I’ve never been one much for poring over analytics, at least where Opus has been concerned. I’m certainly gratified when I see that people have read and shared my posts, but it’s never been about the numbers. I’d still be posting on Opus regardless of how much (or how little) traffic I received.
That being said, as I look back over Opus’ 2016 numbers, I’m pretty pleased with how the year went (site-wise, that is). I won’t bore you with charts and graphs, but here’s a rough breakdown of how Opus did in 2016.
- Overall, November was Opus’ best month in 2016, due in large part to these three posts.
- Site activity increased by a fairly solid bit. Sessions and pageviews increased by 19% and 17.8%, respectively, over 2015.
- Total site visitors (both new and returning) increased by 22% compared to 2015.
- Average session duration (i.e., the amount of time someone spent interacting with the site) dropped by 4.3% (which was a bit disappointing).
- Pages per session dropped by just a smidge (1%).
- This shouldn’t have surprised me given worldwide trends, but Opus’ mobile traffic increased by a whopping 55.3% in 2016. Most folks are still accessing Opus via non-mobile devices (e.g., desktops and laptops) but I wouldn’t be surprised if mobile traffic surpasses non-mobile traffic in 2017.
- iPhones and iPads remain the most popular mobile devices (no surprise there). The most popular non-iOS device used to access Opus was the HTC One X (which was a surprise).
- Non-iOS traffic increased at a higher rate than iOS traffic. I don’t expect Android et al. to overtake iOS any time soon given the latter’s current dominance (though iPad traffic did drop by 4.2% compared to 2015), but that’s still an interesting trend.
- Chrome is the most popular browser, accounting for nearly half of all Opus traffic. Safari is second, followed by Firefox. All three browsers had decent increases in 2016, with Safari’s share increasing the most (but barely).
- Internet Explorer accounted for 2.3% of all Opus traffic in 2016. Opera accounted for less than 1% (compared to nearly 2% in 2015). Edge traffic is still less than 1% (though I’d like to see it higher).
- The Android browser had a pretty decent jump, accounting for 10.3% of all 2016 traffic.
- Nearly half of all Opus traffic came from the United States (49.6%), followed by the United Kingdom (6.8%), Canada (4.6%), France (3.7%), Germany (3.7%), and China (2.9%).
- Organic search accounted for 54.4% of Opus’ traffic and direct traffic made up 26.2% of Opus’ traffic. Both of those saw rises of around 36% compared to 2015.
- Somewhat alarmingly, social media-generated traffic took a hit in 2016, dropping by 9.4%. Perhaps I’m not posting Opus links on Facebook and Twitter enough, or the social media gods are conspiring against me. In any case, there’s obvious room for improvement here.
- Facebook drove twice as much traffic as Twitter did, and Twitter traffic actually decreased. There was a surprising jump in traffic from Pinterest, though. It’s still minuscule compared Facebook’s traffic, but still interesting seeing as how I’ve not paid much attention to Pinterest.
These were Opus’ five most popular posts from 2016, traffic-wise:
- Why is Scarlett Johansson’s Ghost in the Shell casting so problematic?
- Netflix’s Stranger Things Is a Perfect Example of How to Use Nostalgia Well
- The Final Scene in Studio Ghibli’s Only Yesterday Is Perfect
- The Midnight’s Endless Summer is 2016’s Greatest ‘80s Soundtrack
- Handful of Snowdrops Cover Clan of Xymox’s “Back Door”
Looking to Facebook, these posts received the most activity (e.g., likes, reactions, shares):
- Listen to “Cloudburst,” the Wonderful First Single from Airiel’s Molten Young Lovers
- In Rotation: Sleep Experiments, Atomine Elektrine, The Radio Dept. & Circle of Dust
- In Rotation: Emily Jane White, Yagya, Trance to the Sun, 1 Mile North
- The Perils (and Positives) of Politicizing Pop Culture
- Russell Moore: “Can the Religious Right Be Saved?”
And on Twitter, these posts were some of the most popular:
- Listen to HKE’s Awesome (Though Sadly Rejected) Song for the Ghost in the Shell Trailer
- My Favorite Christ and Pop Culture Articles of 2016
- Rain Temple by 2814
- Regarding Trump
- Circle of Dust Returns With New Music, Classic Reissues
Not surprisingly, Opus’ most popular posts on social media became popular primarily because the artists in question (e.g., Airiel, HKE, 2814) promoted them via likes and retweets.
So, what does this all mean? Opus is still far from any sort of online media powerhouse, not that I ever have delusions to that effect. (Still, one can dream.) The various mobile and browser trends are always interesting to me given that I make websites for a living — and they could affect Opus’ design in the coming months.
As for the trends determining what kind of content I should write, well, I don’t look to trends for that. I’ve always written about what I want to write about; anything else just feels like clickbait to me. Sometimes the stuff I write about is part of the current zeitgeist, but usually, it’s probably not. That’s actually what I prefer, and what I feel makes Opus special.
If that’s something you can get behind, then consider making a financial contribution to support what I’m doing here. Some generous individuals have already chipped in to help offset the costs of hosting and maintaining Opus, thus ensuring its continued improvement.
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I've also written for Christ and Pop Culture, ScreenAnarchy, Filmwell, and Christian Research Journal. I pay the bills by creating beautiful user interfaces and websites for Firespring and Red Bicycle.