Matt Cutts and Web Analytics


Today, Matt Cutts showed the browser technographics for the last month of his blog. He was surprised that his IE and Firefox users were split, given that techies are so inclined to use Firefox (I wasn’t at PubCon but apparently they did a quick survey and found that it was two to one in favor of Firefox.)

He has a techie blog, right, a techie audience. So why is his audience not more highly skewed toward Firefox? My blog is just about the same as his, half and half, so I used my stats to evaluate the thoughts below. (Not a great idea, but better than no data.) These were the things that I considered:

Hypothesis: Firefox users “get it” faster than IE users so don’t have to visit each post as often. After all, he was showing visits, not unique visitors. Hypothetical answer: Not only is this technological snobbery on my part, but it’s just not true. I couldn’t find any trend to prove that one.

Hypothesis: IE users are more likely to visit (e.g. to search and click through from the SERP) when the blog post is going to be less technical. Hypothetical answer: Possible. He did show how skewed his WA were when he did the post on hacking. However, to really feel good about this one, I would want more data.

Hypothesis: SEOs may like to use IE but don’t want to admit it in a survey where everyone can see. Hypothetical answer: I like this one. I was very surprised at how many SEO presenters used IE while speaking at SES Chicago.

Hypothesis: Tech-heavy Cutts readers are feed subscribers and they don’t need to visit his blog to read the post: it comes through in their feeds. Hypothetical results: This is my absolute favorite, especially because he showed how Firefox-heavy his analytics were when he did an extremely techie post. The post had over 100 comments (I think it was 132), and to comment, you have to actually visit the blogsite; a feed isn’t good enough. When they visit, the WA finally sees them. Of course, there are probably people who subscribe and have to click through to actually read the post (like My Yahoo! subscribers), but many do not.

Robbin Steif

Our founder, Robbin Steif, started LunaMetrics in 2004. She is a graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard Business School, and has served on the Board of Directors for the Digital Analytics Association. Robbin is a winner of a BusinessWomen First award, as well as a Diamond Award for business leadership. In 2017, Robbin sold her company to HS2 Solutions and has since retired from LunaMetrics.

  • Anonymous

    I’d agree with the last hypothesis. Folk read the articles in their feedreaders – if only ’cause that’s what I do. 🙂

    Rare indeed is the posting on Matt’s site where I am sufficiently intrigued to actually read the comments – the sheer volume can be offputting, as well as all the “Me Too!”‘s.
    Vs Your site, Dear Lady, where the comments are always interesting. 🙂

    Avinash’s, by way of example, is another site where the comments are worth reading.

    One also wonders with Matt’s site: He does have a more tech savvy audience. Firefox and assorted plugins make it *very* easy to disable page tagging. I do it myself. Does this artificially reduce the firefox percentages? /hypothetical.
    My own log analysis vs GA suggests this does happen. Not yet done a detailed comparison. Estimate around the 10-30% mark tho.

    The other related question is those who deliberately hide their browser identity to get around sites that insist you run IE.
    This one I did a full scale analysis on about a year or so ago and concluded that: Yes it does happen, but the percentage of those doing so was a fraction of a fraction of a percent. Statistically: lost in the noise.

    By way of comparison? (if anyone cares.. 🙂 ) When I did a very techo posting in mid October – targetted at sysadmins, and linux/unix ones at that, the breakdown, according to GA, was:

    Firefox 60.94%
    Internet Explorer 17.39%
    Opera 8.74%
    Safari 4.28%
    Mozilla 3.81%
    Konqueror 3.55%

    Nov and Dec’s numbers aren’t too different. FFox dropping to 50% being the major change. Opera picked up the drop – now at 20%.


    – Steve

  • Jacques Warren

    How about that many of those people work and visit the site from companies where IE is the standard?

  • Anonymous


    You can sometimes (ie very roughly) work this out (IE in mandated environments), if you have access to the raw logs/data.
    Combo of Whois and Reverse DNS lookups can expose companies gateways and similar.
    Sometimes referrals from Intranets do similar.
    Also, just looking at the raw Browser Ident string can expose companies as they often add a little “XYZ Corp” addition.
    It’s relatively slow, somewhat hand-raulic and can be painful.

    Flip? Does it matter? From a Firefox vs IE marketing perspective? Sure. From a users who use my sites? Not really to No.

    I do the slice and dicing on organisations for other reasons. It’s useful seeing the types of organisations who visit us.
    Personal (Consumers) or Professional usage mainly being the estimate. It’s also a useful backdrop to our real-world marketing measurements. We appear to get better bang for buck by marketing to professionals who in turn market to consumers on our behalf. So being able to split the two out, as best we can, is beneficial.

    We find that Geographic identification is pretty useless, for us, beyond Country. And even that only once or twice a year or so. Organisation identification is far more useful to us. YMMV.


    – Steve

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