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Are you sure it’s a beech you’re looking for, madam?

January 8, 2013

One of the first things that happens when you begin a blog is that statistics start to exert a shameful fascination upon you. It’s thrilling to see your reader numbers increasing in fits and starts, while a tailing off of hits can induce consternation and soul-searching to a disproportionate degree. Eventually one’s fixation on stats wears off and, apart from the occasional bout of self-indulgence, one hardly gives the numbers more than a cursory glance, just to check that there is still someone dropping in from time to time.

Every now and again, however, a blip in the figures can give pause for thought. I sometimes idly wonder why, for example, an early and embarrassingly poorly illustrated post on how to cook puffball mushrooms is often so popular. (Are there really so many puffballs popping up around the world? And is my amateur attempt the only puffball recipe out there?)

Even more baffling is the steady  attention given to a frankly forgettable little entry about beech trees turning colour at the end of summer. It’s just a couple of photos and a line or two, none of which are noteworthy even by the modest standards of Dancing Beastie. I wouldn’t mind the attention if it were being given to a post I felt merited it! (This one on art, thresholds and Celtic mythology, for example.) More often than not, though, this paltry entry on beech trees is at the top of the ‘Top Posts’ list of any given day.

On a quiet day that might mean only a few readers having seen it. I have no illusions of being more than krill in the blogging pool and only a handful of people have  stopped by today from most of the world. A couple in Indonesia, five in Pakistan, a few around Europe and the Middle East and a dozen or so here in Britain. (Thank you for coming!) Yet from the United States, visitors today to this blog number over a thousand people. And nine hundred and ninety nine of them were looking at On the Beech.

Am I missing something obvious? Is ‘on the beech’ a code for something naughty? Have I unwittingly said something there of vital usefulness to a student essay? Or are we at cross-purposes thanks to sloppy spelling? When I say beech, you can be pretty sure that I do mean the tree and not a place with sand and palm trees. If you came here looking for a sun-soaked holiday I’m sorry, but you’d best move right along, sir. Any beaches on Dancing Beastie tend to be of the bracingly windswept variety.

I can’t figure it out. I’m sure these visitors are looking for something else and I don’t know what is leading them here by mistake. So please, will the next person who stumbles ‘On the Beech’ at Dancing Beastie put me out of my confusion and let me know why on earth you find yourself here? Then I can stop this navel-gazing and get on with writing about things that interest me in the real world. Like, for example, beech trees…

not a grain of sand in sight

And not a grain of sand in sight


You might enjoy Hello, World!

24 Comments leave one →
  1. Margaret Lambert permalink
    January 8, 2013 1:01 am

    For humor, this must be one of your best. Realizing that you’re in fact perfectly serious….for the most part! You may never get a satisfying answer.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      January 11, 2013 1:05 pm

      Glad to entertain, Margaret!

  2. January 8, 2013 3:14 am

    Got a real giggle over this one. Who knows what brings people to your doorstep. What a mystery.
    For me, I always enjoy your tree and landscape pictures.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      January 11, 2013 1:05 pm

      Thanks, Philosopher Mouse, I’m glad you enjoy it here. 🙂

  3. January 8, 2013 5:00 am

    Well, I’m from Canada which is close to the US…not that this means anything in terms of cracking the code. Frankly, I’m now fascinated! What I can tell you from my end, is that I recently found your blog (although I can’t remember how I came across it) and think the photo it quite beautiful! Take care and will continue to enjoy your posts!

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      January 11, 2013 1:07 pm

      I’m glad you found me here and even more happy that you think it’s worth coming back from time to time (though not a thousand times a day, ho ho!).

  4. Jo Woolf permalink
    January 8, 2013 9:45 am

    I hope you get some answers! 🙂 I am afraid I would tend to fear the worst, and assume it is a ‘beach’ that people are seeking. Alternatively, are you sure you haven’t been featured on Freshly Pressed? On my own blog, I’ve had so many visitors looking for ‘Maclean’s Cross’ that I began to wonder if it was on the school curriculum. Mysteries of the unexplained!

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      January 11, 2013 1:09 pm

      There was a day a couple of years ago when I saw the stats leap from about 30 to 3,000 and concluded that some conspiracy must be going on – and in fact, yes, I’d been F.Pressed. (Positive thinking, eh!)
      I think Diana might have the answer, below.

  5. hmunro permalink
    January 8, 2013 11:05 am

    OK, OK! I admit it … it was me, with my marginal-at-best typing skills, who first came to your blog looking for information on beaches. But I was so taken by your mellifluous prose and beautiful photos that soon I found myself stopping by for a daily beech fix. Before I knew it, I was checking in two, three, even four times a day.

