Supermerlion 2nd Anniversary

A big thank you to everyone

11 February, 2012 by

Today marks the second anniversary of the Supermerlion site. And despite not being updated as much as I’d like it to be we’ve made some amazing progress over the span of the last year. Of course, none of this would be possible without the constant support of our readers. So here’s a big thanks and a report to keep everyone updated on the state of things.

For some reason, the past two years have seemed especially long. Looking back at some of our old articles, I have a hard time believing that it has only been that short a time since then.

After 3 months of coding, design and preparing articles Supermerlion launched publicly on 11th February 2010. The site began at a time when blogs were passe and news aggregators king. Our choice of sticking to editorial articles did not seem like a wise one.

But while we initially started with just 10-50 visitors a day, this focus on original content soon turned out to be a boon when Google rolled out various changes to their search algorithems a few months later, this resulted in being able to attract over 100,000 unique visits in our first 6 months alone.

We've managed to cover our many adventures in Japan since the launch of the site.

We were unable to mark the occasion due to most of us being overseas at the time but in all, 355 articles were posted by the site’s first anniversary. Looking back, this was a rather surprising number of posts since it pretty much managed to match our initial goal to have at least one post a day.

Our first year posts were pretty varied, comprising mostly of travel encounters, introductions to various Japanese and Korean pop artists, as well as food and drama reviews. In total, Supermerlion was able to achieve slightly more than 300,000 unique views by February 2011.

At about this time, pop idol group AKB48 had begun to boom in Japan and word of them had spread to the rest of the world. As a fan of their music for years, they were one of the artists I had covered personally in an article. This became our first year’s “breakthrough” post. To date, it has attracted nearly 50,000 unique views alone.

2011 turned out to be a rather eventful year.

Up until this point, the only available English information about AKB48 on the internet was in the form of fan spasms on Forums. Recognizing the need for information that could be understood by the rest of the public, I decided to dedicate a certain portion of resources to providing AKB48 related articles in this perspective. And while this alienated many of our previous authors (we lost quite a few writers at this time, though they were hardly active) the posts turned out to be a major hit.

Statistically, AKB48 related posts now account for 65% of our viewership, to the point where many associate Supermerlion as being an AKB48 site. This is despite only 20% of our content being AKB48 related. As you can see, covering select AKB48 articles had been good for us, hit wise at least.

The majority of this traffic come from people who were interested in learning about AKB48. This is apparent from the fact that the introductory posts to AKB48 and its members account for nearly 300,000 hits alone.

Of course, it certainly helps that Supermerlion places at the top of almost all AKB48 related search terms. In fact, up until some point last year Supermerlion outranked even the official site.

All these numbers may be nice, but at the end of the day, the greatest joy comes from the fewer people who have contacted us directly telling of how we have helped introduce them into the fandom. And in the process of everything, we’ve also managed to meet many new people.

We've managed to meet many new, crazy people.

Not all the best posts were about AKB48 though. Food posts in general have been our next biggest contributions, due to it resonating with a wider audience. One of our biggest breakthroughs came from the post on Ginza Cozy Corner, which thanks to the power of social sharing, managed to acquire 25,000 views in the shortest period of time.

In total, 566 posts have been published to date (577 if you count this one). Supermerlion has also managed to attract an additional 700,000 views over the last year. This means that we managed to achieve over 1 million views in the past two years!

This is further celebrated by the fact that these views were made by over 320,000 unique visitors.

To be able to reach this many different people is truly a surprise, but is largely attributed to 70% of visits being one time visitors who have arrived from search engine queries.

But more importantly, we must not forget our loyal readers, who while short of a thousand in number, account for 30% of all views. Thank you. You guys are awesome.

A humbling thing to take note of though is that our best content, was not even on-site. Instead our YouTube channel managed to receive an additional 880,000 views, most of it due to the virality of a single video on DIY Sushi Candy. Of course, all this attention comes at the cost of a whole lot of the typical racism going on there.

