On the Traffic And Quality of a Website

by Jamison Koehler on August 18, 2010

Talking about website traffic numbers is almost like talking about how much money you make. People can volunteer the information if they wish, but you normally don’t ask during the course of polite conversation. If your numbers are high, you can sound like you are boasting. If your numbers are low, well, people may not take you as seriously.

I have written previously about how I use Google Analytics to track traffic on this site. I can tell how many people visit which pages. I can tell where the traffic is coming from by city. I can tell how long readers stay on the site and how many pages they visit while they are here.  And so on.

Google Analytics also provides a rare insight into the traffic numbers of other sites. While I have no idea as to the traffic numbers of other website or blogs other than what people choose to tell me, I can tell how many visitors they send to this site every time they link to a page here.

I asked Niki Black of Lawtech Talk whether there was some rule of thumb as to what percentage of readers could be expected to click through a link to another site because, well, if anyone would know, I thought she would. While Niki said she wasn’t aware of any such rule of thumb, you can imagine that the number would be roughly proportional to the number of total visitors to the linking site.

By this metric alone, Carolyn Elefant’s MyShingle would appear to be the most robust site to have linked here over the last six months, which is the time during which I have been paying attention. Five or six days ago, she linked to a blog entry I did on starting a criminal defense practice right out of law school, and the number of people who have clicked through the link to my site has been over three times as many readers as have clicked through any other link.

Carolyn attributes this at least in part to the level of interest in the subject matter of my blog entry. Maybe so. There are undoubtedly other factors as well, including the prominence of the link and the number of other links included in the entry.

But the numbers still say a lot to me about the strength of MyShingle in terms of both sheer numbers and what Carolyn calls “stickiness.”  People who come to Carolyn’s site tend to stay there. They don’t just read the latest entry; they go deep into the site, pulling up older entries of interest to them. The traffic she sends to my site doesn’t peter out after a day or two, even though she has posted at least three entries since. Instead, the traffic is sustained.  The link continues to send almost as much traffic today as it did on the first day.

Carolyn runs a user-friendly and content-rich site which, based on the quality of the comments she receives, also attracts a lot of smart and thoughtful readers. They are, after all, lawyers. And when Carolyn alerts them to a site she believes they might find of interest, they tend to believe her.  She has that kind of credibility.

6 Comments on “On the Traffic And Quality of a Website

  1. So how many visitors have you had in the past month?

    And what has been the gross income of your practice since you opened?

  2. Gurwitz: Thank you. I know I can always count on you for a good chuckle.

  3. I’ll try to be as “smart and thoughtful” as I can be. I am not a real lawyer but an aspiring one. I don’t know if you remember me but I met you a couple of weeks ago in court. It is interesting to see that you write very much like you appear in court — decent, thoughtful, convincing and committed. Keep up the good work!!

  4. Mom? Is that you?

    Just kidding. Thank you for the kind words, and, yes, I remember you very well.

  5. Oh Jamison, Jamison, Jamison. First off, you DM’d me on Twitter last week and right now I’m completely swamped and am facing 2 major book deadlines in mid-September.

    Secondly, during the week that I received your inquiry, I also received at least 15 other inquiries via Twitter or email both from absolute strangers and from people I knew through social media asking me for advice or information on any number of topics.

    And, I happened to be in Atlanta for half of last week as well, giving a presentation on social media, which caused me to fall behind across the board.

    So, I apologize for not providing you with a concrete answer. The truth is, as I explained via DM and as I explain more fully below, I don’t have one and I’m not sure if there is one.

    But first, let’s address your inquiry via Twitter DM (which isn’t exactly the best forum in which to address an issue such as yours). Specifically, you asked me: “Has anyone ever estimated the number of people who, on average, will click through a link on a blog entry? Is there a rule of thumb?”

    First off, there are all kinds of variables that could affect whether blog readers would click through a link in a post. Depends on the link–is it a link to an article or blog post and is it specified as such? Are you commenting on that article or blog post or referring to it as a point of reference or as an information source? Or, is it one of those links that are becoming increasingly common, where bloggers will randomly insert links back to their own website or blog via key words for search engine SEO purposes?

    Because of the increasing frequency of the last type of links, which are essentially spam (in my opinion), I think blog readers are increasingly less likely to click through links in blog posts, since they are finding that when they click through they end up somewhere they’d rather not be or on a site that is essentially useless. So, as I’ve written about in the past, many things about blogging are changing–and link click throughs is just one of those things.

    Second, I’ve never heard of a “rule of thumb” on that issue, regardless of the type of link. Again, too many variables, including popularity of the blog doing the linking, popularity of the blog being linked to (assuming the blog post identifies the linked blog as a source by name), type of link as discussed above, etc.

    So, I stand by my answer–I’m simply not aware of any reliable metric in that regard. Sorry about that.

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