So the other week I wrote a post titled: No, Google Authorship Didn’t Decrease Your Traffic by 90% that kind of blew up somewhat and ended up on the front page of Hacker News.
As this is a totally new website without any kind of pre-existing audience I thought it might be interesting to provide a detailed breakdown that looks at what hitting the front page of such a popular website will do for you in terms of things like traffic, links and social shares etc based on my experience as well as a couple of lessons of things I could have done better.
I have to be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure what I should expect but I was fairly blown away with the results. What had started off as a small trickle of 5 – 10 visitors at any given time, quickly progressed into 100-200 visits a minute for the better part of several hours.
I took a quick video capture of my Google Analytics to give you a sample of what I mean.
All in all I ended up with the following figures over the 24 hour period when this occurred:
Page Views: 11,818
Unique Page Views: 11,077
Average Time on Site: 0:57 mins
Bounce Rate: 87.67%
Unique Visits: 10,606
As you can see from the chart above there was a very sudden and very steep increase in traffic which lasted the better part of 24 hours before dropping below the 100 visits / hour range.
Note: What you may notice from the video above also is that almost zero of the traffic appears to be coming directly from the official Hacker News URL. I am not entirely sure why but almost all of that traffic was reported as “Direct” in Google Analytics which made things a little frustrating for tracking purposes.
Social / Engagement
In addition to the exposure received via Hacker News directly, it also received a moderate share via social sharing. It’s important to note also that previously I had an extremely hard to find / use social sharing set of buttons in place and wasn’t tracking this properly so it’s hard to say just how much that hurt these numbers in the end but here we are:
There are a couple of surprising things in there that caught my eye, mainly that given how much the HN crowd seems to hate Google+ it was the second biggest social channel and just slightly outperformed Facebook. Overall, while these numbers aren’t too bad, I really can’t help but wonder what they might have been had I made sharing more accessible and obvious to readers.
Given my professional history in enterprise level SEO consulting, I was curious to see in real terms not only what kinds of links I would pick up organically as a result of this post but given that it was a totally new domain with no real history or previous content what impact would they have on the website overall. It’s one thing when I work with clients who have 6 and 7 figure budgets to implement my strategies, it’s entirely another when you have zero dollars and a single piece of content.
In order to monitor the impact of this as well, I purposely didn’t post another thing for a month (until now) to see what kind of shelf life something like this might have.
First off, lets just start taking a look at the links themselves. For anyone who doesn’t do this kind of thing for a living (i.e. normal well adjusted people) you should know that there is no real “universal source of truth” when it comes to these numbers for a number of different reasons. However, it’s because of exactly that, that I decided to take these numbers from a number of different sources in order to compare the data.
As you can see there really is a fairly significant difference in numbers from the various data providers. However, the raw number of links and linking domains is for all intents and purposes an extremely poor and far too often cited metric when it comes to SEO. Instead I prefer to look at the overall “quality” of a websites link profile when it comes to picking a metric. While Google and Bing don’t provide any real feedback on this kind of thing explicitly, the others do. While MajesticSEO, Ahrefs and OpenSiteExplorer all run their own proprietary algorithms when it comes to evaluating quality I think they still make for an interesting side by side comparison.
Citation Flow: 26/100
Trust Flow: 27/100
Page Authority: 33/100
Domain Authority: 20/100
URL Rank: 0.7/??
Domain Rank: 99/??
Again for people who aren’t looking at these numbers for a living you just need to know that they are pretty decent and I am really happy with them. There are a few mentions and links that the post got that I normally wouldn’t have had a chance of getting on my own otherwise and it goes to show that popular content does indeed pay off as per Google’s hopes and wishes (Not to say there aren’t a thousand other problems with their algorithm because there is but this is a good start).
Hopefully, by sharing this I can help give others a decent idea on what the real impact is for a website when it comes to hitting the front page of a popular social website such as Hacker News. I have seen some of these kinds of posts before but never have I seen them looking at some of the kinds of metrics I outlined above or on a domain with no previous history / audience associated with it.
So in that spirit, if anyone wants to see any other stats from above just let me know in the comments and I can update the post for you.