Thursday, October 1, 2015

Website Numbers Up, App Numbers Way Up

Page views for The Orion mobile app in September
Most of the traffic numbers for and its mobile app were up in September compared to the same month a year ago. The most dramatic growth was for the app.

A year ago in September, the Orion app had 5,123 monthly page views, 1,537 individual viewing sessions (launches) and 1,067 unique visitors.

This year, those numbers were 21,818, 4,367 and 799. That's four times as many pages.

The Orion website had 41,443 unique visitors in September compared to 30,448 in the same month in 2014, a substantial gain. But page views were much higher a year ago: 814,405 in 2015, 474,252 last month, according to analytics from the paper's web hosting service, BlueHost.

The difference is clear in a statistic called pages per visit. Last year, a person would look at almost 11 pages, on average, every time he or she visited the website. This year, that number is a more-typical 2.6 pages per visit. I interpret that as indicating visitors are finding less that's interesting on the whole website after they arrive, a problem for The Orion.

Besides growth in visitors and the astounding growth for the app, another good indicator in this month's numbers was an evening-out of the traffic over the course of a week.

Before last month, visitors generally opened up on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, when a lot of new content was posted to the website. This past month, though, the biggest page-view traffic days were Saturday and Sunday, which used to be the slowest days. I'm guessing that means the staff's efforts to spread out posts and keep more fresh content on the website is paying off.

The analytics also show that visitors to the website still mostly get there (88.5% of visits) by typing in or by clicking a bookmark for The Orion. Visitors from other sites, including Facebook and Twitter, made up just 4.2 percent of the traffic. So, there's still more work to do using social media to drive traffic to the website.

Hard news attracted the most traffic to last month. Here are the three most popular stories:
Faculty Voice Frustrations With Zingg Administration - 32, 413 page views
Amy Winehouse Documentary: What Her Family Didn't Want You To See - 5,841 views
Salamander Slithers into Sutter Dining Salad - 4,032 views (and 197 comments on Reddit)

Two stories from last spring actually did better than the Winehouse column and the Sutter Dining story, but it appears much of the traffic for those stories came from spammers who invaded the comments for those posts. This has become a real problem that the web editor needs to address, probably by using a spambot-blocking plugin that verifies a user is a human.