How much traffic does a Slackware review get in 2016

It has been 90 days since the release of Slackware 14.2 so I figured this might be a good time to quickly review some numbers from my server logs and take a peak in the Google Search Console. This server and Google Search Console both provide 90 days of data.

A short disclaimer: This is an informal survey and I make no claims to the extent that my numbers reflect the current public interest in the Slackware Linux distribution. Slackware has dedicated user and developer community and claims to the opposite should be laid to rest with the 14.2 release.

Google search - Is Slackware dead

Whenever I try a Google search prediction with the phrase “Is Slackware…” Google’s autocomplete function always seems to believe the appropriate suggestion to be “dead”.
With that chilling effect in mind, lets have a look at the actual numbers.

Google Search Console

If you’re not familiar with Google Search Console please note that “search analytics” only gives you data associated with your own site. That means you’ll only see clicks or impressions for queries where your site appeared in search results. In short, these numbers wont necessarily reflect any interest in Slackware beyond this limited scope.

Slackware 14.2 - Search Analytics
Queries containing “Slackware 14.2” for the period Jul 2 – Sep 29

As shown on the image above, the query “slackware 14.2 review” resulted in my site being listed 1156 times (impressions) and collected 519 clicks. I also received some traffic from other Slackware 14.2 related searches giving me a total of 801 clicks.

The traffic is modest to put it politely, but I do suspect the low numbers are a result of people relaying on Youtube for their GNU/Linux reviews. I’ve seen some good coverage on Slackware on Youtube so lets stick with that theory.

Analyzing server logs

I don’t use any analytics service on this site, so I’ll only have limited coverage parsed directly from my server logs. The server uses the NCSA extended/combined log format:

"%h %l %u %t \"%r\" %>s %b \"%{Referer}i\" \"%{User-agent}i\""

Having the referer and user-agent fields permits me to identify which external site (if any) the traffic originated from, and the user-agent permits me to identify bots. I keep traffic data for three months before the logs are automatically purged. To analyse relevant traffic I’ll be importing the server logs (while excluding bots) into a local Piwik installation as it’s to much of a hassle to write regexes to give me the information I want. Since I don’t have any client-side visitor data, I’ll focus on pageviews and referrers for the Slackware 14.2 review page.

Slackware 14.2 review - Pageviews for the period Jul 2 – Sep 29
The Slackware 14.2 review received 6030 pageviews during the period Jul 2 – Sep 29

Compared to the results from Google Search Console, it paints a more nuanced picture regarding the interest in the review. Organic search only accounts for 20% while website traffic makes up for 60% of the pageviews. As shown on the image above, a lot of traffic originates from Distrowatch which referred a total of 2071 visitors (and counting).

Happy slacking!

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