That’s what the Director of the Montana Historical Society told me over a year ago when we were talking about what people like to research.
“That and ghost towns.”
Of course…that’s when it comes to history.
What about Montana today?
Well, take a look at Amazon when you type in “Montana books.”
Here we see that just about every result coming up is a novel, and most of those are romance novels. Authors like:
- Susan May Warren
- Debra Holland
- Kim Law
- Nora Roberts
- Caroline Fyffe
After that we get a couple road atlases, a biography of Joe Montana, and that’s about it.
100 pages of that.
Type in “Montana today” and you’ll get about the same stuff…though my last history book of the state does show up in that search.
There are 15 pages of results for that one.
Typing in “Montana history” gets us the wonderful, 1991 Malone book, as well as a few others…including my first history book on the state.
Again, we get 100 pages of results for this category.
Typing in “Montana politics” gets us 67 pages of results, including Fifty-Six Counties, a book by a guy that’s running for Billings City Council. You’ll also see my second history book on the state.
And then there’s the most popular book in the state, A River Runs Through It.
Business Insider called it the most popular when it looked at books in all 50 states last year.
I’ve never read the book, myself.
Back in 2013 the most popular news site in Montana was the LA Times, and the most popular TV station was the BBC.
The most popular magazine was The Economist and the most popular website was The Onion.
All of that comes to us from Buzz Feed.
Also, in 2016 we learned from Time that the most popular porn searches in Montana were for “stepsister.”
That same year Seventeen told us that the most popular TV show in Montana was Blue Bloods.
And Mental Floss just told us a few days ago that the most popular Christmas TV show each year in Montana is Frosty the Snowman.
I have to be honest…this still doesn’t tell us a whole lot.
If you’re a blogger trying to figure out what your readers want to read next…this doesn’t help us at all.
Shit, if I started putting out those kinds of posts I don’t think you’d be visiting too often.
And yet Montana romance novels are how much of the world knows about our state, if you want to use the word “know.”
Here on my site we do a ‘most popular posts of the year’ post every January, and here’s the one from 2017 and here’s the one from 2016.
I really would like to say that my most popular posts each month are my evergreen posts, but that simply isn’t true.
Sure, people come here a lot to read about Montana celebrities, Montana’s Chinese, as well as the history of the Federal Reserve and mountain man books and what a conservative Democrat is.
Those posts get hundreds of views each month, and the top ones get thousands of views.
Those evergreen posts are a big reason I continue to beat out other Montana sites when it comes to visitor traffic.
I’ve given this advice to other Montana sites before:
If you want to get more traffic and more advertising dollars, spend time once a month on a super-long post that isn’t really about ‘today’ so much as it’s about history and hard-to-find-facts and something people will be searching for years from now.
Kinda cuts most of the current events topics out of the picture, huh?
I know that might be hard for some of our political sites, but it can be done (hell, I’ve done it!).
So I would suggest Don over at ID write about Helena issues more, like taxes or school history or a detailed look at past mayors or city council impacts.
People will be looking for that for years to come.
For Cowgirl I’d suggest about the same, though with perhaps a wider geographic emphasis. Putting your name on what you write can’t hurt either.
Anyways, those are just some friendly ideas.
Another great way to figure out what people want to read it so to look at what they’re reading now…or at least clicking on.
I do this every so often by going back through old social media posts to see what the analytics tell me.
This is one of the big reasons why I know people love reading about people.
Yes, we love biography.
It’s probably one of the reasons the weekly People magazine has a circulation of 3.4 million.
Here’s how some of my recent biographic posts have done, based on the interest shown in my tweets:
I tried to show a variety of posts there, including that last one I sent out yesterday.
No one gave a shit about that one, which had to do with Missoula taxes.
And what are we looking for here, anyways?
I just go by the link clicks, myself. That tells me how many people actually clicked-over to my site from what I shared on social media.
Anything else is just pissing in the wind, as far as I’m concerned.
Remember, I wrote a book on this two years ago.
Maybe it’ll give you some ideas.
I think a lot of people that decide to run for office in Montana buy it.
114 copies of it have been sold so far.
Now I just want to dig into my own site’s analytics a bit to give you a bigger picture of what people are interested in.
This week I’ve had 7,084 unique visitors so far, which comes out to about 1,180 a day.
This week I’ve also had 42,128 page views.
What’s the difference?
Well, that page view could be higher because the same guy on the same computer might be checking the site 5 or 10 times in a day, maybe checking comments or something.
A unique visitor, however, is a completely different computer each time.
So far this month the most popular articles on this site are:
- A History of Montana’s Chinese (1,752 views)
- The Rothschilds, Freemasons, and Illuminati (1,690 views)
- What Famous Celebrities Live in Montana (1,658 views)
- 25 Famous People from Montana You Might Not Know (1,367 views)
- Top 10 eBook Cover Design Sites (863 views)
- 10 Great Mountain Man Fur Trapping Books (392 views)
What’s interesting is that none of those articles were written this year. Most of them were written in 2013, actually.
It’s not until the article “What Are University of Montana Administrators Paid?” that we get to a current article.
It got just 311 views since it went up at the beginning of the month.
I think that tells you a lot about my efforts.
Even when a current events article that was written this month gets ‘popular,’ it only gets up to about 300 views or so.
Some reach 500, and occasionally we’ll get 600 or more.
But that’s about it.
So when I see people get angry at Greg Strandberg or ticked-off at what I write, I always thing…why?
Hardly anyone’s reading this stuff.
In fact, on my most popular, recent article we see that just .03% of the state’s population has read it.
Personally, I think this tells us a lot.
People don’t really get offended that tons of people are reading about them, they get offended because someone actually had the audacity to look them up, do historical research, and then put the results out there for everyone to see.
My God that offends people!
It’s very shadowy.
Public personalities don’t want you to know about them, especially if they’re the unelected kind. It makes them really angry when you point out the truth about their past.
Oftentimes this truth was supplied by them on their LinkedIn profile, however.
Of course, it could be the tone.
I take a rather condescending tone on this site, myself.
And why shouldn’t I?
Americans hate politicians, and Montanans are no different. This is how we should be talking about these people.
Well, it’s how I do it…and I don’t think that’s gonna change anytime soon.
Now with that, why don’t we wrap this one up, eh?
Thanks for reading.