: Sometime this evening, probably between six and eight o'clock, diamond geezer will receive its six millionth visitor. More accurately it'll be the six 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. Six million visits is an impressive total - the equivalent of every adult in London reading my blog once. But viewed another way it's not much - on average one rush hour tube train of readers a day, which is barely 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 a year and a quarter.
These visitor numbers rack up essentially in three different ways.
• The bedrock of the figures is 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 nearly seven 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 broadcast my post 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.
The first of these, statistically, is the most important, with well over half of visitors arriving here of their own volition. The second used to be important, and Google would often place my posts quite high in their rankings, which was nice. But over the last few years their algorithms have changed, or their interest has waned, and now my posts tend to appear a lot further down on pages most searchers never reach. Similarly it's a rare day now when a significant number of people arrive here from a link located somewhere else, and I choose not to bang the drum myself to try to encourage readers in.
Nevertheless, what I still like to do, every time one of these millionaire milestones rolls by, is to look back and analyse where this third category of vistors 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. Blogs no longer have the traction they once enjoyed, and Favourite articles it via their own blog, because writing paragraphs is too much hassle. Instead they tap a few characters into some social media messageboard. 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, in particular three social media 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 summer last year. And thank you all for linking (assuming you still exist).
Over the last million visitors, Reddit is again 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. Since last year they've actually overtaken Twitter, purely through size of audience, but are still some way off dislodging Girl With A One Track Mind from the summit. 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, only a little has changed since the five 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 reformatted their homepage and 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 helped them to climb one place higher. The only other climber, and a significant one, is long-standing London oracle Ian Visits. His regular Thursday transport news round-ups sometimes mention something I've written, cheers, and over the passing months that all adds up.
Only a handful of the other blogs in this Top 20 are still in regular production. Arseblog maintains the notion of publishing at least one (football-related) post every day, and owes its high position to heavy traffic in this direction pre-2009. Meanwhile Blue Witch still pours forth her thoughts against an appropriately coloured background, Darryl's 853 frequently has much to say about life down Charlton way, and Darren's LinkMachineGo has been microblogging the web's finest since the 20th century. But four previously mega-active blogs in the list have been completely deleted, while six of the others now appear to be on hiatus, or gave up posting some time back, and hence are inexorably slipping back. Increasingly my millionaire chart is a list of the dead, not the living.
There's not even much going on just outside the Top 20. Three personal blogs by people I suspect click through here once a day are on the ascent, that's Ganching (22), Chertsey (27) and Aslefshrugged (28), but the remainder are generally former blogs no longer updated nor even read. Multiple click-throughs were at their highest in the early days of blogging, when there wasn't so much else to read, and very few blogs that've come along since have ever had that level of traction. More surfing time is now spent on professionally-resourced online platforms, as the Huffingtons and Buzzfeeds of this world monetise what many of us used to write for fun. These days most people simply churn through a feed of links their friends have recommended, which in a way is how blogging started, but back then there was less commercially-driven clickbait and angry social comment.
Anyway, some of us carry on writing stuff because we want to, even if it's harder to be heard above the competing throng than ever before. And you lot keep reading, which is nice, even if you're increasingly hard to count. 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'm sure I passed the magic six 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 millions more...