Susan Boyle is a frumpy Scottish singer whose surprisingly powerful rendition of the song "I dreamed a dream" on Britain's Got Talent vaulted her to Internet stardom. Now, it looks as if she will get more than her allotted 15 minutes of fame, all due to her hairy appearance.
After several news articles used the word "hairy" in headlines of stories about Boyle, hits for her YouTube videos showed sustained activity, unlike the spiky effect right after her TV appearance. Experts in search engine optimization (SEO) note that the invisible hand that is sustaining her popularity may be doing more than punching keys on a keyboard.
A commentator said, "We think that porn users are entering the word "hairy" looking for hairy, um, well, they're entering the word 'hairy' anyway, and up comes an article on Boyle with an attached video."
The hit-tracking site Alexis shows that Boyle-related sites are the top destinations for the keyword "hairy". It also reveals the behavior of those who reach her videos in this way.
A spokesman said, "Most of those who reach her site watch for a minute, apparently hoping for some adult content, then go to versions by Judy Kuhn or Haley Westenra, who are both very pretty. But the interesting thing is-and it's really a tribute to her talent-they come back again, presumably after completing their business, and listen to her again, not once, but several times.
The phenomenon has not been lost on opera promoter Jack Mioff of the British Opera Council, a publicly funded organization entrusted with promoting opera, who said he is working SEO keywords into his most recent press releases, such as: "Asian woman to sing in Leeds", "Deep voiced singer has a golden throat", "In her mouth opera sounds beautiful", and "Singer to tour round the world".
While porn is often cited as an Internet danger, it is also one of the major generators of traffic, accounting for 72% of traffic overall, and 87.4% between the hours of 1 and 2 AM.
Despite the attractiveness of such a large pool of potential clicks, Simon Cowell's label Sony has taken the high road in its efforts to promote Ms. Boyle, (who is not related to actor Tom Boyle, whom she resembles). In a press release, the label's management said, "We will not resort to gimmicks-Susan Boyle's beautiful voice is its own best advertisement."
Ms. Boyle has also shown no interest on capitalizing on her hirsutism; she declined an overture from the makers of antiandrogen drug Spironolactone to be a pokesperson: "I've got my cats and my singing, and if people don't like my looks they can just bugger off"--which is exactly what they are doing.