A week on MN Marshall US

Sometimes it is interesting to take a moment to see what resources people are using on this website.

First, this site gets very low traffic – less than 50 unique visitors per day. And I deliberately avoid collecting identifiable information about people – not even their full IP address, so I never know if the person who read page B after someone read page A is actually the same person. This makes almost any interpretation of what people are doing pretty much an educated guess, nothing more.

That said, I can identify several groups of visitors to the website. The four most easily identifiable groups are volunteers, people researching generally, people looking for a specific individual, and people following an interesting link.

Volunteers visit the site regularly, nearly every day for some. They often visit page after page, and probably know more about what is in the site than I do. They read, and re-read, the blog posts, the forums, cemeteries… Everything!

When I see, for example, a cemetery page get examined, and then a flurry of obituaries for people buried there, I jump to the conclusion someone is doing a general research. It may be about the cemetery, or a cluster of related family names, or the church associated with the cemetery… It could be many things, and luckily we have some information available which may help them out! Although they usually start on a Cemetery page, they visit quite a number of Obituaries, and may follow links elsewhere if it seems related to their subject.

Other times someone hits a specific cemetery page, and nothing else. Or a cemetery, then a single obituary. They arrived, they found the individual they were looking for, and they are gone. In internet terms this is called a ‘bounce’, but in genealogy research terms this is probably success!

The people following interesting links, often from search engines, are all over the map. People coming from search engines usually only follow one link before deciding this was not what they were looking for. People coming from MNGenWeb Project look more at the cemeteries and forums. Some will read entry after entry in the Cemeteries Talk forum.

Some of the things this says to me is we have a silent reading population who are really using the cemetery and obituary pages. The forums see a (surprising to me) amount of traffic; I should probably try to be more expansive there. Our blog pages get much less traffic, except from our volunteers and friends. This may change as we start placing our obituaries as blog entries.

One resource which is getting almost no traffic is our photos of headstones. This is probably primarily because our headstones are not well-linked or used. I should probably figure out how to make them more-easily identified for use, and write a tutorial on how to link them to obituaries.

Author: W Saewyc

An amateur genealogist and internet hobbyist.

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