Daring Fireball and the Power of Positive Linking.

Daring Fireball linked to an article of mine on Monday. What happened after that was rather interesting for me to observe.

My blog is a modest one, with subscribers in the low (really low) triple digits. I’ve been on WordPress since January and had established a pattern of traffic. To be sure, new articles varied in the amount of views they obtained, but overall my traffic pattern was quite predictable.

Then came The Link.

I happened to check stats Monday afternoon just as I started getting referrals from daringfireball.net. My blog saw its record for views in one day nearly triple. I knew Gruber had a bajillion readers, but still…

On Tuesday the momentum carried over, quadrupling the record from before Monday.

“Big deal, Tom,” I hear you saying, “it was just one link, get over it”. Well, it’s not The Link that interests me, but rather what I learned from its impact:

  • While views were up considerably, comments did not spike to go with it. I set no record for single-day comments on a post.
  • Even now, the total number of comments on the post is only a little above the old record. Clearly, the new viewers were not the commenting type.
  • Or, conversely, my “regular” viewers are the commenting type. Not sure which is which, but I find it interesting that in two days I received seven times the views for one post, yet you’d never know it by the comments.
  • Then came the other links: Blog.wired.com; iLounge.com; CultOfMac.com; Reddit.com, and more. Plus links from German, French, and Spanish sites.
  • Did these links come because of Gruber’s “recommendation”, or would they have found the post on their own? Put another way, had Gruber not linked to it would the post have set a new record for me anyway?
  • To the questions above the answer must be “no”. Especially given the number of links that said “via DF”. Without The Link the article would have been more or less “average” for this site.

I knew that Gruber’s (and others’) sites had this kind of influence, but it was fun to be able to watch it up close and monitor it myself.

As for the views, since I have no ads and make no money off this site, page views, in and of themselves, don’t mean that much. Generally speaking, they matter to the extent that they bring comments, which I enjoy.

To me, comments > views because the former (on my blog, at least) typically mean the post has been read and digested, while the latter may just be a “click and run”. If you’re not selling page views, a “click and run” is of little value. It certainly does no harm — and I’m glad to have any potential new reader — but it doesn’t really matter either. I don’t intend to draw conclusions from a single data point, but I braced for a number of comments that never came.

Is there a downside to any of this? Well, the WordPress stat graph scaled to match the new maximum values. By comparison, all other days look really small. I gotta be reminded of this every day for the next 30 days until it rolls off the graph. 🙂

Oh well, all things must come to an end. Soon my traffic will revert back to normal and this blog, its 15 minutes of fame up, will fall back into that relative obscurity out from which it had for an instant emerged.

[UPDATE:] It’s been a half-hour since I posted, and in my latest feed reading I see my post made it to Digg. Weird how this works. Click the Digg headline and it actually links to Wired’s take on my post. What’s kind of funny is that at the bottom of their post it states “The Small Wave via Daring Fireball”. Hmm, is that kind of like “The Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi”?

7 thoughts on “Daring Fireball and the Power of Positive Linking.

  1. Thats pretty nifty Tom. I’m in the process of growing my own Apple focused blog http://www.AppleObserver.net (launched on the 9th of August so pretty new still) and would love a listing like that. I have already had one person pickup one of my articles and include it in a posting on their site. I won’t get hardly any traffic from it it was just a small personal blog but still it was a nice feeling to get noticed. I bet you felt the same. Well done on getting picked up by Daring Fireball. Next maybe Digg?? :p

    I agree with the comment above from Rus. It wouldn’t hurt to have a the odd ad about. It would help pay for hosting etc. And who knows where it could lead…

  2. Tom,

    Feel lucky … you got in on the Gruber Gang early on – as this how I initially found you. One of his friends initially found your blog – now his readers scour the web for him and give him a “heads up” – it hopefully is working the same for you – readers helping out. I know it works for me.

    My average daily views are about 6000 – on a good day 10,000 – on a great day 30,000.

    I’ve had 3 amazing days when one of my articles became the top digg, the day my lawsuit was discussed all over the internet, and the day a book was published with one of my more popular articles in it. On those days, my traffic spiked to over 300,000 over two days.

    Its three interesting examples from totally different means that my traffic spiked.

    Macsurfer seems to spike my traffic by almost double. The other day it was the only website I could see that was linking to my article on Apple Market Share – but my traffic increased 300% of daily average.

    You should consider sponsorships and or Google adsense – 1000 page views translates into $5 if no one clicks on your ads. If someone clicks on your ads you can look at $55 per 10,000 page views.

  3. Hopefully, you’ve gained more readership and in time, when they’ve become more familiar with you and your site, the comments will spike as well.

    Do what you like to do because you like to do it … no other reason matters :c)

  4. Steve,

    I’m on MacSurfer fairly regularly. It typically brings anywhere from a couple hundred to maybe a thousand views.

    In less than three days, DF’s link (and the resulting ripple effect) brought 12 times that. In fact, today’s views are already nearly double what had been my best day prior to Monday.

  5. Tomorrow you can report the results of being listed on MacSurfer today.

  6. In my case, I came over via the DF link, but then spent some time reading older posts as well. The Stanza post was interesting enough to push me over the edge into installing it on my wife’s iPhone; she finally has an e-book reader platform she likes using.

  7. First time reader and first time poster – I found your site b/c of the DR link as well, read some of your back posts and decided to add it to my Google Reader b/c I liked what I read. I bet if you could see the number of people of reading your blog now via those types of means (NewsGator, Google Reader, etc) that your following has probably gone up – and I would argue that consistency is even more impressive then the spike in links.

    Keep up the good work.

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