2015 was a big year for content on my blogs because I went many places. 2015 was also the year that my waterfall guide started taking off. My blog became more popular also but the waterfall guide is becoming very well known. It is pretty common meeting people that know about and use my waterfall guide. Shown below are the top 11 most viewed waterfall guide pages. Some are my favorites while others are conveniently located near Taipei so they are often visited.
The waterfall guide grew from 41,000 views to 69,000 views for a 68% increase last year. The World Is Not That Big was viewed another 17,000 times. That really isn’t the interesting part. It is more interesting to see what pages they are viewing, what countries they come from and how they are referred to the site.
Pingxi happens to be one of the rainiest areas in Taiwan but it hadn’t rained for months when I visited. I must go back.
Shifen Waterfall actually isn’t one of my favorite waterfalls but it absolutely dominates the traffic on my website. Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail and Shalawan Waterfall are two of my favorites and deservedly rank 2nd and 3rd. Shalawan Waterfall is unusual because when I published the guide there was almost no English information of it and I visited it for the first time this year. Typically it takes a year or two for a page to become popular enough to rank highly but Shalawan immediately shot to #3 and I hear constant comments from expats about how much they love it.
There were some pages that were viewed less last year but for the most part page views went up for every waterfall. In addition to increased traffic on existing pages I also added over 60 pages of waterfalls, hikes, temples (Bali) and other sights to the guide. Shalawan Waterfall (pictured above), Qufengbi Trail, Beidawushan, Haishen Waterfall, Laomei Reef, Qingshan Waterfall, Alibang Waterfall and Dadi Gorge all were viewed over 200 times despite being published this year. Maybe a couple of these will be in the top 10 next year.
note – %’s don’t include the home page or guide organization pages (each county page)
I don’t think anyone is surprised that Taiwan ISP addresses dominate my readers. It will be interesting to see how this changes during the next 2-3 years as I add more and more content from outside of Taiwan. Another expected stat was that the largest native speaking English countries ranked in the top 10 in addition to Singapore and Hong Kong which speak multiple languages at near native levels.
Indonesia made the largest year to year increase due to my trip to Bali in June and it should climb even higher if I am able to add content from Sumatra and Lombok this year. One country notably absent is Japan since they have a large population and are one of Taiwan’s closest neighbors. I am not sure if I will be able to travel to Japan this year or not but I want to take many trips to Japan during the next 5 years.
It is interesting that I get fewer readers from Taiwan on my blog versus my waterfall guide but this makes sense with how I use social media. Most of the time I post my waterfall guide updates to the Taiwan’s Waterfalls FB page (followers are mostly in Taiwan) and I usually post my latest blogs to my personal FB page (a lot of friends and family from back home). Additionally the waterfall guide is more useful to those living in Taiwan.
note – stats are for the waterfall guide except for the last column as a comparison
Referrals are essential for any blog to succeed and I have done very little to promote the blog myself. I finally became active on social media (non-personal accounts) this year but I have barely scratched the surface. The Taiwan’s Waterfalls FB page has grown from 120 followers to 640 followers this year since I have been posting regular guide updates in addition to linking to various waterfall sites from around the world. Other than regularly (less so every year) posting on forumosa.com and occasionally commenting on other blogs, I have done very little social media promotion.
More important than producing your own social media following is getting your site linked in other blogs and in their social media feeds. Most of my referrals aside from FB (and many on FB also) and forumosa are from other people mentioning my blog. Foodie Baker wrote a blog about Wulai years ago and their referrals keep increasing every year so their blog must be doing really well. Michael Turton is a very popular (and sometimes polarizing) expat blogger in Taiwan with interests in politics, biking, history and travel. Steven Crook is the Bradt Travel Guide Taiwan writer and does some blogging on two sites. Taiwan Explorer has a popular FB page with a lot of discussion, writes a blog and publishes a blogroll at mytaiwanblogs.blogspot.tw. Camping in Taiwan is my go to resource for finding a campsite on my weekend excursions. Green Laundry, Nomad Notions and Taiwanvore have in the past linked to my blog and their content still brings a few visitors.
My next social media avenue is pinterest.com. This seems like an excellent outlet for photography blogs. For the last couple of months I have been creating boards and pinning blogs that I like. The plan is to create boards that people want to visit and build up a following (currently 140 followers) before adding a lot of my own content to the boards. I have enjoyed creating my pinterest board Travel Blogs – The World’s Waterfalls. Another big area of improvement is including properly sized images in blogs for different types of social media and to start putting titles on the photos. Every blogger should be doing this (an example).
What types of social media do you think I should start using to promote my blog? I plan on using Instagram this year. I despise Twitter although many say that it is essential for bloggers. Tumblr seems interesting but I didn’t really like using it. Does anybody actually use Google+? Is there any reason to post stuff on there? I have no understanding of Reddit but somebody posted my guide on there last week and within a couple of days I had 200-300 hits from that site. Snapchat sounds like my own little personal hell. I won’t be using that. There is definitely a lot of untapped social media potential but ‘social’ isn’t exactly something that I do well.
The opposite of referrals (clicks) is also true in my blogs as well. I have frequently included links to other blogs when writing blogs but this is an area that I want to improve on next year. One specific area is to include links to 2-3 blogs for each of the pages in my waterfall guide so my readers can access more information about a place. I think my information is good but it isn’t always perfect nor does it tell the entire story about a place.
Clicks from my blogs fall into 3 main areas. The first area is resource sites such as China Post (newspaper), Guide to Taipei, various National Forest Recreation Area website and the Central Weather Bureau. The second area is a group of bloggers that have remained on my links pages and still get some traffic. This page needs to be updated to include more relevant links for travelers in Taiwan. I have linked to 3 different websites written by Richard Saunders (my favorite article that he has written) in addition to numerous China Post articles written by him (and a few other authors). This shouldn’t be a surprise since he has been (almost) everywhere that I want to go. He has a new must have book coming out soon for those traveling through Taiwan.
The last area is random individual bloggers and this is where I want to improve my linking the most next year. In 2015 I started featuring relatively unknown bloggers that are doing great work in my series Great Bloggers. So far I have done a series on Asia, Australia/NZ and Waterfalls with 10 bloggers featured in each article. My next article is 10 waterfalls to visit in Taiwan for 2016 and it wasn’t easy finding 10 active bloggers that have great blogs/photos of waterfalls that I haven’t been to.
10. Datun Waterfall
These two waterfalls rank highly because of their proximity to Taipei and many go there. They are relatively boring waterfalls though so I won’t post photos of them. Most likely they will fall out of the top 10 statistically next year.
9. Liangshan Waterfall is a little more impressive than the previous two but its popularity is due to its nearby proximity to Kaohsiung and Pingtung.
Do you have any thoughts on any of these statistics? Are they completely irrelevant? Is anything surprising or interesting? I don’t use any fancy Google Analytics or even have a hosted blog (yet). I am currently working on improvements and getting it hosted but I have a real job that I earn real money at so that is (usually) prioritized. I have many things to improve but do you find anything particularly frustrating about either site?
11. Guifu Canyon is one of the most unusual places that I have visited in Taiwan. Absolutely incredible.