Lessons Learned from Hitting the Front Page of Hacker News

My article about issues with images in React Native hit the front page of Hacker News and also received a lot of views on Reddit. Getting to the front page of these sites results in a traffic spike which is great if you’re in the business of getting people to visit your sites. In this post, I’d like to talk about some things that I’ve learned from the experience.

Over the two days after I submitted the article to Hacker News and Reddit, I got close to 7000 views to the blog. That sounds great for someone just getting started, but what long term or sustainable benefit did that bring?

 

 

 

Traffic Ranking

One benefit is that the traffic spike is likely to increase my site’s Google ranking. There are bots and sites that track links on sites like Hacker News and Reddit and link to them. So after getting to the front page, I started getting notifications from WordPress that different sites were linking to my article. Googling my name also returned links to the article on different sites. Additionally, my Alexa rank jumped close to 2 million places from around 5 million to 3 million.

kelvinpompey.me Traffic Ranking

Alexa’s traffic ranking ought to be taken with a grain of salt but the change in the ranking at least shows that it knows about the traffic spike that I received. The percentage of visitors from St. Vincent that it shows also dropped from 60% to 30% which gives me a bit more faith in it. I am not aware of that many people in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines who follow Hacker News.

Subscriptions

I would say I have benefited in terms of traffic ranking, but what I am more interested in is how many people are committing to following the content that I post. I measure that in terms of the number of email subscriptions and followers on Facebook and Twitter. Resulting from the traffic spike, I didn’t get any increase in any of those. I got one new follower on Twitter but that may or may not be related to the article that I posted.

This is disappointing but not all too surprising considering the blog is maybe not more than a month old and lacks a bit of focus. I created it to post the random thoughts I have on anything so someone reading an article on a particular subject may not find anything else of interest on the site.

However, getting this level of traffic from Hacker News and Reddit makes me think that programming may be a niche worth focusing on.

Ad Revenue

Insignificant. I had a small banner in the right sidebar of the site but for the thousands of impressions it received, I got probably 2 clicks for a few cents. The ad being in the sidebar is hard to notice and if you’re viewing the page on a mobile device you wouldn’t see it at all because it shifts to the bottom of the page. So when you’ve finished reading the article, unless you continue scrolling, you will not see the ad. I suspect most people don’t get that far.

I’ve modified the site to place the banner just above the article content. It’s left to be seen if this has any effect.

App Installs

I linked to the app for the site in the article and there is also a Google Play button that links to its Google Play page. There were a few hundred visits to the page and this resulted in a few more installs of the app. Excellent!

Conclusion

Traffic is not everything. It’s just one part of the equation. When the eyeballs come it’s imperative that you have content that is satisfying so that they’ll return. This is no easy feat given how vast a sea of information we’re all swimming in but nothing of value comes easily as they say so I am willing to give it a shot. Challenge accepted!

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