Site Traffic Update (July 2010)

Back in February 2009, I posted a brief summary of tannerhelland.com traffic for the last five months of 2008.  I also mentioned a few goals related to traffic, including my hope that the number of unique visitors would double between 2008 and 2009.

I’m finally getting around to posting a follow-up, so for those interested – here’s how tannerhelland.com traffic has grown over the last 18 months.

Tanner Helland (dot) Com visitor and unique visitor counts, by quarter

Two interesting trends stand out to me:

  • First, I am excited about the steady growth of visitors.  (Note that this chart shows human visits – bots aren’t included.)
  • Less exciting (to me) is an ongoing decrease in the site’s unique visitor / total visitor ratio.  In the 1st and 2nd quarters of 2009, the number of visits per visitor hovered between 2.5 and 2.6, implying that most site visitors returned at least once or twice.  In the 1st and 2nd quarters of 2010, this ratio has dropped to less than 1.4 – implying that the majority of visitors only visit once.  While this isn’t inherently bad – especially considering that most of tannerhelland.com’s traffic is search-generated – it could certainly be better with some work on my part.

Another interesting metric is the site’s ratio of visits and pageviews:

Tanner Helland (dot) Com visitors and pageviews, by quarter

As you can see, the average tannerhelland.com visitor looks at quite a few pages on a given visit.  The pages/visitor ratio hasn’t changed significantly over time (it peaked at 5.2 in 4th Q ’09 and is currently 4.8), possibly because the site hosts a number of multi-part articles.

Next comes a chart for pageviews and hits.  Hits represent any file pulled from the site – so a single page could easily represent multiple hits once all the images, stylesheets, and accompanying .js files are counted:

Tanner Helland (dot) Com pageviews and hits, by quarter

My hits/page ratio has grown over time (from 4.8 last winter to 6.6 this spring), thanks in part to the addition of more icons and images to most of my posts.  I’d like to work this number back down as part of an increased emphasis on site optimization, which should benefit those of you browsing the site from mobile devices or (gasp!) still stuck on dial-up.

Finally, here’s how much bandwidth the site has served up over the last 18 months:

Tanner Helland (dot) Com bandwidth, by quarter

I try to keep the bandwidth down whenever possible (particularly when it comes to images), but some growth is an inevitable side-effect of more visitors and more content.  I hope it doesn’t skyrocket too much when I make FLAC versions of my music available for download… ;)

Before ending this article, I wanted to share some fun site stats for the year ending 2009:

  • The busiest day of the week for visitors was Friday, but the busiest day for bandwidth (e.g. music and code downloads) was Sunday.
  • Visitors came from 167 different countries.  The top five countries were United States, Great Britain, Canada, Russia, and France.
  • Average time per visit was 4 minutes 46 seconds.
  • In 2009, roughly 16 .zip files, 6 mp3s, and 3 midis were downloaded daily from the site.  So far in 2010, those numbers have increased to 26 .zip files, 31 mp3s, and 4 midis a day.  (People prefer mp3s to midis?  Who knew!  :p)
  • In 2009, my most popular article was “The Only Feature Ubuntu 10.04 Needs” – 23,416 views in total.
  • 55.5% of my visitors used Windows, 34.4% used Linux, and 6.2% used Macs.  I had 1 hit – just one – from an OS/2 machine.  300 hits came from Wiis.
  • 55.8% of my visitors used Firefox.  Another 19.9% used IE, 7.8% used Chrome, 3.7% used Opera, and 3.6% used Safari.

To all who visit the site – I hope you find something you like!  If you have any suggestions for improving the site or its content, please let me know.

Building a Better Blog

As you may have noticed, things have started looking a lot better around here.  I thought it was worth taking a moment to mention some of the new features I’ve been working on – features that should make your experience on tannerhelland.com better than ever before.

Totally Revamped Site Search

The normal WordPress search function leaves a lot to be desired – but with the help of a couple excellent plugins, you can turn blog searches into something surprisingly intuitive and useful.  Some of this site’s recent updates include:

  • Tags, categories, URLs, meta data, and comments are now searchable.
  • Search terms are now highlighted, and appropriate excerpts are shown on the search results screen.
  • Search results are sorted by relevance – not date.
  • Searches that return multiple pages now have a “jump to page” feature (unlike the former “previous page” and “next” page only).

Iconified Links

Outgoing links now have a Wikipedia-like icon (like so), and each outgoing link will spawn a new tab/window.  Links to downloadable files will also show an appropriate icon, (i.e. zips or mp3s).

Improved VB Code Zips

A good chunk of this site is dedicated to game programming, so I’ve taken the time to go through each code .zip file and clean it up.  Now each .zip includes a README file, proper comments, and the most up-to-date version of my award-winning FastGraphics class (which gives easy access to DIB sections).  I’ve also removed useless files (like .vbw) to keep .zip sizes down.

Minor Aesthetic Changes

Some small aesthetic changes have crept onto the site, including more use of orange (orange is a grossly underutilized web color, IMO), some font adjustments (to make titles more readable), and the addition of a new “Now Playing” box in the top-right.  I figure this will provide a fun insight into my eclectic music collection.  :)

SEO galore

This feature has mostly happened behind-the-scenes, but I’m happy to say that SEO most definitely works.  After several weeks of research and behind-the-scenes tweaking, this site now plays much friendlier with search bots.  As a result, traffic from searches has more than quadrupled in the last month, and my hope is that it continues to grow.  More traffic = more advertising revenue = a bigger and better site for everyone.

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Many thanks to all my visitors for your interest and comments, and I hope to have some big, exciting announcements in the next couple weeks.  Stay tuned!