TTAG’s traffic stats for the last three months and how they compare historically. We do this for two reasons. First, because if I didn’t do it in one big bacchanalia of statistics, RF would be dribbling these posts out every time we hit a new milestone no matter how small. And second because pageviews are the driving factor behind our revenue stream and demonstrating to advertisers that we’re worth the money is what keeps the lights on. So, how did we do? . . .

2015q4-monthly

2015 had been a relatively quiet year. Compared to the insanity of the beginning of 2014, it was nice to get back to a “normal” traffic levels for a while without the massive traffic spikes. You can see how the traffic (in pageviews) had been relatively stable — between 6 and 7 million page views per month — throughout most of 2015. And then the Paris attacks and San Bernardino shootings corresponded with the end of summer and things took off again. The peak of that spike was 8.25 million pageviews in December.

2015q4-monthlydelta

Historically, a spike in traffic at the end of the year translates into a peak in January followed by a relatively downward trend for the rest of the year. That’s probably going to happen again this year, thanks to the SHOT Show and the impending executive orders from President Obama on “closing the gun show loophole.” There’s probably going to be some other movement on the gun control front as well that will kick the pageviews into high(er) gear for the first quarter.

The thing is that these pageviews aren’t just coming from our existing userbase. December of 2015 was our highest readership month ever. And not by a little — by a lot.

2015q4-monthlyvisit

Ever since 2013 we’ve been hovering around the two million readers per month mark. Some months we’re a little over, some were a little under. In November and December, though, we surged right past the 2.5 million mark like it was standing still and for a while, the trailing 30-day tally was well over three million readers per month. In the end the total number for December was 2.9 million unique readers.

One interesting thing to note is that people who visit TTAG tend to stick around. They don’t click a headline, skim through, and then click off — they actually read what we write. Looking at the average time people stay on the site (via Google Analytics) you can definitely see results — for gun reviews the average time on site for those pages is between six and seven minutes. So let’s extrapolate a little here . . .

For Q4 we had 12,717,135 “sessions” in which a reader came to the site. Each session lasted an average of 2:17, meaning people spent a total of 28,995,068 minutes reading TTAG this quarter, or about of 55.17 years. Given that the average hourly wage in November was $25.25, and assuming that people read TTAG mainly while at work (which we know from prior surveys), we can estimate that our site cost the world economy a total of $12,202,091.03 in lost wages during Q4. If only we could somehow get just a fraction of that chunk of change I might be able to finally buy that jet.

So…great. Traffic is up. Readership is at its highest level in the history of TTAG ever, and people are actually reading what we write. But the real question advertisers seem to care about is how we’re doing compared to other sites. For that we turn to Alexa, an impartial website ranking system that analyzes traffic and reports on the relative popularity of a given domain name. The following list is ranked like golf — lowest number wins. As in, “there are X number of sites more popular than this one.”

Website Alexa Ranking (US)
The Truth About Guns 2,589
Bearing Arms 4,038
The Firearm Blog 4,353
Guns.com 5,365
Concealed Nation 5,681
Guns & Ammo 6,556
American Rifleman 7,208
USACarry.com 7,771
The Trace 7,961
Ammoland 8,125
Shooting Tracker 9,720
The Survivalist Blog 18,066
Gunbot 18,214
Recoil Web 25,842
ENDO 38,768
Gun Nuts Media 47,226
SaysUncle 51,130
JTT 51,361
Sipsey Street Irregulars 59,092
Moms Demand Action 68,642
NRA Blog 72,167
Michael Bane Blog 151,652
Sportsman Channel 151,037
Monderno 190,153
ExUrbanLeague 201,388
Best gun Reviews 282,145
The Gun Wire 412,144
Walls of the City 467,412
Sheriff Jim Wilson 992,389
Mayors Against Illegal Guns Too Small To Measure

(Stats as of 12/31/2015)

A couple interesting things here.

First, TTAG leads the list, but Bearing Arms has jumped back to the top of the pile of competitors. They had flagged a bit last quarter, but as always the flurry of political goings-on has played right into their wheelhouse. They do a great job of pushing out gun-related editorials and getting the blood flowing among the people of the gun so it’s no wonder that they are back and coming on strong. Bearing Arms, TFB, Guns.com and Concealed Nation are basically in a neck-and-neck race for traffic.

