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Friday 25th May 2018

Horses, rabbits and stingrays win the day

19th January 2007

17012007_mareandfoal.jpgThe great thing about running a web-based service is that you can closely monitor how users interact with your website and collect detailed statistics on such things as what pages are viewed and when and from where and by whom and with what browser... The list of things you can count is almost endless and provides us with a much more valuable insight into what people are looking for than you can get from a magazine.

Having launched a news service primarily aimed at the UK healthcare sector, it is interesting to note that each of our articles is generally viewed a few hundred times by a combination of subscribers, registered and unregistered users in equal measure. At this stage in our development, therefore, we are catering for our target audience with about the volume of traffic we might expect and visitors are gradually increasing as the subscriber base grows.

But if we look at the statistics, what would we do if we wanted to maximise our traffic levels? The answer, it would seem, is to write about nothing but animals.

This Viewpoint was inspired by a casual glance at our new homepage which now lists the most popular articles of the week. I was intrigued to see that a story about the Wyeth horses appeared to be pulling in the most hits. We had not intended for it to be a headline and it still looks odd to me as I see it sitting on our homepage - now with an attractive image of horse and foal included. But clearly that is what our visitors are flocking to our site to see and, like any responsive business, we are duty-bound to meet our customers needs.

Last year, as much as an experiment as anything, we ran a story about the tragic death of Steve Irwin, but with the healthcare angle focussing on stingray venom and its properties. We did it because the tragedy marked an internet phenomenon and, for a few days, it was the most popular search term on the web. We wanted to see what it would do for us even if it was a bit off-topic. The article had 1100 hits within the first hour of uploading and remains today our most visited page since we launched. Bird flu and iSoft diaries aside, our next most popular single article was on rabbit flu. Methinks there's a theme emerging here...

So the moral of the story is? Well actually I don't know. I'm not really an animal lover myself so our well-documented obsession with all things furry, cute or just generally non-human is a mystery to me. It's clearly a more important topic area than our healthcare service for most people. I should add, of course, that the popularity of these pages is with our occasional visitors rather than our subscribers. But if you just want a website with lots of traffic, launch a news service for animals and it seems you'll have a sure-fire winner...

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