Click-through ratios

16 March 2009

Shortly after writing about the correlation between music copyright and composers in England, I read one of Mike Masnick’s thought-provoking anti-copyright posts over at Techdirt, and thought he might be interested in the book review that had prompted my post. I dropped him a line, and last Thursday he wrote an article which mentioned it.

He was kind enough to include a “hat-tip” link to my post as well, so I prepared for a spike in visitors here. After all, Google Reader says that Techdirt has 750,000 subscribers to its RSS feed; allowing for other aggregators, that means that maybe 800,000 people would have read Mike’s article, and although there was no particular reason for them to click on the link to this site, I figured idle interest would probably lead to a few. The question was, how many?

Resolver Systems‘ banner ads tend to get three or four click-throughs per thousand impressions, and Google Adwords one or two per thousand. I figured that a hat-tip would be less effective than either of these, and might get one click-through in every two or three thousand, leading to maybe 300 visitors. On Friday I asked the people I know on Twitter what they thought I might expect, and their guesses ranged from 200 to 10,000.

The actual number was two. Not two hundred, but two visitors. When I mentioned this on Twitter, I discovered that they were both people who knew me anyway (presumably wondering if the “Giles Thomas” in question was the one they knew).

That’s really quite a surprising data point.

[BTW, if you were interested in the music-related posts here, and were wondering when the next one was coming, I’ve moved that side of my blogging over to a new site: the Baroque Project.]

2 thoughts on “Click-through ratios

  1. Mike Masnick

    Hey Giles,

    Interesting stuff… In our experience, people never (and I do mean never) click on “via” type links. It’s true both for us and other high traffic sites. We’re regularly given “via” credit from much larger sites than our own, such as Wired,, Engadget and Ars Technica… and we’ve never seen any noticeable traffic from any of them. People click on the main link, but never the via.

    I tend to think such links are much better at “brand building” than traffic. So, for example, folks who knew you clicked through… but as that recognition grows, it helps build the brand.

    But, still, it is an interesting datapoint. Thanks for sharing the info — and sorry if you were expecting an influx that never arrived. :(


  2. giles Post author

    Hi Mike, thanks for stopping by! I wasn’t really expecting a huge influx, but it was a bit surprising quite how low the CTR is. It won’t stop me from suggesting links in the future, anyway :-)

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