(As you may or may not know, Movable Type has a service that allows you to ping a server upon publication of a post. This tells the server that your site has been updated, and your site will then get listed as a recently updated site in their list – There’s a whole slew of these, anyone familiar with the blogosphere will know them.)
From about September through until I moved my site a week ago, my site was no longer able to ping anything. Mostly because creating an entry would time out and fail before it got to the pinging stage of the process. So I wasn’t pinging anything. Prior to september, I averaged around 70 visitors a day to my site. Not huge, but respectable. From September through January, that dropped off significantly, to around 20-30 visitors a day. Now that I’m sending off those recently updated pings again, by visitors are back up – to now around 100 visitors a day (although, the average had been climbing pre-September, and appears to be continuing to climb – I think this week’s average is more like 150 – could be a blip, but is in line with the upward trend I saw through January.
So what does all this mean? Well, I was never sure whether anyone actually “read” those recently updated lists. With the exception of the occasional bout of desperate boredom, I don’t. But it appears some people do. Either that or at any given moment, there’s enough desperately bored people who will read them to make it effective. It also means that if you want to increase traffic to your site, one way appears to be to simply ping as many services as you can find.