Search Engine Land Stats: 2007, In Review

As promised, now that a full calendar year has gone by, it’s time to look at some key stats about how Search Engine Land has grown in various ways over the year. Let’s dive in!

First, how about a chart:

Search Engine Land Traffic, 2007

That’s the number of visits to the site over the past year. I’ll do another version of that chart further below and call out what caused some of those spikes. But some key takeaways:

  • Visits: 3,250,000
  • Pageviews: 5,200,000
  • Average Time On Site: 1 minute, 23 seconds
  • Percent Of New Visitors: 71

How are people getting to us? Another chart:

Search Engine Land Traffic, 2007

To recap those for the picture challenged:

  • Referring Sites: 53%
  • Search Engines: 28%
  • Direct Visits: 18%

Time to drill down. I’ll give you a table, which I’m going to resort later in various ways:

Source

Visits

Pages
Per Visit

 Seconds
On Site (avg)

% New Visits

Digg

571,037

1.15

18.60

90%

Google Reader/iGoogle

153,987

1.70

127.01

33%

Stumbleupon

101,668

1.73

81.55

91%

Techmeme

52,742

1.41

77.66

52%

Bloglines

33,833

1.71

135.39

29%

Sphinn

21,315

1.98

180.38

18%

Search Engine Roundtable

19,623

1.89

137.47

43%

Netvibes

19,197

1.77

132.39

32%

Matt Cutts

17,095

1.85

140.49

46%

del.icio.us

16,423

1.44

77.79

71%

Crooks and Liars

15,391

1.11

15.71

97%

Google News

14,066

1.37

63.13

83%

My Yahoo

13,862

1.81

114.34

13%

Gmail

12,704

1.72

117.72

48%

Seomoz

11,968

2.15

180.77

29%

Reddit

10,848

1.12

15.36

95%

Search Engine Watch Blog

8,894

2.01

161.11

29%

John Battelle

7,959

1.84

116.01

40%

Threadwatch

7,039

1.94

150.57

20%

Google UK iGoogle

6,938

1.77

123.35

18%

Search Engine Journal

6,681

2.05

153.41

38%

Screenwerk

6,425

1.89

190.32

21%

Yahoo Tech

6,108

1.26

28.45

98%

Technorati

6,103

2.06

159.26

48%

Popurls

6,085

1.16

26.99

88%

Search Engine Watch

6,079

2.21

172.94

37%

Search Engine Guide

6,056

1.81

155.09

36%

Wikipedia

5,951

1.77

121.10

78%

TechCrunch

5,612

1.54

90.91

70%

Official Google Blog

5,523

1.71

79.50

68%

SEO Book

5,482

1.94

167.16

40%

Planet Chiropractic

5,391

1.90

129.12

91%

My Yahoo Beta

5,050

1.85

107.10

20%

New York Times

4,991

2.61

157.67

76%

Search Marketing Expo

4,978

2.83

238.08

29%

Instapundit

4,574

1.07

7.93

97%

Daily SearchCast

4,525

2.23

272.65

23%

Clicked

4,164

1.17

29.47

93%

Topix

4,042

1.88

115.06

88%

Boing Boing

3,654

1.31

51.68

80%

WebProNews

3,183

1.84

127.38

45%

Eric Ward

3,028

2.88

273.62

42%

ShoeMoney

2,984

1.69

127.86

42%

WebmasterWorld

2,960

1.80

133.54

46%

Newsgator

2,937

2.04

179.59

27%

Marketing Pilgrim

2,914

1.87

133.32

39%

Flickr

2,842

1.70

89.02

70%

Twitter

2,791

1.53

113.43

44%

Search Brains

2,774

1.85

197.18

16%

doggdot.us

2,626

1.15

28.15

85%

Digg by far leaves all the other referring sites in the dust. But how do all those Digg visitors measure up, in terms of engagement? I’ve bolded in each column the three sites that lead for that particular metric. In terms of pages viewed, most from Digg only read a single page. In comparison, those from Eric Ward, our own Search Marketing Expo blog, and the New York Times read nearly three pages during a visit to Search Engine Land.

