The Story of the Story About the Annular Eclipse

Viral Spike In Article TrafficCredit: javrsmith

A long time ago, I wrote an article on the Squidoo site that described the upcoming annular eclipse of May 20, 2012. This article provided quite a lot of information to those who might be interested in the solar event. As time drew nearer to the eclipse date, I thought that the article would gain more traffic. It did which can now be used to illustrate the benefits of writing articles about time sensitive topics.

A solar eclipse is a perfect time sensitive event. Before the eclipse, hardly anyone is interested in the topic. As the date draws near, some people may become interested. Immediately before, or on, the date in question, traffic is likely to spike. In the case of an article describing a solar eclipse, you might assume that traffic would fall off afterwards. You would be correct. For my Squidoo article, the viewing statistics are particularly steep as illustrated in the attached diagram. There can be some lucrative gains from such a traffic pattern so authors should not discount such a narrow time-based topic.

For years, many authors have known of the time sensitive nature of Internet searches. Just as with the solar eclipse, other events are affected. Search traffic builds significantly before holidays such as Christmas. As an Infobarrel author, you can take advantage of such trends. While writing about a one-time event such as an eclipse might not be a great idea, writing about some aspect of Christmas may well be. After all, Christmas comes around every year. Your timely article has a good chance of attracting a significant number of viewers each year as well.

Viral Article Traffic Spike DetailsCredit: javrsmithIn the case of the Annular Eclipse article, traffic did build significantly before the May 20, 2012 day. There was an extremely high number of viewers on the actual date. These facts had a couple of positive effects for my article portfolio at Squidoo. First, there were many Amazon purchases made by viewers to the article. These combined to earn about $5.00 for the article. As well, the rise in traffic helped my other articles on the site. Many of the viewers viewed other articles that I had hosted there. Finally, the number of viewers was noticed by the Squidoo article ranking system. The article improved its ranking, peaking at the number 104 position. When you consider that there are some 2 million articles on Squidoo, this is excellent. During the months previous, the article languished at position 30000 overall.

If you don't know about Squidoo, they have a peculiar revenue sharing formula. They control various ad blocks and inline links in your articles. When article readers interact with these elements, the Squidoo site makes money. This is just like Adsense on Infobarrel, for example. On Squidoo, however, all of the interaction from every article goes to the site. They then dole it back to authors according to how each article ranks on the site. In the best case, an article attracts many readers, they interact and the author is suitably rewarded. Many articles do not perform well with this approach.

In the case of the highly time sensitive Annular Eclipse article, it did rather poorly on Squidoo for quite some time. As the date drew near, traffic built, as described above. The readers interacted with the links. The combination of revenue earning actions and general reader activity, combined to launch the article to the #104 spot. But according to the Squidoo revenue sharing formula, that was not necessarily enough to earn any money for the article. An article that spikes to number 104, or better, in a day will not earn any money just for the ranking. Squidoo averages the rank over the term of an entire month. Obviously then, if an article is at postion 30,000 for 30 days, but hits position 104 for one day, the average ranking would be 29,035. That would not pay off very much with Squidoo.

This article had the benefit of providing useful links to readers, links which allowed them to easily obtain more information about the eclipse. This type of reader interaction is important to Squidoo, even if it doesn't result in direct revenue to the site. This lens had a very high number of readers click on various links to photos and to an informative site hosted by NASA. There were also related articles listed. Many readers surfed to those articles. During the days before and after May 20, there were literally thousands of reader action clicks. These were seen as very important to the traffic ranking algorithm.

Another bonus gained by the eclipse article was the ability to sell items through the Amazon affiliate program. Many readers reviewed and purchased items suggested by the article. Since proper eye protection was a must for this event, the article highlighted several varieties of eclipse eye goggles. In the time before the event, several people bought recommended items. For each purchase, the article earned 4% of the sale. Interestingly, when readers went to Amazon to review the goggles, they were given an affiliate cookie for this article. As a result, several purchases of items unrelated to the eclipse were purchased. These also resulted in commissions for the article.

Because of the spike in traffic, the reader interaction clicks and Amazon purchases, the article was quite successful during the month. While it peaked at position #104, and held positions 106, 150 and 160 for some days, the average rank for the month was #7450. This puts the article firmly within the second paying tier of Squidoo for the month of May, 2012. Since then, it has languished somewhat but it still holds the average position of 10,000, nine days into June. The Squidoo tier payment, and the earned commissions, should add up to a reasonable amount for this article, perhaps $15.

A side effect of the spike in traffic for the annular eclipse article has been the boost given to other Squidoo articles in my portfolio. Several other eclipse articles, which had direct links from the annular one, saw spikes in traffic as well. The author profile page was also referenced as were general topic articles. Based on the traffic pattern seen by this one article, authors should realize that there are both direct and indirect benefits to be gained by writing very time sensitive articles.