Site traffic crimes and misdemeanors

If you go to Daytop’s Top list right now you’ll see that some obscure site has stolen the number one position by placing the exact same line and link on literally scores of web sites. It’s a total sham, but by doing this the Site Traffic Thief got me to check it out. (All it is is a sign-up page for some service, in Spanish! The hottest site on the Internet? Yeah, right.)

But now thousands of the curious are clicking on that link and site traffic must be through the stratosphere.

I got really annoyed back in April when someone used my site for similar purposes. I put up a post saying what a good job was doing in chronicling the disease, and I awoke the next morning to see tons of site traffic, all to this dinky post. It turned out Tim someone who I won’t mention had five other sites along with sarswatch and posted on all of them about what a great post they’d find on pekingduck. IOW, he linked to my post about his post to direct the traffic to sarswatch.

So I was #1 on daypop! I was awash in site traffic, all of which was promptly directed away from my site to the the traffic thief’s site. And it showed me just how easy it is to manipulate traffic and create gross misimpressions.

Not at all in the same category, but somewhat related in that it involves intentionally manipulating traffic our way, is the issue of using our blog headlines to suck in site traffic from google and the other search engines. Adam has put up a very funny and unashamed post on how he does it, and I find myself doing it, too.

This is a recent thing for me. It struck me that after putting up a post with a cliche in the headline — specifically, “Defamation of Character” and “Pushing the Envelope” — I drew zillions of hits, probably from students seeking the derivation of these phrases. So now I find myself almost automatically thinking of keyword-rich headlines. Once bitten by the site traffic bug, there’s no turning back. You want to inhale it, more and more and more. There is never enough. The more you get the more you want.

But aren’t we really fooling only ourselves? If the searchers just come to your site for a split-second and then see your post is irrelevant to their search and flee, is it anything to boast about? Not really, and yet it does soothe the ego to see those rising numbers….

Adam in the aforementioned (and linked!) post says this more poetically and concisely than I do:

Yum, munch! Daypop oughta love this. Snap, crackle! Link whoring is fun… It’s posted and updated and there’s comments to read and I haven’t checked Sitemeter in almost three minutes. Crack, pop! There goes my neck. Hit, smack! My girlfriend is impatient… I found a new site but I’m not on his blogroll, a trackback ping just might do the trick. Boink, splat! Masturbating in cyberspace. Slip, slide! My hand’s spollen from wankin’… There is no judge for my writing skills /’xept the egregious number on the technorati. Gawd, damn! I got more than he. Hut, hike! Don’t know which sport I’m playin’… I joined a group blog but I contribute only a pic so that I might rank higher on obscure searches. Clink, klang! My most hits are from google. Sling, slang! It’s all in the keywords… I shoot on over to a reference site where it told me how to manipulate searches. Woosh, wham! My name in lights. Suck, splat! Everyone’s doin’ it…

(I think somebody put too much MSG in his jiaozi.)

Site traffic. The blogger’s raison d’etre, the single tangible entity to which we can point to validate our grubby blogger existence. Mine’s bigger than yours. “Ha-ha,” as Nelson would say.

Oh, and did I mention my site traffic is WAY UP lately?

The Discussion: 5 Comments

It’s kind of a new riff on an old theme.

Make the title eye-catching and interesting.

December 11, 2003 @ 8:57 pm | Comment

We’re all traffic whores and the ones who deny it, are usually the worst offenders. Regarding your observation about “drive by” visitors, keep an eye on your “length of visit”. Anything over 1:30 is good and well above average (Reynolds is about 0.20). The higher that number, the more “sticky” your site is, i.e., the more likely you are to capture new visitors as regular readers.

If you can keep it up over 2:00 you should see a steady increase in monthly traffic.

Counterintuitively, longer posts don’t bump up that number — “visit length” is kind of a ‘entertainment factor’ measurement. But there’s no question in my mind, based on my experience, that number is key to building traffic.

December 11, 2003 @ 11:52 pm | Comment

The site visit length deal makes sense. I only paid a little attention to it before, but I’ll probably pay more now.

(Yes, Conrad is able to convince me that he’s right ;)….

So I’m chuffed to find out that currently that number is at 2:04. hehe.

Another thing you can do is look at page display number of the people coming over from google. If you get another page display (so two or more, not just one) out of their visit, then that means you’re doing pretty good too, and likely to catch people as regular readers.

Being high on a google search is fun, but it’s only those that are actually going to start surfing a little (by seeing what else you have to offer) that will actually result in higher numbers over the long term.

December 12, 2003 @ 7:34 am | Comment

You have it refined to a science; no, an art.

December 12, 2003 @ 11:30 am | Comment

Hey, isn’t this sort of stuff the reason why I wrote that post to begin with? “Haven’t checked Sitemeter in almost three minutes…”???

December 13, 2003 @ 1:33 pm | Comment

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