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No, X Isn’t Seeing ‘All Time High’ Traffic

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Whether Elon Musk’s X (formerly Twitter) project is performing great or not, X is doing itself no favors with its repeated amplification of misleading, and/or incorrect, stats.

Today, Elon Musk pinned this post on his timeline, which purportedly shows that X is reaching new highs in traffic.

But that’s not what this chart indicates.

First off, the chart, which has been sourced from SEO management platform SEMRush, displays website traffic only, and does not include app usage. Around 80% of X’s usage comes via the app, so this is only a minor fraction of X’s overall usage data, based specifically on visits to www.x.com (or www.twitter.com).

So it’s not indicative of overall traffic, and/or usage of the app.

But the bigger question about this chart, of course, is why X saw such a massive spike in traffic in April last year?

As I’ve covered previously, organic traffic to www.twitter.com, based on SEMRush’s data, went from around a billion per day, on average, up till April 5th 2023, to more than 2 billion just two days later, on April 7th. Since then it’s continued to increase, and is now up to an average of around 3 billion per day.

But nothing specific happened in April last year. So why the jump?

I asked SEMRush, and this was their explanation:

“Upon reviewing the report, there appears to be a misunderstanding about the organic traffic values. The spike observed in the data corresponds with an update we implemented. This update, executed on April 6th, resulted in additional data being incorporated into our metrics (that is the SERP Features). Consequently, this led to spikes in figures in our toolkit across all websites, not exclusively Twitter.

In other words, SEMRush changed its reporting methodology to include SERP Features, the breakout panels in Google Search that show, among other things, X posts related to your search term.

Which, of course, benefited X’s traffic numbers significantly.

“The remarkable increase in traffic statistics you observed and are referring to reflects a significant update in our data collection methodology at SEMRush […] A significant portion of the observed traffic increase, especially for domains like Twitter.com, can be attributed to the inclusion of Twitter SERP Features in our tracking.

So the jump in April last year is not reflective of a traffic increase for X at all, and is almost entirely linked to this update.

Which is also why this report doesn’t align with other third party reports that we’ve reported on, including:

  • Apptopia’s report, released in October last year, which showed that X has seen a 13% decline in daily active users since Musk took over at the app.
  • SimilarWeb, which reported that X has seen a 14% decline in mobile and web visits since September 2022.
  • AppAnnie’s 2023 “State of Mobile” report, which found that X’s monthly active user count declined significantly between 2022 and 2023.
  • Sensor Tower’s recent update, which showed that X usage has declined 18% year-over-year
  • Edison Research’s Infinite Dial report for 2023, which indicates that X has seen a 30% decline in usage, based on user surveys.

Indeed, X itself reported in November 2022 that it had 250 million daily active users, which is the exact same amount it reported again this month, which suggests that it isn’t seeing any major spike in usage.

It’s not necessarily losing traffic either, based on this. But the idea that X could have somehow tripled its web traffic, and maintained the exact same amount of overall users seems implausible.

Unless a heap of people stopped using the mobile app, and started using it on web instead. Which seems equally doubtful.

Essentially, the chart that Elon is amplifying does not demonstrate the rapid growth that he’s suggesting. It just raises more questions about all the data that X shares, and the accuracy of its reporting, as opposed to showcasing its success.



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