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.
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.
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.
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…
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.