This experiment will show you the differences in traffic behavior from 2 popular internet marketing blogs – Search Engine Journal and John Chow.
When I wrote my award winning Ninja’s Guide To Google Alerts guest post I originally sent it to John Chow to publish on his site. I have been following John’s blog since 2007 so I was keen to try and get my article on his blog!
When I didn’t hear back from John (/sadface), I sent it over to SearchEngineJournal.com who published it within 48 hours.
Fast forward 6 weeks and I was surprised to see that John had published it on his blog as well – even though he never replied to my initial email or to let me know the post was going live.
What Will I Learn?
As both John Chow and Search Engine Journal published the exact same post this has given me the unique opportunity to compare the traffic performance of both sites as well as analyse the differences in audience behavior.
I’m going to be looking at a range of metrics including social shares on each site, number of visits and precisely which post brought more value to my blog as a whole.
Here is a rough overview of each of the sites
Although both of them are in the top 10,000 sites in the world – the audiences are very different.
One is mostly browsed by young males from home looking to make money online in their spare time.
While the other is a wider age range of males browsing primarily from work and are likely to be full time internet marketing professionals.
It is also worth noting that SearchEngineJournal.com gets significantly more traffic than JohnChow.com.
Notice how SearchEngineJournal.com traffic drops like a stone every weekend? This is inline with the audience definition above.
Which site do you think will bring the most traffic & value to my blog?
So with all of that in mind, let’s take a look at exactly how each site performed.
The first thing we are going to look at is how many times each of the articles was shared on a social network.
As you can see JohnChow.com is clearly lagging behind with the article on SearchEngineJournal getting over 6 times more social activity across 4 networks.
Quite clearly the winner when it comes to social sharing!
Next let’s take a look at how many comments each article generated.
So SearchEngineJournal edges ahead when it comes to the comment numbers, but there are a few things we need to consider while looking at this number-
Without knowing how many unique visitors each post got it is hard to decide a winner.
In both cases my article generated a lot more comments than the average article receives.
And that’s a marginal win – John Chows smaller audience is more engaged than the larger audience of SEJ. He gets more comments from less traffic but overall SEJ landed the greater number.
This is where we start to see a real difference between the two audiences.
Remember, SearchEngineJournal.com gets substantially more traffic from a professional audience, had 6 times more social shares & 50% more comments than John Chow.
To be honest I was expecting these posts to bring more traffic than they did. I get similar levels of traffic from having the first comment on a popular post.
What we can see here though is a continued theme of engagement from John Chow’s audience.
Yes he sent 60% less traffic than SEJ but they visited more pages, spent more time on site and offered a much lower bounce rate.
To put those numbers into perspective, across my blog the average pages per visit is 2.57. The average visit duration is 4 minutes 56 seconds and the average bounce rate is 54%
I’ll take less but more engaged traffic over more but less engaged traffic any day!
I track 3 metrics on my site – email sign ups, affiliate clicks and tutorial resource downloads.
This is where it gets really interesting…
The numbers really do speak for themselves in this round. John Chows audience convert very well. SEJ on the other hand, well they struggle to convert at all!
Clearly the winner hands down – I don’t even need to explain why.
So they have both won 2 rounds a piece. SEJ provided more social shares, comments & traffic but JohnChow provided a more engaged audience that converted.
There is obviously a clear difference between the sites.
I think this is largely because John Chow’s blog is aimed at the make money online market where there are lots of people hungry to learn in their spare time.
Whereas Search Engine Journals audience are already full time internet marketing / SEO professionals and are generally busy people reading throughout their working day.
I believe the huge difference in social shares comes from the busier audience just retweeting things that catch their attention without necessarily reading it.
Both audiences have their own benefits. John Chow’s audience brought me new sign ups, but the post at Search Engine Journal helped expose my name to industry professionals.
I really have no idea! Both John Chow and Search Engine Journal have their strengths – who won is really dependent on your businesses goals.
However I do know which the best internet marketing forum is for traffic!