The Balance Of Power

The web is undeservedly U.S. centric. I’ve been saying it for years.

Even considering the United States is currently number 2 in the world in terms of internet users (234.4 million) it’s days are numbered, the balance of power will shift.

If it were possible for the United Stated could get every man, woman and child online today, the total number of internet users could only reach 307 Million, which would leave it still over 113 Million users behind China.

China currently has 420 Million users online, but with a population of over 1.3 Billion people , penetration levels are quite low so there is still room for phenomenal growth.

India is much the same with 6.9% (81 million) of it’s 1.173 Billion strong population online. Even if it only reached a 20% penetration (the U.S. has 76.3%) it would rival the U.S.

Think about the following (the text in italics was added by me):

  • The tenth largest country on the Internet is Nigeria. So although Africa as a whole is often considered to be a bit behind the curve on the Internet, it does have a presence among the top countries.
  • Seven out of the top 20 countries are Asian (35%).
  • Five out of the top 20 countries are European (25%). Six (30%) if you also count Russia.
  • Three of the top 20 are English-language countries (four if you count India – although it is a second language).

Even as we speak the U.S. is being surpassed and has no chance of ever catching up as it has almost maxed out it’s internet penetration (unless everybody starts shagging like rabbits and every family has 6 kids).

We’re about to witness a fundamental shift in the dominant languages used on the internet.

If we really want to succeed in the the largest markets, we’ll have to prepare to target markets with different languages, different cultures and different ways of thinking.

We need to be presenting our content in more languages and we need to stop thinking like the U.S. is the “end all and be all” of the technology and online world.

By staying U.S. or even English language focused we will be artificially limiting ourselves to an ever decreasing portion of the market.

Intenet Users Vs Population Size

The chart of the top 20 countries becomes so very telling when you look at the red bars. The red bars show the total population on the countries and it’s very easy to see those that have a lot of potential for growth.

China, India, Russia, Nigeria, Brazil, Indonesia all have massive potential for growth, while the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany and others have pretty much reached their saturation points.

It doesn’t take much brain power to realize that this chart is going to look very different over the next 5 to 10 years and if we want to capitalize on that traffic and those markets we need to start doing so now.

Thanks to Pingdom for the chart.

What A Week

I love weeks like this, where everything unexpectedly starts to come together.

Sara and I have been plugging away at out pet project, humor site Daily Shite, for months now. We’ve been watching it grow slowly and celebrating as we’ve hit various milestones. We’ve watched with pride and more than a fair few glasses of wine (to celebrate the occasion) as 100 views a day went past, then a 1000, then 5000, 10000 and 20000. We whooped and cheered like we’d one the lottery when we broke our first 50000 day, and last night we sat back in sheer amazement as we soared beyond our first 100000 (one hundred thousand) day.

This post isn’t to pimp out Daily Shite although you really should visit and join the Facebook page while you’re at it. It’s to say thank you.

Thank you to everyone who has visited, stumbled and dugg posts, retweeted us and pimped us to their friends. To our authors for their contributions and to our readers and friends who have been emailing and sending contributions via IM.

Most of all I want to thank Sara. She’s done a ton of work behind the scenes, not just putting up posts and pimping Daily Shite left, right and center and deserves more credit than I for us hitting this milestone.

Now, bring on our next challenge – the 200000 day ;)

Screwing Everything Into Place – Scrw.us

Scrw.us I mentioned our personal URL shortening service Scrw.us earlier this week when I was talking about how services like Bit.ly may fragment the web.

Sharing all of our content and the stuff the we come across on the web through Scrw.us has given us some interesting insights into what people are likely to click on.

It often amazes me that what I think will be popular rarely is. In fact, I have about as much success rate in predicting the popularity of our shared links as you might have predicting what Paris Hilton won’t wear next (but we’ll have to exclude underwear from the predictions as that’s just too obvious).

Today we launched the Scrw.us blog which, besides providing information about the Scrw.us service, will also provide insights into traffic trends, click through rates and popularity etc…

Today we’ve posted our first round up of the most popular links (based on clicks) to go through the service since we launched it 14 days ago.

Bearing in mind that currently the only shares are those created by Sara and myself (as it’s a private service) it’s interesting to see that the correlation between clicks and popularity is not always as concrete as one would expect. Sometimes posts have low click through rate but have done insane traffic as they’ve been shared on other services as well, which of course Scrw.us can’t track.

Screwed This Week: First Edition”, has all the info on the top 10 ten shares of the past 14 days including numbers of clicks as well as an explanation of how we intend to move forward and bring you weekly roundups of the best content.