Inevitably, hosting the hundreds of posts and many more thousand photographs comes at a cost. Early on, I decided to adopt advertising as a painless alternative to begging for donations. Advertisements are kept as unobtrusive as possible and supporting either of our affiliates come at no cost to the user.

I’m relieved to say that while none of us will be quitting our day jobs anytime soon, financially Supermerlion does not operate at a loss.

Today, most of our financing comes from our two partners Agoda and CDJapan. I personally use both of these services reguarly and can attest to their value. Thus my willingness to support them.

A thing to note is that while AKB48 makes for the majority of visits, the small number looking for travel related content account for the majority of the funds keeping this site alive.

A couple of our care packages from CDJapan.

Moving on, we hope to continue providing the same quality posts and original content. I had once expressed the dream of being able to turn Supermerlion into a portal of sorts where more people would be able to write about the things they love and get compensated for it. Unfortunately, we’ve had a hard time looking for people interested in taking up this offer.

As always, if you’re interested in joining the team. Do drop us a message through the contact form here. Currently, the majority of Supermerlion’s posts are still written by Yan and myself, with Mus being the latest author to join the lot.

Many have contacted us directly to ask if we could continue posting AKB48 information or update the existing member posts. But with the media flooded daily with news about the idol group now, AKB48 related hits have been dwindling in recent times. I take this to mean that an equal number are being turned off by having AKB48 shoved at their faces.

Personally, I’ll be moving on to focusing more on other topics so as to diversify the site’s content. There are also many things to be done on the back end of the site and other related matters, as I prepare for more interesting developments. But I do hope that someone else will be able to pick up to continue the support of AKB48 related posts on Supermerlion, albeit in moderation.

I wish that we’d be able to keep up the same level of progress in 2012. And for that, we hope that everyone continues to support us as Supermerlion moves onto its third year. In return, we will promise to continue providing interesting content that visitors can enjoy reading.

As an added note, today is also SKE48 member Kizaki Yuria’s birthday.


Supermerlion's Webmaster and Editor-in-Chief. Singaporean Nikkeijin with over 12 years of experience in the media industry. Producer at a Japanese entertainment company. Former Web Developer, Graphic Designer, Multimedia Programmer, Manager and Consultant. Shoots with a Canon 5Dmk2 and Sony RX100-2.
  • Dayna Lee

    Thanks for telling me certain food places to visit on my coming April trip to view the cherry blossoms. Congrats!

  • Someone_from_HK

    Congratulations and keep up the good work !!

  • Caroline

    Congrats on your anniversary! I really enjoy this site. You have such interesting tours of Japan. I love to read up on all the spots to check out in Japan to prepare for my own trip there! Thanks and keep up the good work!

  • Love the site so much, just love love love it! Keep it up!

  • Timm

    Thanks for all the work you and your collegues put into this site. I’m especially interested in your travel guides, they are really helpful to my plans for a vacation in Japan this Summer.
    But I also enjoy most of the other topics on this site and have been learning a great deal about the various cultures you cover.
    Congratulations and keep up the fanastic work!

  • Erin Della Mattia

    Thank you for all your hard work! I can’t believe it’s only been two years. Seems like it was just yeasterday that I was looking for good info on AKB and I came across Supermerlion. Your articles really helped me to become familiar with AKB, as well as other aspects of Japanese pop culture. Your travel articles are always interesting to read, and more often than not I come away from the site learning something new and random. ^_^

  • Chris Kwok

    Thanks for your site, im particularly interested in the cultural articles including the visit guides and shop reviews. Im not particularly fond of AKB, or any pop idol groups for that matter, but its nice to see selected content for them instead of the usual everyday update spams of their members. keep up the good work.

  • Kyomasaki

    I enjoy every post/article you and your team write. I’ve before that your travels to Japan have been sort of a guide for my travels. Reading about things that dont follow the beaten path have allowed me to experience some interesting things. For that I say thank you! May 2012 be just as awesome as the last 2 years!