Hannah Waldram
The Guardian has released traffic figures for its new local websites for the first time.

As part of the new Guardian Local venture, the Leeds site launched first in February, followed by the titles for Edinburgh and Cardiff in shortly after.

According to figures from Omniture SiteCatalyst for May 2010, the Edinburgh site had the most monthly unique browsers with 36,588. Leeds posted 32,678 unique browsers for the month, while Cardiff recorded 24,160 over the same period.

The Leeds site generated 70,000 page impressions in May; Cardiff saw 44,471; and Edinburgh recorded 57,334.

To give a picture of other local online media traffic in the UK: the most recent figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations Electronic (ABCe) for regional UK news sites suggest a monthly average of 1,697,183 monthly unique users for the Guardian Media Group Regional Network from July to December 2009. The best performing titles for GMG Regionals during this period included the Manchester Evening News's network of Manchester sites with 1,299,263 monthly unique users.

Over the same period, Trinity Mirror's best performing site Wales Online recorded 758,276 average monthly unique users, while Johnston Press' Edinburgh-based Scotsman posted 1,679,568 average monthly unique users for its website.

But in comparison to these larger news operations, the Guardian Local sites operate as blogs managed by a solo 'beatblogger', such as Hannah Waldram (pictured), who encourages input and contributions from the local community. The Edinburgh site is now recruiting for a replacement for its inaugural beatblogger Tom Allan, who is set to leave the role.

"The user figures for all three Guardian Local sites are encouraging, and are in line with our expectations for what is still a relatively small and experimental project. The stats prove that there is an audience for local content on Guardian.co.uk, yet although the traffic on each of the sites is growing steadily, the emphasis for the project is still about depth and community engagement, rather than numbers,” said Guardian Local editor Sarah Hartley.

The sites are also trialling hyperlocal advertising technology Addiply and feature tools and widgets from third-party sites including mySociety.org.

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