With almost five hundred articles online, posted over a period of five years, it is interesting to pause to review which topics attract the most views and which prompt the most clicks through to another website in search of more information. Some of the results are as might have been expected but others were not anticipated. Overall, however, it was clear that most viewers are in search of information of immediate personal benefit or of special interest.
Sex is a topic of universal interest, and any title that includes the word is likely to attract viewers, but those for whom sex is a priority are likely to be disappointed in articles for general readership. Next most popular are articles in the general category of lifestyle, including clothes and shoes, food and drink, hairstyles and health. For example, a series of articles on Vietnamese silk dresses for plus-size women were immediately popular and reproduced on other websites which shared this interest, and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa stimulated interest in an article on the health of Europeans in Ghana.
Next in popularity are articles about other countries, their climate and scenery, wildlife, resorts, food, people and culture. These are useful to tourists and holidaymakers as well as those with a wider interest in geography. More than expected interest was found in articles on traffic and driving conditions, perhaps because increasing numbers of people are attempting to drive when abroad on holiday or on business. Interest in aspects of culture: languages, oral literature and native artefacts, is less general and falls into the special interest category.
All authors have their areas of special interest and in the present case they are: engineering, Ghana and Vietnam and their languages and culture, teaching English as a foreign language and children’s books. Articles on computer manufacturing and nuclear-powered submarines are of narrow technical interest but those featuring individual personalities and work places attract their interest groups of relatives, friends and workmates. One topic that attracted more than expected attention was ‘helping boys to learn to read’ but this seems to be of interest to so many parents and teachers as to be more a topic of general interest.
In connection to stimulating clicks through to other websites, this seems to be primarily motivated by a desire to see a picture. This is obvious in the case of fashion items: dresses, shoes or hairstyles, but applies also to artefacts and engineering products. Topics like ‘Ghana’s home-made timber trucks’ prompt interest in seeing the real object. Once again, articles on silk dresses for plus-size women were effective in stimulating clicks to websites where the items were displayed. However, a final factor of overriding importance could not be objectively evaluated. In the last resort, the factor that is most effective in persuading the reader to click for more information, is the quality of the writing.
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