Home Cameras/Lenses Leica Macfilos notches up 40,000 page views over the weekend

Macfilos notches up 40,000 page views over the weekend


Over the year, we get hundreds of emails from individuals and agencies offering to transform our SEO (search engine optimisation). Getting to the top of the Google search page is the holy grail of bloggers and much double, double toil and trouble is expended over the cauldrons to this end.

Usually, I ignore these approaches since money is always in the background, and this is a non-commercial site with zero income. We are happy to receive free SEO help but, unfortunately, no one has risen to the bait thus far. In any case, Macfilos is a niche website with a very faithful following of experienced and sensible readers. We don’t sell anything, so throwing money at attracting casual readers is not sensible. The dedicated readers find their way here by themselves. And they stay for a long time.

The world's media have been all over this story like a rash. Our original article was published in September, but the BBC website unleashed the storm just two weeks ago.
The world’s media have been all over this story like a rash. Our original article was published in September, but the BBC website unleashed the storm just two weeks ago.


Sometimes, though, a little SEO stardust falls into one’s lap without all the expensive witchcraft normally involved. The ongoing and rapidly developing story of William Fagan’s Swiss Roll mystery has produced sufficient link-backs to keep any blogger happy.

Most would give their eye teeth for a series of large features, complete with that all-important link, in publications from The New York Times, The Times in London, the Daily Mail, CNN, to The Irish Times, among many others. In fact, this story has gone around the world like wildfire.

We shouldn’t forget, though, that the ball started rolling when the story appeared on the BBC website on November 30. William, the author of the article, and I would like to thank our old friend Phil Coomes, a Leica enthusiast and fellow member of The Leica Society, who happens to be picture editor at the BBC. As usual, it’s not what you know…

Apart from the United States and Britain, we’ve had great interest from all around the world, a good indication of wide exposure. We haven’t seen many of the links, but please send in any details you come across, and I will add them to the list.

Best yet

The original article has now been read nearly 50,000 times, and the comments section has expanded to almost 300. Also, emails have been flowing in at a rather alarming rate. I have just spent a week valiantly coping with more emails than I ever thought I would receive.

At first, I endeavoured to do the right thing, offering a personal response to all those who took the trouble to write. But towards mid-week, I admitted defeat and started sending out a stock reply—although in this email I covered all the important points and provided links back to the articles.

Both William and I are immensely grateful to the hundreds of people who have offered their help or suggestions. Many have seen similarities in the pictures to their mother, uncle, old friend or grandmother. I know it’s tempting and, in many cases, wishful thinking, but we do need much more evidence than simply saying, “she looks like my mother”.

But so far, no concrete information has come in. We still believe that the key to the mystery lies either in Germany or Switzerland. Although we have had good coverage in German, including in the Süddeutschen Zeitung, we are still awaiting a good lead from the German-speaking world.

One obvious problem is that those who are most likely to recognise one or both of the subjects are probably elderly, possibly not too familiar with technology and, above all, German speakers who may not have seen the worldwide coverage which has predominately been in English.

Positive stuff

That’s something we have to wrestle with. But in one respect, this has all be positive stuff. It has raised William’s international profile as a Leica collector and historian. And it has not harmed his reputation in his capacity as a board member of the International Leica Society. With the LHSA going to Dublin, William’s home town, for its annual conference in 2021, the Fagan flag is already flying high over the Liffey. He will be a celebrity in his own time.

It has also done wonders for Macfilos statistics, showing 40,000 page views over the last weekend. It would be nice to keep up that extrapolated seven million annual hits, but this level of interest is only temporary. Macfilos will remain a niche site with a similar reader profile and a particular interest in Leica cameras and photography. In fact, by today the peak is passed, although we are still running at twice norman levels. Perhaps that’s as well because with such levels of traffic I could not afford to keep things going without advertising.

Undoubtedly, though, some of these new readers will stick. With all this publicity, Macfilos has been brought to the attention of thousands of photographers, along whom will undoubtedly be many Leica fans. Still, I hope for a long-term but manageable boost to the readership.

William and I would like to thank everyone who has come to the site over the last couple of weeks, and we hope you will choose to stay with us.

But back to the mystery…

A man with his eyes closed as the shutter flashes; a man with a distinctive aristocratic demeanor and a chin dimple. This picture was taken on a Leica III outside a bar in Lenno 70 years ago. If we could trace this man, millions around the world would be delighted
A man with his eyes closed as the shutter flashes; a man with a distinctive aristocratic demeanor and a chin dimple. This picture was taken on a Leica III outside a bar in Lenno 70 years ago. If we could trace this man, millions around the world would be delighted

Meanwhile, who is this man? Who is this woman? Millions of readers throughout the world are now be waiting for an answer. Let’s hope it isn’t a case of answer came there none. That would be perverse in the extreme, given this extraordinary amount of coverage.

Here is the original story

Here is our updating latest news

Read more Macfilos articles by William Fagan


  1. I am doing a story called ‘Swiss Roll – The Hard Facts’ which will show all of the hard in-period evidence which I have. Thanks to everyone for their comments, observations and suggestions so far. All contributions are welcome.


  2. This is all absolutely thrilling. I sincerely hope you identify the couple and that there is a happy ending to the story, though it will be what it will be. Fascinating stuff!

    • Well, it won’t be for the lack of trying, Don. Over in Dublin, William is working his socks off and, as I’ve said, it’s pretty hectic here at Macfilos Towers.

      William has a super update in the pipeline, tracing the journey and providing all the hard facts that we have. Both of us have had to fend off speculation, usually involving crowned heads in exile, film stars on the run, and errant mothers and grandmothers who look remarkably like the woman in the pictures but had never been nearer to Switzerland than Pier One at Dover. I suspect the truth, if ever we find it, will be rather more prosaic.


      • Socks are barely on, Mike, but they are still there. Today we discovered, with some great help from reader Chris Rodgers, the exact table position where the couple sat to have a meal some 70 years ago. Things change slowly in Italy and it is much the better for that. All will be revealed in my upcoming article, but 22 frames for a 500-600 km round journey is very little to go on by today’s standards and those Leica IIIs from 1935 did not even have GPS!


        • Aaaahhh… Yes, the 1935 artificial satellite market, especially of the atomic clock relativistic and doppler kind, had been rather poor, hadn’t it? Never mind GaAs amplifiers and silicon microchips, or even alloy Geranium transistors.

  3. A good story is a good story is a good story. The best you can do for SEO is excellent content. The Swiss Roll is the best proof for that.

    • I know you are right, Joerg-Peter, there’s no point in chasing statistics if the content is crap. And a wider readership isn’t all laughs. For instance, we are blessed with a remarkably knowledgeable and polite set of commenters (and, by extension, readers), quite unlike most of the web sites I visit. Most are riven with impolite comments and contentious opinions. Every time Leica is mentioned on more general photography sites we get many people posting ridiculous comments, showing a complete lack of tolerance of a premium manufacturer charging above the odds. How dare they? Sony is much better…

      This week, for the first time in 12 years (and probably as a direct result of the increase in general readers), I had to delete several comments of a political or contentious nature. I left one up, redacted, in order to emphasise that this blog is about photography, not politics or the dozens of divisive issues we see every day on social media. Let them get on with it, Macfilos will stay impartial and I won’t tolerate nasty opinions from any part of the political or social spectrum. The spam bin is always grateful for new additions.


  4. So when does BBC make this a series, like British Bake-off? Mr. Fagan and Mike will have fun casting their actors. Next step people, come up with name for the show.


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