It’s the end of the year again. Regular National Driller readers know that means it’s time to look under the hood of the big diesel truck that is our website, and show readers what our top 10 most popular stories of the year were.

Before we get to the good stuff, I wanted to send a big thank you to readers. You drove our web traffic to a new high this year. As of mid-December, page views were up a whopping 47 percent over the entire 2016 calendar year. In fact, we blew by 2016 total page views in early October. With two weeks left in 2017, we’ll probably hit a 50 percent increase in page views over 2016. That’s a big deal. We try to do our part by writing stories people want to read. Readers are more than keeping up their part of the bargain.

So, readers have clicked on a lot of stories, but what are they clicking on? This top 10 list covers mid-December, 2016 (the cutoff for last year’s list), through mid-December 2017. We have a lot of popular older stories that people still read, so I take those out. What I’m left with is a solid list of stories we published in the last 12 months that people found useful or interesting enough to spend time on.

That, reader, is what you’re looking at now. We cover everything from reverse circulation tips to the end of the geothermal tax credit. Counting down from 10, here are our top stories of 2017

10. Virginia Drilling Company Sticks to High Standards

Readers like two types of stories the most: profiles of drillers or drilling companies, and reference-type pieces. This story fits into the first category. Royall Pump & Well of Powhatan, Va., emphasizes customer service, and believes that focus has given them an edge in their service area.

9. The Basics of Reverse Circulation Drilling

Columnist Wayne Nash is a perennial reader favorite. It’s pretty common for me to be at our trade show booth and have a driller come up and ask, “That Wayne Nash guy, is he for real?” Yes, he is. And beneath all the crazy stories is a wealth of drilling knowledge. He shares some of it each month, but this column on reverse circulation got reader’s attention this year.

8. Basics of Getting Through Clay on Drilling Jobs

The folks at Cetco Drilling Products have worked with National Driller for years. The Drilling Fluids column rotates through authors, but each one has a wide breadth of experience in the industry. In this column, research scientist Greg Plutko helps readers out of sticky situations.

7. Longtime Columnist and Drilling Fluids Sales, Support Rep Retires

Speaking of the Drilling Fluids column, one of our columnists retired this year. Bob Oliver capped decades in the industry as the go-to man for sales and support for drilling fluids, additives, polymers and foams in the Northwest U.S. with an interview for our readers. He shared a few final mud tips, as well as insights on changes he’s seen over his time in the industry.

6. Geotechnical Drilling Key for Nation's First High-Speed Rail

This job story focused on advance geotechnical works for the nation’s first high-speed rail project in California. I’d be remiss, too, if I didn't mention that Valerie King, the author of this piece, has since left National Driller. The quality of the work she did here served the industry well for more than 3 years with our magazine. We’re sure she’ll show the same talent and professionalism in her next position.

5. Where Are the Candidates for Well Drilling Jobs?

I mentioned earlier a couple popular types of stories. A close third: stories that talk about training and retention that can counteract some of the greying of the drilling trades. Columnist Ashley Foster struck a nerve with this piece, which shares a small business’ perspective on the topic.

4. Drilling Jobs in Iraq with the RED HORSE

Readers love it whenever columnist Brock Yordy writes about the RED HORSE water well-drilling unit. In this most recent story, he talks to them about a recent mission to install mission-critical water infrastructure for U.S. facilities in Iraq.

3. Learning to Cope Without the Geothermal Tax Credit

Another story from Valerie King that not only looks at what’s happening in the industry, but what contractors can do about it. She spoke with industry leaders and drillers to find out their thoughts about and their plans for the sunset of an important tax credit.

2. Another Chance to Extend Geothermal Tax Credit

As you can see, the expiration of the geothermal tax credit got readers’ attention. This write up of a press release talks about industry efforts to pressure Congress. The industry still supports efforts to reinstate this vital credit.

1. What Are the Basic Components of a Residential Water Well?

This guest column from Shukri Elmazi describes the basics of a residential water well. It, by far, got the most page views in 2017. This is super-basic stuff for drillers and other water supply professionals. I suspect that the popularity of this article is that it answers a pretty direct question that someone outside the industry — like, maybe, your customers — might have.

Well, there you have it: 2017’s most read stories on www.nationaldriller.com. If there’s anything you missed or want to reread, click away. Don’t be afraid to share, whether emailing links or posting to social media. We look forward to serving readers with more news and views from the drilling industry in 2018 and beyond.

Stay safe out there, drillers.