2015q2-quarter

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.

2015q2-pv

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.

2015q2-dpv

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.

2015q2-r

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
Bearing Arms 4,316
Guns.com 5,417
The Firearm Blog 5,818
Concealed Nation 7,500
Ammoland 9,322
Guns & Ammo 11,174
USACarry.com 13,118
Gunbot 16,824
The Survivalist Blog 17,891
American Rifleman 18,884
ENDO 41,683
SaysUncle 47,780
JTT 53,557
The Trace 58,347
Sipsey Street Irregulars 67,391
Gun Nuts Media 69,543
Monderno 114,927
NRA Blog 120,650
Michael Bane Blog 132,420
Sportsman Channel 159,382
The Gun Wire 165,783
Moms Demand Action 186,966
ExUrbanLeague 310,478
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):

  1. Gear Review: Velocity Triggers Drop-In AR-15 Trigger
  2. Gun Review: GLOCK 43
  3. Six Pocket Guns to Avoid Like the Plague
  4. BREAKING: U.S. Army Switching to Hollow Point Ammunition
  5. Concealed Carry Law and Reciprocity Update from handgunlaw.us
  6. AR-15 Muzzle Brake Shootout #2
  7. Gun Review: Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield
  8. Gear Review: 5.56 Muzzle Device Shootout
  9. Ohio Now Recognizes All Out-Of-State Concealed Carry Permits
  10. Gun Review: Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport
  11. BREAKING: ATF Confirms Firing an AR-15 Pistol From the Shoulder Using SIG’s Brace is A-OK
  12. Gun Review: GLOCK 42
  13. Gun Review: Taurus Millenium G2 – 9 mm
  14. 10 Creative Secret Gun Cabinets for Your Home
  15. The Home Defense Shotgun is Dead
  16. Gun Review: SIG SAUER P320
  17. Goodbye .45 ACP
  18. Gun Review: GLOCK 26 Gen 4
  19. Gun Comparison: Ruger LC9 vs. LC9s
  20. Gun Review: Smith & Wesson SD9 VE
  21. Gun Review: SIG SAUER P938
  22. The Truth About Barrel Length, Muzzle Velocity and Accuracy
  23. Gun Review: Ruger AR-556
  24. Gun Review: SCCY CPX-2
  25. 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.

IMG_20150612_133751

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.

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27 Responses to The Truth About TTAG: Q2 2015

  1. Thanks for your service to firearm community!

    Hope to meet up with y’all at Liberty Hill, later this year.

    Please remember that in the fight for Liberty, and against oppression & terrorism; overkill is way underrated!

  2. Once the breaking, news type, or gun grabber thrashing articles are a few weeks old, they mostly become irrelevant. Yhe informatikn is old and there are always new articles to take their place. The gun reviews stay relevant year after year. I still check reviews from a few years ago on TTAG when looking to buy certain guns. It’s a great resource!

  3. I try to check TTAG everyday as I really enjoy reading different gun and gear reviews, and staying abreast of news pertaining to my 2nd amendment rights. It’s also one of the very few gun-related websites that aren’t blocked by my company’s internet firewall for some reason…go figure.

  4. Gun Reviews are something I never read or watch, they all seem to focus on the subjective. How a gun feels in your hand is of little use to someone unless they have your hand. Let’s face it, a bunch of reviews of guns showing measurements would be about as fun as watching paint dry. In the end, people like watching and seeing a gun go bang.

  5. You know what would be awesome is making those top 25 articles into clickable links. A lot of them pique my interest but I missed them in the feed.

    Or I could just copy and paste them into the search but hey, do I look like a guy who isn’t lazy?

  6. “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.”

    Looking a gift Wilson Combat .45 from RF in the mouth, Nick?

    That’s a pretty sweet TTAG bennie…

    🙂

  7. Of course TTAG is Numero Uno. It offers the best combination of information and entertainment in the gun universe. Moreover, its field of vision is much wider than most gun blogs, many of which I read and enjoy regularly.

    TTAG is indispensable.

