Friday, August 12, 2011

How a tragic celebrity death increased my web traffic by 2,000+%

Anyone that has known me for very long knows that I have this strange obsession with the number 27. I don't commit much time to do it anymore, but I still get comments and emails from people around the world. When I was a kid I started to notice the number 27 popping up more often in my life, pop culture, and science. At first I just ignored, but I later found out I was not the only crazy person that thought they saw more then a coincidence. For about a decade now, I have been cataloging anything I can find on the number 27. I used to ranked number one on Google for common searches that included the number 27, but I lost rank when I changed my sub domain. Google's Blogger does not allow any custom 301 redirects thus all the rank accumulated at the old URLs was lost.

Before the domain name change, I was receiving 300-400 daily visitors and now I only receive 30-40 daily visitors. The 27 visitors are an extreme sub-sub culture and many of these people's stories and emails were just mind blowing. Outside of collecting 27 information, it gave me great pleasure constantly to annoy my friends with additional "number 27" sightings. The more I annoyed my friends, the more I looked. It was a strange cycle, but it was in all good fun. :-)

When Amy Winehouse seemed to be losing herself to drugs and her music career was starting to fade, I made a comment that she will more likely fall into the same fate as other notable music stars who died at age 27. When the news broke on July 23rd that she was found dead in her apartment at age 27,  I expected an immediate increase in traffic to my 27 website. Some people are aware of the "27 Club" which is a mysterious coincidence where many famous musicians all died at the age of 27. A good book to check out is called "The 27s: The Greatest Myth of Rock and Roll", which documents the deaths of 34 rock stars who all died at age 27.

Notable 27 club members:
  • Jimi Hentrix
  • Janis Joplin
  • Jim Morrison
  • Kurt Cobain
  • Brian Jones
So, how did the death of Amy Winehouse affect my 27 website?

Visitor's increased 2,500%:

How were people finding my website?

What countries where most people coming from?

How were people finding the website? Search!

I then took the traffic a step farther and created two Google Ads to drive additional traffic, which costs me $100.00. My ads appeared on websites and Google search a half million times and drove an additional 2,500 people to the 27 website.

What did I learn with this short-live traffic increase?

If you are in charge of online advertising, keep a reserve of funds available for strategic advertisements and promotions during times when you can piggy back of another event. Just be aware of the backlash and perceptions of your organization if you do not seem genuine. Case in point: When a giant orange Tide detergent truck shows up immediately after a natural disaster. Be careful finding a balance between proving a service/information and self-promotion. The ads I created for the number 27 around Amy Winehouse's death was just an experiment to see if it works and if there would be any residual search engine rank increase over time.


My rank in Google did NOT change from pre-Winehouse news numbers. Stick to building rank organically through great content, SEO, and use online advertisements to complement regular search traffic. If you rely on advertisements only, you quickly spend more money then the return you will receive from the additional traffic. If you have a large advertising budget and have the money to burn, online advertisements are a quick and dirty way to drive web traffic.