In the middle of February of last year, I started keeping a record of every single hit the Daily Apple got. I recorded the date and which Apple a visitor looked at first. For example, if somebody came to the Daily Apple to look at the page on salamanders and from there went to the page on axolotls and then checked the directory of all the pages on amphibians, I recorded only the salamanders page. I wanted to know what was initially bringing people to my site.
I recorded this in a spreadsheet (omitting my own typo-checking visits) and compiled it on a daily basis so I would know which pages got the most traffic in a given day.
A small sample of my spreadsheet. This shows a portion of one day's hits this January.
Because I discovered just how difficult and time-consuming it is to write a new Apple every single day, I thought this would be a way I could update my page every day. I would list the top three or so Apples that got the most hits in the outer frame. That way people would have something different to look at if they stopped by every day.
I meant for my record-keeping to serve another purpose, too. In the past I asked people to tell me which of the Daily Apples were their favorites. I did this twice. I sensed, from the drop in responses the second time, that people were not that interested in turning this into an interactive sort of place. People seemed to want to be able to come here and read in peace, and not have to engage in any sort of exchange if they didn't feel like it. Fair enough.
(By the way, here are the top 10 of the first 100 and the top 5 of the first 200 Apples.)
So I intended this data I was keeping track of to be a secret replacement for the Tell Me Your Favorites thing that I had tried. I was going to track that data for a full year and then, surprise! reveal what had gotten the most traffic over the past year, and those would be considered the favorites.
But for the past month or so, the Daily Apple has been enjoying an upsurge in the number of hits. Thanks mainly to the popularity of the page on my betta fish, traffic has grown from 250, to 300, to 350 hits per day. This is small change compared to a lot of blogs out there, but for this Daily Apple, that is really exciting.
Chart from Sitemeter, showing the total number of hits the Daily Apple got each month.
But for this Apple Lady, the sheer volume of hits got to be too much for me to keep up my record-keeping on a daily basis. It was taking me around 2 hours each day to record them all. So I finished through the end of January, I'm going to reveal my truly nerdy data-collection to you all now, a little bit sooner than I had intended.
So I don't have a complete year's worth of data, but it's close. I also fell behind in my record-keeping in May (another big month as you can see from the above chart), so I estimated a couple weeks' worth of data to fill in what I had missed.
And now, here are the results.
TOP APPLES, FEB 2007 thru JAN 2008
These are the pages that got the most hits during the past year. Those of you who are regular readers of the Daily Apple may not think these were the best entries, but they were certainly the most popular. And as all of us nerds know, popularity is not necessarily an indicator of quality. But for this round of favorites, popularity is what we have to work with.
The biggest winner, by far, for the entire year, is the Betta Fish entry. With nearly 3,200 hits, it blew away the next most popular page by over 2,200 hits. I have other pages about betta fish, and those did get some air time. But this one was by far the champion. Everybody loves betta fish, apparently. Especially the pictures of betta fish.
This is Susannah's betta, named El Guapo ("the handsome one" in Spanish).
(Photo from Susannah's home page)
Coming in at number two is the Loch Ness Monster. It brought in scads of hits when I first posted it, mainly because people wanted to see a particular artist's rendition of Nessie. A few weeks after the artist took down that picture, hits to that page declined dramatically. I found a replacement for the drawing that everybody liked, but it didn't seem to have a favorable effect, and hits to this page dropped down to zero for quite a while. It's started to enjoy a bit of a comeback recently, but nothing like its initial popularity. But I suppose, since the Loch Ness Monster has been around so long, you don't have to check up on it that often.
The third favorite entry is, somewhat surprisingly, Days of November. November, you may recall, is National Pomegranate Month. Lots of people want pictures of pomegranates, so they wound up at the Days of November page (are you picking up on a theme?). Some people were also interested in D.B. Cooper, who initially hijacked an airplane in November 1971, and got away with it. The FBI are still looking for him.
This picture of pomegranates is from the Friends of Queens Market, London, which is currently waging an anti-development fight.
Weighing in at number four is the Apple Juice vs. Apple Cider entry. I had thought this would get more hits because my site is called the Daily Apple, and I had thought the prevalence of the word "apple" would have meant that search engines would put this page higher on the list in response to queries for apple juice or apple cider. But apparently, popularity trumps terminology frequency. But it's a good entry, if I do say so, if only because it solved something I had wondered about for a long time.
Number five is another one whose popularity shocked me, and that is Oaks in the Beech Family. I wrote this one after consulting a tree identification guide and being astounded and confused by the fact that the tree taxonomists consider oaks and beeches to be part of the same family of trees. I mean, this is not exactly a topic that has all the world up in arms. Nonetheless, this page got over 840 hits in the past year.
Here's a chart showing the ten Apples that got the most hits, compared to the 344 others that got at least one visit during the past year. You can see how the Betta Fish rules.
I won't go into the details about the pages that won place in the 6-10 spots, though in case you can't read that chart, they are, in order:
I want to talk more about which pages won particular categories. As I list them, you'll see what I mean.
(Photo sourced from Everybody Loves Coupons)
Brown vs. White Eggs
Top Animal (besides betta fish)
Top Geographic Location
Top Historical Reference
Ten-Cent Beer Night in Cleveland
Top Pop Culture Reference
Nintendo and Bottled Water
Top Music or Musician
Olympic Theme Song
I would also include some sort of category for health or the body, but three entries in that topic area are already in the top 10.
THE APPLE LADY'S FAVORITES
Now, here are my personal favorites. All that data and popularity aside, and the opinions of my readers -- which I really do care about -- also aside, these are the entries that I like the best. I gauge this by the fact that, when I see that someone else has looked at these pages, I feel a certain glow of happiness and fondness.
- Coral Reefs
- I just think they're fascinating. And so beautiful, it's almost hard to believe. Finally, because of the tremendously hopeful way in which they reproduce, they have become, in my mind, synonymous with love.
- Eero Saarinen
- I chose this architect because I knew nothing about him. The whole topic, including a lot about architecture in general, was completely new to me. What I learned, and the photos of the buildings he made, had me breathing, "wow," again and again in awe at his creativity and abilities. To me, this is what learning is all about: encountering something completely new that opens your eyes to one wonderful thing after another.
- Hair Weaves
- This is another topic I knew nothing about. But the reason I didn't know anything about it is strictly because of cultural reasons: I'm a total white girl. Hair weaves are part of a world that is very much unknown to me. But now that I've read about them and watched videos of people making them and talking about them, I know a lot more than I did before. What's more, I get to share what I learned with other people. To my way of thinking, any knowledge that helps us cross cultural barriers is a good thing.
If anyone would care to ring in with your own favorites, I'd be interested to hear your opinions. But that would be strictly voluntary on your part.
I thank you for joining me in this little retrospective, stock-taking entry. With our wits about us, we will press on into new territories of knowledge, ever-appling our way into the unknown! (In other words, I'll have a new Apple for you soon.)
--The Apple Lady