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? . . .
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.
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.
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|
|The Firearm Blog||4,353|
|Guns & Ammo||6,556|
|The Survivalist Blog||18,066|
|Gun Nuts Media||47,226|
|Sipsey Street Irregulars||59,092|
|Moms Demand Action||68,642|
|Michael Bane Blog||151,652|
|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.
- BREAKING: Obama Signs Law Allowing Public Sale of Surplus U.S. Army 1911s
- Gun Review: Ruger AR-556
- Gun Review: GLOCK 43
- Gun Review: Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport
- Gun Review: SCCY CPX-2
- CNN Report: Veterans Tried to leave Classroom to Stop Shooter, Denied By Staff
- Gun Review: Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield
- Gun Review: Smith & Wesson SD9 VE
- Gun Review: GLOCK 42
- Gun Review: Taurus Millenium G2 – 9 mm
- Gun Review: Ruger Precision Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor
- Six Pocket Guns to Avoid Like the Plague
- Gun Comparison: Ruger LC9 vs. LC9s
- Gun Review: SIG SAUER P320
- Gun Review: SIG SAUER P938
- Mon Dieu! A Review of French Gun Laws
- Gun Review: SIG SAUER P229 Legion Series 9mm
- 5.56 Muzzle Brake / Comp / Flash Hider Shootout!
- AR-15 Rifle Choices
- The Truth About Barrel Length, Muzzle Velocity and Accuracy
- Gun Review: Hi-Point C9 9mm Pistol
- Twitter Reacts to Obama’s Demand to Strip Due Process Rights from Gun Owners
- The Home Defense Shotgun is Dead
- 20 Top Concealed Carry Guns
- 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.