I really wavered on writing this article but after some deep thought, it occurred to me that this secret is used by vendors to cheat stats of clients. I am writing this in no way to attack anyone’s integrity, but maybe if I point it out, Google will level the playing field.
If you really want to cheat one’s traffic stats, one only needs three things- time (age of site) an image (any pretty picture) and a name of a major city (event, building, or anything famous) as the image name.
After reading this thread over at BHB, I decided to use the site in question and would ask you to open another window and go to google images. At Google Images, type in ” long beach real estate” and what do you see? You see this same site (www.longbeachrealestatehome.com) listed multiple times in the top page results. Now, that may seem pretty harmless, but think globally with me.
In my own hyper-local blog, I innocently captured a picture and named it our city. I had no idea what ramifications this would have. Three months later, checking my stats as I do daily, I began noticing huge bumps in page hits. We typically disregard page hits and pay more attention to page impressions. Hits often count how many images are loaded as well, so it really simply depends on the counter. So in watching the page impressions, I noticed the spike was happening there as well, meaning, whoa, we’re famous- what are we doing right here?
Now, the next obvious step (if you really want to know the source of the traffic) was to begin closely watching referring urls, and the above image is what I see- 1,748 impressions of this one image from one country alone in the last 90 days. This list of referring google traffic reaches into at least the 10s of thousands since January. I wanted to post the list of numbers, but our backend provider does not give us a way of downloading a file so here is a screen shot of the one image reference. If you look above the highlighted line you can see the traffic generated off of the same image and others from all around the world.
In one day, I remember a single image counting for over 600 impressions. Granted I was disappointed, I got over it and still tag my images in hopes that folks in the US are just as interested and maybe they’ll move here and call us, but honestly, I get more international traffic on Austin images than nationally.
So, if an SEO guru wanted to fluff numbers to impress his or her client, they would simply insert lots of rich, colorful, well named images to the site- totally legal in the Google world of law and completely hidden to most clients as referring urls have not always been so easily provided by most site designers in their backend.
After realizing this phenomenon, I began looking deeper and deeper into sites with high Alexa rankings (some, not all) and learned that this is not uncommon at all. So before you tout numbers, one must always know where that number comes from. I would imagine the site so earnestly debated over at BHB gets just as much traffic for a simple image times seven in a single week from folks looking at beach pics, beach homes, sunsets, and a whole lot more.
If for your own vanity you wish to partake in the image hit game, one must only place a well named image in their blog or site, wait for google to crawl images (takes about 60 to 90 days) and voila! You too can boast 1000s of hits in a single day!
For the record, I am sure that Laurie has every bit of 1000 hits a day over at her place. Her site is lined with lots of rich wonderful content that her buyers surely love, as well as contribution from our favorite guy in suspenders, Brian Brady and a whole lot more. This is more advising folks to ask lots of questions of their vendors.
Just a side note: I took this screenshot at 8am, and the image in question already has referred 17 folks to our site.