El’s Extreme Anglin’ – 2007 Retrospective – Part II

This article continues my observations on running El’s Extreme Anglin’, a World of Warcraft (WoW) fishing guide, with a look at some of the trends in usage during 2007. You may also be interested in part I of the 2007 retrospective, which contained some observations on aspects such as thought leadership, quality and links.

On this page:

Visitor Trends

The graph below shows trends in monthly total visitors, visits, and page views. A visitor is a person (identified by their IP address), counted once per month only, regardless of the number of times they visit – the total readership. A visit is a session spent reading the site. Page views (right-hand axis) are the total number of content-carrying pages read. One visitor may make several visits. Each visit may cause several page views. Visitors and visits are for the the whole capsu.org domain – approximately 90% of visits to capsu.org were to El’s Extreme Anglin’, however a precise number cannot be derived. Page views are for El’s Extreme Anglin’ only, and do not count non-content pages, such as adverts.

Monthly Visitors, Visits and Page Views (2007)
Monthly Visitors, Visits and Page Views (2007).

The Burning Crusade expansion helped built traffic in the first few months of the year. It is interesting to note that this builds gradually: Fishing clearly isn’t something most players do as soon as they break open the box. Rather it is an activity they turn to later, perhaps after reaching the level 70 cap.

The peak in November was caused by patch 2.3, which introduced a host of changes to fishing, and created a new subset of anglers: Blizzard, developers of WoW, unwittingly forced those levelling cooking above skill 275 to use fish, where previously they could use meat instead. The slight decline at the end of the year may merely be attributed to the Christmas/New Year period, when many players, particularly more casual players, have less time to play the game, and so read less too.

These trends broadly mirror Google search trends for the term “WoW fishing” (the most popular term used to find El’s Extreme Anglin’), which roughly doubled in volume during 2007.

Visitors doubled during 2007, visits increased by 140%. The “visits” and “visitors” lines are close together: Each visitor visits an average of 1.4-1.5 times per month. El’s Extreme Anglin’ does not carry news content, nor does it (currently) host forums, or any other resource that would cause many repeat visits. So the relatively low return rate is not unexpected: People come, read, and hopefully go away with the information they came for.

Over 3 times as many pages were viewed in December than January. The average number of pages per visit rose from below 2 to above 3: Page views are growing faster than visits/visitors. That’s primarily because there is more content. In particular, the Fish Finder (added in April) has started to be used as a reference source by some players. While the longer, detailed tutorials remain popular, there clearly is a demand for short highly focused content.

Day of the Week

The table below shows the variation in visits by day of week. Data is for September 2007, for all of capsu.org, during which there were a total of 99,000 visits. This was a month in which there were no significant spikes day to day, and is typical of usage of the site. The server was hosted in California during this period, so the cut-off between days will be “early morning” for the majority of users (who are either in North America or Europe).

Day Percentage of Weekly Visits
Monday 15%
Tuesday 13%
Wednesday 13%
Thursday 14%
Friday 13%
Saturday 14%
Sunday 18%

Sunday is a popular day to go fishing! It is also the day of the Stranglethorn Fishing Extravaganza. Whether that contest itself causes the Sunday spike, or whether the contest was run on Sunday because that was already a popular day for fishing, I do not know.

Where Readers Live

Update: Figures in this section are now believed to be incorrect – North America does dominate, but by around 60%, not 85%.

For all of capsu.org, in December 2007, the geographical breakdown of page views that could be traced back to a country or region (378,000 total) was:

  • 85.7% – North America
  • 10.4% – Europe
  • 3.4% – Oceania and East Asia

0.5% from other regions, primarily South America. The United States accounted for 83% of all page views.

I have also compared the most popular source countries to their population (values from the CIA World Factbook), giving a value for pages viewed per thousand population. Some of the European countries are slightly underestimated because geographic information simply identifies “Europe”.

There is a clear bias towards parts of the world that play WoW in English; but then El’s Extreme Anglin’ is written in English. The US tops this list, with 1.0 page view per month per thousand population. Other notable countries are Singapore (0.6 page views per thousand population), Canada and Australia (0.35), and Scandinavia (around 0.3). My own country, the United Kingdom, is languishing down below 0.1 page view per month per thousand population… the lowest of any major English-speaking country. I wonder why El is over ten times more popular in the US than she is in the UK? I haven’t seen any figures for the numbers that play WoW in the UK (just numbers for Europe), so maybe it is a less popular game? Or maybe something about the styling or writing is not enjoyed by those in the UK?

Browser Wars

One of the most curious facets of El’s Extreme Anglin’ readers is their choice of web browser: Both Internet Explorer and Firefox are used to the same degree. On the internet as a whole, Firefox holds around 20% of the market – slightly more in Europe and Oceania than North America – with Internet Explorer dominating about 70% of visits to websites globally. The graph below shows the proportion of all hits to capsu.org by each of these browsers. A hit is a request to the server for a file (normally a page or an image), so a fair proxy for relative usage.

