I’ve just noticed an interesting trend over at Google Trends, and it’s confirmed by both Compete and Alexa. The traffic to the University of Wolverhampton web site has collapsed.
There are lots of potential reasons for the decline in the traffic: obviously changes in student behaviour (e.g., Google Scholar rather than the OPAC), increasing number of satellite web sites (e.g., individual/departmental blogs). But does this really account for such a massive decline? A brief glance at some other university web sites showed some decline in traffic, but I didn’t notice them falling as sharply.
Whilst I’d suggest the university have a good dig around in their data to find out exactly what is going on, as much as anything it highlights the need for a change in how we think of a successful online web presence.
After forgetting all about server-side programming since first attempting it back in September, I decided to have another go, more specifically using Yahoo BOSS. Yahoo BOSS allows you to send unlimited queries to the Yahoo database; a great tool for a webometrician, if only I could program. Anyway, whilst knocking up a VERY basic search interface:
…it occurred to me that successfully building a search engine into your site is potentially a good way of building traffic. Every time I visit a site from my new search page it will register in the site analytics of the page that I visit that a link has been followed from my web site, a fact that will also be advertised on the increasing number of pages that include a Feedjit-like widget. If people are half as obsessed by their analytics as I am, it is sure to increase traffic.
nb. The ‘search engine’ is very much a work in progress…
Quick Online Tips have posted about the effect on their traffic due to being mentioned on the BBC’s Click. One of the points that they noticed was that the extra visitors didn’t click on the Google Ads, something I have found whenever I have had an increase in traffic.
Whilst my Webometric Thoughts aren’t in the same traffic-ball-park as Quick Online Tips (since I started keeping statistics on Oct 9th I have had 8,609 absolute unique visitors, less than QOT has in the average day), there have nonetheless been a few occasions when I have seen an unexpected rise in traffic: mentions on the BBC’s internet blog,a recent rise due to my Wii Fit posts, and a comment I posted on Engadget (surprisingly producing my personal high of 176 absolute unique visitors in a day). But the rise rarely corresponds to a rise in ad-clicks.
As I am only discussing a low number of visitors in it hard to draw firm conclusions about the relationship between the number of visits and ad-clcks, although I think it probably goes something like this: Although a small proportion of all visitors will click on an ad, the proportion will be slightly higher for more regular visitors due to factors such as trust, and wanting a site to do well.
I would be interested to know if anyone has ever had a rise in traffic from one source that was particularly rich. Not necessarily a lot of clicks, just a high percentage.
Despite years of surfing and investigating the web, I still find some of the habits of its users surprising. I spent this morning reading Charles Leadbeater’s ‘We-Think’, one of the many books that are currently discussing the future of collaboration caused by new technologies. Whilst an enjoyable quick read, this post is not a book review, instead it is a reflection on one of the points made in the book: “The British political website that gets the most traffic belongs to the British National Party: racists are not given room to express their views on television so they use the Internet to promote and organise themselves.”
Although I know the BNP has a web site, and have visited it more than once, I was nonetheless shocked to be told it is the political web site with the most traffic. As Leadbeater provided no reference for the statement, I decided to have a look for myself.
Whilst the sites that provide traffic information are notoriously unreliable, both Alexa and Compete provide the same picture. The BNP’s traffic seems to be larger than the UK’s major political parties, as well as some of the smaller ones who may have found it equally difficult to express the opinions in traditional news sources (e.g., greenparty.org.uk, ukip.org, respectcoalition.org, and the extremely un-mainstream natural-law-party.org.uk).
It is healthy to see, however, that British Parliament still commands a healthy lead over the BNP, and personally I would view that as a political web site:
Personally I hope that the majority of visitors to the BNP site are approaching them as an antiquated curiosity whose policies shock and disgust, rather than as a site with which they relate. Maybe these statistics give credence to the opinion that has been expressed elsewhere, that whilst the mainstream media state that they abhor the policies of the BNP they do give the small party far more exposure than they really should.