Google Analytics stats from the Atlassian documentation wiki

A while ago Susan Grodsky dropped a comment on my blog, asking me to write something about Atlassian’s experiences in allowing users to comment publicly on our documentation. I’ve been gathering some information for such a post. But first, I thought, it would be useful to know a bit about the traffic that our documentation wiki receives. So here we go.

I’ve been delving into Google Analytics to gather some stats about the number of visitors to our documentation. In a follow-up post, I’ll take a look at the comments people have posted on the documentation pages in the same period of time.

A bit about our documentation wiki

We write and publish all our documentation on a single Confluence site: confluence.atlassian.com, fondly known as CAC. It hosts the documentation for all our products: JIRA, Confluence, Crowd, FishEye, Crucible, Bamboo, JIRA Studio and more.

Each product has its own documentation “space”. Most products in fact have a number of spaces, one for each major release of the product. If you go to the wiki dashboard and scroll down, you’ll see the list of spaces on the left-hand side of the screen.

And yes, the documentation for the Confluence product is hosted on Confluence itself.🙂 So, the Confluence documentation space is just one of the spaces on the documentation wiki at confluence.atlassian.com.

I’ll give some stats for the wiki as a whole. Then we’ll look at one single space, the documentation for the Confluence product itself.

Below: Stats for the entire wiki over 6 months, from 14 July 2010 to 14 January 2011

Google Analytics stats from the Atlassian documentation wiki

6 months from 14 July 2010 to 14 January 2011

  • Number of visits: 3 308 866
  • Number of page views: 11 037 412
  • Number of visitors: 1 798 667 (not shown on the screenshot)

Below: Stats for the entire wiki over 1 week, from 7 to 14 January 2011

Google Analytics stats from the Atlassian documentation wiki

Google Analytics stats from the Atlassian documentation wiki

  • Number of visits: 157 312
  • Number of page views: 540 488
  • Number of visitors: 99 329

Below: Top content across the entire wiki over 1 week, from 7 to 14 January 2011

Google Analytics stats from the Atlassian documentation wiki

Google Analytics stats from the Atlassian documentation wiki

Below: Traffic sources for the entire wiki over 1 week, from 7 to 14 January 2011

Google Analytics stats for the Atlassian documentation wiki

Google Analytics stats from the Atlassian documentation wiki

  • Direct traffic: 22.7%
  • Referring sites: 23.56%
  • Search engines: 53.04% (mostly Google)

Traffic sent from ffeathers to the Atlassian docs

Curiosity grabbed hold here: I wondered how much traffic my own blog had sent to our documentation wiki. So I had a look…

Google Analytics stats from the Atlassian documentation wiki

Google Analytics stats from the Atlassian documentation wiki

The above screenshot shows that ffeathers triggered 1 356 visits to the documentation wiki over 6 months. And over a week:

Google Analytics stats from the Atlassian documentation wiki

Google Analytics stats from the Atlassian documentation wiki

It seems that ffeathers accounted for 0.06% of the visits to the documentation site. Peanuts, maybe, but still interesting.🙂

Below: More about the visitors to the wiki over 1 week, from 7 to 14 January 2011

Google Analytics stats from the Atlassian documentation wiki

Google Analytics stats from the Atlassian documentation wiki

  • Number of visits: 157 312
  • Number of unique visitors: 99 329
  • Number of page views: 540 488
  • Most popular browser by far: Firefox

Below: Stats for the documentation for a single product, Confluence, over 1 week, from 7 to 14 January 2011

Let’s take a look at just one space in the wiki: the “DOC” space, containing the documentation for Confluence.

