Why My Blog Traffic Exploded Today!

A confluence of circumstances conspired to raise my totals. The first says a lot about the power of Google

On March 11, 2010 NBC announced this documentary would re-air. More details here.

My blog is my entertainment. I enjoy writing. I enjoy seeing how many people read what I write. Recently that number has been between 1,200 and 1,500 page views a day. Not too shabby, especially when you consider it’s never been mentioned on-the-air during our newscasts! Today I’m at 9,000 11,621 and counting!

A confluence of circumstances conspired to raise my totals. The first says a lot about the power of Google.

brokaw-google.pngI watched the Tom Brokaw documentary about Gander, Newfoundland on September 11, 2001 tonight (and wrote this about that remarkable doc). On a Saturday afternoon there aren’t too many people writing abut what’s on TV, but there were a lot of people interested in this documentary.

When I ‘publish’ an entry word is automatically sent to Google and its competitors. My pages are in Google’s index in minutes. Usually on popular topics I’m drowned out by more powerful websites. Today, if you searched for “Brokaw, Gander” this site was number one or two (it changed during the day).

I experienced this once before when I wrote about Ashlee Simpson’s lip sync debacle on Saturday Night Live. My East Coast entry was up early and pulled lots of traffic. As Sunday progressed and the story was picked up my search position kept falling–as you’d expect.

This Brokaw doc brought thousands of page reads for both the EST and PST showings!

The second traffic driver was an entry I wrote in 2004. A friend sent me a note about terrible storm damage in California. Attached was a photo of a deck chair on its side. It was pretty funny.

Today someone on Fark.com attached directly to that same picture with a link reading: “Tsunami damage photos begin trickling in, not for the weak of heart (geofffox.com).” I guess that was funny after Hawaii prepped for a tsunami that didn’t come.

I only ‘saw’ that traffic by accident. Since Fark’s link was directly to the photo it didn’t register through my normal counting mechanisms. It was only because of my checking on the Brokaw doc that it was caught.

Linking directly to a photo without linking to my site’s content is like running your house off my electricity! That upset me.
Luckily it’s easy to command this server to redirect photo traffic to the original entry.

They still get a joke and now a little of my site too. I can live with that.

By Monday my traffic levels will return to normal.

On the other hand, links from other sites plus Twitter and Facebook mentions will help Google think more highly of me. This is how traffic is built.

Ashlee Simpson – No Show

“Ashlee Simpson Is Dead To Me.” Those were Steffie’s words tonight. Ashlee was scheduled to appear at Foxwoods’, Fox Theater.

Why Steffie would want to see Ashlee is a totally unanswerable question. But she did, and she couldn’t have picked a better venue to see her than the Fox. It’s beautiful, comfortable, has great sight lines and acoustics.

Helaine and I planned on taking Steffie and a friend to dinner, then dropping them at the theater while we pursued more adult pastimes. We left the house about 3:10 PM.

At 3:21 PM an email came for Helaine.

Hello Ms. Fox,

Just wanted to inform you the Ashlee Simpson Show in the Fox Theater has canceled for this Monday, July 3, 2006.

OK, we were already gone, but it’s the thought that counts. Can someone tell the airlines how to do that?

As I pulled the car in, the valet asked if I was going to see Ashlee? No, but my daughter was. “Canceled,” he said. We headed to the box office to confirm what we had been told.

Well, at least dinner was good. We ate at Al Dente, the nice Italian restaurant. I had linguine with clams, which was great. Desert was the real killer – Sicilian Taco.

Almond Nougat Shells Filled with White Chocolate Mousse, Mixed Berries and Shaved Chocolate

Somewhere in the world there is a richer, more tasty dessert… but it has to be against the law.

With no show, Stef and her friend Sam decided to walk and people watch. Helaine headed for parts unknown, while I went downstairs to the poker room.

This is now the third or fourth poker room location since Foxwoods opened. It’s in the basement! That being said, it’s pretty airy and thankfully smoke free. It very well may be the largest poker room in the world.

Instead of sitting at a ‘ring’ game, I bought into a ‘sit and go’ tournament, like I play online. I like the idea that my monetary commitment is fixed at the beginning. Unlike the games I play at home, pajamas are not allowed.

The games are played with 10 at a table. I came in tenth! It took a few minutes – poof I was gone.

A fluke, I figured. So I bought in for another. This time it went much better.

I hit a lucky hand early, but the rest was just good playing. I’m not always happy with how I play, but I was tonight. When the smoke cleared, I was the last man standing. I had doubled my investment for the two tournaments.

Before the game was over, while it was just me and a nice guy from Wolcott playing, Helaine came by. I like that. All the guys in the poker room look jealously at me, because Helaine is quite the babe.

While she was sitting, and as the game was in its final throes, a buzz came through the casino. James Woods, big time actor and big time poker player was there!

