Monday, May 18, 2009

The all-time hit parade (and a new story)

I'm writing another story, which will probably not be novel-length but will be longer than a short story. One of those difficult lengths. More details here.

I installed the IceRocket hit counter here at KFI in January, and it's been an entertaining look at what pages get hit and why. If numbers bore you, skip the rest of this post.

The biggest single class of hits are against the blog itself rather than against any specific page. Right now that's running at about 25%. After that come individual pages. "Umbrella Manifesto" is the clear leader at over 450 hits (almost 7%), thanks to someone's having posted it to After that comes "AI poetics?", which got linked from Ron Silliman's blog and has since acquired the occasional search engine hit: it stands at 246 hits this morning. Next is "Painted Sky", one of my image/text pieces, with 132 hits. "Painted Sky" is interesting, in that I originally posted it to Inspire Me Thursday, which is one of the heaviest-hitting prompt sites (see below). I then posted it to the Women's Poetry listserv in connection with a discussion about multi-media poetry, and it jumped up quite a bit.

Next come two "sleeper" pieces: both were actually posted before I installed the IceRocket tracker, so the hit counts for them don't include the original views (both were created for Read Write Poem prompts). They're in the top 10 on the strength of ongoing hits, mostly from search engines. "Literal and figurative poetry" has 129 hits as of today, and "Simile and Metaphor: Greens and Blues" has 96. Then we have another piece that got a boost from Silliman, "Was it flarf?" (83 hits) Then another Inspire Me Thursday post, "Lacemaker God" (78 hits). Next, "Buddha Hand", 77 hits, and "Lollipop Girls", 70 hits. The interesting thing about these last two is that they are also actively accumulating search engine hits.

Among other uses, I do hope that people will use this blog to learn more about poetry. So I'm gratified that 4 of the top 10 pages are informational. It's especially cheering that they continue to accumulate hits from search engines. The performance of "Literal and figurative" and "Simile and Metaphor" is particularly impressive because they haven't had a huge boost from a specific source, like Silliman's blog or stumbleupon.

I don't know if people find "Buddha Hand" particularly useful... there's no culinary or botanical information there... but surprisingly enough, when I Google the words, that page is the 4th listing that comes up. (The more I think about that, the weirder it seems. There's tons of online recipes, pages for nurseries selling the plant, articles about Buddhist statuary, Wikipedia articles... how does a weird little sonnet get onto Google like that?)

As for "Lollipop Girls", probably the hits I get are not exactly the ones I want. ("Digital Babe" gets a lot of hits too.) Those two will probably continue to accumulate hits as time goes on.

Interestingly, "Anna Goeldi" got a boost when the news about her exoneration went around, and "Dr. Manhattan and the Five Eyes" was popular around the time the "Watchmen" movie was released; but neither are in the top 20 any more. On the other hand, "Shihuangdi's Tomb" is still hanging in there purely on search hits.

Between 480 and 490 pages (counting the main blog address) have been hit in the time I've had the counter installed. The top two posts plus the main address account for about 36% of the hits IceRocket has recorded. "Painted Sky" accounts for under 2% and the percentage goes down from there. That's a fairly even distribution with a couple of notable outliers.

IceRocket also tracks keywords. The top 10: tritinas, literal poems, Lollipop Girls, buddha hand, first day of spring 2009, digital babe, aisha ansari, candid camera, birth of Venus, poetry submissions. Again the distribution is pretty flat, with "tritinas" being at 2.46% and the total number of keywords listed at over 1000. What's interesting is that only three of the top 10 keywords relate to one of the top 10 pages, and even looking at the top 20 pages only brings in one more ("first day of spring" at #17). "Tritinas" is my most popular keyword, yet none of my tritina posts are anywhere in the top 20.

It's hard to know how much to rely on these numbers, though, because different searches can bring up the same post (scanning down, I see I've gotten some hits for the keyword "literal and figurative poetry", which really should be added into the numbers for "literal poems"). So perhaps it's not surprising that the relationship between keywords and pages is weak. I could get a better look by downloading the whole report (one of IceRocket's cooler features), doing some hand-editing, and re-evaluating the numbers... if I had that much time.

More fun is looking at referrers. The biggest single source of hits is Google search, with 23% of my hits. Next is "direct or from bookmark", which probably includes most of my regular readers, just over 15%. Getting into more specifics, the next four are Inspire Me Thursday,, Sunday Scribblings and Ron Silliman's blog. (The rest of the top 10 referrers stand at under 3% apiece: Yahoo search, Totally Optional Prompts, Read Write Poem and

I reckon stumbleupon and Silliman for one-time events (although that's not to say it couldn't happen again), whereas the hits from Inspire Me Thursday and Sunday Scribblings have been accumulating week after week as I've been a regular participant at both sites. Inspire Me Thursday has consistently been the biggest provider of hits per page of all the weekly prompt sites: I've gotten almost 700 hits from that site since I installed the counter halfway through January. Figuring that for about 16 weeks, and remembering that I've missed posting there at least a couple of times, gives well over 50 hits per post. Sunday Scribblings at close to 300 hits has probably been bringing in about 20 hits per post (I haven't kept track of how many weeks I've participated, so can't be any more precise).

A note on geolocation: I've had hits from 97 countries, plus "unknown" and "Satellite Provider". Some 64% are from the US, followed by the UK, Canada, Australia, India, and Germany.

Bottom line? Participating at prompt sites brings in hits. Of the other big contributors, a reference from Silliman, stumbleupon or Diggit isn't really under one's control as a blog owner. Keyword searches are important, but unpredictable: I would never have guessed "Buddha Hand" would do that well.

It's an odd, odd world out here in the blogosphere.

Collection available! Knocking from Inside

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