: At quarter past five this afternoon, diamond geezer received its three millionth visitor. If you're my regular reader at the Mercedes Benz factory in Northants, hello, it was you! Although, to be fair, your click-through was merely the three millionth time that a slightly ropey stats package has registered a unique visit, which isn't quite the same thing at all. Three million visits is an impressive total - the equivalent of everyone in Wales reading my blog once. But viewed another way it's not much - on average, ten double deckers of readers a day, which is only 0.01% of the population of London. What I do know is that my audience is coming faster. The first million took just over five years, the last million's taken less than two.
The Olympics provided a temporary upward bump this summer, almost doubling my daily visitor numbers. A lot of that uplift was from search engine referrals, which was the pleasant consequence of going on and on and on about the Games ad nauseam. But by far my best day came thanks to a single photograph people liked and linked to, because photographs are easy to like and don't require effort to read. Indeed there's not always much correlation between post length and number of visitors. I wrote a thousand words for each of the first three posts this month, but yesterday's 13 word filler earned greater readership than any. If I've learned anything over the last three million visitors, it's that you lot are entirely unpredictable.
What I like to do, every time one of these readership milestones rolls by, is to look back and analyse where my visitors came from. In particular I like to draw up a league table of top linking blogs, ordered by volume of visitors clicking here from there. That used to be quite interesting, and important, back in the era when blogs thrived solely because other blogs linked to them. How times change. As we established last week the blogroll is dead, and through traffic now comes from elsewhere. When people like what you've written they no longer announce it via their own space, because writing paragraphs is too much hassle. Instead they tap a few characters into some micro-blogging portal, that is when they're not too busy tweeting national news stories or sharing videos of kittens. The ability to drive traffic to blogs has shifted, away from those who generate their own content towards those who merely digest the content of others.
So my regular linking league table now includes a range of websites broader than mere blogs. I've not gone as far as including Google, because that would be top of the list by a factor of 20. But I am including three services that didn't even exist when I started out, and they now dominate beyond expectation. My apologies if they've shoved your website down the top 20 since my last league table last December. And thank you all for linking (assuming you still exist).
Hasn't Twitter done well? It's a long way off dislodging Girl With A One Track Mind from the summit, but it's easily the dominant force in blog referral of late. It's so easy to tweet a link - it takes almost no effort at all - and people are so willing to click through on blind faith. As for Facebook, I'm not a member so I have no idea what you lot are up to behind the password wall. But Zuckerberg's social network has become a significant generator of traffic, presumably because there's nothing meaty worth reading within. And I'm surprised to see Reddit doing so well, but only because I'm not a member there either and never did quite get the hang of what Redditors talk about.
Other than that, very little has changed here since my chart at two and a half million. Londonist continues to hold firm, because they sometimes kindly mention me (and because they get over a million readers a month). Charlton-based 853 is the only proper climber, and Tom's Tired of London Tired of Life the sole new entry. His is one of five blogs here that post daily, and have done for years, which shows the power of persistent longevity. But the rest of the top 20 stagnates, including three blogs that are now dormant, three that have disappeared completely, and three who deblogrolled me years back. Blogging's returned to being a niche activity, undertaken by the devoted, overlooked by the mainstream.
A significant role is still played by RSS and various feedreaders, whose simplicity allows thousands of you to read this blog without ever visiting it. As far as you're concerned I'm no longer writing a continuous story, I'm generating atomised blogposts - which makes a complete mockery of attempting to count visitor numbers accurately anyway. I guess in reality I passed the magic three million many months ago, but didn't realise it. Never mind the inexactitude. I don't mind where you come from, I'm just well chuffed that you bother. Hello and thanks to all of you. And here's to many more...