Google Analytics stats from the Atlassian documentation wiki

Google Analytics stats from the Atlassian documentation wiki

  • Number of pages viewed during that week: 1 793
  • Number of page views: 99 310
  • Number of unique page views: 78 037
  • Average time on page: 2 and a half minutes
  • Bounce rate: 52.92% (these are people who just read the one page they landed on, and then left without going elsewhere on the site)

Wrapping up for now

Google Analytics is pretty cool. As you can see from the screenshots, there’s a lot to learn from the information it gives. I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief glimpse into GA and into the number of hits our documentation wiki receives. In my next post, I’ll take a look at the comments we get on the Confluence documentation space (DOC) in particular.

About Sarah Maddox

Technical writer, author and blogger in Sydney

Posted on 22 January 2011, in atlassian, Confluence, technical writing, wiki and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Hi Sarah

    Did you learn anything about typos..if people mis-spell often, and what happens?

    • Hallo Ellis

      Is your question about what people enter into search queries, and what happens if they mis-spell a keyword in a search term — i.e. how it affects the visitor stats? I’m not sure if Google Analytics gives that sort of information.

      I’ve just had a quick look at the information on GA “Search Engine” page, specifically the “Search Engine” page for Google. You can see all the keywords that people entered, with stats for each keyword (number of visits, etc). There are also a number of intelligent reports that you can build.

      Beyond that, I don’t know. I’m a GA noob, and I’d like to hear the answer if anyone else knows it.

      Cheers
      Sarah

      • I’ve got a Google Custom Search Engine set up on one site with GA, and just took a peek through 500 search terms and found no typos. Since Google CSE offers corrections, the clickthroughs are counted on the corrected spelling or “Did you mean?” phrasing. So, for search, the Google search engine itself takes on the burden of correcting typos for users.

        With a Google CSE, if you know people search for a term but it’s not the “right” term for your content, you can offer a refinement – see http://www.google.com/support/customsearch/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=70346.

      • >Is your question about what people enter into search queries, and what happens if they mis-spell a keyword in a search term — i.e. how it affects the visitor stats?

        Yes – Are they ending up at your site, are you deliberately misspelling commonly misspelt terms, are they using unexpected terms etc.

  2. Wow, the site is doing really well. Great to see how a documentation site can be used to drive traffic.

  3. Hallo Sarah!

    Take a look at the analytics and see how much traffic the docs send to your main site…and how much of that traffic results in a conversion of some kind.

    You might see some unknown business value there!

    -Michcael

    • Hallo Michael

      Great idea! I’ve taken a look around. Over the past month, the documentation wiki has sent 1,251 visits to the website. That’s 0.32% of the site total. On average, each visit includes 3.21 pages. And the percentage of new visits is 17.19%.

      In addition our marketing team, who manage the website, have defined some “goals” and set up some excellent reports. You can see how many people went from the documentation wiki to the website and then downloaded one of the products, installed the product or purchased the product. There are various percentages, such as the goal conversion rate and the goal value per visit. Pretty impressive stuff.

      Looking at it the other way round, the website sent 5,698 visits to the documentation in the same period of time.

      There are a number of other websites around too. For example, the documentation wiki sent 921 visits to the Atlassian blog (blogs.atlassian.com).

      There’s a lot of information there. On the whole, I’d rather do the writing than the analysis of stats like these. Still, it’s cool to have the tool and to be able to use it to answer specific questions every now and then.

      Cheers
      Sarah

  4. “You can see how many people went from the documentation wiki to the website and then downloaded one of the products, installed the product or purchased the product.”

    IMO: That’s the number you want to keep an eye on. See: http://www.forbes.com/2010/08/07/customer-service-fulkerson-technology-documentation.html

    Regardless, you’re just wandering around if you don’t understand your metrics. And from what it looks like, y’all at Atlassian are definitely not wandering around.

    • Hallo Michael
      I disagree here, though I think it’s just a matter of emphasis.🙂 I don’t think the primary aim of a documentation site is to drive click-through sales. Instead, the primary aim is to help customers, both existing customers and those who are evaluating the product. In the case of existing customers, the silent marketing gain is customer retention. Increasingly, the documentation also fosters community spirit.

