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By The Numbers: Magellan’s Year 2013 In Review

Happy New Year! Being kind of data-driven, I thought we could start the year with some statistics.

In 2013, the Magellan web site recorded a bit more than 27,000 visits (down 20% when compared with 2012, when I posted every day). The site recorded more than 16,000 unique visitors (down 11% over 2012).  Page views decreased by 25%, a function of reduced traffic and a drop in pages per visit (from 1.82 in 2012 to 1.70 this past year).

The average duration increased by 24 seconds, to 2:02. As was the case in 2012, about three quarters of page views went to blog posts, where the average duration was 2:59, up 12 seconds over 2012. I generally think of people spending more time reading my work as a good thing.

The share of new visitors to the site increased from 53.1% in 2012 to 58.5% in 2013. Both numbers are well below 2011, when almost two-thirds of those coming to the site were new.

Not surprisingly, the share of visits from mobile devices grew from 22% in 2012 to 25% in 2013. If anything, the share of mobile seems low. In compiling this statistic, consumption on both smartphones and tablets was considered mobile use.

As was the case in 2011 and 2012, a plurality (42.1%) of those visiting the site live outside the United States. The single largest non-U.S. audience comes from Canada (7.6% of all visits), followed by the United Kingdom (6.6%), Germany (2.3%), Spain and Australia (both around 2%).

The year’s most widely viewed content was reviewed in two earlier posts. As has been the case in prior years, the top-ten list for 2013 included two posts (“Impact of piracy” and “Context first”) from other years.

Because I wrote and posted 105 fewer times (a drop of 29%) in 2013, I expected some fall-off in total traffic for the year. In that light, a 20% decline in total visits could be seen as encouraging.

There are a couple of concerns, though. As noted above, pages per visit dropped by 6.6%. Some this might reflect the way most of my blog posts are written: I link heavily and often point to content outside the Magellan domain.

But it also could signal problems in other areas. According to the site’s analytics, the average page is slow to load (5.22 seconds). Performance on Safari and Firefox, browsers used for 41% of the page views this year, is significantly worse than that. Mobile performance lags desktop by even greater margins.

The site now hosts close to 1,000 posts, much greater volume than we anticipated when the blog launched in 2009. So, one of our goals for 2014 is a review of site architecture and our approach to Javascript, CSS and page compression. Hopefully the results will improve the reading experience for our visitors.

The decline in unique visitors, a drop of about 2,000, is also an area of interest. It could reflect growth in the use of RSS or a shift to platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, which I used more frequently this year to promote posts.

That said, the decline in visitors is concentrated in the second half of 2013. Unique visits actually grew by almost 2% in the first half of 2013, before falling 24.4% in the second half of the year. This could be a function of the content – only two of the top ten most viewed posts were written in the second half – or other factors. We’ll be thinking about this trend as we start 2014.

While there are still plenty of topics to keep me writing, the shifts in site traffic make me want to think more deeply about what I’m posting and whether continuing to do so in this manner makes sense. In the next few months I expect you’ll see me experimenting with alternate formats and likely a reduced frequency, at least until I find my footing and some answers to the questions raised here.

I greatly appreciate the support, direction and feedback that many people have provided, particularly over the last two years. Even when I committed to posting something useful every day, I really didn’t grasp the notion of writing more than 500 posts in a 24-month period. I just wanted to create a routine. The good graces of nearly 35,000 readers have made that work very worthwhile.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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