How We’re Found (or, Referrer Stats for 2008)

Now that 2008 is over, we’ll be posting a few charts & graphs that illustrate some interesting trends in how our digital collections (and our shiny new system) have been used in the past year. This post focuses on “referrers,” or, those other sites that people come from that directly lead them to land on our pages.

OK, so what are we counting?

How many?

  • 890,000 referrals from 10,000 unique external domains (all Duke library web sites/pages excluded). Only the top 9 individually account for more than 1% of external referrals, so there’s quite a long tail.

Notable External Referrers

Of the 10,000, some stand out in particular…

Rank Referrer Page Views Pct Visitors
1 Google* 252,792 28.39% 188,530
4 Yahoo! Search 30,627 3.44% 26,233
9 Wikipedia 9,602 1.08% 8,545
13 American Memory (LOC) 7,307 0.82% 5,409
17 Library of Congress (Other) 5,135 0.58% 3,592
66 Google Images 1,146 0.13% 1,006
130 Facebook 540 0.06% 380
195 YouTube 330 0.04% 179
204 Flickr 308 0.03% 256

* Hundreds of Google domains are also peppered throughout (,, though this is just

It’s no surprise that Google leads the pack and far outpaces any other external referrer.  More than 28% of the times people landed on one of our pages from somewhere else, Google was that somewhere else.  On the other hand, Google Images ( didn’t produce much traffic to our site, despite it being a potentially great discovery resource for the kinds of things we’ve digitized.  Some further SEO research and tweaks might help us ensure we’re being found there in the future.

Battle of the Social Bookmarking Sites

Our system has easily bookmarkable URL’s for any item or set of results, so we put a handful of social bookmark quick-links at the bottom of the screen (example above) to encourage people to share and discuss. Whether or not our links were used for bookmarking, here’s a look at the traffic these and other bookmarking sites drew to our collections:

Rank Referrer Page Views Pct Visitors
2 StumbleUpon 133,829 15.03% 77,156
* 19 Digg 5,509 0.62% * 4,977
* 46 Delicious 1,681 0.19% * 1,169
130 Facebook 540 0.06% 380
172 Reddit 376 0.04% 375
* 418 Google Bookmarks 126 0.01% * 35
* 589 Connotea 78 0.01% * 8

* Estimated, after combining stats from multiple domains

Astonishingly, the social bookmarking site/service StumbleUpon was our #2 external referrer, second only to Google.  It drove far, far more traffic to Duke Digital Collections pages than the rest of the social bookmarking tools combined, and indeed, our own library website (see below).

Examples of StumbleUpon in action: This page (caution: potentially sensitive content ahead) made this item by far the most-viewed item of our entire digital collections during 2008 (over 10,000 views; stay tuned for more info in a future post).  And here are StumbleUpon pages for our Digital Collections homepage, a collection homepage, and a result set.

Traffic From Our Very Own Library Website(s)

To put the external referrers in context, here are examples of how many referrals to Digital Collections pages came from other pages in Duke Libraries websites.

Rank * Referrer Page Views Pct * Visitors
Special Collections & Centers 27,367 12,508
Library Home Page 11,998 4,282
Univ Archives 4,360 2,753
Music Library 3,113 2,378
Library OPAC (Classic/Aleph) 898 181
Library OPAC (New/Endeca) 662 184
Library Research/Ref (Subject Guides) 643 388
LibGuides (Subject Guides) 341 193

* Rank & Percentage not calculated as these are “internal” referrers/referrals

What jumps out here is a very small tally for hits coming from our library catalog interface (aka OPAC).  There’s currently little integration between the collections (and items within) and our catalog interface(s); currently some of the collections are cataloged as electronic resources (here’s an example), though that’s about it.

Our library homepage has also not been a particularly good facilitator of traffic to Digital Collections.  We started the year with a “Digital Collections” link in the CHECK THIS OUT section, then the link moved into LIBRARY SERVICES in the fall (see below).

We’re hoping for a more effective and engaging representation of Digital Collections on the library homepage in 2009.

Traffic from Elsewhere at Duke

Rank Referrer Page Views Pct Visitors
* 6 Duke Google Search 15,115 0.28% * 9,113
* 44 Duke News 1,730 * 1,403

* Estimated, after combining stats from multiple domains

Our friends at Duke News & Communications have featured several of our collections throughout 2008.  Here’s an example article from November.

More info to come

We have more facts, figures, and observations to share, so be on the lookout for more soon.  Let us know if you’ve noticed any interesting trends in your referrer stats, too.  Feel free to leave us some comments, observations, or questions here!

One thought on “How We’re Found (or, Referrer Stats for 2008)”

Comments are closed.