2015 in the Rear View

The year in numbers with 2014 values in parentheses:

  • 9 (7) = Road trips reported
  • 77 (80) = Blog posts
  • 59 (77) = Days on the road
  • 1926 (1972) = Pictures posted — 490 (384) in the blog and 1436 (1588) in Road Trips

whttco65_revI made a couple more trips this year than last but they were shorter and resulted in less total days on the road. That naturally caused a slight drop in pictures posted to the journal but pictures in the blog increased so that there was not a significant change in the total number of new pictures. In addition to the 52 regular weekly blog posts, there were 14 reviews, 9 road trip links, and 2 miscellaneous asynchronous posts which adds up to just three less blog posts than last year. Three of the new blog posts generated enough traffic to make the top five. The most popular new blog post concerned a little ol’ high school reunion. Once again there were no new posts in the non-blog top five.

Top Blog Posts:

  1. My Wheels – Chapter 1 1960 J. C. Higgins Flightliner
    After being the most popular new post of 2013 and that year’s second most popular overall, this first chapter in the My Wheels series moved to number one last year and stays there for 2015. Any doubt that web cruisers prefer single-speed fat-tired bicycles over Corvairs and Vegas is rapidly fading.
  2. Fifty Years After
    This was itself a “rear view” article triggered by the fiftieth anniversary reunion of my high school graduating class. Not surprisingly, a lot of my classmates read it but there isn’t enough of them to account for it being the most popular new post of the year. The article was hardly an in depth look at the past half-century but it did offer a glimpse at coming of age in the 1960s and that apparently caught a little interest.
  3. Scoring the Dixie
    I am guessing that this 2012 article on how I was tracking my on going efforts to drive the entire Dixie Highway got some extra attention this year due to it being the centennial of the Dixie Highway Association’s founding. I completed the drive in July and published a book about it (A Decade Driving the Dixie Highway) in November. I’d like to think that that had something to do with the spike in visits to the article but dates and numbers don’t really support that.
  4. Twenty Mile Stand Two Years On
    The J. C Higgins Flightliner article was denied the number one slot in its first year by the demolition of a nearly two century old road house and an earlier article about hopes to save it. This update published on the second anniversary of the demolition was the second most popular new post of 2015 and the fourth most popular overall.
  5. Much Miscellany 2, Sloopy at 50
    This is the third new post to crack the top five and, like the number one new post, it concerns an event from fifty years ago. On October 2, 1965, the McCoys’ recording of Hang on Sloopy reached the top of the charts. On September 12, 2015, the McCoys’ singer and lead guitarist performed the song back in his home town of Union City, Indiana. In fact, all three surviving McCoys were on stage for a one song reunion. Union City sits on the state line near where I grew up and, although we weren’t classmates, I knew all of the McCoys during our high school years so this and the Fifty Years After post have more in common than one might think.

Top Non-Blog Posts:

  1. PA Potpourri
    This four day trip is from June 2005. The big winner was the trip’s cover page which mentions, among other things, Madonna of the Trail monuments, the Lincoln Highway, the Johnstown flood, and the Centralia coal mine fire. Traffic for the individual days was fairly even although day one, which included the visit to Centralia, had a slight edge. A time capsule, noted in the post and scheduled to be opened in 2016, was prematurely opened in October 2014. That is possibly what brought visitors here in 2015 but it is hardly better that a pure shot in the dark.
  2. Bi Byways
    Again it was the cover page that got all the attention with both days of the August 2004 trip getting roughly the same amount of traffic. The bi byways of the title are the Maumee Valley Byway and the Miami and Erie Canal Byway. Both are completely in Ohio and the Miami and Erie Canal Byway is completely contained in Ohio’s Route 66 which I drove end-to-end on this trip. I have absolutely no idea what attracted visitors to this trip last year.
  3. Lincoln Highway West
    This 2009 trip is the only repeat from last year and again the focus is on a day in Iowa.although all other days of the trip got some attention, too. Maybe it’s the Lions Club Tree Park or the Moss or Gregory markers that’s pulling them in but I like to think that it’s the chicken mailbox or the Ogden Footprints.
  4. US-62’s East End
    This outing occurred a month before the Bi Byways trip which makes it the oldest in this year’s top five. It was visits to the cover page that got it here and all days, including two pre-trip days, were about equally popular. I can’t guess at what the big attraction was but will mention that the Little League Hall of Fame panels for Dan Quayle and Bruce Springsteen did get some looks.
  5. Sixty-Six E2E and F2F
    This July 2012 trip is the newest in the top five. It is my most recent end-to-end (E2E) drive of Historic Route 66. I’d come to know a lot more people on the route than on the 1999 and and 2003 full length trips so it was also friend-to-friend (F2F). There is nothing to indicate what brought on the recent attention but I don’t question the trip’s worthiness at all.

Overall visits to the website dropped and dropped dramatically in 2015. The 248,033 visits of 2014 fell to 113,142 last year and page views fell from 741,404 to 462,171. Blog views rose from 8,062 to 9191. That massive 54% drop in the number of visits is scary. Annual traffic counts have dropped before but not to that degree.

visitchartSo what’s that mean? One possibility is that a change in the way statistics are compiled or visits detected resulted in an artificial drop in the numbers and I can produce some arguments both for and against that theory. The “for” ones are the weakest. What seems more likely and less palatable is that the numbers don’t lie and readership has truly plummeted. Jim Grey, a friend and popular blogger, recently posted an article he called Welcome to the post-blog era. In it he discusses perceived changes in visitors and their engagement. Jim is not really suggesting that his own blog is dead. 2015 was the busiest yet for him. (Note that my own blog’s visits increased 14% last year. It is overall website visits that have tumbled.) What he is suggesting is that the internet landscape has changed and blogs, specifically independent personal blogs, are not at all the big players they once were. Maybe independent anythings, including road trip journals, aren’t big players any more. Not that this one ever was. It will, however continue to be the same small player it always has been.

6 thoughts on “2015 in the Rear View

  1. My jimgrey.net site’s hit count plummeted in 2015 too. I think it’s because my site isn’t mobile-friendly (i.e., doesn’t use responsive design, and therefore the text is itty bitty on phones) — and Google has started downranking sites that aren’t mobile friendly.

    I’ll bet that if you recast your main site to be mobile friendly, you’d see your visits creep back up.

    • Interesting and very reasonable possibility. My Android phone likes to switch text size in the middle of pages from my site for the ever popular “no reason at all”. I once looked briefly into mobile friendliness and decided it was too much work. Maybe I’ll look again. (And maybe I’ll reach the same conclusion.)

      • Turns out adding a “viewport” line to most pages makes them mobile friendly. I’ve done that for the most recent trip (It’s a Wanderful Life) and will do it for all future trips. I may slowly work on more past trips. It helps but doesn’t totally solve things for the home page. That will take some effort.

  2. Thanks for the reminder that if I had gotten my citizenship sooner I could’ve been an additional Warren County voice against the travesty at 20 Mile Stand.

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