Now that the month of October is over and my AdSense numbers are complete, I figured it was time for a slightly more detailed follow-up to my October Web Search Referral Statistics post from a couple weeks ago. What I've done this time is to graphically summarize the data I have available in a way that doesn't disclose any raw numbers, so as not to violate the AdSense Terms of Service.

Who sends me traffic?

I'd like to start by looking at basically the same data I presented last time. The bar chart below represents the relative share of traffic to my weblog from the various sources I've been able to identify.

I need to explain the other and rss labels. Any traffic that comes with no referer header (a "-" in the Apache log, to be specific) is labeled as "rss" since much of it seems to come from desktop news aggregators. Of course, there's other stuff in there too, so think of it as one of two catch-all buckets. The other is "other" which represents any visit that came via a source other than those listed here. Get it? Other.

Who makes me money?

Next, let's look at where the money comes from. This is simply a chart that deptics which sources generate the most money (in the form of advertising clicks). Note that the relative shares here are quite similar to the overall traffic shares. One might conclude that the traffic equals money, which is generally true.

Whose users click most?

Digging a bit deeper, it's intereting to look at the click through rate (CTR) for various sources. Here's where the numbers get interesting. It seems that AOL and MSN users are more likely to click. users aren't far behind. Yahoo is in third place with Google trailing by a fair amount.

Bloglines users, unsurprisnly, don't click much at all. They likely click through only to read comments, since my RSS feed provides full text articles. The "other" and "rss" referrals are neck and neck, and likely represents a good baseline for low-intent driven clicks.

Whose users monetize best?

This chart shows the data that most surprised me at first but made more sense as I thought about it. It shows how valuable an average click is when it comes from a user referred by each of those sources. There's a real difference (on my site) among users of the various search engines.

MSN users are clearly the most valuable on an indivudal basis, but as a whole they don't respresent much of my income. If more of my traffic came from MSN, that's surely change. They're followed by AOL, Yahoo,, and then Google. Notice again that the "rss" and "other" groups are pretty close. Bloglines, as expected, is quite low.

What do your numbers look like?

It was great to see how many folks publshed their own numbers in response to my last search traffic posting. I don't know how many people slice their data to this degree, but if you do I'd love to see the similarities and differences.


Posted by jzawodn at November 01, 2005 10:40 AM

Reader Comments
# Craig Hughes said:

I don't have adsense or any such thingie on my site, so I can't measure that. I can probably figure out though how referrals lead to actual purchases though -- and even factor in the total $ value of the sale too. I'll take a look at that this evening.

on November 1, 2005 11:10 AM
# Nicole Simon said:

I have found out, that nearly none of my blog readers click ads, therefore I only display them when an article is older than two days. But I have not splittet it up to search engines referarls, might be an idea.

on November 1, 2005 12:46 PM
# Parand Tony Darugar said:

Would love to tell what my numbers look like (other than very close to zero ;-), but I don't have your scripts and methodology. Any chance you could publish them, or at least the concepts? For example, how do you map referrer to click? Is this all hidden somewhere within adsense?

on November 1, 2005 05:47 PM
# Abe Olandres said:

Hi Jeremy,

What do you use to track the AdSense clicks from which Search engine? I would love to use that tracking system myself.


on November 2, 2005 04:56 AM
# Miha said:

I would also like to know how did you come to this numbers and what scripts do you use for tracking AdSense clicks.s

on November 2, 2005 06:24 AM
# Karl said:

I'd love to know your process and tools for coming up with these numbers too. It would be very helpful :)

on November 2, 2005 06:44 AM
# aaron wall said:

I think what those numbers also show is user sophistication...the average Bloglines or Google user is way less likely to unknowingly click ads than an AOL, Ask, or MSN user.

on November 2, 2005 09:33 AM
# EricB said:

Hi Jeremy, great stats. Thanks for sharing them. I've been sharing stats and various info on that notes some complementary information. I actually have seen bloglines visitors as more likely (on a percentage basis) to visit an "ordering" page than other referrers. Perhaps, as you've noted, they are less likely to click through to ads (I don't have ads on the site I was reviewing, so I can't verify that).

You might have access to more info if you used page tagging to gather data (for example, to gather onclick events). Email me if you'd like to hear more about that. Disclaimer: I work for WebTrends, but I try to keep my blogging work more industry generic...

on November 2, 2005 10:04 AM
# Angsuman Chakraborty said:

I did some analysis on my blogs. For Simple Thoughts ( ) the main traffic and clicks come from Google, very similar to yours. The others are insignificant players.

