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Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Google Gadget effect

There is a well known term in the blogoshere called the "digg effect".
This is something any blogger/site owner dreams about (sometimes in the context of a nightmare...). The digg effect is when your site getting enormous amount of traffic, coming from digg.com, as a result of a digg from one of digg's users.
This effect is great for traffic and can bring a huge boost for a site but for many small sites, that are not used for such a traffic, this can be a real nightmare and might crash the site!

Of course there are many other sites that can cause a "digg effect" but I want to talk about a specific one... Google.

Usually, when you see a raise in traffic coming from Google, it's gradual. An improvement in page ranking, etc. If you are monitoring your traffic on daily (or even weekly basis) it will give you enough time to prepare.
But if you have a Google Gadget, get ready to the "Google effect".

We are running a pretty big site (Millions of page views a month) and we are providing a Google Gadget to our users to be placed on their Google homepage or other pages. We love this Gadget and it brings a lot of traffic to the site (We even created another one with different content).

One morning, you are opening your traffic analysis tool and you see a +80%!!! increase in traffic in 1 day. A short test shows you that most of it is coming from Google (I wasn't surprised by that) and the reason for that is....
We been placed on the FIRST page of the most popular Google Gadgets. This is the "Google effect".

Lucky for us, we just moved to a new server few months ago, so the site was up all this time (except for some small back-end problems) and it didn't become a nightmare.
Smaller sites will crash for sure from such an effect (we are talking about millions additional hits per day) which is unrelated to the amount of traffic before the "Google effect".

After few days (we are no longer on the first page) we are getting about 65% more traffic than last week and it looks like we are going to keep these numbers.

Maybe it's time to move to a bigger machine....?

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