Here, in order, are the top several of my blog posts in 2011, with the number of hits each received (italicized ones are for shows not from 2011 – general interest ones are not italicized but have their date published).
- (2009) 1,661
This year I continued to let the audience (you!) determine what I wrote about, and wrote less about dance (though I saw 34 performance this year) and frequently just didn’t bother to review shows that were near closing. I also traveled more to see shows, making it to Watford, Milton Keynes, Leeds, and Birmingham in an attempt to get to those hot productions I didn’t want to have to wait until they got to London to see. This yielded some great returns for me trafficwise: 1,721 for my review of Top Hat, which I caught its opening week in Milton Keynes and which ultimately delivered the fifth most hits for the year (and second best of my reviews for 2011). A similar phenomenon was seen for my 2010 review of Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella, which underperformed (for me) while it was at Sadler’s Wells but which took off as it toured England and ended as my most popular review in 2011 and third most visited page.
Lesson learned for blogging: if you’re reviewing a touring show, I think listing the theaters it is going to play in helps people find your review when they’re searching. I do some in the title of the article but also do it in my closing paragraph where I include the dates it is playing.
Looking at the other top hits, I see the same trends as last year: people come to reviews when bloggers are the only game in town (see ’em early and write ’em up quick); reviews of shows in larger venues drive more traffic (unsurprising as more people can see them); and people still really want a deal. So my number one page AGAIN was best cheap restaurants in theater-land (a page which I update about every two months as I find new restaurants and my old ones close or fall out of favor), and number two was an article about getting theater tickets on the cheap. Heck, #6 was a worn-out coupon to get into War Horse on the cheap (hint: just pay the money as it sells out all of the time or buy cheap seats). I guess it makes me happy in some ways: I love to show that theater and going out in London can be affordable if you’ve got just as much as twenty quid, and sometimes you can even do it for less. On the other hand, I’d like it if my new content was getting more hits; God knows I work hard enough in making it!
Otherwise … I think I said most of what I had to say about driving traffic in last year’s post. I cross-post my new reviews on Twitter, Facebook, and Livejournal; I comment on other people’s reviews of shows I’ve seen (though only after I’ve written my review, as I don’t want to contaminate my opinion); and, most importantly, I try to make this blog one with reviews people can trust. When I enthuse, it’s a show that I think really has special merit (Little Angel Theatre’s remarkable Tempest comes to mind); and when I walk out of a show it’s because I’ve lost my life to live in just one act (The Veil and Haunted Child win the booby prize for chasing me out into the dark, and I would have left the Martin Sheen Hamlet as well if I hadn’t had a date.) I don’t make a penny off of any of my writing, and over the course of the entire year I’ve received a grand total of four free tickets for shows. I write for YOU – and I write for me, just another member of London’s hard core theater going community. I saw 136 live performances last year and I’m proud to support the arts with my ticket money – and to support London audiences by providing honest reviews of what I’ve seen. I hope you find it helpful.