Tomorrow is my one-year blogoversary. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been writing to this blog a full year already – how time flies! If I tie in my earlier online journals, I’ve been writing to the web since summer 2002, but it’s only been in this journal, over the last year, that I’ve really felt like I’ve been reaching a wider audience with something meaningful to share.
It’s been interesting watching the popularity of the blog grow over the months. The number of pageviews I’ve received each month has grown steadily, from just 338 during the month of January (a number I was inordinately pleased with at the time, for a blog I had just started and which no one had heard of) to 5,736 in the final month of the year, December. Many of these are hits coming from Google searches and such, looking for information on different subjects. But a lot of them are a dedicated readership who have followed me through the year, from my uncertain beginnings while I struggled to develop my identity, or perhaps joining me somewhere along the way.
I signed up with the Nature Blog Network about a week after the toplist was initially created. When I first signed up, and tagged to the end of the list, I was blog #65, the site was that young (now there are 618 blogs on the list). As the site grew and more people joined, I fell from the second page to the third, reaching a low of #109, I think. But as people continued to find and follow the blog, my ranking slowly climbed back up, and I find myself at about the same spot I started at, only with some 550 blogs behind me. With so many blogs out there to read, I’m gratified that people enjoy mine enough to keep coming back.
The reason I keep blogging is largely due to you, the reader. So thank you for your support! As much as we bloggers like to say we do it for ourselves, if we’re truthful about it we really do it because we want to share and connect with others, and if we’re not reaching anyone, our motivation for writing likely won’t be sustained.
I thought I would celebrate my blogoversary with a reflection on the past year of blogging, in three parts. Today I’ll mention some of the popular search terms people are using to find my blog, an idea I’m stealing from Voice of the Turtle. Tomorrow I want to highlight my favourite posts from the last year, one per month. And on Tuesday I’d like to pick out my favourite photos that I’ve shared on the blog (whether or not they’re connected to my favourite posts). These latter two are ideas or variations on ideas that I’ve seen other bloggers posting in celebration of the new year, over the last week or two, and I thought I’d chime in.
We’re all looking for something.
The number of page hits I get from curious minds is attested to by the huge list of search terms WordPress has documented people using to find my blog. It took about half a minute for WordPress to process my request and load the summarized page of search terms. It only shows the top 50 terms, and the 50th had itself 17 hits – there are dozens upon dozens of terms that people have only used once.
The thing people most want to know about is the Hercules Beetle. I’m sorry to say that I cannot provide them with any information on it. The page they find when they follow my link from Google is about the Grapevine Beetle. I mention in passing that it’s small in comparison to the monstrous Hercules Beetle, which doesn’t occur around here (though it does make it as far north as New Jersey and Indiana). I hope the 560 visitors who came by way of that search weren’t disappointed. The 102 people looking for information on the Grapevine Beetle were probably more satisfied.
The next most frequent search was people looking for information on female deer bearing antlers. The post they reach was prompted by a news article in our local paper. I did some background research on why it happens and how common it is, and hopefully the 373 people who came looking for that information found what they wanted.
The creepy-looking Giant Water Bugs were right up there. I had one come to a blacklight at my parents’ place last spring, and posted about it here. The giant, cockroach-like bug is a bit intimidating, and will regularly come to artificial light, so I rather suspect many of the 297 people were looking to find out whether it would bite.
Everybody is a little fascinated and perhaps a bit creeped out by snakes. I get a lot of hits from people looking for information on Eastern Milk Snakes. They find this post, about a snake I found on the road back in may. It’s possible some of the 261 visitors are intrigued by the post’s title (“My milk snake brings all the boys to the yard”), which is probably my favourite post title from the past year.
And coming in at number five is, surprisingly, lightning. I discussed the physics of lightning a bit in this post, about a White Pine that had been hit by lightning. By the fifth search term the number of people looking for particular topics begins to drop off. Only 114 people were curious about lightning.
Honorable mention goes to ice cube icicles. I was surprised not to see this at the top of the list, because it seems it’s nearly always on the daily summaries. I wrote about them early last year, upon discovering one in our freezer.
Aside from these, I’ve had some interesting singular search terms. I wish I could remember more of them, but unfortunately WordPress only keeps details on the last 7 days. If I had been anticipating doing such a post here on my blogoversary, I might have thought to write some of the best ones down over the course of the year…
My most favourite, from back in the summer, had to be the person wondering if it was okay for her husband to drink her breast milk. I have no idea which post it was she found in response to that search, but I’m fairly certain it didn’t answer her question.
Today someone came to my blog by way of “three boy snake a nut”. Not quite sure what they were looking for, either, though chances are they ended up at the milk snake post.
A few days ago someone was looking for a “chickadee reading”. I would be intrigued to know where they have such a thing, because my chickadees certainly don’t read. Another person wanted to know about “hairy snowballs on trees”. Wish I’d seen a photo.
A couple days ago there were people looking for information on prehistoric water mammals, and Ivory Coast frog species (I’m not sure I’ve ever mentioned the Ivory Coast, until now, so I’m not sure why it was my blog came up on their search).
A week ago someone wanted to get “the nymph’s reply to the shepherd analysis”, which I’m afraid I wasn’t able to provide. Another poor soul was “worried about fungus in sinuses”. I hope my post on Schizophyllum commune didn’t freak them out too much.