Trying to understand the logic behind popularity on the web is extremely hard to do. One would think that writing a great article about a timely topic would lead to thousands of page views. Often it does, but there are no guarantees and there are occasions when a great deal of hard work is lost in the ever expanding sea of content on the internet.
One of the ways content gets read on the web is through search. Articles are tagged with key words, and search engines (ie. Google) pick them up. Predicting what people search for is incredibly difficult to do, and content generators work hard to pump out pieces they think will get the most ‘Google juice’.
We’ve been experiencing somewhat of a traffic surge over the past 24 hours, most of which is going to a piece I wrote about Gwyneth Paltrow’s trainer, Tracy Anderson. I wrote the piece after reading about her extremely dubious claims about what she could achieve through her workouts and calorie restricted diet. I worked in the fitness industry for a long time, so know what I’m talking about, and it was pretty clear Anderson did not. Anyhow, the piece went down pretty well for whatever reason, and has quite steadily been spread around the web (we can tell this through our analytics tools).
Anyway, fast forward a couple of weeks, and the article starts to surge again, generating a couple of thousand page views in the space of a few hours. I spent some time trying to understand why the piece was generating so much traffic and did some digging in our analytics system. We can see where the traffic is coming from, and the vast majority was coming through search. I googled ‘Tracy Anderson’ and my piece appeared on the front page of google (now third from the top).
Why were people googling Tracy Anderson so much? She’s definitely well known, but the fitness guru isn’t exactly an A-list celebrity. Then I saw this on Express.co.uk:
Gwyneth’s rear end seems to be the major marketing tool for the movie, and the Tracy Anderson trained celebrity has been doing the rounds letting everyone know just how good it looks. At a recent event, Gwyneth told a reporter, “You know, this isn’t so bad for 40, right?’And [my friend] goes. ‘It’s not so bad for a 22-year-old stripper!”
Putting two and two together, it finally came to me. People wanted to know how Paltrow achieved her ’22-year-old stripper’ backside.
I then googled ‘Gwyneth Paltrow’ and ‘Trainer’ and the following came up:
My piece was now second on the Google’s front page, just after Anderson’s own website. The traffic spike suddenly made sense.
We cover political, cultural and media type stuff here at The Daily Banter, and we’re doing pretty damn well. We write fairly lengthy pieces and to the best of our ability, do them thoughtfully. We have a strong reader base and we’re growing pretty damn fast. But it hasn’t been plain sailing. Speaking for myself here, I’ve spent countless hours writing pieces on economics, poverty and social injustice to have them read by only a couple of hundred people. Not exactly what’s needed to become the next Huffington Post (and yes folks, that’s who we’re aiming to take down…).
It’s nice to get big traffic spikes and some attention, but I’m not entirely sure the readers looking for Tracy Anderson butt exercise tips are the ones who will be coming back here too often.
Regardless, we’ll enjoy the attention while we get it. So here’s to Gwyneth’s lack of underwear and 22 year old bottom.
And I might even go and see ‘Iron Man 3’ as a thank you.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.