How do people get to my website? By what paths do people find
their way to http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/?
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
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
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.