They even made an announcement on the PA that James was entered in a ‘sit and go’ (much higher buy-in than my game) and they were looking for more folks to play.

I asked nicely and then took his photo. He seemed pretty unassuming and was quite gracious when I asked.

We met up with Stef and Sam. They had spent much of the evening sitting near the box office. People with young kids would walk up, hear the news… and then you’d hear the kids cry. It happened more than once.

I often wonder if that enters performers minds before they cancel?

Ashlee Again

The email came at 1:35 AM. From Australia Geoff Huntley was sending me another link to his growing collection of Ashlee-abilia.

During last night’s Orange Bowl, a lopsided contest over sometime in the second quarter, Ashlee Simpson performed during halftime. I wasn’t listening, but caught a glimpse of her in a monitor near my desk. Her earplugs (these are used to hear, not to blot out sound) were hanging around her neck. When you’re on, TV hanging earplugs are a bad sign. It often means you are being fed audio that’s out of sync with what you are doing – an incredibly difficult problem if you’re speaking, and probably worse if you’re trying to sing.

By the time I had the volume up, the set was over. It wasn’t until I watched Geoff’s video that I heard the booing.

I’m still trying to piece the facts together. Was she booed because she was awful? Was she booed because of what happened on Saturday Night Live in October?

I do know that in a very small piece of Geoff’s clip she seemed to be singing, but her mike was off. A few seconds later, she was singing and I heard her voice, but the two seemed to be different.

I’ll look for more info, but if you watched, please add a comment and let me know.

Last week, I sat on the couch and watched an MTV show featuring Ashlee. I can’t understand her celebrity, except for her sister. Having her perform at the Orange Bowl was equally puzzling.

Who Came Here In 2004

Last year, on December 31, I posted a little summary of what happened on this website in the previous year. I just looked back and was amazed how things have changed. The number of people and unattended, researching, web crawling computers, has increased greatly.

The content hasn’t changed. It’s the same drivel I’ve posted here since day one. This blog is nothing but inconsequential, random, musings about what’s important to me. That’s why whenever anyone else buys into reading it, I am both astonished and flattered.

In 2003&#185 approximately 17,000 separate viewers came calling to this site. Collectively you visited 30,000 times, downloading 872,000 files. My page counter now sits just north of 60,000.

That was then, this is now. The page counter has moved from 60,000 to 355,554. This year you visited 256,409 times downloading about 5,000,000 files (each image within the blog, plus other insertions in a single page, counts as a file). My server, located in Chicago and maintained by hostforweb.com has spit out 51.7 gb of data.

Though there was a huge spike after I wrote about Ashlee Simpson’s Saturday Night Live debacle a day before it hit the bigger websites, a smoothed traffic line shows my audience steadily building. I am averaging over 1,000 visits a day.

There are three ways I look at my traffic and all tell slightly different stories. On each web page is a counter which increments once any time someone reads a page. I don’t think it is triggered by web crawlers that sites like Google and Yahoo use, though I can’t be sure. There is also a control panel counter I can see in the web site’s “back office.” Finally there’s the counter from the company that I allow to place ads on the site.

They’re always different. Always.

Speaking of ads, since I added them as an unobtrusive experiment, they have paid for my web hosting. The aggregate total in $198.44, of which I’ve already received about $144. This site makes on average 89&#162 per day. As I write this, I have made 7&#162 today. Some days are better than others.

Before you poo poo that number, multiply it by 365. I was going to publish a blog anyway, why not put these few ads off in a corner?

The number one search term was “John Mayer,” though that’s misleading. Ashlee Simpson probably drew more traffic, but there were multiple search terms (and spellings) used. As with last year, I’m surprised that traffic has come here after searching for things like, “hot water pipe is frozen south korea” or “chuck woolery wives&#178” or the always popular “carrot top shirtless&#179.”

Google also sent a lot of traffic my way because of an entry I had which debunked a popular picture of a tanker sailing into a hurricane. If you search Google for “hurricane photo” my enticing picture is on the bottom right. This one link was clicked 55,599 times by Google’s users.

I have tried to write something every day. Sometimes that meant scraping the bottom of the barrel. My apologies. Other times my life was centered around things I couldn’t or wouldn’t write about publicly. Those days were the most difficult for blog writing.

There are now over 900 individual entries in this blog. There are also thousands of photos in my photo gallery. If you ask Google what they have archived on this site, the response is 11,400 pages!

Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for reading. Thanks for commenting and sending grammatical and spelling corrections. It’s all really appreciated.

My daughter says whenever I put something in a text box, that’s an immediate sign that’s it’s really boring.

Happy New Year Steffie

And Happy New Year to you too.

&#185 – This blog began in early July 2003, so last year’s numbers represent approximately half a year.

&#178 – After Jo Anne Pflug I am lost.

&#179 – This particular term was searched for 399 times. Some people need to get a life.

