Climate Progress probably has the most widely read headlines and content of any dedicated climate blog in the world. There’s no way of knowing for sure because web statistics aren’t terribly reliable and much of our readership simply cannot be tracked.
Before the initial merger with Think Progress, I wrote a post on May 31, 2011, “… the world’s most viewed climate website.” I pointed out that using the web statistics comparison program favored by the leading denier website (Alexa), Climate Progress had the same number of page views as the site that quotes someone claiming it is “… the world’s most viewed climate website.”
Since then, we merged with TP and then, more recently, Climate Progress subsumed TP Green. The result is our direct page views are up 30% to 50% on most days. The climate disinformation sites have all stagnated (or declined) using their favored Alexa comparison program (and even using Quantcast). As an aside, Alexa is well known to be unreliable (and gamable), so it is the perfect comparison site for the disinformers, who are unconcerned with accurate statistics.
And CP’s measured traffic stats don’t even count the huge number of people who read the content without coming to this website. Some 8,000 people subscribe to the daily e-mail that delivers the previous 24 hours worth of posts — you can subscribe on CP’s right hand column. Also, since the merger, Climate Progress posts are routinely featured on the front page of Think Progress, which has more than 10 times our daily readership. And we continue to get our best content cross-posted at other highly trafficked websites, like Grist.
It’s not just the new design that has caused the rise in viewership. It’s also the increase in original content. I don’t think it reveals any secrets to say that the more high-quality original content your blog has, the more traffic you will get. We added the estimable Stephen Lacey right before the original merger and then picked up the highly capable bloggers of TP Green, Jessica Goad and Rebecca Leber. And they are on top of the first-rate CAPAF fellows who regularly write for CP.
It’s also clear that CP’s headlines are being viewed by vastly more people than they were before the merger. Headlines are important because they are probably read by 10 to 50 times more people than read the post itself. That’s why good headline writing is so important to blogging, something I discuss at length in my forthcoming book on communications and persuasion.
Social media are a key to getting headlines out. We send CP headlines out as tweets, and we’ve been adding Twitter followers at the rate of about 1000 per month and are nearly at 28,000. More important, retweets have jumped sharply since the redesign. Also, TP often retweets our headlines, and they have a remarkable 130,000 followers. And our Facebook “likes” have jumped sharply since the merger and particularly since we launched a FB page for Climate Progress.
Again, there is no way of knowing for sure how many people read the headlines — since you’d have to figure out viewership in search engines and content aggregators, too. Indeed, if you want some idea of just how many websites repost CP’s headlines (and sometimes its entire content) just do a Google search using the full headline for one of CP’s more popular posts. There are hundreds and hundreds of content and headline aggregators on the web.
If I had to estimate, I’d say CP headlines are probably read by at least twice as many people as before.
I don’t think it is surprising that the traffic for the disinformer websites is either stagnating or declining, whereas Climate Progress viewership is soaring.
Real science is intrinsically fascinating because it attempts to make sense of observations of the real world. We are dramatically changing the actual climate of the earth, and we are making more extreme many types of weather events that affect a great many people. Reporting on that story and understanding what comes next would be compelling even if it weren’t so consequential. The fact that unrestricted emissions of greenhouse gases poses an existential threat to modern human civilization makes this the story of the century, if not the story of the millennium (see “An Illustrated Guide to the Science of Global Warming Impacts: How We Know Inaction Is the Gravest Threat Humanity Faces“).
Sure, awareness of and interest in climate change may appear to wax and wane over the short term — especially to pollsters who ask flawed questions (see “Exclusive Bombshell: Experts Debunk Polls that Claim Sharp Drop in Number of Americans Who Believe in Global Warming“) — but it is only going to continue to grow over time as the reality of the threat becomes painfully obvious to all but the most blinkered denier.
The situation for the disinformers is the exact opposite.