The State Of The MRB #1

logo_post_smallBecause we’re setting up a new online (and eventually print) magazine here, I thought some people might be interested in some stats on how things are going. Our first post was on Feb 5 2014. We currently have seven reviewers and essayists contributing pieces and so far at least, we’ve managed to post on Monday, Wednesday and Friday as per the initial plan. The posts gradually increase to daily and eventually maybe even two or three posts on some or all days (very far down the track).

We haven’t done any advertising yet (or really any promotion at all), so at this stage I was really expecting the hits to be fairly quiet. We had only a few hits (less than 10) each day for the first two months. In late March we had a spike of 40 hits, which settled down to about 20 hits per day. This is the usual pattern you expect to see. Spikes usually result in about half the traffic sticking around for a few days to see if they like the place.

Then, on April 29 2014 we had a spike of 600 hits. I don’t know where the traffic has come from. No amount of searching or Google Analytics has turned up any clues or mentions of the The Melbourne Review of Books anywhere else, and the spike was almost entirely direct traffic. That suggests we might have been mentioned on a podcast or video-cast or something…? And actually if you are being directed here some somewhere out there, we’d love to know where you are coming from and why.

The hits per day have been ranging from about 300 to 700 per day since the 600 hits spike. There is quite a high bounce rate associated with these visits, suggesting that people are either reading posts very quickly or they are not finding what they are hoping to be finding and leaving right-away.

Finally, by far and away the most popular contributor so far is Andy Smith, and the most popular post is currently Three Tone Tan with 3,334 page views. The least read post is currently the first post of the Becoming A Writer Reread by yours truly, with just 16 hits.  Although the Becoming A Writer Reread was posted only 4 days ago, for comparison, Andy Smith’s Phantom der Nacht was posted yesterday and has garnered 429 hits already. So, yes, Andy Smith’s posts are very definitely the popular ones.

I realise that 600 to 700 hits a day is still very small fry in the world of online stuff in general, but I think we’re all pretty happy with how things are going so far, especially considering there is very little (read: no) promotion.

About Christopher Johnstone

Christopher Johnstone lives in Melbourne
Bookmark the permalink.


  1. On the authors, I’ve been posting links to mine on Facebook, which I daresay probably accounts for any difference in hits. I’m not 100% sure who can read Facebook posts, but I wouldn’t be surprised if zillions of bots somehow trawled through them for links.

  2. Christopher Johnstone

    Most of the hits are coming from the US with New York, California, Washington, Florida and (oddly?) Virginia having the highest traffic. There is some traffic from Non-English speaking countries, and in particular Russia, which is more likely to be bot-driven.

    I’ve dug through the Audience > Technology > Browser & OS links on Google Analytics too, as that’s (apparently) one way to gauge how much of your traffic is bot-driven. The telltale warning is a high percentage of ‘Mozilla Compatible Agent’, or at least so I read on the interwebs… We’re sitting at 1.36% for agents but 30%, 23% and 20% for Chrome, IE and Safari respectively. That said, bot traffic can come via browsers as far as I understand it, and a fairly large percentage of the traffic does have the ‘new traffic + high bounce rate’ profile that makes it look a lot like a bot-net.

    One thing I didn’t realise is that although Google Analytics used to exclude US based botnets, some crawlers like Bing are now slipping through and appearing in the analytics. These would come through as US based visits, so I’ll do a bit more digging and see if I can find lumps of visits from the same IP.

  3. Akismet reports having blocked two-thousand-odd spam comments. I hate to pour cold water on things, but I think if I had to guess, I’d guess that most of the new traffic is all bots.

  4. Christopher Johnstone

    You’re probably right. There are ways to block bots from Google Analytics and I’ll have a look at doing so.

  5. I’ve installed a plugin called “bodi0`s Bots visits counter”. If I can work out how to do it, I’ll see if I can have it block the IPs addresses of apparent bots

  6. The plugin didn’t seem to detect many bots, but it did find what looks like an unreasonable volume of traffic from weird places across the world.

  7. I made a little script to log the ip addresses of visitors. I’ll let it run for a few days and then look through the results. Hopefully, it will just be a matter of blocking a handful of IP addresses.

  8. The page that shows the results is at:

  9. I added filters in Google analytics to exclude the addresses we talked about (we also _block_ serveral others with some PHP in header.php). I reset all the counters to ‘1’ in the database (I couldn’t see any obvious sort of reset button). The SQL I used for the database surgery was:

    UPDATE `mythopo1_wp1`.`wp_postmeta` SET `meta_value` = ‘000000001’ WHERE `wp_postmeta`.`meta_key` =’custom_total_hits’;

    UPDATE `mythopo1_wp1`.`wp_popularpostsdata` SET `pageviews` = ‘1’ ;

    UPDATE `mythopo1_wp1`.`wp_popularpostsdatacache` SET `pageviews` = ‘1’;

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

  • You might also like

    • Butterfly In The Dark

      It’s easy to forget—considering there are generations that have grown to adulthood knowing no different—that the internet of things is still new to humanity. Certainly in terms of laws and regulations, the internet is still something of a frontier with the frontier mentality of “anything goes”. Because what are the … Continue reading