: Sometime this morning, just after nine o'clock, diamond geezer will receive its five millionth visitor. More accurately it'll be the five millionth time that a slightly ropey stats package has registered a unique visit, which isn't quite the same thing at all, but I think still very much worth celebrating. Five million visits is an impressive total - the equivalent of everyone in Scotland 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 nearer a year and a quarter.
These visitor numbers rack up essentially in three different ways. The bedrock of the figures are those of you who come back on a regular basis to read what I've written, maybe even every day, to whom I say enormous thanks. Some days you're rewarded with a post that hits your target, other days I'm droning on about something you care little about, but hopefully you find plenty of interest eventually. Then there are the folk who land here because a search engine, usually Google, has directed them here. I've published over six thousand posts since 2002, many on obscure and under-featured locations, so there's a good chance a reference to my words will appear in the results. Most searchers never return again, but a few hang around, and a special hello if that's how you first arrived. And then there are people who turn up because someone somewhere has read something interesting or relevant on my blog, and then specifically linked through in the hope that other people will read it. These visits come in spikes, some huge, most small, and often with no rhyme or reason as to why some posts inspire and others fall.
What I like to do, every time one of these millionaire 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. This used to be quite interesting, and important, back in the era when blogs thrived solely because other blogs linked to them. How times change. Now when people like what you've written they no longer announce it via their own blog, because writing paragraphs is too much hassle. Instead they tap a few characters into some micro-blogging portal or social media messageboard, that is when they're not too busy commenting on national news stories or sharing an swift selfie. The ability to drive traffic to blogs has wholly 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 particular 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 at Easter last year. And thank you all for linking (assuming you still exist).
Over the last million visitors, Reddit is the star performer. Members of this geeky messageboard are always on the lookout for quirky jewels to share, not that they find them here too frequently, but a single mention does tend to send the Redditors flooding. As yet they've not come close to topping Twitter, and both are still a long way off dislodging Girl With A One Track Mind from the summit, but they're easily the dominant force in blog referral of late. As for Facebook, I'm not a member so I have no idea what you lot are up to behind the password wall. But posting (or tweeting) a link takes almost no effort at all, and people are ever so willing to click through on blind faith, and hey presto that's another DG visitor notched up.
Meanwhile in blogworld, surprisingly little has changed since the four million rankings. Londonist sometimes kindly mention me, and a small fraction of their million readers a month take an interest, which maintains their lofty position in my table. They ditched their blogroll some years ago whereas the über-transport site London Reconnections introduced one at the very bottom of their new template, an act of kindness which has led to them becoming my highest climber. They'll be in eighth place pretty soon, but the underlying totals suggest seventh will be a much tougher nut to crack.
I extend a special hand of solidarity to Scaryduck and (the football-related) Arseblog, who like me maintain the absurd notion of publishing at least one post every day. And look, I have two new entries, both positioned at twenty-something last time. Ian Visits arrives thanks to his regular Friday transport round-ups, cheers. As for affable-lurking, well, if you'd started a blog ten years ago and clicked through to mine once every day, you'd be in the second column of the table too. Thanks David. But also feel the tumbleweed. Four previously mega-active blogs have slipped into long-term hiatus or been completely deleted, while four of the others now appear to post only every blue moon, and hence are inexorably slipping back.
Interestingly, every single blog that was in my one million Top 10 back in 2008 is still in my five million Top 20. Click-throughs really were at their highest in the early days of blogging, and very few blogs that have come along since have ever had that level of traction. Indeed since my two and a half million league table in 2011, that's the halfway milestone to today, the Top 20's mostly just shuffled around a bit rather than done anything exciting. You probably spend most of your surfing time on professionally-resourced online platforms these days, as the Huffingtons and Buzzfeeds of this world monetise what many of us used to write for fun.
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 (unless you've somehow opted out). 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 five 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...