Here’s the thing about these numbers . . .

I’m a competitive kind of guy so I like seeing TTAG on top, but having competition isn’t an issue in the online world. When you’re running a print publication, competing for shelf space at new stands and the consumer’s nickel, the often-used pie analogy is correct — you are directly competing with the other publications for a relatively fixed resource, and every inch they get ahead of you is an inch you fall behind. In the online world things are different.

The pie analogy doesn’t work because our so many of our readers are the same ones reading TFB and Bearing Arms on a daily basis. Everyone seems to have fallen into their niche and the “rising tide floats all boats” aphorism applies here. So these sites aren’t our competition in a classical sense. Just because someone reads TFB doesn’t mean that they don’t also read TTAG.

Speaking of reading TTAG, here’s the top 25 articles from this quarter.

  1. BREAKING: Obama Signs Law Allowing Public Sale of Surplus U.S. Army 1911s
  2. Gun Review: Ruger AR-556
  3. Gun Review: GLOCK 43
  4. Gun Review: Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport
  5. Gun Review: SCCY CPX-2
  6. CNN Report: Veterans Tried to leave Classroom to Stop Shooter, Denied By Staff
  7. Gun Review: Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield
  8. Gun Review: Smith & Wesson SD9 VE
  9. Gun Review: GLOCK 42
  10. Gun Review: Taurus Millenium G2 – 9 mm
  11. Gun Review: Ruger Precision Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor
  12. Six Pocket Guns to Avoid Like the Plague
  13. Gun Comparison: Ruger LC9 vs. LC9s
  14. Gun Review: SIG SAUER P320
  15. Gun Review: SIG SAUER P938
  16. Mon Dieu! A Review of French Gun Laws
  17. Gun Review: SIG SAUER P229 Legion Series 9mm
  18. 5.56 Muzzle Brake / Comp / Flash Hider Shootout!
  19. AR-15 Rifle Choices
  20. The Truth About Barrel Length, Muzzle Velocity and Accuracy
  21. Gun Review: Hi-Point C9 9mm Pistol
  22. Twitter Reacts to Obama’s Demand to Strip Due Process Rights from Gun Owners
  23. The Home Defense Shotgun is Dead
  24. 20 Top Concealed Carry Guns
  25. Gun Review: Walther CCP

As always the gun reviews dominate the list, but what’s really driving the traffic lately are the one-off stories. A few notable news-related posts have made their presence known this quarter, but they’ll once again slide into obscurity as we move into 2016. The only constant is the popularity of our gun reviews, and embarrassingly enough it seems like the Testing & Reviews Editor (me) has only one on that list. I should probably try to fix that.

Anyway, that’s The Truth About TTAG for Q4 of 2015. Thanks for reading.

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39 Responses to The Truth About TTAG: Q4 2015

  1. Keep up the good work. I hope your progress will help you land “firearms” related advertising rather than this click bait trash that lines my screen!

    • Real talk, the website is great. However, I would recommend allowing users to create accounts and have the ability to favorite pages and sort them into folders. I use your site when arguing with my moral superiors, but often times have to delay because it takes me a lifetime to pull up previous articles on the fly.

      Think something like Imgur.

      That way I can group my favorites into catagories like “Reviews, Political, 2A Support, Gear”
      We like that you title the articles in a very searchable way, but if I want to pull up “Guns for Beginners” article and I search that tittle I still have to sift through maybe 3-4 pages to find it.

      You boys are doing a fine job, I just think there are things we can do to improve the site and make it more appealing to newer generations.

      Also I strongly recommend an app. I can assure you that there are a metric sh*t ton of people who are dying for you to make a news style streaming app, rather than email blasts.

      • I have about 3,500 articles/web-pages in a set of gun-related notebooks in Evernote. Using tags and the superior searching of Evernote, I have everything I need with a quick search. I’d recommend creating sharable Evernote libraries that TTAG people could link to from their Evernote and it would solve a lot of that need without investing in software development.

      • That’s a great idea.
        The search functions work ok but sometimes it’s really hard to remember the title of an article I read 2 years ago.

      • Well, presumably you use a web browser of a modern sort that does bookmarks.

