There were a couple of comments on the last post asking about the google trends data I presented (one asked if it was fair to compare direct.gov with usa.gov and perhaps i should have used a state portal; the other asked what the 180k visitors might actually be doing on the site). Here's some more data to perhaps cloud the picture showing average daily traffic over the last year for direct.gov.uk and hmrc.gov.uk:
This graph comes from compete.com, who - to help answer the "what are the people doing when they visit direct.gov" question - also say that these are the keywords that get visitors to the site:
Some definitions: share is the percentage of the total, engagement is the ratio of time spent on the site having used that keyword (so the word that generates the most stickiness is 100, in this case that's "access to work") and effectiveness is a kind of visitors * time spent combination so that you can determine the most effective keyword.
There's a BIG caveat with this data as far as I can tell. And it comes from this text on the site "Compete ranks the top one million websites in the U.S. based on the number of People the domain attracts each month" - now I don't see why anyone from the USA would be visiting these sites (ok, some folks might, if they were considering visiting the UK or moving here perhaps with their employer, hence "access to work"). And in the FAQs, this is said
Compete estimates site traffic and engagement metrics based on the daily browsing activity of over 2,000,000 U.S. Internet users. Compete applies a rigorous normalization methodology, leveraging scientific multi-dimensional scaling (by age, income, gender and geography) to ensure metrics are representative of the U.S. Internet population. Compete members are recruited through multiple sources, including ISPs, the Compete Toolbar and additional opt-in panels to ensure a diverse distribution of user types and to facilitate de-biasing across the data sources.
So maybe there are a bunch of UK people who have installed the compete toolbar widget? The idea that Americans might be searching a UK site for "disability living allowance" seems far fetched.
As another angle, here's some data from Alexa - I don't know that this helps or hinders (it measures "reach" which is apparently a combined view of page views and unique users, again using a toolbar that you download and that collects data on sites you visit - they don't say how many people have downloaded said toolbar). This appears pretty consistent with the Google Trends data in the last post.
On the "Is it a fair comparison?", I don't know - I'm game to try other ones. suggest a few sites that I should compare and I'll post the results here.
And, to help answer "What are they doing" ... this is what google says are the top few search terms for direct.gov - none of them are "access to work" you'll see. The plain conclusion from these google results is that Road Tax is by far the most attractive offer for direct.gov.uk.
Some other stats that I have - from a very short sample period in January 2008 - show the following as the top 20 terms that people used to get to direct.gov.uk from external search terms. The sample period is only a few days so the numbers aren't very relevant ... but they do show that "Road Tax" isn't the biggest thing, although there's no question it's a big driver (ha!). The sum of these visits is just over 100,000 and about 20% of those are car related (including theory test etc). What is interesting is that people use google to search for "direct gov" and "direct.gov" (and there are appearances lower down the list of direct.gov.uk and even direct.gov.uk/motoring - and I suspect that this somewhat discredits the view of another commenter that the "e" in e-government stands for elitist! There are also plenty of people who searched for www.dvla.gov.uk and found themselves at direct.gov.uk.
Finally, to help the "What are they doing?" point,next to the external search engine figures I've put the top 20 search results from the internal direct.gov search engine - i.e. what people searched for once they arrived at the site (from the same period as the figures above). Again, car related topics feature often.
Does any of that help?