Pages viewed aren’t the entire story, of course. A page view means someone loaded a page, but did they spend much time actually reading it? The stats say most Digg visitors did not, which doesn’t surprise me given the comments you often see on Digg, where it seems like people are only reacting to a story as summarized, rather than properly reading it. Digg visitors were fourth for spending the least amount of time on the site. In contrast, visitors from Eric Ward led by spending over 4 1/2 minutes here, on average. Visitors from my Daily SearchCast podcast site spend nearly as long, with those from our Search Marketing Expo site spending nearly 4 minutes.

I’m especially proud to note that visitors from our own social media site – Sphinn — spent nearly three minutes when they came to an article at Search Engine Land. Three minutes, versus about 18 seconds for a Digg visitor. Search marketers have taken plenty a bad rap by some at Digg. At least the stats give some indication that search marketers are a thoughtful, considerate bunch that actually take the time to read articles before commenting.

Digg is NOT the site with the most newest visitors to Search Engine Land, though it is fairly high. Instead, those are two political blogs, no doubt having people come to view our story about George W. Bush no longer being a miserable failure on Google.

Now some problems with the chart above. Mainly, it’s that it considers all "referring" sites to be the same. In reality, there are these general classes of sites:

  • Social Media: You get traffic from people sharing your content with others.
     
  • Feed readers: These are generally your existing readers who see that you’ve posted something through a feed on their personalized home page or start page and click through.
     
  • News Sites: Places where you generally go to find news.
     
  • Topic Sites: These are web sites about particular topics. For us, generally sites about search.

How do they break down in terms of our traffic? Social media:

Source

Visits

Digg

571,037

Stumbleupon

101,668

Sphinn

21,315

del.icio.us

16,423

Reddit

10,848

Popurls

6,085

doggdot.us

2,626

Total

730,002

The feed reading sites:

Source

Visits

Google Reader/iGoogle

153,987

Bloglines

33,833

Netvibes

19,197

My Yahoo

13,862

Gmail

12,704

Google UK iGoogle

6,938

Technorati

6,103

My Yahoo Beta

5,050

Search Brains

2,774

Total

251,674

The news sites:

Source

Visits

Techmeme

52,742

Google News

14,066

Topix

4,042

Total

70,850

The topic sites:

Source

Visits

Search Engine Roundtable

19,623

Matt Cutts

17,095

Crooks and Liars

15,391

Seomoz

11,968

Search Engine Watch Blog

8,894

John Battelle

7,959

Threadwatch

7,039

Search Engine Journal

6,681

Screenwerk

6,425

Yahoo Tech

6,108

Search Engine Watch

6,079

Search Engine Guide

6,056

Wikipedia

5,951

TechCrunch

5,612

Official Google Blog

5,523

SEO Book

5,482

Planet Chiropractic

5,391

New York Times

4,991

Search Marketing Expo

4,978

Instapundit

4,574

Daily SearchCast

4,525

Clicked

4,164

Boing Boing

3,654

WebProNews

3,183

Eric Ward

3,028

ShoeMoney

2,984

WebmasterWorld

2,960

Newsgator

2,937

Marketing Pilgrim

2,914

Flickr

2,842

Twitter

2,791

Total

124,831

Now to summarize, I’m leaving off the feed reading sites. As I explained, these are pretty much people who already know about new content on our site through feeds or email we send them. That’s super important, but it’s not quite the same thing as a referral from another sites. The percentage breakdown of referrals:

  • Social media: 79 percent
  • Topic sites: 13 percent
  • News sites: 8 percent

Short story? There’s a lot of gold in those social media sites. Sure, we might joke about making top 9 lists to please the audiences there or consider carefully the headlines we put on stories to appeal to the social media crowd. And we can say the audience isn’t as engaged. But the sheer amount of traffic they can send can’t be ignored. For more on that, I’ll give you this short reading list:

Also see Search Engine Land’s Social Media Marketing category and Let’s Get Social column and for past articles. Don’t forget — our SMX Social Media show also returns in April 2008 to help people get up to speed on social media marketing.

How about search engines, what this entire site is about? As I blogged early on last year, the biggest struggle Search Engine Land has had with search engines is being a new "untrusted" site. As someone who ran a "trusted" domain with a 10 year history, I know that virtually anything I posted about a topic at that site could do well over other sites, similar to what we just posted about today hitting Google. But a new site? Sadly, the authority of authorship from an old site doesn’t get passed along to your new domain.