Eminem Lip Syncs Too

It didn’t take long for Saturday Night Live to give it to Ashlee Simpson. In the opening bit, Seth Meyers as Osama Bin Laden talked politics, pop culture and (see left) Ashlee’s SNL appearance.

This was not the only time Ashlee got zapped. In fact, in order to establish her bona fides, the host Kate Winslet, sang and danced – both very well.

But, if you think Saturday Night Live learned anything from last week, Eminem proved you wrong! He was lip syncing, or at the very least singing along with his own voice. His songs (and though I’m an Eminem fan, I thought this stuff was horrid) featured overdubbed singing, meaning some… much… maybe all was on tape.

Saturday Night Live needs to be live. Isn’t that the point? Artists without nets. That’s the fun of live television. There’s a danger that’s not there otherwise. It’s this danger that makes us continue to watch the show, even if a particular night is bad.

Ashlee Effect Gone

My new found traffic related to the Ashlee Simpson lip syncing story is now gone. After I posted my entry on Sunday morning, this website became Google’s 4th result for “Ashlee Simpson Saturday Night Live Lip Sync.” Now that same search leaves me on the third page!

Monday saw 19,970 visitors. At the pace I’m going, today will be back to around 1,000.

My original entry from Sunday has a Google ranking – 0 of 10. My homepage is a 5 of 10. Though everyone starts out equally on the net, the big sites are considered more important and do rank higher.

It was fun while it lasted.

What Ashlee Simpson Did to My Website

Early Sunday morning, literally a few minutes after it happened, I posted an entry about Ashlee Simpson’s lip syncing incident on Saturday Night Live. (It’s two entries below this one – or just click here). Because of the time it happened, after midnight Eastern time, it got very little ‘conventional’ news coverage until Sunday evening.

In the meantime, Google was busy indexing the Internet… including this site. All of a sudden, geofffox.com was listed up near the top when people searched to find out what had happened.

Because of this one event, this has been a very unusual day on this website. Of all my October 2004 traffic, half has come today! In fact, I have delivered nearly twenty times my normal number of pages, and the day’s not over yet.

So, what have I learned from this? Certainly the power of Google. I always knew it drove Internet traffic, but never to the extent I see today. And I didn’t even write my page to be optimized for Google. There are ways it could have been presented which would have gotten me more search hits.

It’s also obvious that many of the entertainment sites people depend on are really Monday through Friday affairs with minimal or no weekend staffing. Yesterday, once I realized the traffic had begun, I looked at all the conventional entertainment news sites and found virtually nothing on this story. I haven’t looked tonight, but I’ll bet Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood and the others led with Ashlee’s problem.

It will be interesting to see how quickly the story of her scheduled ‘live’ performance tonight is reported. I’m guessing this one will get online a lot sooner, and by sites that have more ‘schlep’ than I have.

If you are here for the Ashlee story, thanks for coming by. Take a look around. Squeeze the produce. Post a comment. Come again any time. I’m thrilled you’re here.

Ashlee – Saturday Night Live – Oops

Steffie and I were just sitting, watching Saturday Night Live. Though Stef was tired, she wanted to stay up and see Ashlee Simpson. Steffie is a fan.

Jude Law, the host, introduced her. The camera cut to a shot of Ashlee in front of the band. The track began and Ashlee started singing… except her lips weren’t moving.

I asked Steffie, “Isn’t that the song she sang earlier?” It was.

Ashlee stopped singing and the band began filling in what had been the shell of the song’s intro. Ashlee started nervously dancing. The scene faded to black and they went to commercial.

At the end of the show Ashlee came back and said something about the band playing the wrong song. I’m not buying it.

It seemed to me as if the wrong track was played – big difference. It looked like Ashlee was caught in a lip sync malfunction!

We usually tape SNL in case we can’t watch it live. When the show ended we looked back. It was painful to see this time.

This is a story with legs. It will be in the newspapers and on TV – maybe not Sunday, but certainly Monday. The tabloid shows will go nuts with this.

Blogger’s note – Instead of adding a new entry, let me update an interesting twist to the story.

Matt Drudge picked this story up before I saw it anywhere else (except here). He first wrote, just before 2:00 AM EDT: “SATURDAY NIGHT TAPED: Ashlee Simpson in SNL Milli Vanilli lip synch nightmare… Performer runs off stage, blames band for gaffe… Developing…”.

At 2:06 AM EDT the headline changed to: “SATURDAY NIGHT TAPED: Ashlee Simpson in SNL lip synch nightmare… Performer runs off stage, blames band for gaffe… Developing…” I have no idea why Drudge removed the Milli Vanilli reference, which definitely fit.

This gets more interesting.

About 3:48 AM Drudge removes the story entirely. Then at 3:51 AM it’s back: “Poptart Ashlee Simpson Walks Off Stage After Lip-sync Flub During NBC’s SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE… Developing…”

Saturday Night Live indeed