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One Year Anniversary Review: Most Popular Articles on Lorelle on WordPress

As you’ve looked back with me over the past year’s worth of over 800 articles, can you possibly guess which article was consistently number one on my blog? Was it an article about how to design WordPress Themes? How to improve your blogging? How to make lots of money with your blogging? Nope. Was it something witty and intelligent, that screamed Pulitzer or whatever top blogging award they give to bloggers who blog brilliant babble? Nope. Was it something I was personally very proud of writing? Nope.

Still can’t guess? Well, the number one highest traffic, attention-getting article I wrote on this blog was…drum roll please…“Horse Sex and What is Dictating Your Blog’s Content?”.

That’s right. An article I wrote about an article by the Seattle Times’ Danny Westneat called “Horse Sex Story Was Online Hit” described the highest traffic articles on the Time’s site involved horse sex:

The story last summer about the man who died from a perforated colon while having sex with a horse in Enumclaw was by far the year’s most read article.

What’s more, four more of the year’s 20 most clicked-upon local news stories were about the same horse-sex incident. We don’t publish our Web-traffic numbers, but take it from me — the total readership on these stories was huge.

So much so, a case can be made that the articles on horse sex are the most widely read material this paper has published in its 109-year history.

I don’t know whether to ignore this alarming factoid or to embrace it.

To this bewildering statistical fact, I wrote about how you need to write for your audience, but consider how what you write about attracts readers:

I believe that we need to write for our audience, and sometimes even about our audience, as we blog. I think we should pay attention to the facts and figures in our blog stats to help us continue to cater to their needs, but to actually dictate news content? Hmmm.

If there is a single theme that has run through 2005 for me associated with blogging and the Internet, I would have to admit it is the new trend in social control. A lot of what gets published and noticed is what is pointed out by people through social bookmarking and tagging. If I find something I like, I have almost a dozen places I can share my find with others like Digg, Del.icio.us, or Furl. Other sites like Blogdex and Tech Memeorandum monitor post stats and bring you the top of the heap for you to examine, dictating what you see based upon blog and site traffic.

Is this a good thing or not, we will all have to decide in time. I think it is nice to let the public dictate many elements of it, compared to corporate and government control and censorship, which the US has been suffering from for decades. But do I trust the public to have the final say in what I want to know?

Well, folks, after a year of monitoring traffic on this blog, I have to say that horse sex sells. It is the most common search engine term that brings people to my blog, too. I’m sure they are disappointed when they arrive. Sorry, folks, so horse sex here. No sex at all. Still, it’s amazing.

I also had a high level of fast turn around, people exiting the site almost immediately after their arrival. After much distress about this, I realized that if the majority of my search term visitors arrive looking for horse sex, an equally high number of visitors will be leaving quickly. The turn-around number didn’t bother me too much after that. ;-) You have to put all your traffic numbers in perspective.

Among the more technical articles I wrote which continue to ride the top ten most popular articles I’ve written over the past year, “HTML, CSS, PHP and More Cheat Sheets” and “Designing a Rainbow – Sexy Hot Colors” stay consistently in the top five. “Buttons, Bows, and Badges for Your Blog” also gets a lot of traffic, proving that you can’t have enough pretty clutter on your web pages.

“What Do You Do When Someone Steals Your Content” continues to be a big draw as people want to know how to defend their copyrights against copyright infringement and violations. And while for some it’s old news, “Secret Out – How Google Ranks Websites” continues to be popular a year later as people are still trying to figure out the intricacies and mysteries of Google and search engines.

“When is the Best Time and Day to Post on Your Blog?” was huge for the first two weeks and was “dugg” by and others, then died off to the lower 50 or so, though it is a timeless and invaluable article article.

The ongoing series on building a genealogy blog, or any blog from scratch, and Blog Challenges continue to attract a high return readership, and there are more of these on the way in these series.

In “Hook, Line and Sinker: Luring Blog Traffic to Stay”, I wrote about how to lure traffic into your site and keep them there, but also how predicting which posts or articles will be most popular is crap. Sure, you can title everything “10 Tips For Surefire Success” and “How to Succeed in 10 Easy Steps” all you want, but that doesn’t mean instant success and traffic.

Not everything I’ve written with the intention to be hooks for this blog made it into the top posts that consistently bring in traffic. Conquering Site Validation Errors, Code Snippets – Help, Cheating, and Goodness, Whose Blogging? Celebrity Blogs on the Rise, and CSS and Web Page Design List of Resources were all written with the intension of being good hooks, but they fizzled. Sure, they bring in some traffic, but 10 visitors a day per post isn’t as good as 100 or more. Google’s stock has been dropping this week, so if something happens and the Google bubble bursts, you can bet that my articles about Google will drop from a hundred or more visitors a day to 10. Such is the risk when you play bait and hook games. Still, consistency wins.

What continues to surprise me are the articles that score big in traffic and attention, including some articles I thought were “toss-offs”, proving that everything you publish counts. One of those that blew out traffic peaks for over a week was “How NOT to Comment on Comments”. People seemed to identify with my rant on how not to comment on comments in blogs.

In “Hook, Line and Sinker: Luring Blog Traffic to Stay”, I also explained why I wrote some articles to lure in traffic, and others just to answer my own questions. Some of these scored really high with readers, which proves that if you want to know about it, others are probably also interested:

Do you think that Google Page Ranks, Google News, Google Gossip, and Google Blues and Secret Out – How Google Ranks Websites were written because of the popularity of Google? Actually, I wrote these because I was puzzled over the popularity of Google and all their myriad new features and functions. I wanted to understand what all the fuss was about and what people were fussing about. I didn’t think that these would rise to the top of the list of my most visited posts. I thought everyone was writing about Google.