    I’m joking, but that’s actually not too far from the truth: I have several of your posts bookmarked, for those times when my inner writer loses her voice. Your extraordinary gift with words is matched only by your deep — and often poignant — insights. And it was from you that I learned the word “liminal!” So … no matter where your visitors may be coming from (or why), the traffic is very well-deserved.

    Wonderful, post by the way. Dancingbeastie humor at its cheeky best. 🙂

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      January 11, 2013 1:13 pm

      Hah, I knew it. These Mid-Western types, what can I say. 😉
      So much more wonderful to have a few real kindred spirits dropping by than any amount of spam. And…you’ve bookmarked some posts? Wow, I am truly flattered. And also thinking, why don’t I do that with others’ interesting posts myself, it’s a great idea for uninspired days. Thanks!

  6. January 8, 2013 11:58 am

    I did enjoy this, DB, and think I may actually be able to put you out of your misery. I have a nifty little gadget on my blog called StatCounter, which tells me not only where my visitors come from but also whether they’ve stumbled upon my blog via a Google search for something.

    I’ve found that by far the greatest number of stray hits come for people searching for images and a very few of mine seem to be just what they are looking for. A post on the Great War with a map of the Ypres Salient (where my great-uncle was killed) has had far more hits than any other post and almost all are by people searching for a map of the Ypres Salient. Similarly with a photo of the young Queen Elizabeth II, which drew a lot of hits in her Jubilee year and even a post illustrated with an image of packing boxes….

    I think it’s the case that the more people click on the image when it turns up in their search, the higher it is ranked by Google and the more other people will find it in the future. I like to think that at least a few of them will actually read my deathless prose which accompanies the image, but I have my doubts. 🙂

    So like you I take stats with an enormous pinch of salt and find my satisfaction in the people who read and comment.

    • January 8, 2013 8:36 pm

      PS the joy of StatCounter is that it DOESN’T count the referer spam visits as Blogger/blogspot does, and apparently WordPress too.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      January 11, 2013 1:22 pm

      The stats at WordPress are pretty detailed and do explain which search terms or sites have brought people here, but it seems that referrer spam slips through the net. And I suppose the more generic the image, the more people are going to find a use for it. (But packing cases?!)
      Anyway, if people stumble across your blog and *don’t* read some of your deathless prose, Perpetua, then they are missing out. Real readers beat stats any day!

  7. January 8, 2013 8:33 pm

    a thousand visitors on one post? Sorry to rain on your parade but it’s referrer spam.
    Google it, or I did a post on it

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      January 11, 2013 1:25 pm

      Thank you for this, Diana, I think you may have answered the conundrum. I am none the wiser for reading your link to Wiki’s page on referrer spam (to be honest I am such a technophobe that it went right over my head), but happy to have an answer!

  8. January 8, 2013 9:43 pm

    What about the Nevil Shute novel, ‘On the Beach’ – it would also fit with the general lack of spelling ability in the internet world. (A novel I discovered at the age of 13 and which set me on the track of post-apocalyptic fiction ever after).

    My most popular post is titled ‘Blackening’. They got a Scottish wedding tradition. I shudder to think what they really wanted.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      January 11, 2013 4:36 pm

      Yes, I thought of the book, but not sure that anyone reads Nevil Shute any more? I remember your post on blackenings. Maybe people are looking for stuff to clean their stoves with…or maybe not!

  9. Janet permalink
    January 8, 2013 10:02 pm

    Part of my home address is “Beech” but sadly I receive many items of correspondence where it is written/typed as “Beach”. So I think I agree with Jo Woolf on this one 😦

    I came to this site via “I Prefer Reading” and find I am not so far from you, situated as I am on Royal Deeside.

    Beeches abound here 🙂

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      January 11, 2013 4:38 pm

      What a lovely part of Scotland you are in, then! Even the odd beach – or at least, there are some fine ones on the other side of the Cairngorms. (See that post on bracing beaches which I mention above.)

  10. Erika W. permalink
    January 8, 2013 11:20 pm

    Your nature writing plus photographs entrance me, also your quiet courage and love of your family. To have contact with such a really good person is a lift for my spirits.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      January 11, 2013 4:39 pm

      Erika, I don’t know what to say. I’m sure I don’t deserve such compliments, but thank you. I very much appreciate your faithful readership and gentle encouragement.

  11. January 12, 2013 3:12 pm

    This made me smile. I too sometimes look at the stats of my blog and wonder! I use Stat counter which filters out spam. But it is sometimes a puzzle. Ditto with comments. I might spend some time writing (or attempting) to write some erudite prose and it gets few hits, stick a few pictures of hens or cats on and the world seems to love it. LOL!

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      January 13, 2013 10:17 pm

      Yes, I think that we all have a weakness for fluffy animal pictures, whatever pretensions we might have to erudition! Personally, I have to restrain myself from publishing puppy/ bunny pictures every other day…


  1. the Tuesday tree: on the Beech « Dancing Beastie

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