We’ve been monitoring the volume of traffic to GOV.UK since launch. We want to ensure that the people who used to rely on Directgov and Business Link can still find the reliable and authoritative information and services they need.
As the GOV.UK dashboard shows, and some followers have commented, the numbers of visits and unique visitors have fallen since the first week after launch. So what’s been going on?
I’ll start with some caveats. Firstly, GOV.UK, Directgov and Business Link all use different analytics software, implemented in different ways. The figures are not calculated in the same way. Nevertheless, our benchmarking shows that comparing trends across the three sites is a worthwhile exercise. Secondly, I’ll focus on the month or so after GOV.UK came out of beta, but before the first iteration of Inside Government and before the job search entry page moved to GOV.UK. This gives us the closest comparison of Directgov and Business Link traffic to GOV.UK.
Here’s the weekly data from the GOV.UK dashboard:
If we compare GOV.UK data for October and November, against Directgov and Business Link a month earlier in September and October, the data looks more worrying; with visits down 12% and unique visitors down 20%.
But looking back over the past month doesn’t really give us enough context. So how did Directgov perform over the last two years?
Looking at the Directgov monthly visits, we noticed two things. Firstly, there’s a strong seasonal pattern with traffic falling off in the autumn. Secondly Directgov performed well in 2012.
Over the month, visits to GOV.UK increased by 14% and unique visitors increased by 3%.
So we think the biggest influence on traffic trends is this strong seasonal pattern. We’ll start investigating whether particular topics and services are less in demand in the autumn or whether there is a more even distribution of the tail off. This is useful insight for our content designers who ensure that seasonal topics are highlighted at the right time of year.
Of course, the launch of Inside Government and the move of additional government services to GOV.UK will impact significantly on traffic.
We’ll continue to monitor 'like for like' traffic for a while, but we'll focus on GOV.UK’s own traffic patterns as the site evolves.