I am not a blogger blogging about blogging – I’ll leave that to the experts in the industry. However, I feel I have something important to share about the business of blogging now so I’ll branch out today. If you don’t have a blog, this information will not pertain to you in the least – I advise you to click away now. If you stick with it… well, don’t blame me if you’re bored silly… For those of you with blogs, I think you’ll find this very pertinent.
We’ve all heard about viral posts – those posts that take off and spread like wildfire through cyberspace. I had heard about them, but never figured I’d have one.
I was recently surprised when one of my posts (50 Lessons I wish I had learned earlier) took off and went viral. In the month of December, that one post received over a million views. I sat in front of my computer monitor watching my stats go crazy and couldn’t help but wonder what the long-term effects of the phenomenon would be. How would this affect my stats in the future? Would it make any difference at all?
In the first ten days of December we had 338,948 unique visitors resulting in 726,294 pageviews (according to Google Analytics). That translates to nearly 40,000 people per day coming to our site – a HUGE increase over our typical 500 – 700 visitors. How many of those visitors would come back and become long-term readers?
I prowled the internet searching for information on the long-term effects of viral posts, but could find very little. What I really wanted to know was if there would be any long-term benefit of the spike. None of my blogger friends had ever had a spike of the magnitude of ours, but they all reported their traffic resorting back to normal levels within a few days of a smaller spike hitting. I had no idea what to expect.
In this post I’ll analyze our stats one month out from when the spike hit.
–> Prior to this spike hitting, we were averaging around 500 – 700 unique visitors per day.
–> The spike lasted thirteen days, reaching its peak of 53,633 unique visitors on the second day. Over the next eleven days, the numbers gradually decreased until they leveled out at around 6,000 uniques/day.
–> Since December 13 (25 days now), we’ve been holding steady at between 5000 and 9000 daily uniques. At this point, we expect it to remain steady at this level, which is more than a ten-fold increase over what we had prior to this spike.
Where does the traffic come from?
If we analyze the traffic from the entire month to see where it’s coming from, we find that 426,384 visitors, or 83% of our entire traffic came to us via StumbleUpon. The vast majority of SU visitors are one-time only with very little retention.
Better traffic is from Facebook. Our viral post has been shared on Facebook 13,500 times which brought us 8256 unique visitors. Facebook traffic typically has a much higher “stick” rate than StumbleUpon.
The best news, however, is that we had 71,599 uniques come to us directly in the month of December. That means they’ve either bookmarked the page or typed the url directly into their navigation bar. This is the best type of traffic as they are highly interested in our blog and tend to be return visitors. To put this in perspective, before the spike hit we got around 3500 people coming directly to our site per month.
As the month progressed we saw the proportion of direct traffic increase.
How long do they stay?
We noticed our bounce rate skyrocketing earlier in the month with so much traffic coming in for that one post only. According to Google Analytics, our viral post was viewed 1,038,542 times in the month of December. The rest of our site altogether received 50,011 views. We can surmise that the vast majority of visitors to my lessons learned post bounced in and bounced right back out.
Before the spike hit, the average time spent on our site was 1:48. Two days later at the height of the spike, that time was down to 0:12. Now, a month later, it’s climbed back up to 0:54. It’s still not as high as before the spike hit, but it’s climbing steadily.
It appears that we’ve gained quite a few long-term followers. Our numbers are up ten-fold in terms of visits to our website, and they’re up considerably for our RSS feed, newsletter mailing list, Facebook likes, and Twitter followers.
We have no idea what the long-term effects of this post will be, but one month out it looks promising. I plan to write a few posts tracking our stats in the aftermath of this post. Now, a full 38 days after the spike hit, that one post is still receiving approximately 10,000 views per day. Will that continue? Only time will tell.