The Power of Paris Hilton

Derek Vaughan

A hacker has been sucking bandwidth out of my site recently. Maybe you’ve heard of her – Paris Hilton. That’s right, the Paris Hilton – heiress to the Hilton Hotel fortune, with modelesque features, and a quasi-reality TV show. Well, okay so she’s not a hacker, exactly – but she has for SURE been costing me money in extra bandwidth costs, and I’m going to issue her an invoice for it!

Here’s what happened – a couple of weeks ago I posted a news article to my site from the newswire. I happen to run a site consisting of a web hosting directory and webmaster resources. The press release that I ran was an assessment by the Lycos search engine describing what the hottest searches are for that particular time period.

The title of the press release was as follows (and I quote): “Paris Hilton Sex Video Searches Soar, Sending Socialite to Number One Search Term; Prince Charles Scandal Continues to Rock the Web.”

It turns out that after her notorious tape hit the Internet, ‘Paris Hilton’ became the top search term at Lycos.

So right about now you’re probably already jumping forward to the logical conclusion of this story – but it just never really occurred to me how popular Paris Hilton had become – or that running a press release on search terms would make any substantive difference to my website.

Everything was going along nicely until a day or two later – when I received an email that went something like this:

“Dear Derek Vaughan, This is to notify you that the allowed MB of Data Transfer per month for has been exceeded.  You must take action now to prevent your site from being redirected. Please visit us to purchase additional data transfer.”

“PLEASE NOTE: If your web site data transfer usage reaches 5 times the allowed amount of data transfer for this billing period OR if you have not taken action within 5 days of the initial notice (whichever comes first), your web site will be redirected.”

So of course I took action and purchased additional bandwidth. No problem, I thought – my site traffic is growing! However, I became somewhat concerned when I received an identical notice just 2 days later. I again paid for additional bandwidth. When I received a third notice at the beginning of the next week – I called my hosting company.

Me: “Hey, there must be some mistake, my bandwidth usage can’t be that high – is the reporting in error?”

Hosting Company: “No Mr. Vaughan – this is correct. You’re bandwidth usage has increased considerably.”

Me: “Well, what’s causing all the extra usage?”

Hosting Company: “It must be increased traffic to your site.”

So I go back and double check my traffic logs – in particular looking at referring URLs. It’s then that I notice this entry:

The news story from my website had been spidered and picked up by Google under the search phrase: ‘paris hilton sex video’. During the high bandwidth period, my result was on page one of the search results. Thankfully, my listing has now moved down to page 7 in the results.

I calculated it out and I figure that Paris Hilton now owes me around $20 in extra bandwidth charges for the last 3 weeks. I’m certain that when she receives my invoice she’ll pay me quickly – I’m marking it ‘due upon receipt’.

The moral of this story? Picking up the right information on your site can get you a ton of extra traffic – so pay attention to what goes on your site – even if it’s just a press release.