Lloyd Borrett's Blog
Are we there yet?
My web site has gone ballistic again
Back in late October 2003, traffic to my web site suddenly spiked from an average of 5,000 hits per day to a peak of 215,000 hits per day. And over the months since then, the site has been averaging around 50,000 hits per day.
I first noticed this major increase in site traffic back in November 2003 when I got a huge bill from my hosting provider, WebCentral, for excess data traffic. Something must be wrong I thought. In more than five years of hosting with WebCentral, I had never come close to exceeding my hosting plan's built in data traffic allowance. But no, my web site had suddenly gone ballistic.
It seems the world had switched on to "Petals Around the Rose". Interesting given that the challenge / brain teaser had been online since early in 1996!
Indeed, when talking to WebCentral about it, their technical support guy said, "Oh, so you're the one behind that web site. I played and solved Petals Around the Rose just the other day!"
A search found Petals being referenced from discussion forums all over the web. There are even teachers using it as a part of their learning curriculum. Go figure!
Well I came up with some strategies for getting rid of the excess data charges, implemented them, and quickly got the cost of running my site back to normal. Phew!
Ash Nallawalla suggested I also sign up for Google AdSense and use my site's popularity to get some revenue to help subsidise my costs. However, it turned out Google AdSense weren't supporting personal web sites back in November 2003, so they rejected my application. But late in April 2004, Google came back to me saying they had changed their policy and invited me to apply again. So I did and was accepted.
Unfortunately though, the Google AdSense algorithms just don't seem to be able to classify the pages with adverts well. Thus they are serving up very few relevant adverts. The result has been an extremely low click through rate and thus very little revenue. It seems I just can't win. (I've since contacted Google AdSense and they are looking into it. Problem sites like mine actually help them to improve their advert deliver system.)
Anyway, it appeared that everything had finally settled down into a regular pattern. But then on 24 May 2004, my site traffic suddenly spiked again. Now instead of averaging 50,000 hits per day, I'm getting over 250,000 hits per day!
I'm now looking at more excess data traffic bills from WebCentral. Yet another cost reduction strategy has to be devised and implemented.
The World Wide Web certainly is a weird and wonderful place. Anyone that says they truly understand it is lying. No-one, but no-one, would have predicted what's been happening to my web site of late.