Traffic Report 2007

This is my 2007 year-end update in my Traffic Diary, which documents my ongoing effort to build traffic for my self-promotional web site, KeenerTech.com. It's also a direct follow-up to the last edition, which was published in August 2007.

Other Articles in This Series

I've had the web site since 2004, but it was basically a minimalistic personal site until about August 2006. At that point, I began adding tons of content and transforming it into both a personal promotional site and a technically-oriented information site. In March 2007, I added a home-grown, but fairly sophisticated, content management system.

Now, without further ado, let's take a look at the site's traffic.

August 2005 to August 2006 shows a representative baseline for the site in its raw, unadvertised state, i.e. - this was the time period when the site had limited content and no active steps were being taken to promote it. There's not too much to say about that.

Traffic since then has been quite a bit higher, with an early peak in March 2007 when a lot of new content was added (more than any other month).

After March 2007, traffic sagged a little bit because of my heavy work schedule. However, between my promotional activities and the publicity generated by a number of my speaking engagements, traffic in the last four months of the year jumped to a level that equaled or exceeded that early March peak.

There is a slight dip in December 2007, but I think that can be attributed to a fairly natural holiday lull.

Top Articles

The top articles over the entire lifetime of the site are shown below:

  1. Multiple Form Buttons in Rails

  2. Web 2.0 Hype Generator

  3. Creating Dynamic Charts With JFreeChart

  4. Microsoft Screen Cleaner

  5. URL Rewriting in ASP.NET

  6. Evolution of a Graphic Design Concept

  7. Introduction to Java Servlets

  8. Case Study: NCTM

  9. Understanding How Oracle Triggers are Executed

  10. My Presentation for the DC Ruby on Rails Users Group

It's a rather eclectic list of articles, with no particular content category proving to be dominant. There are are 2 articles on Ruby on Rails, 2 on Java, 2 humorous entries, and one article each for ASP.NET, Web Design, Database and Case Studies.

The article, "Multiple Form Buttons in Rails" is the clear leader, having been promoted for several months by one or two of the blog aggregation sites like Technorati. It has since slowed down. The JFreeChart article is probably the one that gets the steadiest traffic, month over month, so it's position on the list is likely to climb in the future.

Top PDF Files

My brother, Steve Keener, and I have made a total of seven PowerPoint presentations on various technical subjects available in PDF form. Here's their ranking with regard to total number of downloads:

  1. Creating Dynamic Charts With JFreeChart

  2. Using Rails to Create an Enterprise App: A Real-Life Case Study

  3. Creating Custom Charts Using Ruby Vector Graphics (RVG) in Rails Apps

  4. Implementing OpenID for Your Social Networking Web Site

  5. Introduction to Ruby on Rails

  6. Quick Start: Rails LiveTree

  7. Quick Start: What Is Rails?

In all fairness, the PDFs have only been available for a few months, and they have not been promoted prominently. That will change in 2008. Interestingly, Steve has the 5 and 6 positions; I have the rest of them. All of these PDFs can be downloaded from the Presentations page.

The Long Tail

The long tail continues to work well for me. If you graphed page views with the number of page views on a vertically-oriented Y-axis and time as the horizontally-oriented X-axis, the long tail represents the extended portion of the curve as the number of page views tapers off. Even at KeenerTech.com's relatively small size, the site benefits from a long tail effect that sees almost every blog entry getting some views every month.

Search Engines

Better than 99% of my search engine traffic comes from Google. The other major search engines aren't even a factor. In my August 2006 entry, I had attributed this to Google being a better search engine than the other sites. That's probably still true, but my friend, Jake Vanus, also pointed out another factor.

KeenerTech.com is a technical site. People who are likely to look for the type of content that appears here are generally technical people. Most technical people use Google, so there's probably a built-in Google bias in my audience.

Still, 99% seems a little high.

