A Tale of Two Blogs

Part of the Kenno's Blog series.
By Ken Brown
Editor, You Can Learn Series
January 5, 2008

How You Can Rock the House With Your Traffic

I had a very interesting experience yesterday. I was checking out my usual blogs and I ran across a stats update from Caroline Middlebrook. She was kind enough to post her statistics for the month of December. I read her post and felt some emotion. The first emotion I felt was jealousy. She has only been blogging for 4 months and she is pulling down some absolutely huge traffic numbers.

Secondly, I felt the adrendaline rush I always feel when my competitive juices begin to flow. I want to do better. I want greater traffic. So, I thought it would be important to compare her numbers to mine. Then I can improve my numbers. The interesting thing about the web is you can repeat many things others are doing and you can be successful.

Evaluating Google Analytics Reports

The first thing I want to look at are her Google Analytics traffic. She is showing 15,838 visitors. Interestingly, I am not far behind in this category as my stats show 14,636 unique visits in December. The December numbers are historically lower on my website because of the topical nature of my website's categories. They normally lean more toward spring and summer. These numbers would be significantly lower were it not for the addition of Entrecard toward the middle of December to my website.

Caroline's traffic was generally under 1,000 visitors each day, with a spike of close to 2,000. That is very impressive in my opinion. I would have to guess that the spikes have to do with articles she has written that struck a nerve with her huge subscriber base. The Google dashboard shows my greatest number of visitors topped out below 700 for any one day.

Ken's Traffic Visitors

As you can see toward the end of the month my traffic began to increase due to greater concentration from me of social networking. And the holidays were over.

76% of My Traffic is From Search Engines

Ken's Traffic Sources

Caroline's Traffic Sources

An interesting stat is the traffic sources overview report from Google Analytics. My traffic is on the left and her traffic is on the right. You can see that I bring in 76% of my traffic through the search engines. Where Caroline shows 78% of her traffic is coming from referrals. We will talk about which traffic is better in a few moments. My referral traffic is miniscule compared to Carolines. My referring sites now represent 17% of my traffic. I know that the number for referrals has risen in December because I have actively been commenting on other blogs, dropping Entrecards and consistently writing in forums.

The direct traffic report shows my numbers are less than half of the 2,927 visits that were recorded by Caroline. This is the traffic that comes from rss subscriber feeds and people bookmarking your site. I think that number is huge, because in my opinion those are your community numbers. That is your Rock Star following. Those are the people that will follow you when you are up and continue to come back when you are down.

Monetize Your Website

Which traffic is better to be receiving, high referral numbers or high search engine numbers? Well first it is better to receive any kind of traffic than no traffic at all. But, if you are trying to monetize your website then it is important to be receiving high referral traffic. When I started with my website I focused exclusively on getting traffic from the search engines. It is obvious I have been very successful with this goal. But, I don't really get a lot of repeat traffic. Most of my nearly half a million page views from 2007 were people looking for an answer to a very specific question. It might have been a question about C# programming, weightlifting or some landscape details. They stop, get their question answered and then they are back surfing the web for other answers. They haven't been encouraged enough to become part of the community.

In 2008, I am going to concentrate on building the community traffic that Caroline has. I am going to work on getting repeat traffic and getting other successful bloggers to send traffic to me. One of the things I will not be doing is just exchanging links. It is my opinion today that exchanging links really don't work. But, building community and mentioning other websites in your posts each day does work. It sends traffic to the other websites and gets you noticed.

Commenting on Other Websites

Caroline has posted many times on getting traffic by commenting on other websites. People read the comments and many well written comments will begin to get you traffic. Read my article, Drive by Commenting, to find the type of comments that won't give you the community traffic I am talking about here. Adding comments to your website will help with your community. I have comments installed on my website, but I think there is something wrong with it. I have had a couple of people mention that there is a problem, but they have never followed up with what kind of problems they are experiencing. So, if you try to comment here and run into a problem please send me an email and tell me what happened so I can fix it. Thanks.

Later on Caroline talks about where her referral traffic comes from. It is amazing to me all of the social networking sites that are sending her traffic. When Caroline first became involved with her blogging site she quit her job and worked full time on her website. She spent a lot of time going to social networking sites, commenting, asking questions, following up with personal emails and generally befriending many people throughout the internet. So, the traffic she receives today is a result of the work she did in September, October and November to build community.

