Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Update: Searches and Engineering Hits

I thought I'd do a little update of my adventures with Google and guiding traffic to this little part of cyberspace.

Since my last entry on the subject of Google traffic I've been getting steadily increasing numbers of Google hits. So far, nothing from any other search engines (Yahoo, MSN, etc.). While it seems like one or two of my pages are in each engine, the bots don't seem to have crawled my whole site yet, and I'm not sure how to encourage them to do so. Good old faithful (Google) has been sending me hits all along, as shown in the graph that started this entry (click to see larger). Not a deluge by any means, but pretty good for a special interest blog such as this one.

My Strobist hits were decreasing slowly since my backlinks have been buried by new links in many cases. Strobist readers are interested in many of the same things I am, so I came up with a plan to get new traffic and a few new readers: wait until the first Lighting 102 post, then immediately post an entry here related to it.

Based on the spike in the graph above, it worked. Fifty hits isn't huge, but fifty hits from readers who are interested in photography is. Along those lines, as I complete assignments for Lighting 102, I'll post here and link up to the relevant Strobist posts. After all, I believe my blog is useful, and I believe other will find it useful too.

A Digression...

Using backlinks to get some traffic from Strobist brings up an interesting point: it is only a matter of time before spammers (or other unscrupulous characters) use the backlink mechanism for evil. For instance, suppose you are reading Strobist's latest entry about reconfigurable macro reflectors (available from here) and you see a backlink called DIY Macro Reflectors. If you are like me and do a lot of macro shots, this would be of interest to you (plus you thought those reflectors looked suspiciously like posterboard you saw at a local art store). So, you click on the link all excited to see someone's macro solution but you see... a page advertising a competitor to the above product at half the price.

Get my point? In this case, the popularity of Strobist (and backlinks) have been used for unauthorized commercial purposes. And the sad part is, it'd probably work; I'd guarantee the company would make some sales.

Or worse, instead of macro reflectors, suppose followers of the backlink end up on a porn and Viagra alternative site. Obviously a more flagrant abuse of the backlink system, but you get the idea. And if Mr. Hobby got wise to the scheme and deleted the backlinks, what is to stop the villian from backlinking again, or ten more times, or a thousand, all across Strobist, faster than Hobby could stop them. Eventually, Hobby would have to turn off backlinks.

That's the problem: as soon as a system like backlinks (or e-mail) becomes widely used for good, spammers and the like will start using it for evil. If backlinking takes off, it is only a matter of time before spammers move in and protection mechanisms need to be put into place. A universal truth of the internet (and beyond). Although, the simplest method to protect backlinks is to use an approval system like the comments do.

My point is, backlinks are great, but I think they need a few more protections in the near future or problems might develop. And that is all I have to say about that.

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