Here’s what I said about the challenge back in January 2007:

Wait a minute! Did I say miserable failure! Wasn’t there something in the news about that again recently? Oh, yeah — in fact, it was our top story last month, as you might recall. And so what happens on Google if I do that search?

Our story isn’t in the first results. WebProNews, which mentions the story, makes it to the second page. Search Engine Guide and Search Engine Lowdown, with really short fresh stories on the subject, also make it to that page. But our comprehensive piece? Nah — we’re invisible.

Keep going through the results, and you’ll find other pages that mention our article, including Boing Boing or our listing on Digg:

But us? Not in the top 100 listings.

Sigh. It’s stuff like this that makes Google sound like a mockery when they suggest there is no "sandbox" or "sandbox-like effect" that holds new sites back. Clearly from our experience, there is. It’s easy to find many searches like the ones above, where other sites that reference our own content outrank that content. It makes no sense, nor is it particularly relevant.

I know it will change, and I’ll patiently wait while we build up our trust – though c’mon, just how many trusted links do they want? We’ve got plenty so far! I’m also increasing our domain registration from the initial year I did to 10 years, which just might possibly make Google think we’re going to be around and are a tiny bit more trustworthy.

It has gotten better since then:

Search Engine Land Traffic, 2007

That’s a chart of all our search-related traffic over the past year, and you can see it has climbed. We probably get around 2,000 to 4,000 visits per day from search now, versus the 500 to 800 per day back last January. Those two big spikes, by the way, are due to traffic from searches on fires in Southern California and people looking for how to track Santa Claus. I’ll come back to those in a bit.

Who sends the traffic? Here you go:

Search Engine Visits Percent Of Visits

Google

837,173

91.0%

Yahoo

53,287

5.8%

AOL

7,689

0.8%

MSN

6,278

0.7%

Live.com

5,735

0.6%

Ask.com

2,385

0.3%

Other

7,248

0.8%

Total

919,795

100.0%

I look at those stats, with Google being so far beyond everyone else, and all the things I said last January seem still perfectly applicable:

Why’s TechCrunch doing so well on Google and not the other major search engines? It could be that TechCrunch is optimized best for Google and missing out on the other major search players. But c’mon. search marketers know that the major search engines don’t have that many differences in how they rank pages. Yes, maybe if you load your URLs up with keywords, you might do a bit better at Microsoft Live.com. Perhaps if you do paid inclusion, you might see more traffic flowing from Yahoo. But a page that does well with Google generally should have as good a chance at doing well with the others.

Another caveat is that TechCrunch is probably getting Google News and Google Blog Search traffic mixed in with the overall "organic" figures (see this recent stats post I did about Search Engine Land traffic sources to understand this more). Sure, including those sources as part of Google searches overall could help make Google seem an even bigger resource. But the reality is that many sites constantly report that Google is by far the search traffic leader.

Rich Skrenta’s post Google’s true search market share is 70% back in December was a great call to renew attention about this fact. My own post after his, Google By Far The Leader, If You Look At Site Owner Traffic Stats, provides some further perspective. Overall, it’s hard not to feel that the other major search engines aren’t major traffic drivers, despite the shares of searches they generate. Certainly the stats I’ve been doing for Search Engine Land keep reflecting this.

Search Engine Land is a Google News & Yahoo News source (for the record, we had to request inclusion in both places like everyone else — it wasn’t automatically done, and we got in at both places after about a month). I know that keyword-based searches from Google News are no doubt fueling the Google pool. But it’s still amazing to see someone like Yahoo – with supposedly around half the share of Google in terms of search activity — still so far behind.

Top terms?

Keyword

Visits

Percent

failure

49,085

5.3%

miserable failure

23,982

2.6%

search engine land

22,226

2.4%

gphone

14,761

1.6%

igoogle

10,720

1.2%

froogle

9,721

1.1%

tudou.com

7,622

0.8%

google

7,285

0.8%

google universal search

6,698

0.7%

universal search

6,307

0.7%

searchengineland

5,673

0.6%

most visited websites

3,969

0.4%

danny sullivan

3,633

0.4%

california fires map

3,584

0.4%

tracking santa

3,174

0.3%

Other

741,355

80.6%

Total

919,795

100.0%

That’s nearly 1 million visits to the site through search. Absolutely – social media is a traffic driver that can’t be ignored. But so is search. Just a little care of basic things — title tags, ensuring you can be crawled, and so on – and there’s a continual stream of traffic that can flow your way.

