When the NFL lockout started in March, one of my first thoughts was, “great, there goes traffic to my fantasy football lenses.“ Fantasy football advice and info is one of my lens niches. No NFL season means no fantasy football season. That means no one’s looking for fantasy draft advice or how to play fantasy football.
Thankfully, the lockout ended on July 25, and the football seasons (real and fantasy) can start on time. But what about the four months of uncertainty that kept fantasy players on the web search sidelines? What was the real impact to my fantasy lenses?
To answer that, I compared this year’s lens stats with last year’s for April through July. To make a fair comparison, I only looked at fantasy football lenses that were published before March, 2010, and had stats for the full sample periods.
Most of these lenses lost traffic compared to 2010 but the amount varied widely. One lens was down 56% while another surprisingly almost doubled its traffic during the 4 months. Several lenses had single month traffic drops of 50-60%. The worst for a single month was a 76% drop. Ouch.
As a group, traffic was down 6% for April through July. That was less than I expected but does include the last week of July when traffic spiked for all of these lenses after the lockout ended. Looking at only April through June, the total traffic was down 24%.
Nearly all of these lenses had worse monthly average lens ranks in at least 3 of the 4 months analyzed. The one exception had improved lens rank all 4 months (but not enough to bump it into a higher tier). Most lenses had worse lensrank in all months.
Pay Tier Impact
The impact on tiers wasn’t too bad. Several lenses were in a worse tier than at the same time last year. That means a potential ad pool earnings loss. None did better than last year.
It’s tough to say how much of the lensrank drain was directly due to traffic loss. I looked at the data multiple ways and didn’t find a consistent correlation. That’s not surprising since traffic’s only one input to Squidoo’s lensrank algorithm and there are more good lenses competing for rankings than a year ago. I’m sure losing traffic didn’t help the lensranks.
So what’s the lesson here?
Recognize that events beyond your control could adversely impact demand for your niche topic and prepare accordingly.
The risk of this happening varies by subject. Fantasy football is based on a real business that can have labor issues. That makes it a riskier subject than something like Valentine’s Day. I doubt there will be a Valentine’s Day lockout anytime soon so those lenses should be safe if you have them.
I dodged a bullet. If the NFL owners and players had waited another week (or longer) to reach a deal, the July stats would have been worse and probably caused more lenses to end up in lower tiers than last year.