As a side note, if you’re feeling slightly irreverent and would like to have your blog posts shared through Scrw.us drop me a line and we’ll see about getting your stuff on there. Just be aware that we’re not accepting any old crap. Cranky, irreverent gits will always get preference, followed by great content :)

How Tim Burton and WP Super Cache brought my sites to their knees

We felt like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole last night. News broke that the the trailer for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland had leaked onto the internet, Sara nabbed a copy, threw it up on Daily Shite and then all hell broke lose.

I didn’t think much of it at first, but then the traffic started flowing in and things started to go haywire.

All of our sites are hosted with DreamHost on various accounts, but O’Flaherty, Suburban Oblivion and Daily Shite are all hosted under the same account, which means they’re all residing on the same server (along with hundreds of other customers sites I would presume), so when my site started throwing 500 errors as Daily Shite came under heavy traffic I knew I’d done something wrong.

The worst thing about being on a hosted server is that it only takes one of your sites to be poorly configured in order to go over your resource allotment and take the others down as well.

So as the traffic spiked on Daily Shite I was left confused as to what was happening. The sites had been working fine under reasonable load, I had WP Super Cache installed so what could it be?

To make matters worse, getting into the admin panels of the sites to change settings was proving difficult as they all kept throwing “Internal Server Errors”.

I’ll cut a long story short and get to the chase, after a quick SSH login it became evident that the reason the sites were throwing wobblies was the very plugin that was installed to help the sites deal with heavy loads – WP Super Cache.

In my eagerness to get everything running smoothly and quickly, I’d enabled Gzip compression on all of the sites. Bad move on my part.

While Super Cache was doing what it should and serving only cached versions of the pages, instead of the whole batch of database calls it’s supposed to prevent by not recreating the page for every user, it was now using CPU cycles to compress the data being sent to readers browsers.

Now this is fine on an average load day, the extra CPU load from compression is negligible and provides a minor speed increase in load times for anyone viewing the site.

But when you’re seeing a spike like we did yesterday, it just brings the entire system to its knees.

Once I had Gzip compression, as well as “Coarse File locking” disabled everything came back to life and ran like a dream throughout the entire 2-3 hour traffic spike.

So, if you’re expecting or hoping for a huge traffic load on your site and are on a hosted server here’s my recommended settings for WP Super Cache:

WP Super Cache config

  • Don’t cache logged in users – Disabled (no check mark) If a logged in users visits the site with this enabled they force a rebuilding of the cache which uses up valuable resources under a heavy load.
  • Clear all cache files when a post or page is published – Disabled (no check mark) This can significantly increase posting time as a the cache is cleaned out.
  • Cache Rebuild – Enabled (checked box) – Serve a supercache file to anonymous users while a new file is being generated. Recommended for very busy websites with lots of comments. Makes “directly cached pages” and “Lockdown mode” obsolete.
  • Coarse file locking – Disabled (no check mark) You probably don’t need this but it may help if your server is underpowered. It can cause some server configurations to lock up so best to leave disabled.
  • Mobile device support – Enabled (checked box)
  • Super Cache Compression – Disabled

One final tip for working with WP Super Cache: Don’t forget your .htaccess files. When you set up, or upgrade the plugin you have to insert (and check for changes in) rules in not just your root .htaccess file but you must also create a .htaccess file in “wp-content/cache” and manually populate it with the rules given in the plugins admin page. Also, don’t forget that adding mobile support requires and additional set of rules to be added manually.

Forgetting to add the rules can lead to trouble and the plugin will not work as it should.

Now you should be prepared to be dugg or any other massive traffic spike and won’t be caught with your trousers down like I was :)

You only get out what you put in

If you want traffic from social networking sites (like Fuelmyblog)to be driven to your blog then you need to participate in the sites.

Simply signing up, adding your site and then buggering off and ignoring the service will benefit you nothing and is quite simply a waste of time.

A word of warning. If after signing up for a service and not using it, you then have the nerve to email me and complain about the lack of traffic you received, when you’ve never so much as left a comment elsewhere, then I will take a very big stick and beat you round the head a few times with it.

Enough said!

Why the sudden resurgence of interest in Xeeber?

Am I missing something here. Back in August I wrote about Xeeber, a service which allowed you to see if users of the Yahoo Messenger client were online even though they had their status set to invisible.