        When you see a ttag article you like just bookmark it.

        Make a seperate folder for politics and review etc in your bookmarks and there ya go.

    • Try cutting and pasting the article title into the search bar at top right. I use the search function a lot.

  2. Yes, keep up the good work, fellas. I’ve been reading TTAG almost since the beginning. I am not saying this as an insult (change can be good), but only as an observation: Over the last half-decade I have watched Mr. Farago transform from a city-slicking gun newbie to an open-carrying Texan who Chuck Norris would be willing to sling beers with. I still disagree with his now-uncommon big-city-lifestyle opinions when they sprout, but that is few and far between compared to five years ago.

    Again, keep up the good work, TTAG staff!

  3. One would think that with numbers like that, you could find some better advertisers than the malware-laden clickbait garbage you’ve got now.

    Much like Obama is the best gun salesman in America, TTAG seems to be great for adblock software sales…

    It would be interesting to see a breakdown on the gun reviews, and note how many of those views are new readers. Seems like a lot of budget-priced guns are in the top 25.

      • Certainly. But it might be valuable to know if those lower-priced gun reviews are bringing in a lot of new blood. If so, that would be a good thing to concentrate on – it’s not very expensive to buy and review a $300 gun, and if it nets you new readers over a longer time span, it would make good business sense to do more of those kinds of reviews. And if turns out the cheap gun is crappy, it’s a public service to steer people away from it…

  4. I can’t help but notice that very many of the gun reviews still getting hits are quite old. That’s understandable, because they pop up right near the top of Google search results (congratulations), but doesn’t it show that when it comes to putting together more reviews, the juice is worth the squeeze?

    In looking at that list, it seems that returning to certain guns for longer-term reports or second opinions from another perspective might also be worth it from time to time.

    Without taking anything away from the generally good (and some great) work done by TTAG staff, I bet in most cases the majority of the time spent on page is spent reading what the commenters wrote.

    Keep up the good work, TTAG. And, more gun and gear reviews, please.

  5. I’d also love to see you parlay that ranking into mainstream advertisers. Like Open Carry itself, part of the mission must be to “mainstream” firearms; so should it be for firearms-focused journalism!

    • Yes! You would think with this degree of traffic, there would be better advertising. I’d much rather see ads from Sig, Ruger, Bianchi, PWS etc. There has to be a simple reason they don’t, and that’s either those quality advertisers simply don’t do this type of advertising, thus no money, or it doesn’t generate the revenue that the current advertising model does.
      It could be as simple as if crap.ads.r.us paid TTAGs $2500 a week and kool holsters.com was offering $500, who’s getting the page space?

      Virtually everything comes down to the style or the price.

      Of course, this is simply a guess. You’d have to get a two page long well thought out excessive response from TTAGS why they do what they do, which is probably something he’s not jumping up and down to do.

    • Just a guess here, based on some comments I’ve read from RF and others in their articles, but it may be that they do not want to become beholden to the manufacturer’s revenue stream and have that appear, rightly or wrongly, to color their reviews of certain firearms, accessories, or ammunition.

      I’m pretty sure they wrestle with this issue frequently, as when they had an ammo manufacturer providing ammunition for their gun tests.

  6. The other blog I check out frequently is TFB. I like their articles but their comment section makes me face palm so hard I think I have a permanent bruise on my forehead. I see a few TTAGers over there and they usually have some of the best comments.

    The comment section here is by far more engaging than other sites. Comment sections on other sites feel like I either walked into a FUDD store some days and the mall ninja operator others. TTAGs continued draw for me is the combination of the good articles and a good, active, and fun comment section.

  7. Let’s not forget the podcasters. I love the stuff Jake Challand’s Firearms Radio Network puts out. Good stuff all the time. Plus, his new Patriot Patch Co. is awesome. Ordered 4 for gifts. Excellent stuff.
    Bob Mayne with Handgun World radio. Tom Gresham. And the list goes on. Some of the best content and interviews are by guys with small followings who do it for the sheer love of it.

    • And for those who have not seen it before, DaybyDaycartoon,com. Generally more political, but with a strong Libertarian viewpoint on Constitutional gun rights. Oh, and if you’re browsing at work, often NSFW.

