The Daily Whim

The Daily Whim

Tue. Jun 22, 2004

Operation Halve Traffic

It’s been a long battle on multiple fronts, but Operation Halve Traffic is now complete, and can be revealed in detail.

In the first quarter of 2004, I pitched my paltry tent well outside of both Camp Kerry and Camp W. There’s a huge highway filled with massive amounts of traffic in and between those two camps, but I set up on a dirt road neither side travels much (it’s pretty narrow, with no real right and left lanes, just one lane in the middle). Very quiet out here, once you get away from the partisan capitol cities. Hardly any red or blue cars kicking up dust at all.

Having thus dealt with the major traffic problem of this particular year, I began the second quarter of 2004 by attacking the two perennials: Movable Type and Google.

The toxic aura of my highly unstable karma caused a fatal glitch in my Movable Type install at the end of March. At least, that is the explanation I have come to accept, since I can find no other. After publishing my weblog as a PDF for April Fool’s Day, I converted the site to Textpattern. This meant a number of things. Like, no more automatic Trackbacks to gain/send traffic within the larger MT community. Richard links me a lot less. And I am likely viewed as a Blogware Floozy, who’s played around with them all, but will never really settle down.

Plus, my nice human readable URL’s suddenly had a variable and an ID number, because what was once static was now dynamic. This is where the battle against Google traffic began. Suddenly, it was presented with a new URL scheme, new semantics … in effect, a new site to index! To add to its confusion, right after the conversion this domain had no real “home page” in its root. Instead, you were redirected to a new subdirectory. One that had absolutely no Page Rank whatsoever, unlike the old home page in the root directory. Then once Google had indexed that, I moved it out of the subdirectory and back to the domain home page. 100,000 Google-puters hummed in collective confusion for much of April.

There was an ugly setback when this site was hit by an inadvertent Googlelanche on May 11. But luckily it was short lived, just one of those Acts of Google over which we have no control (insurance won’t cover the bandwidth bill, either; they won’t pay out on an Act of Google).

The final stage of the operation was to simply play possum. Give people no reason whatsoever to come back. For weeks (perversely, during this possum playin’ Technorati reported 9 links were added to my site). At the same time, behind the scenes I switched web hosts, which means fiddling with every dang DNS server there is. Just for good measure.

Now it can all be revealed, as the operation has been an overwhelming success. According to Sitemeter (which does not track other areas of my site like the Olympics, Red Rock Road Trip, etc.), this weblog was getting an average of 750-800 visitors per day early this year. The goal of Operation Halve Traffic was bring that number down to 375-400, but today I find it is closer to 300 per day. A reduction of over 60%! I never dreamed this project would be so successful. Even my wife doesn’t read it any more.

But now the playin’ possum is over. I’m back, and writing again. Which means I’ll likely be working on driving off that remaining 40%. By year’s end, this site may be completely “visitor free.”

Then maybe I can begin to have some fun here. Driving off traffic is hard work.

P.S. Please do not link this page and undo my lengthy efforts. It will be our secret.

Peanut Gallery

1  rturner wrote:

I’ve been trying to cut my traffic down for two years now. My strategy so far has been: “write little and they will go away”. It’s been months since my last post and yet I still had 61 unique user sessions yesterday. Obviously my strategy is desperately flawed. I need to come up with a unique new subject that no one will have any interest in.

I’m thinking….politics?

2  Reid wrote:

Be careful with that politics stuff. It’s a delicate balance. You lean just a touch too far to the right, or to the left, and it will quickly bump up your traffic.

Specialize in centrist politics, and no one will have any interest. It’s worked for me…

3  John wrote:

Well, I see that I need to visit a whole lot less than I have been. I’ll even be glad to move you to my second tier of links, if you wish.

4  Reid wrote:

John, I appreciate the offer, but I’ve tried to be totally unilateral, er, self-sufficient in this operation. But of course, John, you are welcome to visit as often as you like. And you, too, Dear Reader.

But that’s it. I’d prefer a select audience.

And it’s working! This site had a Google Page Rank of 6/10 as recently as March. It dropped to a 5/10 in April, and I just discovered that with their latest re-indexing, I’m down to a 4/10!

There will be champagne tonight.

5  Joel wrote:

Well, I plan to keep dropping by just to be contrary, if for no other reason. Apologies in advance.

6  Reid wrote:

Some unfortunate news. Not only has traffic now up to 400 or more per day during the week, but I’ve just found my Google Page Rank has jumped back up to 6/10. And it’s spreading. One of my subdirectories now rates a 6/10, too.

Maybe I can reverse this trend by posting lots of cat pictures…

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