Internet Explorer vs Firefox
Internet Explorer vs Firefox (2007).

For most of the year, the two browsers have accounted for very similar shares of all traffic. Overall Internet Explorer remains slightly more popular. Of the other browsers, both Opera and Safari hold 2-3% each.

Firefox’s popularity owes much to the paranoia of WoW players: Security flaws in Internet Explorer have occasionally been exploited by cyber-criminals to steal players’ account information. High-level accounts can be worth hundreds of US dollars on the black market. I’d be interested to learn whether other WoW-related websites have similarly high levels of Firefox usage.

Finding El’s Extreme Anglin’

Using data for capsu.org in August, 75% of visitors are referred from another site of search engine. 25% type the address in, or recall it from their bookmarks/favourites. The pie graph below shows which sites refer visitors to El’s Extreme Anglin’.

Referrals to El’s Extreme Anglin’
Referrals to El's Extreme Anglin'.

“WoW EU” and “WoW US” refer to the official Blizzard sites for the game – although most of their referrals are from players in the forums.

Of the three big search engines, Google completely dominates, with over half of all referrals. For most of the year, El has held the top position in Google’s search results for key terms like “wow fishing” and “wow fishing guide”. The only time in the year parts of the site disappeared from the front page of Google’s results for relevant terms were when the Fish Finder was introduced, and for a short period some of the content (the table of skill required to fish in different areas) was duplicated more than twice. Google seems to allow content to be more-or-less duplicated twice, however the third copy it finds causes a demotion from its search results. Re-arranging the content (in this case a table) on different pages, soon got it back into the search results.

Listings on Yahoo are more variable: At one stage El’s Extreme Anglin’ held the top position for some key terms, but currently Yahoo’s results (for example, for “wow fishing”) list El after several sites which contain nothing more than copy ripped from other sites. Yahoo also tends to be much slower to index new material, and routinely favours the “big network” sites, over independent sites. For example, Wikipedia’s entry for WoW mentions the word fishing once, with absolutely no detail at all, yet this rates it a #2 position on search results for “wow fishing”. Erm… WTF?

In August, which these referral figures are based on, El held the top positions for key terms on Yahoo, and even then only attained a fraction of the referrals that Google gave. So perhaps Google simply dominates WoW-related searches?

Live (Microsoft) has a terrible time with WoW searches, and it is not a surprise that it accounts for less than 1% of referrals (and is not even identified on the chart above): For most of 2007, Live didn’t realise that the terms “WoW” and “World of Warcraft” were inter-changable. So El features far better in its search results for the second term, because I made the mistake of not abbreviating the term in the page titles, but not the second. Unfortunately the term “WoW” is preferred to “World of Warcraft” (at least based on Google searches).

Of the three large WoW database sites (Allakhazam, Thottbot and Wowhead), Wowhead dominates. This reveals quite a lot about the type of people that read El: Wowhead is favoured by the early adopters of WoW information-search, particularly hardcore players (for example, those that spend hours every evening “raiding”).

Lastly, it is worth noting the importance of WoWWiki. This is one of the largest topic-specific wikis on the internet, with over 50,000 articles at the time of writing. Like El’s Extreme Anglin’, it is primarily a guide to playing WoW, rather than a reference database of items.

What is Read?

El’s Extreme Anglin’ caters to a wide range of players, with different levels of experience and knowledge. Total page views for December have been analysed, and divided into summary categories. The proportion of all page views is shown next to each category:

  • 31% – Fish Finder: A database of where to catch specific fish.
  • 21% – Getting Started: Pages in the getting started section, aimed at players new to fishing.
  • 18% – Advanced newbie guides: Summary introductions to the main topic areas, that take the reader beyond the basic getting started material.
  • 11% – Catching guides: Detailed guides to help catch specific fish.
  • 7% – Advanced analysis: In-depth analysis and experimentation, often covering topics that have never been investigated before. The results are normally summarised in more basic articles.
  • 5% – Patch news: Reviews of upcoming expansions, patches and changed features. These tend to be disproportionately popular in the month they are published – in December there was no new patch, however many were still “discovering” patch 2.3.
  • 5% – Area maps: Maps showing the names of certain hard-to-find fishing areas.
  • 1% – Other: Polls, credits, search, and humour.

Views of contents pages are not included.

40% of views are of newbie-orientated material. Almost a third of views are of database entries for specific fish. These proportions are almost unchanged from July, although the Fish Finder has grown slightly in popularity, and the specific “catching” guides have declined slightly: In practice both categories cater for the same audience – players that want to catch a specific fish.

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