For say my pet blog ( ) the majority of hits and clicks come from MSN followed by Yahoo.

My first blog is rather technical in nature. People come from Google searching for solutions. So they sometimes do click.

What I am trying to say is that the share of Google and click rate may be affected significantly by the focus of the blog.

BTW: What software are you using to track clicks? AdFreeStats?

on November 2, 2005 10:18 AM
# Guna Deivendran said:

Good visual stats. I am not sure how you generated them but they are helpful. How is it possible to trace the stats if we are using third party blog sites such as Blogger or something?

I do make money on my blogs and it would be nice to measure where it is coming from.


on November 2, 2005 11:47 AM
# Kelley Ritchey said:

This is really quite insightful stuff, particularly if you can draw more readers to your site from the right sources. Thanks for sharing.

on November 2, 2005 11:55 AM
# Robert said:

For Adsense tracking, I just started using AdsenseGold last week, and so far I think it's a great tool that shows where your traffic is coming from and what visitors are clicking on.

on November 2, 2005 12:58 PM
# Brian said:

I posted this over at but figured I'd put it here too:

Funny - I was going to post something on my tech blog about this since I had an interesting experience yesterday with my candy blog ( yesterday, had a link to my site on their front page (yes, on !!!), and on three other fairly prominent places on their site (AIM page, on the AOL blog, and on their Good Morning America page). They sent me about 1000 visitors. For the day, it was my second best day of traffic (about 2300 visitors), doing 2/3 the amount of traffic when I was BoingBoing’d recently - but….my adsense revenue from yesterday was 6.5 times what it was on the higher traffic day from BoingBoing.

My conclusion is similar.BB readers use RSS readers, Firefox with adblock, and do not click on ads. AOL readers don’t use those tools and do click on ads.


on November 2, 2005 01:46 PM
# Tony Lawrence said:

Aside from the other demographic truths, folks coming from Google are *searching* for something: information, or a solution to a problem. An ad may be just what they want, so it makes sense that the click.

The very some user perusing his RSS feeds is looking for something interesting to *read*, and therefor is less likely to be interested in the ad that he might very well click on if he instead had been searching.

on November 2, 2005 02:21 PM
# Chris Tregenza said:

I find the CTR for referalls interesting. I would of guessed they would of all been the same expect obvious one like RSS.

I've analysed my October figures for my blog Myomancy [ ] and posted them on my other blog MiceLife [ ].

on November 3, 2005 12:47 AM
# Brad Geddes said:

The MSN number do not surprise me at all.

I've been very involved in the MSN beta program, and the conversion rates from those visitors is the best in any b2b program that I've seen.

The visitors from MSN don't seem to care if something is content or an ad - they want to navigate through sites to find their destination information or product.

So far, they've been great visitors. Now, if only MSN had a decent query share.

on November 3, 2005 05:56 AM
# eWhisper said:

How did you track bloglines and some of the RSS feeder clicks and compare them to adsense revenue?


on November 3, 2005 05:59 AM
# Tony Lawrence said:

Why is no one answering all the people asking how to correlate adsense to visitors?

It's not all that hard to do; basically some Javascript that can track the click. There are fairly inexpensive commercial programs that can help you do that; I reviewed one at

on November 3, 2005 01:11 PM
# Zeth said:

CPM based on referals

Users cannot click your ads if they can't see them. MSN search users are likely to have a vanilla copy of IE - that is why they are using the default search engine. While at the other extreme Bloglines users are far more likely to have ad-blocking software.

on November 3, 2005 01:31 PM
# Bob said:

One pessimistic thought is that the referral value seems inverse to current search quality. If your page was a bad result, they are more likely to click on an ad to get out of there...Google, Yahoo and Ask users have found what they were looking for already; MSN users must continue looking...

on November 4, 2005 12:12 AM
# anonymous said:

In conclusion, AOL and MSN users are computer-illiterate and click on ads by accident. This hasn't been news since 1993.

on November 8, 2005 09:32 AM
# Chris said:

Can you define "CPM" as you use it, please?

on November 16, 2005 04:26 AM
# Howtogetyourexback said:

We just couldnt leave your website before saying that we really enjoyed the quality information you offer to your visitors... Will be back often to check up on new stuff you post!

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