The Cyberbrethren Blog Year in Review
It’s been another fun and interesting year blogging. I finally had a chance to take a look at a year-to-year comparison in Google Analytics, always very interesting.
I’ve been blogging so long I don’t think I can say, for sure, when I started blogging. I think it began when WORLD Magazine asked me, as part of a group of other Christian writers, to join their “blogging” something-or-other. They hosted the blog Cyberbrethren for a few years, then discontinued the program, at which point I moved the Cyberbrethren blog to whatever Blogger was called in those days. Then, finally over to an independent domain, with a WordPress installation.
This whole little enterprise began in/around 1992, believe it or not, when I began sending little things of news and note and interest (my interest, of course) to a small little circle of pastor-friends of mine, no more than 15 or 20. From there, I began sharing these e-mails with with anyone who requested to be added to the e-mail distribution list. I think I used Yahoo mail to form a group called Cyberbrethren. Within about six months I had around 2,000 subscribers to the list, then I moved it over to something else, and finally, settled on the blogging format. At any rate, it’s been an interesting twenty years. One of the most hilarious experiences I had through all this was the time my then-boss, Rev. Alvin Barry, president of The LCMS, told me that he had been approached by a few of our church body’s district presidents who, very seriously, informed him that they had it on “very good authority” that I was sending out encoded messages to conservatives in the church body through my messages. So, for example, when I sent a message about some interesting new discovery in archeology, my “followers” would use their encription device (ring? disappearing ink?) to “decode” my message to learn what I was trying to tell them. I’m not making this up!! Dr. Barry and I enjoyed a good belly laugh over that. Oh, the fun I’ve had over the past twenty years.
The more serious side of this has been the ability to communicate, quite literally, with people all around the globe: Christians, non-Christians, Lutherans, non-Lutherans, you name it. Absolutely fascinating.
So, how is the blog doing? I think, in general, blogging has become less of a mainstream activity, being replaced by Facebook, first of all, then, in a distant second, Twitter. Of course Instragram is moving up in popularity now, along with Pinterest. Blogging still reaches a lot of people but it is now probably more “nichey” than ever before. Since Cyberbrethren always has been a “niche” blog to begin with, it has not impacted too much my level of visitors/readers/unique visiters and page views. Those simply have continued to go up every year. It is my opinion that people who were blogging to share personal news/information/family items/gossip, etc. are using Facebook for that, and blogging has settled into a more “serious” writing activity where the goal is not to communicate in 140 characters or less, or in “updates” to profiles/pages, etc. But blogging remains popular, again, in certain ways and in certain circles and demographics.
For instance, I just reviewed the Google Analytics report on Cyberbrethren and in a year-to-year comparison I was quite surprised to see that visits are up nearly 18%, unique visitors up a whopping 48% and overall new visits up 34%. Page views have increased this year by almost 15%. Other interesting comparisons include this one: English language readership is down, this past year, by 3%. Which means more visitors from non-English speaking nations, etc.
Technical information showing what browser people are using and what OS being used, reflects the declining popularity of Internet Explorer. My visitors using Explorer dropped 22% while those using Chrome jumped by nearly 60%! Mozilla use is up nearly 70% and Apple Safari use is up 16%. Fascinating. In terms of operating systems more interesting details emerge showing the ever-shifting landscape in the OS and mobile OS wars. Windows is still the number one source of traffic, with Apple capturing every more turf in terms of desktop OS. For mobile OS, Apple dominates with 45% of visitors using a mobile device, and Android trails with 24%. Other OS systems are spread across various devices, none of which show any particular good trends upward.
Other than direct contact with my blog, Facebook reigns supreme as the number one source of referrals to my blog, obviously from my Facebook page, where I will often link viewers/”fans” to my blog site. That kind of traffic is up nearly 11%, and people finding Cyberbrethren via Google searches is up a whopping 65%. That almost doesn’t make sense, so perhaps there was some change in how Google analytics measures/calculates. People finding Cyberbrethren via searching the Internet is up 35%. Twitter accounts for a pretty small percentage of social engagement with/on my site, while, of course, Facebook continues to sky rocket. Google + accounts for very little, though I’ve not been very active on it.
Where in the world are people coming from? Literally? Well, according to Google Analytics, the largest source of traffic is from the USA, obviously, and from there, visitors have checked in from 212 other countries, with Tonga representing three visits in 2011, but none in 2012. Bummer, since Tonga is a sovereign kingdom of 176 islands scattered over roughly 700,000 square miles.
Last year Cyberbrethren had, according to Google analytics, close to four hundred thousand unique visitors, and nearly 800,000 page views – whatever any of those numbers actually mean.
Keep in mind that any web site claiming huge numbers of “page views” or however it is termed, should realize that if there is a lot of “chatting” back and forth going on on their web site, it is this that accounts for the vast majority of their “visits” and “visitors.” The same relatively small number of “regulars” either participate in the chat or keep “tuning back in” to watch the action. From observing discussion format sites, it remains my firm conviction that what you usually have is about the same twelve people talking about the same six things, over and over and over and over. Boring.
It’s also interesting to observe SPAM bots bombarding my blog daily. Thank goodness for very efficient spam filter plug ins. The one I use to stop comment and backtrack spamming, the most, is Akismet. But I also have a few other plugin tricks up my sleeve that prevent the site from being overwhelmed with the junk coming at it daily. With my home mail box had it. And even though CAPTCHA requires drive us all nuts, it is a huge source of spam blocking as well.
So, all of which is to say, thanks for your reading and participation on this blog site. It’s been another fun, interesting, educational year for me, and I pray God blesses you and yours richly in the new year with His ever present abundant grace and mercy through Christ our Lord.