Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Findory traffic Q2 2006

I have posted graphs of the traffic for Findory.com every quarter for the last couple years ([1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]). As you can see from those previous posts, for the first two years, Findory had rapid, exponential growth.

The Q2 2006 numbers are in. Unfortunately, the growth Findory has seen in the past has stalled.


Frankly, it is hard to describe this as anything short of dismal. Not only did traffic drop in Q2 2006, it dropped slightly below the level of Q4 2005. I am very disappointed.

What was the reason for the drop? A major factor appears to be a large decline in referrals from other web sites. In particular, traffic to and through Findory Inline and Findory's RSS feeds and API decreased by 30-40% this quarter. Referrals from search engines (e.g. Google, MSN, Yahoo) also dropped by about 30%.

The surprising thing about these numbers is that they come at a quarter when Findory had some remarkable successes. In this quarter, Findory was mentioned in the Wall Street Journal and in PC World (excerpts on the Findory Press page). Findory even was compared favorably to Google News ("[Google's] recommendation engine seems less intelligent and transparent than Findory's" -- PC World), a remarkable achievement for a tiny startup.

Also in this quarter, Findory launched a new interface, Findory Mobile, that delivers a personalized selection of news and weblog headlines to your mobile phone. Findory Mobile is the only news site designed for mobile devices that selects and recommends articles based on the articles you read on your phone.

And, just a few weeks ago, Findory launched Findory Podcasts and Findory Video. While there are other directories of podcasts, Findory Podcasts is the only one that recommends podcasts based on what you listen to. Findory Video recommends videos by paying attention to what videos you watch, taming the usual sea of crud you see on YouTube and Google Video by surfacing videos that are likely to be of interest.

Looking forward to the next quarter, I plan on focusing on expanding Findory's crawl in all product lines and making iterative improvements to the personalization in the newer features: podcasts, video, mobile, web search, and advertising.

Although it is a frequent requests from Findory readers, I am afraid Findory will not be able to offer support for non-English languages, mostly because of the cost of adapting the analyses supporting Findory's personalization to non-English languages. As much as I would like to expand internationally, Findory is a tiny, self-funded company, and it cannot bear the cost.

The latest traffic numbers are disappointing, but Findory's mission remains unchanged. Information overload must be tamed. We must seek relevancy. The useful and interesting must be surfaced. Findory will help personalize information.

10 comments:

Elroy Jetson said...

Although there is a dip, I would chalk it up to the extensive competition. Although I find findory to be unique and at the head of the class, its numbers must be getting dinged by sites that are new comers such as rojo, tailrank, digg, and now netscape is in the fray. Once people realize that those other services are not serving up personal news so much as spam ridden nonsense they will look elsewhere and likely return.

Personally I used to hit CNN (I felt out of the news sites they had the easiest to read layout) and then drudgereport.com every morning. Now I use, mainly, findory. So findory has definitly changed my news reading habits.

Murray said...

Greg,

I've tried Google news, Google newsreader, yahoo news, bloglines, newsvine, digg and techmeme. My conclusion is that Findory is the most relevant and easiest to use.

According to my stats I've now read 1133 articles on Findory.

I think you have great product but your problem is that people dont know it. It took months of reading web 2.0 blogs before findory was mentioned.

I think you need to do more advertising and cut deals with portals to incorporate your service.

One feature I would request is the ability to view my favorites by recency instead of (and as well as) by relevance ranking. I often want to scan all the article summaries from my fav's to make sure Im not missing out on something.

keep up the good work

Murray

Ali said...

I tried findory for a while, and then stopped using it. I went back to BBC/Google News.

While I did find it interesting, here are some of the reasons why I stopped using it:

1) I did not feel like it was learning a lot about my preferences (I like specifically, to read any/all news about my country, Egypt)

2) The amount of articles related to the topic I usually read about is little compared to Google News. Perhaps you need more sources?

3) Sometimes I like to read a lot more news about very different/varied topics. This throws Findory off sometimes as it will present me more of these types of articles, when I'm not really interested in them. Many times on the BBC News site, there are some 'bizzare news' articles on topics that I wouldn't ordinarily read about. It's sometimes fun to read about something new, rather than what you usually read.

