Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Power Of Google

There are certain platitudes along the lines of being careful what you wish for. I am always wanting more traffic for my blog and I regularly blogwhore in some of the most shameful ways. Then, in that ironic way that make all those three-wishes-from-a-genie story clever, I got my wish in all the wrong ways. The suicide of multiple-post subject Brandy Britton caused my blog traffic to explode. The day after her death hit the Washington Post, my blog got 20 times the traffic it usually does as this graph from Sitemeter shows:

When I learned of Brandy’s death, I was saddened because this was a real life that had ended, no matter how many people she had crossed in her ill-considered career. After I made my January 29 requiem post, I did nothing to publicize my blog. No comments on other blogs. No posts on public fourms. No holding a signboard on the side of a highway. Nothing. But the traffic kept coming. All of it from Google.

Death is always a great publicity stunt and the HoCo Hooker suicide story got picked up by the wire services and ran in over 140 papers. People must have read it either online or in a dead tree edition and then went to the web for more information. As I mentioned in my own quasi-obiturary for her, my blog is the number one Google® hit for “Brandy Britton” as well as several other variations of phrases associated with her story. For nearly a week, the top ten incoming links were all variations of different Google searches.

My blog traffic went ballistic once before when I wrote a drinking game for Studio 60 and got it mentioned on several pro-blogs. Then, I was flattered by the attention. I even milked a follow-up post out of watching the viral spreading of the phenomenon.

The difference this time was that only two other websites linked to me and brought in measurable traffic. One was a post on a USASexGuide message board (link NOT safe for work) devoted to aficionados of commercial sex in the Baltimore area. Everybody has to have a hobby and the internet is proof that there is no subculture too obscure to support a forum or two, even “mongering” as these guys (and I hope they’re guys) call it. The regulars here didn’t know of Brandy personally since their tastes and budgets seem to swing more towards streetwalkers and massage parlors. From skimming a few related threads, I did learn that I work right down the street from one of the busier locations for drive-by sex.

The other link was also from a message board forum euphemistically called Review and Posting Society (also not work-safe, duh), this one devoted to the more upscale call girls. It seems many sexworkers maintain a virtual presence on the web here and discuss the etiquette and logistics of the pay-for-play business. While all this was very educational, I would have to say these sites are not going to bring me visitors likely to come back to read my book reviews or look at my pictures of Christmas ornaments.

This epilogue is really the last time I intend to discuss Brandy. I really don’t need those sensationalistic HornyGooglers® coming by, never to return. In the future I may even be more discriminating in my choice of salacious topics.

Come to think of it, there has been a rash of local teachers hitting on high school kids. I could snark about that. Make some homeroom eraser clapping jokes.

Nah, I think I’ll pass.


Anonymous said...

Wow, a lot of the comments on that Brandy post are insane. Do you have any idea how you got to be Google's #1 source for HoCo hooker news? My site's pretty high traffic but I don't think I'm a #1 Google for anything coherent.


yellojkt said...


I've seen rumors that Google give a heavy page ranking to Blogger sites to skew traffic to them. Debbie Schussel has blogged about Brandy twice and her blog gets much more traffic than mine. Eventually the network effect locks in.

Some of those anonymous commenters are insane. It's the only post I have ever closed comments on.

And you are in the top 5 for most comic strip titles. It's only a matter of time before you top one of them.

Your are number one for "foob" while I am number 5. I am number 2 for "foobs" and "foobiverse".

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

I don't know how it affects your overall traffic stats, but I've seen that exchange thing you do with Michelle bring in tons of comments to your blog in the past. I always get a kick out of that... "Here from Michelle!"

Mooselet said...

I'm #1 for 'mooselet'! Go figure...

I got a lot of traffic when I posted about the family who was thrown off the airplane after their 3 year old threw a world class tantrum, but most of my traffic is people looking for various rugby players.

kenju said...

I don't write stuff that is meant to attract hits, but it has always interested me what people will google that brings them to my blog. Kukla, Fran and Ollie has brought me more people (on my old blog) than I could ever have imagined (and the comments are always safe for work...LOL

Michele sent me.