One of the most exciting parts of writing a travel blog is watching the dashboard of visitor stats. It provides a clear view into consumer interests, albeit one restricted by search engine algorithms. As we race from summer into fall, let’s see if my stats reveal any surprises to Maine tourism trendwatchers.
I’ve been publishing a blog “A New Yorker Talks to Herself about Maine” for over a year now. I started it when I noticed that friends and co-workers in NYC began looking for escape routes once I started talking about Maine. I wanted to talk about how fast peregrines dive. They wanted to talk about a Sabathia fastball. I wanted to talk about hiking the Western Mountains vs. the ones near Bar Harbor. They wanted to talk about Gossip Girl vs. NYC Prep. The only solution was to give myself an outlet through blogging.
So, I now have 27 posts on WordPress. The most popular post I ever published was “22 Great Things to Do with Your Kids in Acadia National Park.” It was so strong — attracting eight times more visitors than my next most popular post – that I made it a permanent page on my Web site about Acadia. Three of my top 12 posts have to do with kids in Acadia.
That just goes to prove the old advertising adage: put kids or dogs in your commercial, and you’ll get more attention.
The next most surefire way to spark interest in a Maine blog has been to write about lobster. Three of my top seven posts are about lobster – whether it’s finding the best lobster roll, defining lobster pound, or comparing hard vs. soft-shell.
By the way, I was surprised to find virtually no interest at all in locating the best clam chowder. I got only three hits and one was from my neighbor Bill in Somesville.
You won’t be surprised that the big winners among my blogs this summer had to do with what to do on MDI if it rains! Those posts accelerated into the top ten.
According to Google, people search far more for “Bar Harbor” than “Acadia National Park,” especially during the summer. So, I frequently feature Bar Harbor in the title of my posts. That’s not an automatic key to success, however — two of my weakest five had Bar Harbor in the headline.
One of the things that has surprised me most is how few people are interested in reading about eco-tourism and Acadia. Twenty times more people wanted to find out the origin of the term “lobster pound” than sought to learn how Bar Harbor helps promote eco-tourism.
That’s a prime example of paying attention to what people do vs. say.
Finally, I published the same story about Diver Ed and the Dive-In Theatre under two different headlines. One compared the benefits of going out on the Starfish Enterprise as an alternative to whale watching. The other asked, “Can Three Graduates of NYC Prep Find Happiness Looking for Starfish on the Maine Coast?” (I thought I’d try to draft in behind the popularity of this new reality show.)
I’m happy to report whale watching won. I feel vindicated about my favorite reality show.