As far as I can tell the actual Xeeber (link does not work) service has been unavailable for a least a month now, the post I wrote is receiving ever increasing amounts of traffic over the past few days? There were 49 views of that particular post yesterday and we’re only half ways through today and approaching the 60+ mark and all resulted from searches for the term "Xeeber".

Searches of the web fail to return any pertinent reason as to why the sudden increase in interest about what appears to be a defunct service.

What am I missing here?

Some things you may have missed

It’s been really busy around here this past week but things are moving forward at quite a pace as I settle into my new role for IBGS and get more involved with my work for Fuelmyblog (and our upcoming super secret project).

I want to draw your attention to a great blog post by Sara over on Fuelmyblog called about what happens when your definition of yourself as a blogger is called into question.

After receiving our email, she replied that she would be happy to pass the info along to her meetup group. Additionally, she asked a question that just truly floored me once I understood the meaning of her wording- who was I on that list and what was my relevance of being there?
Wow. It’s not often someone flat out asks who are you and what business do you have being here? (My interpretation of her words, not a quote.)

Also of worth a look this from this week is my own FMB post about driving traffic to your blog by using the almost forgotten ping feature of most blog platforms. I included a huge list of services that you can set you blog to ping automatically including some you may not have heard of before.

While I’m at it listing stuff from FMB don’t forget that we will be doing the comedy captions prize draw in just a few hours. Have you entered yet?

O’Flaherty Episode #11 – Moo Moo

Moo Moo

Another recorded Gizmo call with O’Flaherty regular Alec Palomo.

Tonight we’re talking about driving traffic to our blogs and look at doing it using Google’s BlogSpot / Blogger without setting up a BlogSpot blog.

Links

Credit

Download Podcast MP3: O’Flaherty #11 16.2 mb 0:23:36

Visit the blog at http://pauloflaherty.com/ or email paul.oflaherty@gmail.com

Leave a voice message via GTalk or mp3 at paul.oflaherty@gmail.com

Vote for me on FuelMyBlog.com

Keyword fun

Studying which keyword combinations bring users to your site can provide you with valuable insight which you can leverage to better serve your audience.

As I was looking through the keyword conversion rates for the past 14 days in Google Analytics, I thought it might be a good idea to look at some of the stranger ones and ask WTF?

So, for your amusement, here are some of the stranger keywords and phrases that this blog is receiving search engine traffic for. The search term is in bold, accompanied by a comment from yours truly!

Understanding women  – I never have, nor will I ever truly understand women. I don’t understand myself so I have no hope of understanding the fairer sex. I’m afraid all your folks looking for enlightenment will have to search else where ;)

iPhone 2  – I haven’t even seen iPhone 1! You expect me to spill the beans of iPhone 2?

Irish whore – Good to know what the internet thinks of me!

Edible Undies – They give me gas ;)

Stroking – Ahem!

Alex Albrecht Warcraft character draenei paladin – The truth is revealed! Alex Albrecht is noting more than a Blizzard CGI! So that’s why he was allowed on French Maid TV.

Stick it in – Stick what in? Where?

Hamster Powered  / Hamster wheels electricity / Hamster wheel electricity generator – I know I did a post about Hamster powered USB chargers, but the interest coming from the search engines is at a seriously unhealthy level.

How to my pc protect pronography sites – Come again?

One arm fishing bandit – The Scarlet Pimpernel of the fishing world?

Left arm bandit – Maybe they’re related?

Remote Grandma – She must have one on those motorized walkers?

Boot yahoos ids – I can only guess! But I don’t think Yahoo would be happy!

Mean Irish avatars – Have a Guinness and relax mate! We don’t do mean!

O’Flaherty gaming – You can’t game me matey!

How long are longhorns horns – Damn good question!

How to free the mind – If you know could you share!

Shut up and hack – Yes Sir!

Cheshire cat comment tags – The cats got a blog now?

I was or I were - Or was I?

MyBloglog Sex – How have I been missing out on that?

Flaherty opera – I’m not big enough to stand next to Pavarotti! More pasta!

Did you know future – That would be telling!

Glass stuck in throat – To quick with the slammers?

Ubuntu flaherty – The next Ubuntu release name revealed?

Vista Superrag.hiv – The next killer virus?

Irish runs – To much drink!

Canon drive Vista – I know a few people who would love to drive a canon through Vista!

Linking crack – I don’t think that’s what you’re supposed to do with it!

But Krak - ??

O wasted – Saturday  night!

Mobiliday – You’re guess is as good as mine!

Contact local whore – Whatever floats your goat!

Beer Belly - I’m on a diet!