4) Perhaps this is a feature that is already there, but I didn't feel like being forced to browse as many articles as possible for Findory to begint o develop a profile of me. Is there some way we can do an 'initial seed'? (e.g. I fill out a questionnaire or give it some key words/topics that I like)

Hope this information helps you and good luck with Findory. I will probably give it another shot to see how I like it (these comments are based on me using it sometimes in Q4 2005).

Andre Stechert said...

It's a little suspicious that there's a strong correlation between the decreases in inline, rss, api, google, yahoo, and msn. From a distance, those sources look like they have little to do with each other...perhaps something else is afoot?

Peter Morse said...

Greg--

I'm curious. Did you see your daily traffic recover somewhat in the last few days on June? We have sites that experienced an initial dip as Google rolled Big Daddy at the start of Q2, but then recovered a significant amount of traffic right at the end of June.

If a lot of your traffic came from Google-- and also from partner sites that leverage your content (and also receive a lot of traffic from Google)-- then you might see a dip across multiple channels.

If a lot of your content is syndicated, it could be a result of Google's effort to canonicalize URl's.

This doesn't really explain a dip in MSN or Yahoo referred traffic. It's my experience, though, that Q2 traffic decreases over Q1 due to seasonality. You definitely wouldn't have seen seasonal effects in the past as your site was being rapidly adopted and you were consistently posting Q-over-Q growth. (If you recall our Amazon days, we saw the same kind of thing in the late 90's. By '01 or '02, however, Q1 was always dipping vs. Q4.)

Greg Linden said...

Thanks, Elroy and Murray. Glad to hear Findory is working well for you!

Good point, Ali, on expanding the crawl, especially the international news coverage. I plan on focusing on expanding the crawl over the next few months.

It is curious, Andre. I admit I do not have a good explanation as to why traffic from those sources would both drop.

That's a good point, Pete. Findory is small enough that I doubt seasonality is a major factor, but it could be that we used to get more search engine traffic coming to our source and article pages instead of to the original article or source. I did notice in the past that Findory occasionally was listed higher in the search results for a name of a weblog than the actual weblog. I never intended that to happen, but it would have generated traffic to Findory.

Todd Beaupre said...

Kudos to you, Greg for posting the news, even if it was negative.

From my personal experience, Reddit has been taking much more of my time. While their news/blog recommendations aren't as good as Findory's, I find their "hot" list to be quite compelling.

I still check into Findory pretty frequently and recently added and RSS feed to My Yahoo!, though, so keep up the good work.

P.S. You should add an "Add to My Y!" button to make subscriptions easier for the masses.

Otis Gospodnetic said...

Greg,

First of all, I admire you for posting this, despite the fact that it doesn't look good for Findory. I'm a happy and regular, daily Findory user. It did a very good job of learning my preferences from day 1 (1000 articles read so far... ads clicked on - zero).

I agree with the person who said you need to try to "advertise" Findory more. I get Findory emails, but I'm not sure if there is anything there to offer forwarding to help virality.

Reddit and TailRank are at the advantage in that they update regularly and let the "hot" stuff bubble up. That's less obvious at Findory, and I actually _never_ visit the site - I always just read articles from the email. Ads in emails?
I actually dislike frequent updates, as it creates and causes addiction, and I very much agree with you about taming the information overload.

As for the dip, it could be Google. There is a strong correlation between how many of your pages Google (and Yahoo) have indexed, and how many visitors find you. I see you are not tracking this, for example: http://ehlist.ca/show/9020 (bookmark it.... to Simpy, preferably!)

Just don't give up. Every storm is followed by sunshine (sounds weird in English, it's adirect translation from Croatian).

Ted Herman said...

Google Homepage
Maybe consider having Findory as a module on google homepages (not sure what's involved in enabling that).

Kevin said...

Great stuff..... why not move to sitemeter? I love those guys.........

Google analytics is pretty damn good too.