Saturday, March 3, 2012
It is surreal. I removed the wasp's nest (the cuckoo's egg) from my site and put a stop to the abuse... and the whole stats stopped. A freak wave, frozen in mid-air.
We shall see the real results over the next few days - if any of that wave of traffic "stuck" in any way to the bookshop or if they were really only using my domain for free.
Over 100% managed to connect to the favicon - how is that possible?
No, this is not a new Science Fiction series :). (Yet.)
I blogged "Gone Viral" on the P'kaboo Blog but as this second part relates more to the learning curve than the business, I'm placing it here.
In February we uploaded a new improved index page. The page clicks grew in a nice, trackable way, a sweet little hyperbolic curve that we were quite chuffed with.
Then I followed a hint and a hunch and added a "Don't click me, I'm Secret" tag to my favourite free download. Just for fun and because it looked a lot better than "click me, I'm free". And overnight we had our door trampled by Russian browsers (all using Yandex) checking out, I suppose, what was so "secret".
I find it hilarious that it had to be all the .ru users who suddenly skyrocketed in connection with a supposed "secret". They were all to be disappointed: Not only was the "secret" only a free ebook, but they couldn't even read it (I would presume) because it's an English pdf file. Ergo, not a staggering amount of downloads.
I found this a bit sad as our books are all extremely readable and someone looking to hone their English should pick them as a first choice.
Nevertheless, I continued tracking our suddenly scary volume. I learnt a bit about Russian internet users.
They prefer Yandex. I haven't yet experimented with Yandex but it looks like a nice enough search engine. It also has an instant translation function, but as far as I can see, only between Russian and English.
They prefer browsers such as Safari and Opera to our IE and Google Chrome. Suppose they are onto something. Firefox is also quite a favourite.
I have no idea what search terms they put in; 's all in Russian!
I found the weirdest referrers. (A referrer is a link leading to a P'kaboo page.) I followed some of the links to sites that looked much like our "Gumtree" etc. And then I found - wait for it - a wasp's nest.
I found it today. I noticed that our most visited pages all started with "files", a directory I hadn't created. And except for our home page and one other page, all the pages were in Russian!
I had a look at those pages and found a lovely pirate of a car parts website, having laid its cuckoo's egg into my domain. Even using my favicon! Well!
After that it was a matter of simply deleting their pages off my server again. But now I'll have to be careful that they don't take some or other revenge.
I wish I could reset our page stats to see how much of all that traffic was really generated by our upgraded front page (which I had to move back to the bookshop to save bandwidth) and how much our cuckoo brought us. Sadly, unsolicited traffic will never turn into qualified traffic - that's like asking a dog to turn into a horse.
It would be nice if you could watch this site with me and check every now and then if you find results when typing "pkaboo.net/files/" into the address bar. It ought to give a "403 - Verboten" code but if it lands anywhere else, pls let me know. How did they get in? How did they override my securities?
We'll keep an "aye" on this.