Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Searching for Visitors

Back to the thorny business of traffic. As regular readers will be aware, I seem to have spent an inordinate amount of time in recent weeks ranting about the seemingly unstoppable drop in traffic to The Sleaze. Well, I think, at long last, I have an explanation for the situation. Tired of just moaning, I decided to actually do some research and found that I wasn't the only one experiencing this phenomenon. Since the beginning of the year a lot of sites have seen a significant decline in referrals from Google searches, particularly at weekends, and a reduction in the number of pages they had indexed by Google. The consensus of opinion seems o be that Google has been tweaking its search algorithms in preparation for Google Caffeine, the new version of their search engine they've been developing for some time, going live, which was expected to happen sometime in April.

Well, last Wednesday, traffic took another massive dip. However, by Saturday there were signs of recovery and for the last couple of days it seems to have returned to pre-January levels. Moreover, since Wednesday Google seems to have been busily re-indexing my pages. I can only assume that Caffeine has now gone live, replacing the old Google search completely. Perhaps the most interesting thing I've noticed is that search results now seem to be much more focused on the relevance of keywords, meaning that fewer people seem to be visiting The Sleaze as a result of poorly framed searches for porn, and more are reaching us for terms like 'political satire' and 'British satire'. Which isn't to say that I'm not still seeing some very peculiar search terms in the stats. Indeed, some, like 'How to murder my wife and get away with it', are downright scary. If the result of all the traffic fluctuations I've suffered over the past few months is better targeted traffic for the site, then I'm all for the new Google. I've always maintained that getting better 'quality' visitors, (ie people who actually want to read The Sleaze), should be our aim, even if it means lower traffic levels overall. Of course, this apparent improvement in traffic could prove to be just a blip, and it could all come crashing back down tomorrow. But I remain optimistic. And promise not to bang on about traffic for a while.

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