Saturday, March 3, 2012

Gone Viral - Part II

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 "" 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.

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