Comparing Feed Stats

October 20th, 2008

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Many sites, including Google Sightseeing, use the excellent (now Google owned) FeedBurner service to serve their RSS feed. FeedBurner helps “bloggers, podcasters and commercial publishers promote, deliver and profit from their content on the Web”, mainly by providing tools which provide statistical reports and analysis to help publishers capitalise on their content.

According to our FeedBurner stats, Google Sightseeing recently hit a milestone in terms of number of subscribers; we now average over 100,000 unique subscribers.


Live updating figure

Unfortunately the number of people actually reading the feed on any one day is likely to be far below that, but it’s still seems like a pretty massive number to us. Because FeedBurner numbers are public1, for any site that uses the service, you can use a free service called FeedCompare to chart their subscriber number against anyone else that uses FeedBurner. Which is how I created the following graph:


(The red line is Google Sightseeing, and the regular drops were due to a long standing bug that incorrectly returned a very small amount of subscribers)

This shows the number of subscribers reported by FeedBurner over the past 24 months, for Google Sightseeing (red), GEarth Blog (blue), Google Earth Hacks (green), and Google Maps Mania (purple).

The big jump in reported numbers back in February ’07 was when Google took over and Google Reader result began to be shown in the figures, but what’s really interesting is what happened to the Google Sightseeing feed immediately after that…

As you can see, once the Google stats were included, our figures began a steady rise that has continued on exactly the same trajectory ever since. The figures for the Google Earth Blog and Google Maps Mania have remained about the same, whilst GEarth Hacks has had several large jumps – this probably makes sense, as when a site gets a big link from somewhere you might expect a sudden increase in subscriber numbers2.

Given the relative flatness of the other graphs, why is it that Google Sightseeing has had such steady growth over the same period?

Although we can’t be sure, and of course the high quality of Google Sightseeing promotes people to tell their friends, but I think this may well be due to Google Reader’s suggestion feature.

So, if you read Google Sightseeing, how did you find it?


  1. Since writing this post, FeedBurner has been subsumed into the Google Hive Mind, and our stats no longer get updated. 

  2. With little drop-off, as people don’t seem to unsubscribe from anything very often! 

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