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The Day 250,000 People Showed Up At My Blog: Case Study

Picture 1.pngWednesday was the biggest day of traffic that I’ve seen to any of my blogs for a very long time (perhaps ever). I mentioned this on twitter yesterday and had a few followers request that I write up how it happened – so here’s a quick recap/timeline on the 24 hours that saw around a quarter of a million visitors to Digital Photography School.

  • It all started with the publishing of this post – Long Exposure Photography: 15 Stunning Examples. The post is simply a collection of 15 amazing images all illustrating the same technique (long exposure photography). The images are all creative commons images from Flickr (meaning they are all available for republishing).
  • The post went live on DPS and was quickly submitted to Digg and StumbleUpon. I added a ‘Digg this’ button to the top of the post (now removed).
  • I had a feeling that the post would do well on StumbleUpon so was on the lookout for traffic from there so when I noticed the traffic coming in from StumbleUpon I tweeted about the post – noting that it was doing well on SU. This was the only ‘help’ I gave the post – a viral like thing began to happen.
  • Momentum from SU began to build as more and more people began to organically come from the StumbleUpon toolbar. As they did I noticed that Digg numbers began to rise also. People saw the Digg button and were clicking it naturally.
  • 4 hours after it was submitted to Digg it hit the front page of Digg. It did so with around 110 Diggs. I was quite surprised by the relatively low number of Diggs that it took and the speed that it went to the front page.
  • The first hour after the post hit the front page of Digg the traffic was around 28,000 unique visitors. This surprised me a little as it was midnight on the West Coast of the US and the early hours of the morning on the East Coast (not usually the best time to hit the front page).
  • The diggs continued to come in. StumbleUpon traffic also continued to gain momentum. The post hit the ‘popular page’ on Delicious (where it remained for at least 15 hours… again an unusually long time – you can see the page for it here).
  • Traffic from Digg tapered off after the first hour on the front page. From memory it was around 8000 visitors the 2nd hour and tapered further to around 4000 the next few hours.
  • I went to bed around this time and expected things to continue to taper down and return to ‘normal’ sorts of levels while I slept.
  • I woke up the next morning to find that DPS had had another big spike of traffic just after I went to bed. Most of the traffic came from Digg. Getting a 2nd big spike of traffic from Digg wasn’t something I’d experienced before but it had definitely happened. It came around 7 hours after hitting the front page of Digg and send around 25,000 visitors in an hour (and quite a few more in the hours that followed). It turns out that the post had gained so many Diggs that it hit the ‘Top in All Topics’ list which sent it a second wave of traffic.
  • traffic-sources.pngOver the next 6-7 hours Digg traffic again tapered off (but was still significant). StumbleUpon continued to send good traffic and I began to see a lot of secondary social media sites sending traffic (sites like popurls (it was the #1 story there for quite a while), Wykop, Jimmyr and plime) and also quite a few other blogs and websites (big and small) like The Agitator, Monitor and Naver. Interestingly many of the links were from non english sites. I have included a screen shot (right) of the top 15 sources of traffic to the post over the last 36 hours.
  • Today things are somewhat quieter in terms of traffic – but they are still around double a normal days traffic. Most of the traffic now is coming from StumbleUpon and secondary links from blogs and websites. From past experience this will continue for a while. StumbleUpon has the potential to send decent traffic to a post for weeks (and months). In the long run I expect StumbleUpon will probably send more traffic to the post than Digg (although Digg has currently sent triple what SU has).
  • What will generally happen next is that a little search traffic will come in because the post has been linked to from quite a few sources (Yahoo currently sees a couple of hundred incoming links – Google sees quite a few more).

So what impact does a rush of traffic have on a site?

Beyond getting a rush of adrenaline and perhaps a bit of an ego boost – what impact does a day like yesterday have on a blog?

  • Ad Revenue – traffic to the site yesterday was around 5-6 times normal levels. Conversion in terms of ad revenue was not that high – but did see a good bump. For example AdSense earnings were almost three times higher than normal.
  • New Loyal Readers – it is too early to tell how many of the 250k readers subscribed to my RSS feed yesterday (it is at least over 1000 new subscribers) but I can see that newsletter subscriber numbers were considerably up on normal levels. On an average day we get around 450 confirmed new newsletter subscribers to DPS – yesterday it was around 1000 (and there will be more as some take a while to verify). Today it’s over 800 (and will probably hit 1000 again). While a 1-2% conversion rate doesn’t sound like much it can actually be quite significant. 2000 new daily readers over a year or more really adds up to a lot of new page views on a site.
  • SEO – one of the best parts about a day like yesterday is the extra links that point at your blog once everything dies down. As mentioned above – there are around 200 links pointing at the post mentioned – some of which also point to the front page of DPS. There’s no real way to tell what impact this has on a blog but it is a significant number of links and will add to the authority of the page and site in the eyes of Google and other search engines.
  • Buzz – another benefit that is difficult to measure is that of ‘buzz’. There’s something very uplifting to an online community when they get noticed by other parts of the web. I’ll highlight what happened in the weekly newsletter that I send our regular members tonight and I find that doing so helps lift the morale around the community. It’ll also send a fresh wave of traffic to the post as people go to see what caused all the traffic.

