Monday, 2 April 2012

100th post!

Safari Ecology comes of age with this, it's 100th post! It seemed like a useful moment to review progress so far.

We set out to be a resource primarily for guides in East Africa, posting things about the ecology of the area and recent scientific studies that might make for useful or interesting information. With that primary purpose in mind it makes sense to announce that Ethan has organised a whole set of new guide training activities for April and May - as well as the obvious comprehensive 6ish week training course on natural history, ecology and the like, there are courses on first aid, psychology for guides and others too! The course should be suitable for anyone with a bit of guiding experience and should get you to a level that, once the syllabus is finalised, will be ready for testing under the new Tanzanian guiding standard that's being developed. Check the dates and things here and if you want to know more contact Ethan directly.
Daily visitors from the three top continents: Blue = Americans, Red = Europe, Green  = Africa

Anyway, back to how well Safari Ecology is doing at meeting it goals. Firstly, we've had a huge increase in the numbers of visitors over time, with the blog now regularly getting over a hundred unique visitors per day, so that's pretty encouraging for me - I think we're meeting a need somewhere! Looking at the stats, we've had a bit of a change over time in where people are coming from: most visitors are now coming from the US and then from UK. But looking at the above graph of visitors numbers by continent you can see that this isn't because we're receiving fewer African visitors at all - anything but.  (NB A quick check to explain the peaks shows (1) The late Sept peak corresponded to a mailing from ValĂ©ry Schollaert, (2) Jan was when I started posting more science blogs and Feb seems to correspond to an increase in google pagerank). I was also pleased to see that African visitors (mostly from Tanzania, then South Africa and Kenya) stay for longer and read more pages on their visits than others - Americans seem to have the shortest attention span! Perhaps even more importantly, whilst a lot of visitors at any one point are coming for their first visit, a little over 25% are returning visitors, and of those nearly 500 people (20%) have visited more than 100 times, so you've clearly viewed each post and some twice! Overall, I;m pretty pleased with this - we're meeting the audience we wanted (plus some) and there's some good interaction going on.

So, how do you find the blog? With the increase in search engine traffic, we're now down to 15% direct access (by bookmarks or whatever), the rest is split fairly evenly between referrals from other websites and from searches. The top referring source, by a long way, is twitter, so there's obviously a bit of movement there! Permanent links that send us traffic are places like the Field Guides Association of South Africa, which generates a lot of visitors who usually look at lots of pages. If you've got a website that's got content related to this blog, please do feel encouraged to post a link! People arriving by search are either looking for us straight off with searches like "safari ecology" or the most popular 'real' search term is now "why do birds sing in the morning", with "savanna biome" a close second. I hope we can now cater to all these visitors too!

As you'll see from the right, we have a few very popular posts: far out in the lead with nearly 2000 pageviews is "Why is the African savanna so full of thorns" as it was picked up by a number of big bloggers and science twitter people. But "Why do birds sing in the morning" is still getting lots of traffic and has just overtaken "Exercise like a lion!". All the top 10 posts are from 2012 (and all have been read over 300 times), which is a bit of a shame as I think that means some of the posts I wrote before then (like the pair on Serengeti History and the Great Migration) are probably better and more interesting! I also like the pair on two talks from the TAWIRI conference on the Ruaha River and some bushmeat calculations. So please don't think that the most popular posts are definitely the best! (And if you do like anything I've written since November do please consider submitting it to Open Lab 2013 which will anthologise a selection of science web posts!)

Anyway, all in all I think we're doing a reasonable job. I'm still enjoying posting here, and people are still reading things, which can only be good! The question remains, with all these visitors what does it take to get people to comment?! I recently changed the commenting facility to try and make it easier since some had reported problems before - if that's you, have another go now! And please do add topics you want to see here, I often respond to requests! (In fact, I think I've at least made a start on every topic directly suggested, so do ask away...)

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