April 10, 2019

Ask IH: Surprising traffic source you've had?

Bemmu Sepponen @bemmu

We're all familiar with seeing Google, FB, Reddit, maybe Twitter or Pinterest in our referrers. But have you ever had a surprising boost of traffic from a source you didn't expect?


  1. 3

    Not really an IH story because the app wasn't making me any money, but…

    One of my old apps (a tool for Android developers and designers) recently had an influx of… f2p virtual golf gamers 😁

    The app that drew them overlay guides for cheating got C&D'd, and they found my app which could draw them those guides.

  2. 3

    I've had a few such experiences! The most impactful was a couple years ago when my Japanese learning app Nihongo showed up on the Chinese Q&A website Zhihu. At the time Nihongo was Japanese-English only, so the idea that Chinese users would be into it completely surprised me. But in the post, someone actually laid out how to use the app to look up words in Japanese, then use the Workflow app (now Shortcuts) to quickly machine-translate the English into Chinese.

    I quickly shifted focus to put together a Chinese localization for the app, and integrated machine-translated Chinese definitions directly into the app to give users a better experience than having to use Workflow/Shortcuts. Before seeing the post on Zhihu I never would have thought that machine translating English definitions of Japanese words into Chinese would be useful to anyone. But it's been exceptionally well received, and to this day a majority of my users, both paid and free, come from China.

    1. 2

      Fancy seeing you here, I actually happened to have Nihongo open right now as I read your reply. I use it more than any other app on my phone, including Safari.

      Copy & pasting to Workflow reminds me that sometimes I do copy & paste things into Yomiwa from Nihongo to check stroke orders.

      1. 2

        Got a huge smile from hearing that, thanks. =)

        And look for stroke orders in Nihongo (finally!) later this summer!

  3. 3

    Newsletters are always a great surprise! Being featured by some, giving a spike in high quality traffic. A very pleasant surprise!

    1. 2

      Did you ask to be featured? If so how did you go about contacting them in a way that wasn't salesy.

      Also was there enough ROI that it makes sense to pay them (ads)?

      1. 2

        We were featured without asking, so a real surprise. It was a really successful source, with 70+ signups. We absolutely do consider sponsoring that and other newsletter (mainly targeted at webdevs)

  4. 2

    In my past life: new customers finding our startup's site because existing customers recommended it on random industry-specific forums.

    Also, outsized new customer influx after we gave an interview on an industry-specific podcast.

  5. 2

    I have had surprisingly unexpected traffic for my product boffinbot.com from ProductHunt. It was rated #5 product of the day. What a day it was !!! :D

    1. 1

      Very nice.

      Any tips on ranking that high?
      Also any stats like visits, demos, users from ProductHunt?
      Have you tried listing on Betalist?

      1. 1

        I believe the right day to launch a product on PH is a Wednesday.
        I was a newbie and was lucky enough that I launched it on Wednesday. I got so much traffic the entire day that my server crashed multiple times.

        Honestly, I was not expecting much traffic.

        I tried listing on Betalist, but they took more than 2 months to review my product and ultimately they did not publish my product. I have had a bad experience with BetaList. I won't recommend spending your time and energy.

        Instead, launch here on IH, people here are amazing and have helped me a lot with feedback and suggestions for my product.
        I am truly grateful to the IH community.

        1. 1

          Thanks. I plan on launching here first. Will be a wonderful day.

          I will still try Betalist, I have heard it can drive traffic if your product fits their audience. Shame about them taking 2 months.

  6. 2

    Answering questions on Stack Overflow and Quora.

  7. 2

    Messaging apps are pleasant because for us there is a trend. "5 people on site right now from fb messenger". Then 2 sign ups immediately follow; now "30 people on site right now from fb messenger", and 5...6...7... more sign ups. We get a ping on slack each time someone signs up so we can essentially feel the influence coming from people we don't know who are talking up what we're doing.

  8. 2

    For my Ministry of Testing business I started a Flipboard. I used to mostly to keep track of useful things for the community and I would include my favourites each week in our weekly newsletter. 95% of the content we add is not related to us, but the 5% seems to drive decent traffic.

    I mention it here as I've started doing the same for Indie Hackers.

    1. 1

      Do you do anything to promote the flipboard, or do people just discover it on their own?

      1. 2

        Not a lot to be honest. I mentioned it casually (on social media) a few times. I think the most important thing is to keep adding stuff on a regular basis and naturally build that following. I can't remember when I started mine, it has been 'years'.

    2. 1

      Flipboard is my golden goose!

      1. 1

        Do you have one that you can share with us? Curious to see how others make it work for them.

        1. 2

          Here is one of the boards that I used for Ai. The traffic quality is high signal. https://flipboard.com/@ryanhickmam/ai-5gluu5q3y

          I collected stories that I found interesting in A.I. Whenever someone I meet wants materials to read about this subject I send them the link. While I curate mainstream stories, I occasionally curate stories that I write (medium) stories I'm featured in or stories my partner writes.

          With flipboard the user audience isn't focused on the source as much as the subject matter and headline. I find when I mix content I create into the main stream headlines, there is traffic to my content / site.

          Now the magic I've found with flipboard is that it's a social network even though it's not quite a social network. People will "reflip" the content you curate which opens the distribution for it further. If your images, headlines and excerpts are quality...with a degree of luck there is viral lift.

    3. 1

      Cool! Was never sure how well Flipboard worked. I love flipboard as an app... had it since the first ipad and has followed me on every device since.

      I probably flip through it daily.

      1. 1

        "I probably flip through it daily." Validation right there :D

  9. 1

    For Indie Hackers it would have to be clever spammers. I've had spammers create threads on IH that ranked #1 on Google for extremely popular search terms getting hundreds of thousands of hits per hour, e.g. "live stream real madrid vs barcelona soccer game."

    A bit less extreme would be links to IH posted on black hat spammer websites. It seems to be on quite a few lists as a great place to spam links.

    1. 1

      How did that "live stream real madrid vs barcelona soccer game" rank so well? I know someone with a TV live streaming app that I'm sure would love such traffic.

      1. 1

        It was fairly simple. The spammer did some SEO keyword research on what people tend to search for when there's a big soccer game going on and they want to livestream it. Then they posted a couple threads on IH before the game using those keywords. Those threads linked back to the spammers' streaming sites, and were also filled with additional junk and keywords.

        IH has a lot of domain authority, so Google trusts it, so the posts ranked highly on Google. I think another big factor was that it was a very temporal event. There was nobody who'd been targeting "Real madrid vs FC Barecelona livestreaming 2018 champsionship" that the spammers' posts had to compete with, so it was easy to rank.

    2. 1

      Would be interesting to see the analytics screenshot for that, I've never seen traffic like this. Could be a blog post here as well, at least I'd click through on HN for something like "How spammers gained me hundreds of thousands of visits from Google".

  10. 1

    This comment was deleted 2 years ago.

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