Posts of the Year Analyzed
Eventually the picture above will make sense, believe me.
Indulge me, if you will, with one last end-of-the-year post. As part of my year-end routine, I went back and looked at the top posts of the year, as measured by the number of direct visits--which basically indicates which posts went viral. When people start sharing my posts on social media, it sends people to direct links, and Google tracks those. Now, of course, there's no arguing that every post on this blog is a delight, so there are no wrong answers here. And yet.
I went back over the 200 posts I wrote in 2016 and came up with the following list of personal favorites. These are articles I put time and thought into, and there was often a visit or actual reporting involved (shocking, I know). Some of them are deeper dives into the way beer is made, some of them are think pieces, and some are tinged by history. Of the "best" posts of the year--subjective, sure--I'd proudly stand behind any day of the year (click through if you missed one):
- Cartwright Brewing's Weird Steam(?) Beer
- The New England IPA series: How American IPAs Evolved, The Newly-Coveted Cloudiness, A Deep Dive About New England IPAs (Way Nerdy), and On the IPA Cutting Edge
- My National traditions series, which was a secret preview to the new book: The Identity of Irish Beer, What Makes a Good Pilsner?, Considering the Belgian Tradition, IPAs as National Tradition, and even Danish Hay Beer--and Lots of IPAs
- Wait, There's Corn Sugar in My IPA??
- Dusting Off an Old Manifesto
- Why I'm Not a Beer Geek
- Ninkasi at 10
- Zoiglhaus Bets on Lents
- Defining the Indefinable
- The entire "spontaneous files" series: De Garde, Solera, and Block 15
- The Sacred and the Profane
Now, how does this compare with the posts that received the most traffic? Well, not identically, let's just say that. Below I'll list the top ten posts by traffic of the year and while some of my faves did make the list, so did some weird stuff. Because people still get linked to posts directly when they do Google searches, none of these are static but as of today, these are the top ten, along with the hits and the date of publication.
- The Argument Against (Henry's Hard Soda), 29,410 direct visits (Jan 4, 2016)
- The Spontaneous Files: De Garde Brewing, 6908 direct hits (11/14)
- The Future of Beer is Hiding in the Footnotes, 6079 direct hits (4/5)
- Why Locals Say Breakside is Portland's Best, 4323 direct hits (10/10)
- Is Boston Beer Doomed? 4293 hits (8/8)
- The Newest Trend: "Retro Craft?" 4091 hits (10/3)
- What Makes a Good Pilsner? 3917 hits (4/26)
- Won't A.I. Beer Inevitably Result in Bud Light? 3881 hits (12/16)
- Dusting Off an Old Manifesto 3837 hits (5/2)
- Why I'm Not a Beer Geek 3851 hits (6/1)
(Google doesn't give an average, but eyeballing it, I would guess the average post can expect to welcome around 1800 visitors directly when it goes live. Most of these come from Facebook and Twitter, and some find love on Reddit.) By far my most-trafficked post this past year was a throwaway piece on the sad end of the Henry Weinhard name inspired by a press release some poor marketing intern had the misfortune to send my way. It took me seven minutes to write, probably, and was four times more popular than the next most-popular post. (It is currently the fifth article returned when you do a Google search on the product, which surely wasn't what MillerCoors had in mind.)
All of which to say is: no one has any idea which posts are going to go viral. Traffic seems to be as random as the pattern of waves. (I had a few other posts like this that were traffic duds.) I will continue to toss out varied content, hoping people find some of it interesting. No doubt the ones you liked weren't on either of the two lists above. Subjectivity...