Trends and Data From 2016 for Extension Websites

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It’s been another incredible year on the web for North Carolina Cooperative Extension. We completely refreshed the look and feel of all 187 portal and county websites this year, helping better align our online presence with the latest University re-brand. You can read about some of the major changes in the new design, including why we eliminated spotlights in this post.

Email Subscriptions Have Been Extremely Popular

We now have 24 different email newsletters that are sent out on a weekly basis (provided there’s new content). You can see our full list of email newsletters and subscribe here. Last year, at this time, we had roughly 3,200 subscribers across all of our lists. This year, we’re proud to say that we’ve nearly doubled that number, finishing out the year with just over 6,100 subscribers. This kind of growth wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for each of you continuing to publish high quality Extension content for the residents of North Carolina (and the many other visitors our sites serve) day after day.

Our Overall Traffic Was About the Same as Last Year

We served approximately 5.8 million pages again this year to over 2 million different users this year and continued to see a fairly high percentage of users (59%) coming from outside North Carolina. With 2016 in the books, our total number of pages served (since we began tracking in 2012) now climbs to 21 million, and total number of users grows to 6.8 million.

Screen Shot 2016-12-16 at 1.19.45 PM

Users Searched For Similar Content

Overall, users were generally still after the same content when it came to search in 2016 as they were when we first launched our new site in 2012 (jobs, soil testing, master gardener, and summer camps).

2015 2016
soil test soil test
employment soil testing
soil testing jobs
jobs master gardener
growing damson plums one stop shop
master gardener Soil test
soil test results soil sample
canning employment
summer camp summer camp
planting guide blueberries

The Top Ten Visited Posts of 2016

  1. Pruning Knockout Roses (may be inaccessible, currently being updated)
  2. What Is Making Webs In My Tree?
  3. When is the Best Time to Use Weed and Feed Fertilizers?
  4. Does Your Lawn or Garden Need Lime?
  5. How Do I Prune Crape Myrtle?
  6. Bradford Pear: A Mixed Blessing in the Landscape (may be inaccessible, currently being updated)
  7. Why Does Moss Grow In Areas Of My Lawn And Not My Grass?
  8. NC Tree Identification
  9. What Are the Advantages of Using Artificial Insemination (AI) in Your Livestock Breeding Program?
  10. Why Are My Squash Rotting?

Top 10 Factsheets & Publications of 2016

  1. Training and Pruning Fruit Trees
  2. Choosing and Using Edible Flowers
  3. Grafting and Budding Nursery Crop Plants
  4. Plant Propagation by Stem Cuttings
  5. Central North Carolina Planting Calendar for Annual Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs
  6. 9. Lawns
  7. Estimating the Volume of a Standing Tree Using a Scale (Biltmore) Stick
  8. Home Vegetable Gardening
  9. Growing Blackberries In North Carolina

Overall, our factsheets saw 2.6 million pageviews in 2016, served to more than 2.2 million users (62% of those users originated here in North Carolina). Almost half of factsheet traffic (48%) took place on a mobile device; this tells us that people are searching for (and likely finding) answers to questions while they’re on the go! For visitors and pages served, 2016 represents roughly a 33% increase from 2015. That’s really solid growth. We expect to see even larger strides next year as we continue to transition some of our most popular PDFs into faster, device flexible, and analytics-rich HTML/CSS versions which will also be more easily updated in the future.

User Feedback Was Overwhelmingly Positive

Our ‘Was This Content Helpful’ widget (that appears at the bottom of every page and post) tallied 18,791 votes in 2016, 1,214 came in attached with some constructive criticism, which we carefully curated and passed along to you if we felt it was relevant and could make your content better. Of the 18,791 votes, 84% said “YES” our content was helpful (which is on par with last year’s figure of 85%). Keep in mind that many of the votes we collected in 2016 came from folks who were accessing a page or post that was more than a year old. If we zero-in on the feedback this year for posts that were written this year, the percentage of YES votes climbs to 92%.

Looking for last year’s data? Here are the Trends & Data from 2015.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday! If you have any specific questions about data for your site, don’t hesitate to ask! Email:

Written By

Photo of Mike Vysocka, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionMike VysockaBusiness and Technology Application Specialist (919) 513-3362 mike_vysocka@ncsu.eduExtension Information Technology - NC State University
Updated on Jan 4, 2018
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