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Created: 1999-08-14
Last Modified: 2000-03-02
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Referrals to Brad DeLong's Website

How do people get to my website? By what paths do people find their way to I pulled up the server logs for a week--the week that ended at midnight February 27, 2000--and took a look at where people came from. The twenty-five highest were:


The first and most obvious thing to note is the dominance of Altavista. It is by far the largest referrer, as the premier internet search engine. (You should ignore Google's score. Google is a good search engine, but searches internal to my site use Google; I haven't yet parsed the server log files to see which IPs coming from Google had immediately before touched down on my website's search page.) Altavista delivers three times as many referrals as do any of the other internet search engines or webportals.

Below Altavista and Google, the list of referrers consists of a bunch of other search engines: Infoseek, AOL search, Inktomi-at-Yahoo, Lycos, the Microsoft Network, other Yahoo, Metacrawler, Dogpile, Ask Jeeves, Go, Looksmart, All the Web. Together they amount to three times as many hits as Altavista: the search engine/portal business appears to be highly fragmented.

But these amount to only nineteen of the top 25 referring domains. The remaining six are:

That two of the top six non-search engine non-portal referrers are U.S. school districts is very heartening: it suggests that in relative terms there really is a lot of education going on on the web. (OK, it suggests that for the portion of web surfers who come to my webpage). The assembled AOL users of America are there because all AOL users appear as a single domain: each AOL user is (presumably) referring only a small number of web surfers. The World Bank makes sense. So does the Berkeley economics department's website.

But pause at the last one: Paul Krugman at MIT. I cannot believe that as many as 1/2 of one percent of the visitors to Krugman's website find and click on the link he has from his site to mine. Yet 155 referring his are logged in a week.

Does this mean that Paul Krugman is getting more than 30,000 unique users accessing his website every week? Probably. If so, then he has already established a very important role as a central place for people seeking information about today's economics and economic policy.

The dominant position that both Altavista and Paul Krugman have achieved in their respective domains wish, hope, and pray for. In Altavista's case, the much greater number of eyeballs that they draw is the source of their potential profitability--they can charge higher advertising rates, and devote more machines to crawling and indexing the web than their competitors. Economies of scale in the provision of internet search services mean that they are likely to keep their dominant position for a long time. They may well profit from it too.

I want to watch these trends over the next year. Perhaps I will then be able to catch the winner-take-all economy in motion, for I predict that a larger share of referrals to my site will come from both Altavista and Paul Krugman in a year than come from them today.

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>>I want to watch these trends over the next year. Perhaps I will then be able to catch the winner-take-all economy in motion, for I predict that a larger share of referrals to my site will come from both Altavista and Paul Krugman in a year than come from them today. <<

Ten bucks sez otherwise. Altavista, maybe. But you need to figure into your projections that Krugman's website has begun to suck badly, since he got that NY Times column. It hasn't been updated for the last month. I've stopped bothering with it and I used to be a daily visitor. BTW, are sure that == Krugman? If there are a few students with MIT homepages that have bookmarked your site, that might skew things???


Contributed by dd ( on May 3, 2000.

I can understand that the economy of scale would give Altavista advantage. However, I dont see Prof. Krugman's website being a central role. His website provides mostly his original content and is not organized for general viewing habit on the internet. Thus, I feel people go to his site more for his content than for general economic information. Because economists very often disagree, wouldnt this fact makes the demand for economic information highly fragmented and further reduced the economic of scale of his website?

Contributed by Victor Cheng ( on May 3, 2000.

Professor of Economics J. Bradford DeLong, 601 Evans Hall, #3880
University of California at Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
(510) 643-4027 phone (510) 642-6615 fax

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