In particular, note the "Other" line at the bottom. In 2007, there were nearly 300,000 different search terms that sent traffic. Over 80 percent of search related traffic was NOT from the top 15 terms. That’s search’s long tail in action (see Screaming About The Search Tail for more about this).

Leaving behind web visits, how are things on the feed front? Here’s the chart:

Search Engine Land Feed Subscribers, 2007

We currently stand at 18,333 subscribers as of January 1, 2008. That’s down due to the holidays. Our high about two weeks ago was 19,948 — just shy of hitting the 20,000 mark.

Some readers may recall I had a goal to hit 15,000 by the end of the year. I made it with lots to spare! Actually, I have to revise that goal to around 18,000. See that big spike on the chart? That was when Google Reader stats started getting reported to FeedBurner for the first time for all sites across the web. For us, it immediately gave us about 3,000 more subscribers. I did make the goal in the end, and even with a bit to spare. For 2008? I’d like to hit 40,000 or more.

By the way, some will recall that Google Reader and iGoogle themselves are reporting direct stats, plus you can get them from places like Bloglines. More about this can be found in the articles below:

Figures for us, as of January 2, 2008:

  • Bloglines subscribers: 1,814
  • iGoogle subscribers: 1,629
  • Google Reader subscribers: 6,180

And the feed reader breakdown from FeedBurner for the last month:

Search Engine Land Feed Readers Used, 2007

As always, we appreciate those who subscribe to our feeds. You’ll find a full list of our feeds here, and here are the buttons for our main feed, to help you along:

Get Our Search Feed:
Subscribe Via Web FeedSubscribe with Google
Add to My Yahoo!Subscribe with Bloglines
Add to netvibesSubscribe with Live.com
Subscribe in NewsGator OnlineSubscribe in Rojo
Add to My AOL

You can also can get special pages or tabs for many internet start pages that list headlines from us and other search news sources. Check them out below:

If you want yet more ways to keep up with us, try these options:

What about good old email?

  • 5,250 readers take our SearchCap newsletter via email. My goal was to be at 17,500 at this point, so I have some revising to do. I’ll aim for hitting 15,000 by the end of this year. Honestly, we think there’s no better way to get a full recap of everything that happened in search than to take SearchCap. Check it out, via email or feed.
     
  • 2,800 readers take our Search Month newsletter.
     
  • 100% Organic is our most popular column in terms of email subscriptions, with about 600 readers. Many more read it through visits to the site directly. Link Week is at 450, and all but one of our columns has more than 200 email subscribers.

What are people reading when they get here? Search Engine Land’s Most Popular Stories Of 2007 has our top read stories of the past year with descriptions, and here they are in summary:

  1. Google Kills Bush’s Miserable Failure Search & Other Google Bombs
  2. Google 2.0: Google Universal Search
  3. Mapping The Southern California Fires
  4. Google Universal Search Means Looking For Raccoons Is No Longer Family Friendly
  5. Billboard Showdown: Google 411 Takes On Ask’s Algorithm
  6. Google Declares Stephen Colbert As Greatest Living American
  7. George W. Bush: A Failure Once Again, According To Google
  8. Google Maps Causes US Navy To Change Its Swastika Building
  9. Goodbye Froogle, Hello Google Product Search!
  10. Google Birthday Logo: Nine Years Old
  11. Google Maps Adds Terrain View, Replaces Hybrid View
  12. Ask Relaunches: Now "Ask 3D"
  13. Larryos, Raisin Brin, Porn Flakes & Other Google Cereals
  14. Google Search History Expands, Becomes Web History
  15. Gphone? The Google Phone Timeline
  16. The Right Way To Fix Inaccurate Wikipedia Articles
  17. Google’s New Navigational Links: An Illustrated Guide
  18. Official: Selling Paid Links Can Hurt Your PageRank Or Rankings On Google
  19. iGoogle, Personalized Search And You
  20. Google Releases New Link Reporting Tools
  21. Google Says Stephen Colbert Is No Longer The Greatest Living American
  22. Instructions On Tracking Santa With NORAD & Google: The 2007 Edition
  23. What Is Google PageRank? A Guide For Searchers & Webmasters
  24. Wikipedia Enters Top Ten Most Visited Sites
  25. How To Win Friends And Influence People In Social News Networks

