A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, January 2, 2012

What You Liked Best in 2011: Dead Villains, Nude Bloggers, Great Novelists

This is a graph of my Pageviews during 2011 from Google Analytics. It's mostly predictable, chugging along at a few hundred a day, with surges in January and February during the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, and late in the year due to the renewed violence and elections in Egypt. But what are those two huge spikes that look like the Burj Dubai? (Excuse me: Burj Khalifa?) They were days I passed 1,000 pageviews in a single day. But why those days?

Well, the one in May was the death of Usama bin Ladin, and the one in October was the death of Mu‘ammar Qadhafi. Are my readers just bloodthirsty, or what? I think in the Qadhafi case a few news sites and bigtime blogs linked to me and spurred my traffic. I didn't even write all that much about Bin Ladin, though.

My blog is structured so if you visit regularly you can read the recent posts on the homepage; you don't have to click through to another page by clicking "Read more," as in many blogs. As a result I can only judge the popularity of individual posts by those who clicked on the individual link, either coming to it from a referral, a search engine, or one of my own links later. Curiously, the single most Googled-for post in 2011 was one I posted in 2010 on the 10th anniversary of the USS Cole.

Of course if I just look at the last couple of months of the year, I find that one of the most searched for terms was Aliaa Elmahdy, the "nude blogger." But I'm also gratified to see that my interview with Raymond Stock, Naguib Mahfouz' biographer, on Mahfouz' centennial brought a lot of incoming traffic. (I think I owe Raymond for that as he plugged it at the Arabic Literature (in English) blog and on Facebook, which probably brought over many Arabic lit types who might otherwise not have heard of my blog. Neither was the most searched topic across the year, but they led searches in December, when the Mahfouz interview appeared.

I do wish I could figure out how much overlap there is between those searching for Aliaa ElMahdy and those searching for Naguib Mahfouz. And I guess I should root for more bad guys to bite the dust in 2012, since that really seems to bring you in.

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