Buttons, Bows and Badges for Your Blog and Designing a Rainbow – Sexy Hot Colors came out of research I was doing for myself to create resources for Theme designers for the articles I write in the and the classes I teach on website design and development.

The truth about DYI Search Engine Optimization is that I was sick and tired of finding tons of get-rich-quick schemes for people on web page design and development, hawking SEO services for money. While rich people may have no problem handing over their websites and blogs to someone who will overcharge them for what they could do themselves, most of us don’t have that kind of money and need help understanding that it isn’t that complicated, nor costly, to do it yourself. Sure, there are tons of valid and qualified web page designers and developers out there, and take advantage of them for sure, but I was also really ticked off at web design and hosting services spewing forth pay-for-seo services while their own sites aren’t SEO nor web standard compliant. It’s amazing how brilliant you can write when you are really pissed off.

Blogging Tips – Hundreds of Resources for Finding Content for Your Blog could qualify as one of my “hooks”, but it actually started out as a project for myself to increase the number of resources from which I find creative inspiration and motivation to blog about. I kept adding to the list for over a year. Once I categorized my list, I realized that I had quite a treasure and that it was selfish to keep it to myself. I decided to share the list with others, which made me do more research to broaden the scope of resources, turning it into an even bigger list. Wow! It continues to attract new visitors every day, so it has become a great hook, though it wasn’t intended to be one.

Everyone has their favorite articles I wrote, I’m sure, but I learned well that you can’t always predict what articles will score high with your readers, not until you’ve been doing this for a long time and you listen to your readers and write for them and their needs. When you give them what they want, they come back for more.

The Most Popular Articles on Lorelle on WordPress


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network

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4 Comments

  1. Posted October 6, 2006 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    I knew it!
    I actually had never read your “Horse Sex” post, but after you’ve mentioned a couple of times that it is the most popular among all your posts, I went and read it, hoping to find something important. After that I thought: That post has to be popular in terms of hits to your site from a search query. It can’t be that bloggers are looking for it here.

    So, ok. It’s exactly what I thought…
    I have two or three articles like that which also bring more traffic than average to my blog. And it irritates me because I know that those people won’t find what they’re looking for. So, the waste of bandwidth, and my time looking at the silly stat on my site logs makes me want to block those posts from being indexed by search engines.

    In fact, I wrote one article where I had to mention an “interesting” TV channel just to tell a funny story that happened to my mom. But I didn’t want a bunch of p0rn seekers hitting my blog looking for that. So, as soon as I published it, I blocked that post from being indexed.

    I also *try* to be careful not to use words that can bring useless traffic like that…

    I’m curious about your thoughts on all this. From what I can tell, it sounds like you take it as “all traffic is good traffic”. Am I wrong? Are you cool with all those p_rverts hitting your blog and leaving immediately? Doesn’t it make you consider removing the post or blocking it from search engines?

  2. Posted October 6, 2006 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    Interesting question.

    I do not think “all traffic is good traffic”. I think that “traffic that returns is good traffic”. How they arrive is more complex. I didn’t write the horse sex article to attract perverts. It was a fascinating look at what people want to read compared to what people should be reading. Little did I realize that it continues to stay in the top 20 posts, and recently in the the top 10, even a year later.

    And it’s funny to think that while people are littering their blogs with Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, Paris Hilton, and whatever artificial sex symbol is hot today in order to drive search results traffic to them, they don’t understand that there is a huge number of folks looking for horse sex. ;-) A missed opportunity. hee hee.

    As for even giving a thought to whether or not these folks are perverts, never crossed my mind. As for blocking it, it’s too late. Once its out there, it’s there forever. Blocking search engines on WordPress.com means blocking everything, not one post. Pings can be stopped on a per post basis, but that means the announcement that the post is released is turned off. Search engine web crawlers will crawl through anyway.

    If horse sex brings them here, that’s their problem. However, if they stick around, I feel a huge responsibility to make it worth their while. If they don’t, good riddance to bad rubbish.

    I write for my audience. If incidental traffic comes my way, I don’t spend any energy thinking about them. I think and write for the people who want to read what I have to say, and come here for what I have to offer.

    Spending energy on the people who spend less than 2 seconds on my blog aren’t worth my time. If they don’t want to be interested, I can’t make them stay, no matter how many naked horses are displayed on my blog. :D

  3. Posted October 6, 2006 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    You’re right. It shouldn’t bother me to find worthless traffic like that. I guess I’m too controlling. It’s not like it’s using A LOT of my bandwidth anyway.

    It was never my intention either to attract people looking for X or Y when I wrote what I wrote. One thing is true: Looking at some of the search queries cracks me up… The kinds of things people are searching for (the specificity of some phrases), and to think of the huge disappointment they got when they found my post. HA! HA! HA!

  4. Posted October 6, 2006 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    Once I realized that I was getting a ton of traffic from an article I wrote about a newspaper getting tons of traffic about articles they wrote, all because we both used the term “horse sex” in them – oh, trust me, I’ve had some very serious fun with this. SERIOUS fun and silliness.

    There is little bandwidth lost in the split second they figure out you ain’t the source of all things sex. And you’re right. The things people search for…I always say “Consider the source”. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    (I love saying that!)

    BTW: I had to pull my last comment out of Akismet’s spam catcher. Wonder which words triggered the filter? hee hee.


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