When I did this last year it was fairly well received. So here I am, a year later, doing it again. As usual I’ll share pretty much every statistic about this site (except specific financial details), and more importantly, everything I’ve learned (the highlights anyway) in the last year.
I’m going w/ the same format again, for the same reason (I’m lazy). Speaking of lazy, I’ve had this post in my drafts waiting to be finished since the beginning of August – the actual 2 year mark.
- What I’ve done
- What I’ve learned
Here’s an overview of the statistics for Simple Help from the last year. Even after 2 years, I can’t go a day without checking Google Analytics.
- Visits and Pageviews – 08/01/07 – 07/31/08
As the graph below illustrates, there was a significant drop in the middle of Dec. 07. I was quite sick, and the site went down for 2.5 days. Such is life.
All in all I’m pleased with the growth compared to the first year (1,104,495 visits, 1,756,518 page views). One of the things I wanted to increase this year was the number of page views per visit, which I did – slightly. Last year it was 1.59 page views per visit, this year it grew to 1.72. I attribute this to 2 complete site re-designs and the use of the Related Posts plugin (and the Related Posts for your Feeds plugin).
- Traffic sources – 08/01/07 – 07/31/08
- Traffic sources – 08/01/07 – 07/31/08
- Top Content – 08/01/07 – 07/31/08
- How to convert .flac files to .mp3 using Windows
- 10 Alternatives to iTunes for Managing your iPod
- How to use your PC and Webcam as a motion-detecting and recording security camera
- 15 Windows Explorer alternatives compared and reviewed
- How to completely wipe all the data from your hard drive
Similar to last year, search remains my #1 source of traffic. By far.
One rather significant change is that during Simple Helps first year, it was on the front page of Digg.com 16 times. In the second year – not once. This I attribute to two things – 1) I stopped “writing for digg” and 2) it’s a lot harder to get on the front page now. One of my silly goals in my first year was to get on the digg.com front page twice in one day. The second time I accomplished that goal, my previous hosting provider told me in no uncertain terms that Simple Help had to move. It was at that point I went from shared hosting to a dedicated server.
Last year, digg was my #2 source of traffic, this year, it’s #8. Which is kind of interesting in and of itself – a lot of people will claim that digg has no long-tail. Not entirely true.
You’ll also note that images.google.com is my 6th highest source of traffic. If that’s not a glaring hint as to why you should use the alt and title tags, I’m not sure what is.
Once again, Google reigns supreme.
My 5 most popular posts in the last year were:
Only one of those posts (How to completely wipe all of the data from your hard drive) did I actually write in the last year. The other four are from the first year. Also noteworthy is that my most popular post, accounts for almost 10% of my traffic. That’s one post out of six hundred.
If I had to guess, I’d say there are a billion sites on SEO (search engine optimization). There should be a new rule – if your site doesn’t get a couple of hundred thousand visits via search engines, per month, you can’t start or run an SEO site. My suggestion? Review some of the tips on one established SEO site (say Matt Cutts or the seomoz blog), implement those tips, and then stop. The time that some bloggers spend reviewing SEO “tips and tricks” never ceases to amaze me. Use that time to write an article instead. No matter how “SEO friendly” your site is, if you don’t have content, no one’s going to come. Besides, most SEO sites just take content they found on another SEO site, re-word it (the ones that aren’t totally lazy) and publish it. Do you really need to read the same 10 tips 50 times?
Find a Mentor
Without question, my absolute #1 suggestion is to find someone already established in your niche, and befriend them. I cannot possible emphasize this enough. The How-To Geek writes PC tutorials, just like I do (though he has a more heavy emphasis on Vista), and has shared countless tips with me. Without question, Simple Help would not be nearly as popular as it is today without him. The hard part is, of course, finding someone that’s willing to share information with you. I’ve been unbelievably fortunate.
Your Niche is Different
Similar to the SEO rant (above), do not waste your time reading “pro blogging” web sites. Here’s why – they generally offer suggestions that may not even apply to you. A blog that focuses on collecting coins has a completely different audience than a blog that focuses on photography. The differences can be in gender, age group, geographic location – the list is endless. What applies to one site does not necessarily apply to another. Again, find someone successful in your specific niche, and find out what has worked for them and what hasn’t. You’ll find that information way more valuable than what you would on a “pro blogging” web site.
RSS subscribers don’t matter
This one might be a tiny bit controversial. For my site – a computer tutorial blog – RSS subscribers don’t matter, at all. Remember – your niche is different. Everywhere you go you’ll read about how to increase your RSS subscriber count. Take a step back and ask yourself – “for my site, does the number of RSS subscribers matter?” Here’s an example. Darren Rowse, of ProBlogger.net, has 47,189 RSS subscribers (as I write this, Aug. 23rd, 2008). I have 3,227. He has 14 times (plus) more RSS subscribers than I do. However, in the last 30 days, problogger.net has had 767,118 page views (according to SiteMeter. Over the same period of time, Simple Help has had 796,178 page views. Slightly more page views, 14x fewer RSS subscribers. So before you spend too much time trying to increase your RSS readership, ask yourself, does it really matter for my blog?
Social networks are a waste of time
What the heck, another controversial one. I publish my posts via Twitter, I have a MyBlogLog page, FaceBook page (two actually), FriendFeed account, Last.FM… you name it, I have a page or account on that service. Not a single one of them drives any significant traffic to my site. StumbleUpon is an exception, and I’m not sure if it even counts as a social network. But again – consider your sites topic. If you write about FaceBook apps, you may get a tonne of traffic by creating a FaceBook group.
Here’s my experience with advertising. When your site becomes popular, advertisers find you. They’ll even bid against each other. Until then, stick with AdSense, Kontera, Tribal Fusion – whatever.
Write more content, then some more, then some more
Just write more. Not everything will be popular, in fact most of it probably won’t. But the more content you have, the more it’ll show up in Google, and the more visitors you’ll get. Also, if you write something that you think is absolutely terrific, and the visitors don’t immediately flood your site – don’t stress. I’ve had things that I wrote months and months ago all of the sudden become hugely popular on StumbleUpon, or show up on a very popular blog – driving that traffic you hoped for.