Until we arrived in Ireland, neither Amy nor I had blogged before, and while we had seen a few, we’d never been regular readers, either.  But a blog seemed the best way to let people back home keep up with our travels, so we set one up and posted our first item one year ago today.

We thought some of you might like to look “behind the scenes” of our blog, as it were.  If you have your own blog, much of what I’m about to write will be old hat, but I know many of our friends and family don’t have a blog and may be unfamiliar with how they work.

Our blog has a counter which keeps track of all the hits we get on our website, and about a week ago we hit 7,000 and earlier today we hit 7,300.  Some blogs get that kind of traffic in a week or less, but we were pleased so many people had come to our blog.  We had thought of our blog just as a way for people who know us to keep up, but lots of the traffic comes from people who happen to find our blog through a search engine.

We know this because our blog has a stats page and it shows what other webpages are referring readers to our site, and what search terms people use to get here.  Yes, if you google a word or a phrase, and you end up at our site, we know how you got here (we just won’t know who you are).  This brings me to my first piece of advice if you set up your own blog: If you want a lot of people to read your blog, include articles with either the word braless or peeing in them.  Judging from many of the search terms people use to get to our site, I know we’ve disappointed lots of readers.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to allow people to comment on our blog, but Amy thought we should, and I’m glad we set it up that way.  It allows people to clarify points, or just jump in with their own two cents.  But if you allow comments you definitely need a spam filter.  Some companies spam blogs with links to their own sites, and it’s interesting to see the different approaches.  Most don’t even try to hide that they’re spam, while others try to make it seem like there really is a person out there who read the post and is simply responding to it (“That’s some good content!” or “I really think that your site is informative, I have read through it and think that you have several amazing points. Please visit mine . . .”  These almost fooled us, since of course our blog IS good content, and is always filled with amazing points, and how could they know that without actually reading it?).

We often include a picture with our postings, and on the right side of our screen we have a link showing the latest pictures we’ve posted on our flickr account (this may seem obvious, especially if you’re reading this on the blog, but some of our readers subscribe to the blog and get emails sent whenever we post something new, so they don’t  actually see the blog itself unless they seek it out).  Our flickr page has stats, too, and while they’re sometimes a little harder to decipher, it seems most people looking at our pics find them not through the blog but from simply doing an image search on google or flickr.

Here, too, content is important.  The numbers of viewers of two of Amy’s photos of David Czerny statues rose steeply about two weeks ago.  What happened was the Czech Republic took over the presidency of the European Union January 1, and their government commissioned Czerny to work with artists from each of the 27 EU members to create an exhibit with statues representing each country.  Instead, he decided to create all the statues himself and made up names for the other artists.  The exhibition created something of an international incident, because for some reason Bulgaria didn’t like being represented by a toilet.  With his name in the news, people began searching for his work online, and they found us.

This is what’s amazing to me.  I write a blog posting on the Cork Admirals and for months afterwards whenever someone searches for the Admirals online my story is on the first page of results.  Amy photographs some statues, and when people image search David Czerny, her pictures come out as the fourth and fifth images on the results page.  It’s one thing to know that what we create is available to anyone with a computer and internet connection, but it’s another to see how easy it can be for someone to actually access it.