That brings me back to the traffic chart. How’s it look in terms of the spikes? Let’s see:

Search Engine Land Traffic Spikes

  1. 14 "Is Google Evil?" Tipping Points Since 2001 (hit Digg and Reddit)
  2. Google Kills Bush’s Miserable Failure Search & Other Google Bombs (hit Digg, though over time, Google has sent seven times more traffic)
  3. Google Releases New Link Reporting Tools (hit Digg, delicious)
  4. Netvibes: Will Google Remain ‘The Start Page For The Internet’? (hit Digg)
  5. Squeezing The Search Loaf: Finding Search Engine Freshness & Crawl Dates (hit Digg)
  6. George W. Bush: A Failure Once Again, According To Google (hit Digg, Reddit, Stumbleupon, Netscape)
  7. Google Declares Stephen Colbert As Greatest Living American (hit Digg, Crooks and Liars, Stumbleupon)
  8. Goodbye Froogle, Hello Google Product Search! (hit Digg, also high traffic from TechCrunch)
  9. Google Says Stephen Colbert Is No Longer The Greatest Living American (hit Digg)
  10. Google 2.0: Google Universal Search (hit Digg, and over time, Google’s sent nearly half as much traffic)
  11. Ask Relaunches: Now "Ask 3D" (hit Digg)
  12. Google Bad On Privacy? Maybe It’s Privacy International’s Report That Sucks (hit Digg)
  13. Google Universal Search Means Looking For Raccoons Is No Longer Family Friendly (hit Digg)
  14. The Right Way To Fix Inaccurate Wikipedia Articles (hit Digg)
  15. How To Win Friends And Influence People In Social News Networks (hit Digg)
  16. Larryos, Raisin Brin, Porn Flakes & Other Google Cereals (hit Digg)
  17. Google Birthday Logo: Nine Years Old (hit Digg – and number 18 below was on same day)
  18. Google Maps Causes US Navy To Change Its Swastika Building (Yahoo Tech, Clicked, then StumbleUpon has sent Digg-level traffic over several months)
  19. Billboard Showdown: Google 411 Takes On Ask’s Algorithm (hit Digg, StumbleUpon)
  20. Mapping The Southern California Fires (Google News, Planet Chiropractic)
  21. The Social Media Manual: Read Before You Play (hit Digg)
  22. Google Maps Adds Terrain View, Replaces Hybrid View (hit Digg)
  23. Instructions On Tracking Santa With NORAD & Google: The 2007 Edition (Google News)
  24. Keeping It Private On Google Reader (hit Digg)
  25. Deconstructing Google: Chapter 4, After The Google Breakup (hit Digg)

Sometimes I look at the list of top stories and sort of want to sigh. You pour your heart, soul, and energy into a long write-up on some important subject that perhaps few will notice. Then a reader emails you about an image of a dog and a raccoon apparently getting it on — which shows up in regular Google search results — and that’s one of the top stories of the year?

Mostly, I don’t worry or try to measure if a story did well based on immediate views (or total views at all). Especially over time, some stories pick up legs. In fact, I wanted to somehow make a list of the top articles that were NOT driven by social media traffic, but that proved too hard to do quickly. But from the top 25 for the entire year, here are ones that did well without social media love:

  1. Google Search History Expands, Becomes Web History
  2. Gphone? The Google Phone Timeline
  3. Google’s New Navigational Links: An Illustrated Guide
  4. Official: Selling Paid Links Can Hurt Your PageRank Or Rankings On Google
  5. iGoogle, Personalized Search And You
  6. Google Releases New Link Reporting Tools
  7. What Is Google PageRank? A Guide For Searchers & Webmasters
  8. Wikipedia Enters Top Ten Most Visited Sites

Finally, I’ll wrap up our year with some of the recognitions we’ve earned. These are also listed in the bragroll on the site:

Thank you everyone for your support of Search Engine Land over the past year, from our dedicated writers, to our editors, to our sales and technical staff, to our readers that we love to serve!

Related Topics: About Search Engine Land | About Search Engine Land: Daily Stats | About Search Engine Land: Monthly Stats | Channel: Other

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About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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