Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Smelly Web: Zombies Walk Among Us

In creating the Smelly Web Indexes, my idea was to track the traffic rankings of fragrance blogs using objective data. The very idea irritated some people, because it violated the basic ethos of perfume blogging. You know, the “everybody’s opinion is equally valuable,” “say only nice things,” “you go girl” school of universal warmth and empathy.

To which I say, back off man, I’m a scientist. I don’t do unconditional positive regard.

I want to learn what works and what doesn’t work in attracting and holding a web audience. Here’s what I said at the beginning:
The sheer number of these new [blog] voices is staggering. So is their stylistic diversity—ranging from well-informed and well-written to the olfactory equivalent of cat-blogging by shut-ins. The fragrance blogosphere is still in its formative years and a Darwinian competition for page views is underway that will determine which voices readers are paying attention to and which ones they are ignoring.
The Darwinian nature of the smelly blogosphere soon became evident. Like the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Smelly Web Indexes are updated now and then. For example, GlassPetalSmoke was dropped when it wandered from perfume into cooking and recipes. Les Tuileries stopped blogging regularly in August 2009, became invisible on Alexa, and was dropped from the Solo Blog Index in February, 2010. In December, 2010 Vetivresse and BitterGraceNotes were dropped; the former had ceased posting, the later had lost it focus on fragrance. They were replaced with BonkersAboutPerfume and FragranceBouquet.

Although my last update on the Smelly Web Indexes was posted nine months ago, the data monkeys in FN’s subterranean computing center continue to collect information. (They have to or they don’t get fed.) Last month’s kerfuffle at Olfactarama about “are there too many perfume blogs?” inspired me to look at the stats again.

I was shocked to find that Divina at Fragrancebouquet stopped posting on Sept. 24, 2010. I didn’t see it in the numbers because, remarkably, her Alexa rank since then has been between 1.3 and 3.7 million [Better than yours!—Ed.], falling below 4 million only in the past two weeks.

Similarly, Dimitri over at SorceryOfScent called it quits on Nov 27, 2011, while ranked at 2.6 million. This morning the site is down just a bit at 2.8 million. [Way better than yours!—Ed.] Dimitri’s zombie blog gets more traffic than PinkManhattan and IndiePerfumes, whose proprietors are still living, breathing, and hitting the keyboards regularly.

What gives? How can a zombie blog stay afloat so long with no posting? When I take a few days off, FirstNerve’s ratings plunge. Over at PerfumeDaRosaNegra, which posted nothing from mid-Oct to mid-Dec 2011, the site rapidly slid off the Alexa charts and is still unrated, despite a recent burst of posting. Don’t they have zombies in Brazil?

Or look at TheDrydown, which in December 2011 has a script glitch that caused its page loading to choke. The site’s Alexa raking dropped from ~6 million to ~17 million by the time the code was fixed two months later. Its rankings have since recovered.

I don’t get it. Some of us turn away from the laptop for a moment and traffic plummets. Others unplug for good but still get hordes of visitors. WTF.

It’s time to roll up my sleeves and reconfigure the Smelly Web Indexes. Time to flush the unrated blogs. Time to kill the zombies. Even though I envy them in a sick way.

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