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Real-time government website analytics
April 27, 2015
by Mark Ollig

Google’s Digital Analytics Program provides visitor data for more than 3,800 US government websites.

While writing this column early last Wednesday morning, yours truly visited the US government’s analytics website.

On its homepage, in large type-font, it read, “88,712 people on government websites now.”

This denotes the current total number of users/connections which have accessed any one of 3,800 government websites/pages being tracked.

Below this number, a bar graph displays each hour, and the number of visitors during that hour.

During the last 90 days, more than 1.47 billion visits were made to government websites.

The right-hand side of the analytics webpage displays the “Top 20” individual websites being visited.

The number of users currently in the Top 20 was shown in real-time, and included links for viewing total visits from the last seven or 30 days.

During the last seven days, the most visited website, with 14,651,478 visitors, was the Internal Revenue Service, http://www.irs.gov.

While typing, I noticed the total number of people using government websites had jumped to 95,157.

I was surprised. The numbers are not remaining static on the analytics webpage

They were changing; in real-time.

Being curious, I took out my smartphone, tapped the stopwatch app, and waited until the total number changed; I then quickly pressed the stopwatch’s “start” button.

About 60 seconds later, the total count changed again – the numbers were automatically refreshing every minute.

Currently, the most popular government website page is showing 3,014 visitors.

You guessed it; it is “Where’s My Refund?” located at: http://www.irs.gov/Refunds.

Just as I finished typing this sentence, its visitor total increased to 3,085.

These analytics provide an inside look; in real-time, on the number of people interacting within the federal government’s online public department, and agency websites.

The information under the “Now” column of the Top 20 data, shows current visit totals to a specific, single webpage; whereas, the “7 Days” and “30 Days” data provides archived visit totals to a website’s main domain name; including all its sub-webpages.

Once again, looking at the total number of folks using government websites, I noted it had jumped to 102,126.

The current time is 7:50 a.m. where I am right now, so I imagine more folks have gotten their cup of coffee, and are logging into these sites.

The “Where’s My Refund?” webpage currently shows 3,147 visitors.

Number-two in the Top 20, is the National Weather Service: http://www.weather.gov, with 1,624.

The US Social Security Administrations’ webpage (currently ranked at seventh) showed 818 visitors using http://socialsecurity.gov.

The Astronomy Picture of the Day at http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html was at number 12, with 612 visitors.

Much of the accumulated data is stored on this analytics website, and can be downloaded using the JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) file format.

If you’re curious as to where each of the 3,800 websites go to, you can download all of them as a .cvs (comma/character-separated value) file at https://analytics.usa.gov/data/sites.csv.

Yours truly downloaded this file, and opened it using my Excel program.

I discovered, as of last Wednesday, the analytics from 3,824 government websites are currently being tracked.

The spreadsheet’s A cell column shows the website URL (Uniform Resource Identifier) location, and its government branch name or department is listed in the B cell column.

This spreadsheet file would make an excellent reference for looking up particular government departments or agencies names; including their website URL.

One of the 3,824 includes a Minnesota reference. Line 2,136 shows webpage: mn.nrcs.usda.gov.

This webpage is from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service main domain website, http://www.nrcs.usda.gov.

Here is the full URL, including the Minnesota portal link, http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/mn/home.

I smiled upon seeing what was referenced in column A on line 2,153 of the spreadsheet.

It read, moneyfactory.gov.

I didn’t know the government had a sense of humor.

Column B on line 2,153 describes the money factory as belonging to the Department of Treasury.

I visited this webpage, and it turns out the money factory is the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

As I finish this column, there are now 152,143 people, sharing amongst them, some 3,824 assorted government websites.

Of the Top 20 government webpages, the leader is still Where’s My Refund? with 3,883 visitors.

To see more US government analytic website information, and view the updated, real-time website activity (which is kind of fun), check out https://analytics.usa.gov.


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