I’d like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and offer you all my best for 2012.
I’m currently in the middle of putting together a review of Alan Cameron’s The Last Pagans of Rome. If you’ve been reading this blog a while you know I have a tendency to overwrite. This review is testing my limits. It’s a thousand-page book with loads of information and containing some interesting methods of argument which I can’t figure out how to explore without going into a fair amount of depth. I believe that, for the first time, I simply will be unable to say what I want to about it in a simple review but will need to resort to a review essay. This is an entirely different level of analysis, one which I expect will get me into the 2500-3000 word range. It’s coming, I’ll have a lot to say, and I suspect some of it will (hopefully) inspire debate.
In the meantime, I’m going to do something of a 2011 blog review. This will be very different from last year’s which was not exclusively blog-oriented. This year I’m going to focus on stats. The main reason for this is that once I completely switch over to WordPress, I’ll lose my Blogger stats and this will provide me with a record which I’ll be able to recall more easily than something stuffed in my files. I’m also something of a stats geek – in our office I’m one of the two people who ends up putting data tables together and doing analysis, which is fine if I get enough lead time.
I try to avoid posting about my personal/professional life here as I try to keep those separate from my medieval hobby (at least professional – personal’s obviously integrated but who wants to know about, for example, my current exercise routine to get over hip surgery?). I think I’ve been pretty successful. However this past year my professional life had a pretty large impact on my posting habits so I need to touch on a bit of that.
I was involved in two substantial projects in 2011 which resulted in extended stretches where I didn’t come close to posting once a week. One of those was a national project where I was Purdue’s rep collaborating with Auburn University and the University of Tennessee. The project itself didn’t take up my time so much as various other state-level activities related to this project which I became involved with. I was also selected by Purdue to participate in a National Leadership Program which took me out of the state for about 25 days last year. The first project is continuing but the second ended in late September. My putting up six posts over the three months from July-September is a direct result of the final few months of this second project. Other things may come up this year but I will be surprised if they require that kind of time commitment. I made 75 posts this year, identical to my number of posts from 2010. This was actually pretty good when I think of how much time I spent away from home but I still have hopes of getting to around 100 per year. 1
For the year, I had a total of 25,330 pageviews on my blog. This comes to a touch under 70 per day, a substantial increase over last year’s 40-50. This doesn’t come close to some other blogs but it’s OK for me. Gratifyingly, these numbers increased as the year went on. Through April the monthly pageviews ranged from 1,234 to 1,641. Beginning in May they went up, ranging from 1,583 in July to 3,634 in December. My daily high was 211 pageviews on December 10. I don’t have a date for this (it was too depressing to look for) but back in April there was a day when I had just 9. This traffic increase both encouraged and discouraged me from moving to WordPress. It discouraged because with my readership getting to around 120 views/day I hate to take a chance on losing/alienating those readers. However it also gave me something of a “now or never” perspective, which ended up winning out. 2
Within these numbers are some interesting phenomena. Until December, August had the most site traffic, about 100 hits/day. This seemed strange considering it was in the middle of my six posts in three months stretch. However August and early September were absolutely dominated by people reading my review of A World Lit Only by Fire (WLOBF). Based on the search terms used, in particular, “A World Lit Only by Fire Sparknotes,” it appears that high school AP students were looking for help either with essays or exams. Happily, my high November and December numbers were not heavily William Manchester-generated. And at least it wasn’t a University search for “Gregory of Tours Cliff Notes” which was also a common term.
I’ve pretty much resigned myself to WLOBF being the number one traffic generator, much as I wish it were otherwise. In 2011, of the top ten search terms used, nine of them were some variant; “A World Lit Only by Fire Summary,” “A World Lit Only by Fire Review,” “A World Lit Only by Fire Sparknotes,” etc. The only interloper among the top ten search terms was “Medieval History Geek.” In fact, 26 of the top 31 search terms were WLOBF related. It isn’t until the 32nd most popular that other terms become prevalent.
It will be no surprise that WLOBF was my most visited post in 2011; 5,747 views, or about 22.7%. This was much higher in August (56.5%) and much lower in other months – for December it was 200 views, less than 6% (though still highest, barely).
One of the other ways WLOBF skewed my stats is in something called “bounce rate.” This is when someone visited my blog, saw one page and left, never to return. Over 80% of my WLOBF page viewers came to that page, looked at it briefly, then went elsewhere. If this post is removed from the stats, the average visitor to my site looked at a touch over 3 pages per visit. Add these in and it’s just over 2. Evidently, most HS AP students didn’t find what they needed in my review.
This appears to be a good place to start to close this. From a numbers perspective, my top ten pages visited in 2011 were my home page first and WLOBF second.
The other 8 posts (not pages – both my Kalamazoo and Book Review pages received a lot of traffic) most frequently visited were, in order:
- 3 – Empires and Barbarians Part 1
- 4 – My WLOBF follow-up suggesting some Manchester alternatives. This does raise my hopes that some good may have come from that review.
- 5 – Part 2 of my Empires and Barbarians review. Man I was a long time getting this out there. Hope it did some good.
- 6 – Day 3 of my 2011 ICMS/Kalamazoo summaries.
- 7 – My post about depictions of the Middle Ages in the movies.
- 8 – My Teotihuacan visit post. Not medieval, really. My pictures seem to have popped up in Google image searches quite a bit.
- 9 – My review of Steven Walton’s Wind & Water in the Middle Ages.
- 10 – The Problem With Paganism. To be clear, this is a problem I have with the use of the term, not paganism itself. I received a lot of visits/referrals from a couple of Pagan websites which picked this post up. I didn’t get yelled at for it so I guess I didn’t offend anyone too badly.
- 1 – My post about Queen/Saint Radegund and her portrayal in contemporary sources.
- 2 – My post about Hydatius and how he viewed the events of the fifth century.
- 3 – My post about the Alamanni and how they were portrayed in Roman Sources. I debated including this because in some ways I think I was nibbling at the edges of the core of this – and to really do the topic justice would have required a much longer post.
- 4 – My review of Steven Walton’s Wind & Water in the Middle Ages. I’m obviously not objective but I think this was one of my better reviews of the year.
- 5 – Using historical events to predict the future. I think a misconception exists among some people that we can draw specific parallels between the progression of ancient and medieval societies, and societies today. We CAN learn from history but I think folks who take it to this level of specificity are getting carried away.
Several of these were posts written in 2010. I'm not going to subdivide posts by year.
Finally, I thought I'd throw in my top five favorite posts for the year – posts I enjoyed putting together and which I thought were reasonably well done and contained some useful information.
I’ll end this post here with a thank you. Thank you to everyone who’s visited my blog. Thank you to those of you who have offered words of assistance and encouragement. Thank you even to High School AP students – did you please learn something? Anything? I hope this blog has been useful and helpful to people and that you’ll continue to read it as I move things over to WordPress.
All the best for a happy, healthy and successful 2012.
2 I am not including the couple of hundred WordPress Pageviews I’ve had since I started moving the blog.