: Sometime this weekend, probably tomorrow morning, diamond geezer will receive its four millionth visitor. More accurately it'll be the four millionth time that a slightly ropey stats package has registered a unique visit, which isn't quite the same thing at all, but still very much worth celebrating. Four million visits is an impressive total - the equivalent of every female in London reading my blog once. But viewed another way it's not much - on average one packed tube train 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 exactly a year and a half.
There was me thinking that writing endlessly about buses might drive people away... and there is some statistical evidence that it did. But a healthy diet of the Olympics, obscure suburbs, Dartford, the Olympics and general moaning seems to have steadied the boat somewhat since. It's always interesting to see which posts inspire the greatest number of visitors, and it's not always those that generate the most comments. This week's April Fool is the highest performing post so far this year, followed by a report about the Bow Roundabout low level lights and then all that stuff about the new TfL websiste. But those high numbers are rarely a direct result of what I've written, and more a reflection of whether anyone else has liked it enough to nudge people in this direction.
So 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. The blogroll is long dead, and through traffic now arrives from one-off recommendations. 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 or social media tableau, 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 again 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 you'll spot three services that didn't exist when I started out, and which now dominate beyond expectation. My apologies if they've shoved your website down the top 20 since my last league table in 2012. And thank you all for linking (assuming you still exist).
Over the last million visitors, Twitter is the star performer. It's still 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. Reddit's crept up too, not that you probably lurk there, but a single mention does tend to send the Redditors flooding. 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.
Meanwhile in blogworld, a surprising amount has changed since the three million rankings. Londonist sometimes kindly mention me, and a small fraction of their million readers a month take an interest, which has elevated them into bronze medal position. They ditched their blogroll some years ago whereas the über-transport site London Reconnections recently introduced one at the very bottom of their template, an act of kindness which has led to them becoming my highest new entry. Charlton-based 853 is the highest climber, but still one place below author Darryl's earliest online incarnation, long since deleted. Only one other blog in the top twenty has completely disappeared, but at least five have slipped into long-term hiatus, including Ham's London Daily Photo, Zoe's Boyfriend Is a Twat, and even (blimey) Annie Mole's indomitable London Underground.
My visitor counter still counts those of you who surf in via smartphone, because I refuse to allow Blogger to serve you up a generic mobile template. But I've completely lost track of the significant number of you using RSS and various feedreaders, whose simplicity allows thousands 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. In reality I passed the magic four 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...