  8. TTAG is quality, but the fearmongering, divisiveness toward liberals and other groups (note, there are gun owning liberals) feel like this becomes more exclusive than inclusive. Let’s get more feet on the ground on how to evangelize to the hoplophobes rather than just ‘LOL’ and point at ’em for being idiots.

    I guess I just come here for pew pew pew facts.

    • @Wv cycling

      It’s been tried. The antis have lowered themselves to idiocy. How can you have a reasonable conversation with idiots?
      It’s like explaining to them that no matter what, the planet is a violent place and so are humans. And the antis respond by saying “well just get along, hold hands and sing kumbaya”

      I’m done being politically correct with idiots.

      Oh, and what doesky2 above said.

    • Most Progressives/Liberals/Democrats have shown themselves to be the enemy of the Second Amendment and the natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right of the people to keep and bear arms. This makes them, and anyone who associates with them, my enemy, OUR enemy.

      In this election cycle they are convinced that open and active opposition to gun rights and the Second Amendment is THE major platform plank that will win the next election for Progressives. If you align with them or support them, you are my enemy.

      The fact that my enemy claims to support gun rights only matters when compared to: 1) whose gun rights they are supporting (Fudds?) and 2) what they want their guns for. In the case of Progressives we can be certain, based on historical perspective, that they want guns for the state and they will use them against the people, including you, at some point.

      Progressives who claim to support gun rights are delusional since the political class they support will take away their gun rights just as quickly as they will (attempt) to strip me of mine.

  9. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You boys are missing the boat on video. Blogs are dying. Today, people are only using blogs to sell merch and drive traffic to YouTube. Even TFB has figured out the video game and their growing that business like crazy. Gawker has started to move to video and using its web properties to drive views on its channel. You have 2.5m unique visitors each month, you should be converting them to monetized YouTube channel views. That kind of channel traffic would generate about $7500/mo in adsense revenue.

    Football is winding down, now is the time to test the waters with a sunday night live stream weekly recap show. Hell, you can even have call ins on the live stream. So many video opportunities.

    • We’ve done some video stuff, but every time we test some stuff out on the site it isn’t that well received. Our audience is mainly cubicle dwellers reading at work, and those people can’t do video so we just don’t see a return on investment for the added time and effort of video.

      There is some stuff coming down the pipe related to video and gun reviews so we are making some efforts there, but the main thrust of our effort continues to be text and picture based posts.

      • I dont see much on YouTube I care to watch, and I’ve never clicked from there to a product.
        Here, and elsewhere like Instapundit, I do look for info and links, and do buy, based on reviews, and other reader opinions. I’m a reader, and careful shopper, not a Kardashian fan.

      • I’m subscribed to 22 gun channels on youtube. Go through about 45minutes a day of vids as I fall asleep each night.

        Might be worth it~

      • I’ve seen the stuff you put up, there’s no format or context to it, it’s just 20 seconds clips of randomness that had some shooting in it. You have the mega sized audience that you can capitalize on with original content in a 2-3 video. Rarely does a written story link to your channel. Every review you do should link to a product review video too.

        I’d really like to see you guys crush TFB this year at the video game. There are a lot of resources out there to help you step up the video game, or you can bring on someone who already knows it.

        I think this data will be telling for you:
        http://socialblade.com/youtube/channel/UCnKbs5xffaEzzdKdPZvfhdQ
        They are getting 2.7 million video views per month.

        The investment is far less than you think. For just a couple of hundred dollars, today, you can make video that looks and sounds every bit as good as what a cable network was doing just three years ago. Much of the gear can be homebrewed as can a set. The only real expense you have, assuming you have a camera that shoots 1080 30fps HD, is a few microphones and an audio recording device.

  10. Well I do my part in driving those statistics. Not much I would change except the goofy ads that pop up. I’m just happy your site doesn’t glitch out constantly-I came perilously close to dropping TTAG more than once. My only suggestion is some kinda’ “like” click button ala’ FB(I rarely do YOUR FB) and I belong to more than 2 dozen FB groups. I rarely visit those other blogs(TFB is annoying) and find lots of them reporting the same things. I have a strong feeling you’re going to get a huge increase with satan at 1600 EOing…

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