Been looking at the site stats. It’s been at least 5 minutes since I looked last, so it was time for another glance.
I think there’s another way to measure blog popularity other than incoming links and unique visitor numbers, not that the world is crying out for another way to enumerate blogdom. It’s the amount of time readers spend at one’s blog each day, a calculation I arrived at by multiplying the average number of readers per day times the average visit length. Call it Reader Hours, or Hours of Reader Time.
It’s a variation on the idea that the rich get richer. The more interesting a site is, the longer a reader stays, and the easier it is to attract new ones. That quality, crossed with pure popularity, is reflected in the number of hours readers spend at a particular site each day.
Here’s an example from our logs, because they are right there at hand, after all
Average # of visitors per day – 526
Average visit length – 2:14 (134 seconds)
(526 x 134)/60 = 1174.73 minutes
1174.73/60 = 19.578 hours
So, on average, posts at this blog are being read for 19 and a half hours each day. Not too shabby.
Now, compare with Instapundit.
Average # of visitors per day – 67742
Average visit length – 0:28
I’ll skip showing the calculation this time. Basically 526.88 reader hours a day are spent reading Instapundit posts, dwarfing mine.
I can’t say I’m surprised, but at least our readers hang around.
I can see the marketing campaign now
Silflay Hraka, stickier than Instapundit, and not just because we look at porn all day long!
Of course, Insty is a clearinghouse. People are meant to pop in and pop out, so visits may be short, but people make lots of them.
Bloggers spend a great deal of time obsessing over traffic, or so I am told. We would never do that here. But, unless one happens to be a clearinghouse site, what good is a hundred extra visitors a day if they’re only hanging around for a handful of seconds? In the long run, aren’t readers that come to a blog and hang out for a while more valuable than the temporary floods of the faceless masses?
Of course, it’s not like anyone is going to turn away the faceless masses, but the longer regular readers stick around, the more likely it is that some of the faceless will as well, eventually becoming regulars themselves.
I surfed around for an hour or so looking for other sites to calculate this number for. Most are higher members of the Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem, but not all. Each blog listed is running an open, i.e. not password protected, version of Sitemeter, as that makes the comparison easier and more accurate, as well as verifiable.
Average Hours of Reader Time per Day
Instapundit – 526.88
Daily Kos – 340.29
The Volokh Conspiracy – 152.12
Winds of Change – 129.72
The Command Post – 127.94
calpundit – 126.63
a small victory – 80.96
Amish Tech Support – 78.83
VodkaPundit – 61.72
Gut Rumbles – 58.96
Rachel Lucas – 52.54
This Modern World – 51.29
blog reduxit – 50.99
One Hand Clapping – 46.81
Brad DeLong – 35.61
Outside the Beltway – 19.99
Silflay Hraka – 19.58
Ipse Dixit – 17.11
Ken Layne – 13.61
Alas, a blog – 12.04
ted barlow – 11.54
Jay Solos Verbosity – 6.38
Raising Hell – 5.60
Reflections in d minor – 2.65
Trojan Horseshoes – 2.14
Fragments from Floyd – 1.54
At current traffic rates, each second Glenn adds to his average visit length translates into 18 more hours of reader time a day.
Stickiest Site – Winds of Change, with an average visit length of 2 minutes and 15 seconds from it’s readers.
Least Sticky – This Modern World, with a stunning average visit length of just 13 seconds.
Caveat 1 : Sitemeter averages are based on activity over the last week and are thus heavily affected by surges. Ideally Reader Hours should be calculated after a week uncharacterized by large dips or spikes in traffic. The Reader Hours measurement is thus most valuable when viewed over time.
Caveat 2 : Sitemeter updates every night at midnight, so by the time you see these numbers they will be obsolete. All were calculated using numbers harvested on the 26th of June.
Caveat 3 : Obsessing over someone else’s reader hours is probably an excellent way of reducing one’s own.
The best use of the Reader Hours measurement is when a single blogger uses them to measure activity on his own site. Rather than trying to increase traffic numbers by a certain amount each week, a goal for which there is no certain path, and is exhausting to boot, one could try to increase reader hours by a certain number of minutes each week, an increase in quality over one in quantity, and one that is directly reflective of a blogger’s efforts.
Since comparison with others is not really the point here, I won’t be running a Reader Hours measurement on a daily basis, in the manner of an ecosystem. I may track some on the blogs above to see what the behavior of the numbers is like over time, but that’s it.
Whatever I do will be reflected on this entry’s category page rather than as updates on the blog, unless I prize something very interesting out of the data.
Update: Reader Hours Averages as of July 5th. Instapundit leaves, and his reader hours drop considerably. Silflay Hraka’s readers hours are in a temporary spike due to viewers of the Unseen History posts. I’ve broken the hours for the five blogs being traced out into two graphs so that the variation in the hours for each is more apparent.