The Impact of Steve Jobs’ Death on the Web

Image from apple.com

How did the web react to the untimely death of Steve Jobs?  As every article I seemed to read last week had to do with Jobs or Apple, I was curious to see the impact the news of Apple’s founder had around the web.  I wanted to see how sites were also affected by such an unusual traffic surge, and so I went first to the Keyword Referral tool on Compete.com to see which sites received the most traffic for “steve jobs”:

Choosing an interesting handful for this basic study, I then continued within Compete to chart and use the “Daily Reach” indicator to get actual traffic statistics for the days around the untimely death.

Stanford
Stanford, where Jobs made his famously inspiring “You’ve got to find what you love” speech in 2005, saw traffic increase 40% from October 4th to October 6th:

Tech Blogs

Tech blogs Mashable.com increased 34% and Techcrunch.com increased over 56% from October 3rd to October 4th:

I was a bit surprised that the tech blogs did not see a larger spike in traffic, but these sites had already seen a large buildup over the past month.  The larger surges of traffic on September 22nd, where traffic jumped 62% for Mashable and 106% for Techcrunch, were due to the Facebook announcement of its new site updates, and another Jobs-related news item, the iPhone 4S, was announced the day just prior to Jobs’ death.

News Sites

The Wall Street Journal saw traffic jump 35% on October 5th from the day prior, though the New York Times saw only limited increases.

My thought as to why little change in traffic to the New York Times was seen is that there were so many news sources drawing traffic for such a hot topic, only a few top-ranking general media outlets saw much impact from the news (wsj.com is ranked 4th for “steve jobs” referrals, nytimes.com 24th).

Fan Boy Sites

Of course, “fan boy” sites saw marked increases due to the news.  Allaboutstevejobs.com saw a one-day increase of over 10,000% on October 5th and another 115% on October 6th:

Apple

Apple itself saw daily traffic increase over 54% October 4th, and another 38% on October 5th before the shock wore off:

Conclusion

Other than being interesting, why does this matter to you?

Compete.com’s “Daily Reach” and “Daily Attention” metrics allow you to look back a full year to see daily traffic statistics.  Couple this with other competitive intelligence tools, such as the keyword referral tool and traffic destination tools Compete has available, and you have a powerful way of analyzing the potential impact of how major events (hopefully happier ones) may impact your site, or a competitor’s.

While you cannot predict the future, you can at least be better prepared to deal with it!