  8. You’re doing a good job. I sometimes check gun reviews from 4 years ago(and you still get comments). I am on a number of FB sites and none come close(I don’t say much with the real name & city LOL).

  9. I’m glad TTAG exists because I suck at blogging. I rage way too much, and I’m glad there’s someone who can deliver with a cooler head than mine.

  10. I think you would have an uptick if you switched advertising. I realize you have to pay the rent and everything else, but surely there has to be a better way than an ad with a barely 18year old lying on a couch and the caption “this is why my dad got laid with 61 girls in 2014 despite being short and broke”. might as well go back to the Israeli supermodel links, those were somewhat classy in comparison and at least they loaded faster. still my fav site, but I’ll always encourage you to be better.

  11. How will the ratings fair when TTAG is unable to post articles on any firearms technical data?

    Only two weeks remain in the comment period to oppose the ITAR changes that will censor all new and interesting firearms/ammunition information. Lend your voice, only 7000 have so far. Comment period ends 8/3.

    Please post something in opposition here if you have not already;
    http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=DOS-2015-0023-0001
    (RIN 1400-AD70)

    TCB

  12. Thank you for everything you do. You’re right up there with Hickok45, in my book. And that’s pretty high praise. ‘Exponential growth’ *must* eventually plateau, and that’ a healthy thing.

  13. I’d be interested in seeing if the Glock article in the LA Times had any effect on the “Bearing Arms” page views. I know I don’t visit that site anymore.

  14. That Velocity Triggers review has been going and going and going (published March 20 and passed 100,000 views a couple weeks ago… even looking at stats for the most recent 30 days it’s still #1 by an 8,600 view margin). Can’t believe how popular it has been (same w/ the embedded YouTube video). I suppose being new and also the least expensive drop-in AR-15 trigger on the market is a good combo. Thankfully, I stand behind that review with complete confidence and it’s a great trigger at any price and a GREAT trigger at the lowest price out there…

  15. You might want to consider the possibility that the slowdown is related to usability issues. I know my viewing has been less because this site frequently jams up my computer presumably because of all the complex ad content. Additionally, how many views have you lost because of pornographic Facebook posts from BecaueGuns?

    • Looking into usability problems. Our ad purveyor is dedicated to keep the site looking clean and tidy, functioning well. That is, however, an ongoing battle.

      I don’t think our affiliation with Because Guns – they compensate us for Facebook links – is hurting us. Noted and logged.

  16. I have a theory that there may be another factor in the slowdown/drop in views. You see, many of us access TTAG primarily through our Facebook feed and posts from TTAG’s page. For several weeks, this page set out on a quest to relentlessly pimp “Because Guns”, an unexplained upstart blog that seemed to be a mentally handicapped cousin of TTAG, specializing in “hold my beer”-type videos and softcore “gun girl” porn. They even held a “sexy gun girl” contest for an FNS pistol, in which a bunch of schlubs sent in photos of their significant others in outfits ranging from relatively tasteful to buck naked. While this wouldn’t bother anyone who willingly followed “Because Guns”, much of the readership of TTAG, including myself, was seriously disappointed in them for the relentless, at-least-daily promotion of this stunted little blog. If I want porn, I won’t look for it through TTAG. I watched TTAG’s Facebook following actually drop through Facebook’s metrics portal, an action only possible through readers actively clicking “unlike” on the page. Many readers made one last post expressing their disappointment before leaving, stating that they’d followed TTAG because it was intelligent, family-friendly, and made a good example of gun culture. “Because Guns” was none of that. I didn’t leave, hoping to ride it out, and interestingly enough, I can’t find any “Because Guns” articles in TTAG’s immediate Facebook history. Looks like it may be over.

  17. I missed the article on Ohio recognizing out of state permits. That’s news I can use.

    I found TTAG several years ago looking for a gun review. I do enjoy the level of writing and commentary found on TTAG and would continue to come to the site anyway but one thing that helps is that TTAG is one of the few gun oriented sites that manages to get through my employer’s filters. If this is the case for other readers, it might be having an effect on staying at the top of the heap.

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