Ego Searches

Yes, yes, I know. It'a a useless measure, but it's still a fun one. If you search for "David Keener" using the most popular search engines, my site is the first one listed on Google, Yahoo, MSN and AOL. It doesn't mean much, except that I'm obviously the "David Keener" who's doing the most to promote himself on the web.

Audience

Who the heck is reading my web site? Where is my audience coming from?

Well, 58% of my audience comes to the site using a direct link, i.e. - from a bookmark or by typing the URL in the browser. 32% comes from Google, with another 3% divided among all of the other search engines. Finally, 7% of my traffic comes from other sites (excluding search engines) linking to my site. This last is a fairly recent development.

In another development, some 20% of the visitors to the web site bookmark it. I don't have anything to compare that with, but it seems like a reasonably high number, so I hereby declare it to also be a positive development.

Evaluation of Previous Suggestions

In my August entry, I came up with a number of strategies for increasing site traffic. In fact, the end goal of the previous suggestions was to increase the site's monthly traffic to match the March 2007 peak. This was easily achieved from September onwards (with a slight dip in December for the holidays). Below, the suggestions are listed again, with commentary on how well they worked.

  • More Articles: Concentrate on adding articles in some of the most popular categories, notably Ruby on Rails.

    Have added numerous articles, as well as PDF presentations. Also added spot graphics to the article summaries on the Home page. This seems to have translated into more traffic.

  • Home Page Real Estate: Unsurprisingly, the statistics show that articles listed on the Home page get more traffic than those that are buried deeper within the site. Ergo, the Home page design should be re-worked to emphasize more content.

    This was done. The Home page features 10 articles now, not 3 as it used to. Additionally, the articles appear near the top of the page. Static content about myself as a technical professional has been moved to the About page. Also, there are banners for some humorous articles on the left side of the page. This seems to have contributed to the increase in traffic as well.

  • Suggested Articles: A lot of people come to the web site and only view a single article, i.e. - the article that Google found for them. More traffic could be generated simply by having a list of suggested articles at the end of each content item. The goal would be to encourage users to browse through related articles, thereby increasing the number of articles that they view during a session.

    More work needs to be done here. Categories have been added to the site, so the Category component needs to be added to the Home page. This component will provide a link to see a list of articles in each available category.

  • Articles vs. Blog Entries: There's not really much difference between blog entries and articles on my site, although the articles do tend to be slightly longer and more authoritative. It may be worthwhile to get rid of the distinction between them and just make everything a blog entry. I'm still pondering this one.

    Yes, I got rid of the distinction between articles and blog entries. Everything is a blog entry now. This certainly simplified things.

  • Better Name for the Blog: The "Blog Spot" is a moderately lame title for my blog. From a marketing perspective, it would probably be better to come up with a more exciting name. How about the "K-Spot"? Anybody got a better idea?

    Sigh. I still don't know what to do here. Oh well, I'll figure out something.

  • RSS Feed: A lot of blog traffic is generated by so-called aggregation sites like Technorati and other similar sites. The accepted way to work with these sites is to create an RSS feed and register it with them. Over time, if your content is useful, people rate your articles, so interesting and/or useful content tends to rise to the top and generate even more traffic. This is likely to be particularly effective with Rails articles, since the universe is smaller for this relatively new technology.

    Still need this. Alas. Probably my next ASP.NET challenge after I master the world of web services.

  • Search Engines: OK, search engine traffic for the site basically sucks except for Google. A key goal will be to increase the traffic from the next three top search engines after Google — Yahoo, AOL and MSN.

    Yes, search engine traffic still sucks. On the other hand, 20% of the people visiting my web site seem to bookmark it, so that's a positive development. It would still be nice to get a better contribution from the other search engines.

So, I'm actually pretty happy with the increase in traffic. The keys to future traffic building seem to be: 1) implementing an RSS feed, 2) registering the RSS feed with blog aggregators, 3) more content (of course), and 4) some more Home-page tuning. More on the results next quarter.



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