Monday, February 10, 2014

Increasing readership

In general, it doesn't matter what website is put up, not many people ever seem to visit. It doesn't matter how well optimised things are - nobody ever finds any of the websites using any of the search terms included - which apply quite well to the site content.

Various websites have been up for various lengths of time. One has been up for ten years. That has been crawled well by search engines. The content has been constant for ten years. The keywords have been constant for ten years and accurately represent the content of the website. How many visitors does it get? Well, last month there were 95 unique visitors and 333 site visits. That's 3 visitors a day and 11 visits a day. Of those visits, 322 were less than 30 seconds. Only two were greater. They were so much greater that they must have left the browser open. Bizarrely, over 90% of those visits were to a blog engine that has no viewable blog. Only one search term was recorded as having been used to find the site and that term was: which important becoming in creasing of too many countries should not be over looked and which are some problems of tourisms. That, of course, looks like a fictitious sentence used by a bot. I have no other explanation for that. So, what I have is a website that nobody actually views.

The really interesting thing is what will get readers. It's not content quality that's the problem. The problem is much more basic than that. Nobody seems to be finding the blog. Nobody seems to be looking for or finding any of the websites. The caveat there is that when they were advertised, under certain conditions people look.

Ages ago there was a website and $25 was paid for Facebook advertising just for the heck of it. Sure - the site got visitors. All of about 20 and they were on the site for no longer than 1 second. It's not even possible to look at the first page in 1 second to see if you want to view it in that time. There have been stories about fake facebook page hits which would lead one to suspect these were the fakes. Nobody visited any other than the landing page. Clearly since this was something also experienced from using Google Adwords, paying for online advertising doesn't work.

So, over the past few days adverts have been placed on Craigslist. Two special blog articles were written, one about why male photographers should carry a pair of pantyhose. The other was about why male photographers should have fake nails and nail polish in the camera bags. The former was advertised honestly on Craigslist. More than that - advertised on Craigslist in several different areas. It was very interesting to note two things. Firstly that the local Craigslist got very few responses and that Craigslist in other areas generated responses. Clearly since as of the time of writing, hits on the pantyhose entry are now at ten times normal level, two things are self evident.

First, people want to see entries about pantyhose and men. That might be worthy of a further photo documentary article. Secondly people in the local area just aren't interested in photography. An interesting piece of correlated evidence for that is that the Columbia area of South Carolina is poverty stricken. Go further North to Charlotte, North Carolina and there's a lot more money around. Hence, of course, more people interested in viewing my blog. These two areas were among the areas where Craigslist adverts were placed . Both adverts honestly described the article.

Fine, so there weren't extra viewers for one article. What about the rest of the site? There was some follow-on in which people viewed other pages and other articles but this was generally minimal. Visits in general are less than one would really desire and expect.

Interestingly, the only search engine that registers hits seems to be Baidu (the Chinese search engine) and those hits are for "mystyle,myvision,myway" which is the current blog title and "words more than 192 pixel" which is baffling. So, what's the score? Clearly there needs to be some more research on this. One of the biggest suspicions is that attracting readers from outside such a poverty-stricken area is essential. There are more people on welfare in South Carolina than there are people actually working - probably because most have just totally given up in the face of all the McJobs that don't pay even the rent.

On a further note on the local economy, there are many small homes in which multiple families live with one family per room. In the old days these used to be called slums. The families all have adults working, earning minimum wage and cannot survive independently. Clearly in that situation, people are not going to be interested in reading blogs.

There was one page that went viral with something like 1,200 hits in 3 days. That was the page on The Great Digital Scam. It's racked up to 1,500 now. Of course that page got the hits and nothing else did - not even the adverts. There was no real bleed-through. "Going viral" isn't really worth the bother because live a virus, it bursts into a flurry for a few days then dies away to nothing. One would hope to get at least some viewers to become regulars but that just doesn't seem to happen to anybody. Like so much else of online marketing, "going viral" is just another myth that doesn't stand the test of reality.

It becomes a question of does one put things up that people will read in droves or does one put up things that please them? As this is a hobby site, it has to be the latter. If it was the former then the answer would be to write really nasty soft-core porn and to put up nasty pictures of barely legal women in sexual positions. That's not my thing.

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