sex sells: an experiment in blogging

I just completed a highly scientific research experiment. I mean this thing was designed by eight genius researchers on three continents.  There were control groups, independent variables,and guys wearing goggles.  Also, my findings have been properly adjusted for age, gender, geography, and even unseen environmental factors.

The Hypothesis

When various and interesting links are offered, the most popular will be that one which offers readers the opportunity to see a little skin. This will hold true even if…

  • the subject of the page linked to is far from sexual in nature.
  • the description of said page promises only an immodestly dressed woman — and not actual nudity.

The Experiment

In this past week’s morning blend feature here on aliens and strangers, I provided a number of links — not unlike any other morning blend (except this one was posted on a Wednesday rather than the usual Tuesday, due to Auburn having won the national championship).  There were a total of six links, which covered a random assortment of topics.  One of these links — the one leading to The Everyday Minimalist blog– was described (in passing) as possessing a picture of a nearly naked woman. The woman in the photo was reported to be not only as scantily clad, but also in the act of performing yoga exercises.

The Findings

At the end of five days, the “(nearly) naked woman link” outperformed the average of all other links at a ratio of 4:1. Yep, for every click leading to one of the other (less saucy) sites, there were four clicks to the peep show at The Minimalist. I’m calling this evidence conclusive.  My readers like to look at sexy women dressed sexily.

Other Possible Contributing Factors

I will admit there could have been other factors at work.  Here’s a list:

  • Perhaps many of my readers are just really into yoga? And probably didn’t even notice that I’d written something about a “picture of a nearly naked woman doing yoga.”  They actually read it this way:  “a very non-sexual picture of a modestly dressed woman doing yoga, that is not suggestive in any way.”  Or maybe they even read it this way:  “a picture of a woman — or quite possibly a man (I’m not sure which, because the individual is so very unattractive and unexceptionally dressed) — doing yoga.”  This is entirely possible.*
  • Maybe this would have been the favorite link of the day no matter what? It was indeed about advertisements for fast food restaurants, and how the real-life burgers never look like their steroid-injected photos.  It’s very interesting subject matter.  And we all like fast food.  It’s at least possible this was simply the favorite link of the day, and nothing more.  [But at a ratio of 4:1, come on?!]
  • There were two separate links on the page that went to the Minimalist website — one to the fast food post and one to the blog itself.  It would make sense, then, that two links could double the likelihood of people clicking.  [But quadruple?  Probably not.]
  • We do have to consider, also, that 50% of my readers (a completely made up figure for which I have no documentation) are of the female persuasion. It’s unlikely that the promise of a sultry exerciser is going to send these women over to a particular site.  Call me naive, but I just don’t think the ladies are that into bare midriffs and tight pants.  [I suppose they may have wanted to see their competition; women are, by nature, competitive.]
  • However, what I was getting at is that, in order to see the numbers we did, it’s likely that men were visiting the risque site at a ratio of 13:1.  That’s right, if women clicked the naughty at a ratio of 1:1, men favored it by a multiple of 13.  Those vulgar boys.


So, it’s settled:

  1. Sex sells.
  2. And the guys who read my blog are a little bit gross.**

Oh, and the picture of the nearly naked woman doing yoga… She’s a cartoon lady.  I suppose you could call her an attractive cartoon lady, but she’s no Jessica Rabbit.

* cough, cough

** My wife tells me I might alienate some of my (male) readers by saying this.  I figure you guys know I’m only joking though.  In all honesty, I think the biggest reason for the imbalance in clicking was that this link probably really was the most interesting one.  The fast food false advertising subject is a real attention-getter.  You guys were just clicking to see buns.  [No ‘bun’ intended.]


Filed under just thinking, slightly humorous or amusing?

15 responses to “sex sells: an experiment in blogging

  1. the next test should be to see how many of us didn’t click the first time, but now we are so curious, we couldn’t help ourselves…

  2. Whew! Glad I didn’t check it since I am interested in yoga. Actually, I didn’t link to it but find your findings interesting. I reckon I could explode in blog traffic by doing some advertising like that. But knowing how things work for me I would probably get sued for false advertising by one of my fellow pastors. 😛

    • but bill, you could advertise a nearly naked / bald head riding a bicycle? there are bound to be people interested in cycling. and a bald head is surely a sign of wisdom and maturity?

      do you really like yoga, or were you just joshin’?

  3. Wow, that’s hilarious. I clicked the mentioned link as soon as I saw the headline, because I was interested in the topic. I honestly never noticed the mention of the nearly naked lady at the end of the paragraph. In fact, I didn’t believe it when you mentioned it here. I had to scroll back and re-read the post to see if it really was there. So, at least this one visit had to do with the popularity of the topic and not the promise of provocative yoga. I’m curious to hear what others experienced.

    • larry, i commend you on your virtue. just kidding. i mean, not that you’re not full of integrity and up-right-ed-ness.

      i really don’t think that little comment sent people over. but it was the weekend and i was in the mood for a silly post. so i narrowed down to making fun of canadians or this. i chose this. it was the more challenging of the two.

  4. Although I was at first, alarmed by your mention of the yoga girls attire, (or lack of ), I quickly checked it out only because I aspire to be a minimalist 😉

    • it seems like there are a whole lot of minimalist blogs on the internet these days. i had no idea until cheeseburgers took me that site. but it’s interesting, because they’re this group just like any other group where the more extreme practitioners look down on the others for not being as serious about it all. like the “can i be a minimalist and still have a tv?” fascinating.

  5. I still have not visited the site and found it odd that you referred to the picture. Now I guess I have an explanation.

    • well, when writing that original piece, i had just an idea of this post — because i wondered to myself, “will people click on this BECAUSE of what i’ve written about the cartoon lady?” but then i also assumed most everyone who reads my blog knows i wouldn’t link them to something questionable or lewd.

      but i couldn’t help but watch the numbers climb once the post was up. in reality, though, i don’t at all think the talk of the lady picture actually sent anyone over. until now, perhaps.

  6. Haha, interesting study! I’m sure your results really are pretty accurate, and definitely do extend to the internet as a whole.

    The phrase “sex sells” is basically a proven fact that most everyone tries to leverage.

    • i’m guessing this study would prove true on much of the internet. but i really don’t think it’s an accurate assessment in this case. actually, if i had thought it was accurate, i don’t think i would have posted it.

      also, the numbers were so small that i could never call it an honest or representative study. i just thought it made for an interesting read — or write, at least.

  7. First time reader & commenter. =) This is hilarious. If I was a full-time reader and had caught that blog, I would also be commenting here about how I “didn’t click that link because I saw an image” also. hahah Good stuff. I’ll definitely be back.

    • thanks for coming by, stan. and you’re welcome back anytime. just know you won’t find any sexy photos of women… in case that’s what you’re thinking. oh, and if you enjoyed this post because it was funny, you might be disappointed with my usual dry and boring stuff. but i’m glad you’re here.

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