      It could also be simplistic to assume that many people would click straight through from the documentation to make a purchase. It depends on the product, I guess. In the case of enterprise software, people are likely to gather information from all over the show, collate it and map it to their requirements. Only once the decision is made and the budgeting done are they ready to buy. Then they’d go directly to the purchase site, I’d think.

      Therefore, it could be a mistake to design your docs around that metric, or to measure the success of the doc site that way.

      The bounce rate and length of time spent on a page are interesting. Two and a half minutes on a page is a good length of time, indicating perhaps that people are finding what they need. Combined with a bounce rate of fifty percent, I’m thinking that’s good too. But we’d need to analyse those and other stats in more detail and for a smaller set of pages, to get meaningful information that will help us tailor the docs to what readers are looking for.

      This is a very interesting thread. Thanks for kicking it off, Michael! Does my reply trigger any more thoughts?

      Cheers, Sarah

      • Oh my, yes it does trigger more thoughts. Oddly enough, “I wish we still had #tcchat discussions” is right there among them.😛

        You raised a lot of points there and I’m afraid I wasn’t really clear. I don’t think you should sacrifice usability and utility of the documentation for clickthroughs, etc… I just meant that it’s all for nothing if you just lob the docs over the wall and don’t look to see how users are interacting with them. Relationship to sales is just one metric, and not the primary purpose. Usability, accessibility, relevance are more important. You can get some feel for some of these elements by bounce and time on page, etc… But you also have the luxury of being able to interact with your readers through comments, etc.

        Does that make any more sense?

        -Michael

      • Hallo again Michael

        Yes, that makes perfect sense. We’re on the same page, both literally and figuratively.😉

        I love this sort of discussion-by-blog because it helps get my thoughts in line and other people can follow along asynchronously too.

        Cheers, Sarah

  5. Sarah, in an answer to another comment, you wrote:

    “Two and a half minutes on a page is a good length of time, indicating perhaps that people are finding what they need. Combined with a bounce rate of fifty percent, I’m thinking that’s good too.”

    This was very helpful, because it put meaning to the Analytics charts. What other conclusions have you drawn from Google Analytics?

    • Hallo Susan

      I haven’t put much time into getting information out of the stats yet. I wanted to see the number of visitors, to put some context around my next post, where I’ll look at the comments we get on the doc pages.

      I’d like to refine the set of pages analysed, and perhaps build some custom reports too. But first there are some major product releases requiring documentation. Familiar story.🙂

      One interesting thing is the list of most popular pages in the DOC space. Top of the list are the doc home pages. That’s not surprising. But very high up are some esoteric technical pages, such ad the one about setting JAVA_HOME. I suspect people are coming to our docs for help even when they’re not using our products. That’s interesting from the marketing point of view.

      Cheers, Sarah

  6. AWESOME post Sarah!! – proof and point that documentation exposed to the Web in a versatile and easy to update medium (i.e., wiki) not only makes it more available and reduces support requirements, but also inherantly promotes product sales and gives corps that do it a huge competitive edge (tech and SEO wise). Google “goblins” (aka spiders) love changing content!

    Albeit also not surprised – Atlassian has been a leader in this strategic path as a working example for while –

    When will the rest of the business world learn the strategic value of both the open doc AND valuable content creators (i.e., tech doc writers/information architects)?

  7. Hallo Ellen

    Thanks, I’m so glad you like the post!

    You raise an interesting question, asking when the rest of the business world will learn the strategic value of open documentation. I think the term “open”, in this context, encompasses two meanings. First, that the documentation is open to the general public for viewing. Second, that a wider group of people than is traditionally the case, perhaps even everyone, can update the documentation.

    I’d like to know just what the stats are in the business world at the moment. How many organisations would be willing to open up their documentation for viewing and/or editing, given the technology. And how many have already done so.

    Thanks for adding a good point for discussion.🙂

    Cheers
    Sarah

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