If there’s one thing that I hate, it’s when internet wrestling people try to make themselves the story. I hate it when the “big” websites do that by creating false narratives out of plausible conjecture and I get chills up my spine when silly internet writers post their eventual “goodbye” columns. Ugh! No one cares!!! As I wrote well over 10 years ago – internet wrestling people need to get over themselves.
And thus it is with a mixed feeling that I’m writing this column to explain where the hell IWHeadlines.com and I have been over the last several months. If I was someone surfing the internet (i.e. if I were YOU), seeing a column like this one would fundamentally irritate me. But on the very small off-chance that someone out there has an inkling of wonder about where we’ve been – here are your answers.
Our biggest and most persistent reason for not being regularly updated is Google and its algorithm. Google continues to play games with our traffic on this website. For the first half of 2014, we were receiving more than 5,000 unique visitors per day – often averaging above 6,000 unique visitors and even more when there was big news announced or a major change in a storyline. Any independently owned and operated wrestling website would LOVE to bring in between 5,000 and 6,000 unique visitors per day – bar none.
And then the traffic stopped.
Between Sunday, June 8th and Tuesday, June 10th, Google implemented a “new and improved” algorithm that purported to highlight those websites with independently created content versus those with content that was copied and pasted from other websites. In other words, websites like IWHeadlines.com should have thrived even MORE with the new algorithm.
And yet the exact opposite happened. During that three day period we went from averaging above 5,000 unique visitors per day to averaging just over 1,200 unique visitors per day. That’s a 76% drop in traffic to the website in a matter of three days!
But then, a month and a half later on Monday, July 28th, apparently someone at Google woke up and fixed the algorithm. That day was our highest traffic day since April 2011 and our third highest traffic day in the site’s history. For about a month after that day, our hits jumped to between 4,000 and 5,000 unique visitors per day. While this was still less traffic than before Google ruined us, it was better than what we were dealing with before July 28th and things felt like they were getting back to normal.
You would think that I would be happy with this result, but I was not – not one bit. I’ve been playing this internet wrestling game for almost 20 years – I know when a good thing is too good to last. My skepticism was dead-on accurate because on Tuesday, August 26th our traffic dropped to averaging about 800 unique visitors per day. That’s right – after another brilliant tweak of their algorithm by Google, we were getting even LESS traffic than when they screwed up our traffic earlier in the summer!
Then, randomly, on Saturday, October 25th our traffic jumped back up to between 3,000 and 4,000 unique visitors per day. For the last month or so, we’ve been averaging about 2,000 unique visitors per day. Who knows when the next magic update will come from Google? We certainly don’t know.
But, if you remember it from earlier in this column, here’s the real kicker: all of these ups and downs in our traffic were because Google’s new algorithm was supposed to highlight websites with independently created content! How in the hell could anyone look at the content that we were posting on a regular basis and think that ANY other news-themed wrestling website had more truthful, independently reported information that IWHeadlines.com?! Some 90% of the wrestling websites out there are nothing more than shitty copy and paste click bait sites for goodness’ sake!
Anyway, I digress…
I bring up this sordid history because it explains how my interest in updating the site went to the wayside. When traffic drops so dramatically, so does advertising revenue. The advertising revenue that I earn on this website first goes to paying for the costs of the website itself (which, admittedly, aren’t that expensive any more) and second goes towards spending money on professional wrestling in an effort to directly support the wrestlers. For example, many of you know that I give away autographed 8 x 10 glossy photos of different former and present TNA wrestlers. I buy those 8 x 10 photos directly from the wrestlers in an effort to take the advertising revenue earned from this website and actually reinvest it in the men and women who do so much to entertain us.
By Google breaking their algorithm, destroying the traffic to this website, and all but eliminating the advertising revenue that we were earning, I could no longer afford to pay the costs that I was paying to host this website. And I certainly could no longer afford to reinvest directly in professional wrestlers. But this isn’t a pity party, folks. I renegotiated my hosting agreement and dropped my costs by some 80% – so this website is much more affordable now than it was a few months ago.
After putting in so much work to build a good website, it was extremely disheartening to have a monster like Google crush us – and with no method of being able to talk to a human being and saying, “Hey guys! We have a problem here!” And still, to this day, they won’t list IWHeadlines.com in Google News. They won’t tell us why they won’t list us because they don’t allow you to speak with any human beings when you contact them for support. Meanwhile, one of the predecessor sites of IWHeadlines.com is still listed as an active Google News contributor when that site hasn’t been updated in over two years. Way to go, Google News…
The other part about putting in all of the work to build this website and then having those efforts dashed by Google is that it really does break someone’s spirit – even a tough, internet wrestling veteran like me. A 76% drop in eyeballs on my website took away whatever was left of the “fun” in this for me. I never wanted a wrestling website that generated tens of thousands (or more) of unique visitors every day because I never wanted to be as greasy (lying by using plausible conjecture) or moronic (copying and pasting someone else’s false narratives) as the biggest wrestling websites out there. I was happy as could be with our 5,000 to 6,000 daily visitors. We created our own little, pro-good news, pro-real news community and it was fun.
But Google took that away.
My response to Google taking away what we built here was to shift my focus from IWHeadlines.com to my other small business interests. And, thankfully, those interests have performed incredibly well with my extra attention added to their daily operations. But I still own this asset and I still get somewhat entertained by professional wrestling from time to time, so I didn’t want this website to go to waste. And here we are – with IWHeadlines.com slated to receive regular updates again sooner rather than later.
That’s the story of how Google diminished one of the only truly independent wrestling websites on the internet. The second part of this column will talk about the other reasons why I gave it a rest for three months which include a broken back-end of the website thanks to a broken “update” from the team at WordPress, a stale TNA product (you can’t tape this stuff several months in advance and expect me to care), a bit of a bore around the wrestling world (the only thing I can tell you about wrestling in the last 3 months is that Sting was at Survivor Series and TNA signed a deal with Destination America), and general exhaustion on my part. But more on these oh so interesting topics and more in my next column!