Who my audience is

Scalzi notes that blog entries written years ago tend to be among the most-visited pages on his site — a reminder that what you write online does not disappear after you’re done with it. “Contrary to the popular opinion that everything written in a blog is evanescent, in point of fact, good material is visited constantly no matter its age, and the visitorship of Whatever’s archives have a significant effect on the site’s overall popularity.”

Apropos of which, I recently signed up for Google Analytics, so that I can do a little more than guess about who my readers are and what they’re interested in. I’ve only had it running since the middle of last week, so I don’t have much to report yet, but here’s a relevant piece of information so far:

Pie charts showing search engine, referring and direct traffic for gartersnake.info, mcwetboy.com and The Map Room

These three charts show, for my three most-visited sites — Gartersnake.info, The Map Room and this one — where my traffic is coming from: search engines, referring sites, and direct traffic. And search engine traffic just kills the other categories: 82 percent for Gartersnake.info, 59 percent for this site, and 71 percent for The Map Room. Even links from other sites generate more hits than my regular readers.

What this says about the relative importance of a regular readership, I don’t know, but it does suggest that, in the grand scheme of things, I’m writing things down so that people can find them later (via search engine), and that blog archives are, as Scalzi suggests, important.

Right now, the second-most popular page on The Map Room, after the index page, is, to my great surprise, this minor entry on custom icons for Google Maps, posted in September 2007. It’ll be interesting to see if any other old pages surprise me with their popularity.