All in all it was a good day. I’m most happy about the conversion to new readers than happened and about the SEO boost (I’m also happy that the servers didn’t skip a beat) – however I’m very aware that the extra traffic is relatively fleeting and today it is back to work.

Social Media Traffic Tsunamis are exciting events but the real challenge is to keep growing your loyal reader base by providing quality content day in day out. Speaking of which…. it’s time to get back to work.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Woah, 250,000 Visitors in just 24 hours?!

    That’s truly remarkable, I’d be happy with that in just one month if not in 4 or 5!

    Thank you once more, Darren – there’s a lot helpful information in this post alone if one can take it and make use of it.

    Will definitely be working on some of the tips you’ve mentioned here.

    Janith
    http://www.blogussion.com/blog

  2. Infonote says:

    Congratulations Darren,

    To be honest when looking at Analytics I only consider the number of Search Engine referrals.

    I have a question If I may ask. Is there a way to measure actual conversion/click-through rates from stumble or digg. I would like to compare CTR.

    BTW, today I just found out that you can integrate Analytics with Adsense. Can you explain exactly how it works?

    Thanks

  3. Wow, I was excited for you as I read this. Congratulations. It is especially encouraging that so many people signed up for your RSS feed and newsletter.

  4. Robby G says:

    I remember I had day exactly like that. But it was 700,000 visitors. Lol I wish! Whatever, there’s still time and room to improve.

  5. Matt Seymour says:

    Was this 250,000 hits on your website problogger.net or on the digital-photography-school website

  6. Manuel says:

    Very Impressive. I would be happy with 25,000 people showing up at my blog ;)

  7. Darren, that’s simply amazing! Thanks for this very uplifting story… and congrats on your traffic tsunami!

    It’s also pretty inspiring for the rest of us… you never know what will happen, so we’ve just got to keep plugging along!

    Lee

  8. Tom says:

    Congratulations! 250,000 visitors per day is a lot.Wish I had that kind of traffic.Well, maybe some day.

  9. Albert says:

    Stories like this keeps me glued to my keyboard. Am barely 3 months into blogging and my highest traffic has been in the hundreds. I find this story quite inspiring.

  10. Lucky man….just wondering how nice you must be feeling about this all happening with you. I am really thankful that you shared your shared your experience with us and informed us with some really useful tips which can help us promote our blogs as well.

    Great work…I must say!

  11. Sally Croft says:

    It is such an inspiring story Darren, I am so glad you shared it with us all and yes hats off to you on achieving such AMAZING milestone, waiting for one such miracle for my blog too :) Wish me luck :)

  12. rudy says:

    Hi, it’s really inspiring such a newbie like me. Thanks for sharing with us for the analysis and what you did. Appreciate it.

  13. Jane says:

    Very inspirational Mate.

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  15. Danielsmonde says:

    250,000 is a pretty impressive number. Congrats!

  16. Rebecca says:

    Very interesting. Thank you for sharing this with us. And congratulations on your wonderful day!

  17. Kate says:

    Congratulations on all those hits, that’s an amazing amount of people! I’ve been looking to problogger for awhile now to help search for job posts (which I always needs) and ways to improve the hits on my blog. Thanks so much for sharing what you know, it’s very helpful! Also, great post :-)

  18. Wow,
    I just went and looked at the pictures. They are so full and multidimensional.

    Thanks for the post, it will be interesting to see how many people come back to the site.

    Rick

  19. Very interesting to see how the surge of traffic has effected the site (in a positive way) Also going to go through the links on some comments left by your readers.

    I’ve found a few great sites linked to via blog comments! :-)

  20. andy says:

    Great post and good to see that managed to get so many hits to your blog. Just shows what can be done if you go the right way about it!

  21. José says:

    Hi,

    It will take me 20 years to reach that number…..

    Have a great weekend,

    José :-)

  22. Brian says:

    Wow, kudos on that great feat. it helps to have a popular issue as well, but using social media is a great tool. Thanks!

  23. Kadmiel says:

    I actually saw that post the other day and I agreed it was an amazing post. It great how wide it spread.

  24. Timon weller says:

    Well done there Darren, I am trying to catch up in hits lol.. What about this blog, how many hits is this one getting..?

  25. seth says:

    Well… I have never hit the front page of Digg or gotten 250,000 visits in a day, but man that is incredible…. Congratulations on your wonderful day. Hope the traffic will continue to be there for you.

  26. Mr Cakes says:

    Now that is an awesome wave of traffic! How did you manage to keep your site up and running during quarter of a million? Didn’t your servers die down?.. And yeah, that must be expensive too.

  27. Jess says:

    Fascinating article! I am a brand new blogger (which you can check out at henryralph.blogspot.com – I know, shameless plug), and I appreciate all the information I could get on blogging. I, too, may have contributed to the phenomenon mentioned above, as I too saw those amazing shots and passed them along to my friends using my various forms of social media (e.g., twitter, facebook, etc.)

    Thanks for the great story!

  28. Crysfel says:

    Thanks for share the story, i hope some day that happens to me :D

  29. Patrick says:

    Wow! For now I can only dream about that number of visits to my blog.

  30. Shalini says:

    WOW!! Really, wow. It gives the rest of us hope that we can also have such a great traffic day. Great job! Thank you for sharing your story.