Happy Autumn 2020! We previously looked at where MWDL users are located and learned MWDL has global reach. But have you ever wondered how all those users find MWDL in the first place? We recently looked at traffic acquisition from June through mid-September and have some interesting trends to share.
Google Analytics segments traffic into 4 channels (or buckets) by default: Referral, Organic Search, Direct, and Social. There are additional default channels such as Email, Affiliates, and Paid Advertising, but MWDL doesn’t currently use (or track) any of these. Looking at the channels in this period:
|Channel||Percent of Total |
|Pages/Session||Average Duration (min:sec)|
Does the distribution of traffic by channel surprise you? A few things stood out to us. First, the majority of traffic reaches MWDL by referral. We’ll look closer at referral sources in a moment. The next two channels (organic, direct) combined don’t equal the amount of referral traffic; social comes in last with just 1% of all users!
The picture gets more interesting when we consider the number of pages per session and the average duration. Referral, organic, and direct search users all stayed around 1 minute. Despite being the smallest channel, social had the longest session duration with over two minutes — double as long as any of the other channels.
So what are sources for these channels? A view of the top ten sources offers more detail:
|Source/Medium||Percent of Total |
|MWDL search portal (Primo)/referral||16%||1.38||0:50|
|mwdl-org (AMP pages)/referral||2%||1.22||0:05|
Search engines like Google and Bing accounted for the majority of the organic search traffic (and Yahoo ranks 19th on the list of sources with <0.25% of MWDL traffic). The picture looks more interesting when we consider the top external referral sources – Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), Omnia, and Utah Education Network (UEN).
DPLA not only accounts for a large percentage (21%) of total referrals in this period, but the average session duration is much longer–almost twice as long!– as those of the organic sources. While it accounts for a smaller percentage of referrals, Omnia also enjoys the longest average session duration (2:14). [Omnia is a digital humanities project by Niall O’Leary that aggregates records from Europeana and DPLA to offer a hybrid cultural heritage search portal.]
To see what social channels drive traffic to MWDL, we have to consider the next five top referrers:
|Source/Medium||Percent of Total|
While Facebook only accounts for a fraction of a percent of traffic, these users have the highest number of pages viewed per session (5.46!) and a relatively long session duration. Twitter (t.co is a URL wrapper) also makes up just a small percentage in this period.
We have a few takeaways from these numbers. First: community is good! Projects that aggregate MWDL content (DPLA, Omnia, Utah Education Network, UmbraSearch) help drive traffic to us. Next, the high number of direct users (14%) suggests MWDL is a known resource and users are visiting without needing to search. Finally, while the overall traffic from social media sites is very small, those referrals were “sticky” with longer session durations and a high number of page views.
Finally — we didn’t forget to look where users are located! We look forward to being able to travel in 2021 and completing more of the map! Happy searching, everyone!