How this whole “Viral” thing works

I mentioned yesterday that my site was getting a huge amount of traffic [by which of course, I mean the sub-domain that I am borrowing from WordPress and happen to manage]. Just to give you an example of just how significant that change in traffic actually was, you can probably take a look at this graph which is generated by WordPress Statistics Log:

Wordpress Stats

Context: November 2nd is about 10 visits, November 14th is 2400ish

Now, to get started off on why I had the sudden surge in traffic requires a bit of back story. I was actually just skimming in between classes and reading twitter for amusement’s sake when I happened across a post by Weird News announcing that tumblr and 4chan had gotten into a little tuffle over meme usage. As I understand it both sides were able to take other’s site off the web for a brief period of time, leaving Moot and the Tumblr Administration amused I’m sure. The Key here was that they posted this at 11:50 EST Friday the 15th.

Having a history with 4chan and its various antics, I thought it would be an interesting thing to at the very least make light of the movement and insult the user base of both 4chan and tumblr. Now, I’m used to being one of the top results when 4chan does stupid things or gets tangled in affairs that would otherwise drive people up a wall, so I have mentioned the site [and more importantly the word] a few times. Because of this and the fact that Google considers my site active enough to crawl when content is updated [I Think that is some SEO work on the part of WordPress.com if I’m not mistaken], within the initial hours of the announcement I was listed as the number 1 search for the 4chan vs. Tumblr and every possible variation that you can think of involving those two terms. This probably relied on the fact that my site was already heavily saturated with the word 4chan from previous articles, and being the first to publish it allowed me to be seen as a “Leading News Source” (Well, considering what I posted wasn’t news so much as a poorly flung series of insults). The result was a flood of search based traffic initially from people who were trying to find out more about the event.

This would be followed by back links from several tumblr profiles which generated even more traffic as their friends began to look at it. These tumblr profiles began to expand because of Tumblr’s internal tagging system, and I was quickly getting more hits from Tumblr’s /tag/4chan page than I was from any other source. With the increased number of back links my site looked even more valid than it probably should have as a source.

It was at this point that you begin to see a flood of links coming from Twitter and Facebook as the site makes it off tumblr and back to people who found it amusing enough to send to their friends. Also included in this mix was the URL for a few chat rooms which were clearly related to the orchestration and organization of the raid against tumblr.

All of this traffic in turn resulted in getting enough attention through WordPress’s top blogging system to warrant moving the site to the number 1 position for top growing blogs [which is amusing because I think this blog has been on the bottom of that list before for something else]. So, as I was starting to finally drop in terms of search results as real news services like Gawker and the likes began to publish their stories on the event, it was in fact the massive number of hits coming in from the WordPress Dashboard [indicating that it was in a way based on users who were looking at that “Top Blogs” box that is at the bottom of the dashboard]. The truly amusing thing is that it became the primary source of incoming traffic for me and is actually the only source of traffic at the moment save a couple dozen search results for 4chan and tumblr.

I’m not sure if you could truly label this as viral per se, because in truth most viral things stick in people’s mind, and the return rate from the massive amount of traffic won’t likely be all that high. But it is interesting to watch it progress from Search Engine > Other Blogs > Social Media > Something recognizing that I am generating a lot of traffic on the matter.

As for the actual return on investment, that’s an entirely different story. I think my review of Firefly has gotten me more discussion and “Worthwhile Traffic” (Traffic which will return) than any other source. So while there is a massive wave on incoming links and visitors who are landing on your site, it doesn’t look like they are doing much past viewing the article and moving about their day with only about 8 of the 2500+ visitors reading the post that I made between the two tumblr and 4chan related ones.

I know it’s not all that fascinating, but I figured it was worth posting about.

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2 Responses to How this whole “Viral” thing works

  1. Ok I’m here to learn how to get readers!I know it’s bad form but I’m not so much as looking for anything other than input on lifes foibles..Would you please help me…Even should you find a few minutes to comment yourself. It’d be greatly appreciated.

    • fullphaser says:

      Well really in terms of getting readers, I’m no expert myself. Shortly after this spike in traffic, mine returned to it’s normal 10 – 20 visitors a day. But I do know the kind of things that get blogs views [in theory]. The key is to keep publishing information constantly and to keep it on a single niche topic. And once you have that niche topic just keep talking about it without end.

      You also have to be willing to make new content in your field. If you just rehash things others have said then you are adding nothing to the conversation. You have to be willing to think of things that people haven’t written about, be on the cutting edge of conversations.

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