Ken's Top 5 Traffic Sources

If you compare my traffic sources you can see that my second highest traffic source is from direct traffic (rss subscribers?) with the traffic from Entrecard close behind. The Entrecard traffic is really cool as I have only been involved with Entrecard for a couple of weeks and it is already my number 5 source of traffic. Another interesting phoenomenon with Entrecard is I am getting referral traffic from some of the other sites that I have interacted with using the Entrecard system. As you are dropping cards you tend to read some of the articles and it just makes sense you have to comment on some of them. So, commenting is very important in driving traffic to your website. It is up to you to make it interesting once they get there.

Entrecard and StumbleUpon

Besides Entrecard, the only other major source of traffic is coming from StumbleUpon. They have sent me 115 visitors who each spend nearly a minute on my site on average. I received my first stumbler only in the last two weeks, which means this will soon be a wonderful source of traffic. If you are a stumbler feel free to vote on my articles. The Entrecard card droppers are visiting nearly 1.26 pages each visit and are spending close to 40 seconds on my site each visit. These aren't just card droppers. These people are serious readers.

The final numbers I want to comment on are the advertising prices. You can currently get a 125 X 125 banner ad on my website for $3 for 30 days. That same banner ad on Caroline's site is $50 per month. She has definitely done a better job in monetizing her site. Either I have sold my space too low or she has done a much better job in selling her space within the internet community. It is obvious we have similar traffic counts, so this is an area where I need to work on making people comfortable advertising with me. I also see a need for me to widen my right nav bar or remove my left nav bar to get more advertising to pop "above the fold."

Are You Monetizing Your Pages?

That's the tale of two blogs. Hopefully you will be able to extract some goodies out of it all to benefit your website. Are you getting enough traffic? Are you looking to improve your traffic numbers? Are you monetizing your pages as well as you should? I think this article answers those questions and will help you if you take the time to think through these issues. I wish you the best in 2008.

Secrets of SEO - This is the information that Search Engine Optimization specialists don't want me to print. This is so valuable you can make a career on just knowing this information and utilizing these search engine optimization techniques in your own pages and your customer pages. These are the secrets of search engine optimization -- SEO.

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We walked for Thirty Three days straight

We have arrived in Santiago. We walked for 33 straight days. Some days were 12 milers and as many as 18 miles or more in one day. We reached our destination. We decided not to rush to reach the city. Mary had accidentally banged her knee on the table at the restaurant the night before and it was a little tender.

Day 31 Palas de Rei to Ribadiso

We have walked 31 days to Santiago de Compostela

Today we started early because we had reserved a room at an albergue and we had to get there by 2pm or we lost the reservation. Mary set a blistering pace in the dark morning mist. Sunrise is at 8 am but this morning we had clouds and fog so it was darker than yesterday. The path through the city was okay but then leaving the city it became more difficult.

Three days of walking left in our Camino

We only have 66 kilometers to Santiago

We have walked for 30 days with only 3 days till we reach our destination of Santiago de Compostela. It has been an amazing journey. We are in the Galicia region of Spain known for the rain it receives. Well we are extremely lucky because the weather has been beautiful for walking. It starts out cool in the high 40s but then warms up to the low to mid 70s. With plenty of sunshine.

We arrived in Sarria

Five walking days to Santiago

Today we started late at 8 am. We were almost the last people out of Triacastela walking the Camino.

Ocebreiro to Triacastela

Only 6 days remaining on the Camino de Santiago

We are sitting in a restaurant in the little village of Triacastela on day 27 having tapas. It was a short 12 miles that were mostly down. Tomorrow we hope to go to Sarria.

Views from Astorga Spain

From Leon to Astorga on the Camino de Santiago

We visited Leon, Spain yesterday and then we walked 35Km today. Leon was wonderful. Today we walked in rain for the first time. We went 35 KM yesterday for no other reason than we could.

Walked 17 Miles Today

Today we walked 17 miles on the Camino

Today we are sitting at the albergue in Terradillos de las Templarios. We are at the halfway point in our journey. We have walked over 250 miles or 400 kilometers. I truly didn't think we would be able to do this. Mary has been a real trouper walking through bad knees and the pain of shin splints.

Finished a Third of our Camino Experience

We have walked a Third of the way to Santiago

Today finds us in Ages, Spain only 14 miles from Burgos. We are quite excited that we have managed this distance. We hoped we could but we had doubts especially those first few days where we hurt so much.

The Path to Najera Spain

Eight Days of Walking

We have been walking for 8 days now. It has been interesting, tiring, painful, fun and a real learning experience.

Walking Through the Pyrenees

Walking Through the Pyrenees

Mary and I started our journey to Santiago Spain. The first day we started in Saint Jean Pied de Port in France. The goal was to arrive in Roncevalle, Spain before nightfall.

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