A quick look at some of my numbers compared to July 2011:
Bounce Rate: -6.14%
Avg. Time on Site: +21.42%
Facebook Fans: 479, +4.4%
Subscribers: 630, +4.3%
My efforts at recommitting myself to blogging are paying off, and I haven’t really gotten going. I only had 1 guest post this month and didn’t publish anything in the larger outlets like The Atlantic or The Huffington Post.
There were two big wins this month in terms of traffic. One, was the guest post on Stuck in Customs and the second was my review of the iPad which got picked up by several gadget blogs.
The big thing I keep telling other bloggers (who never seem to listen) is that the ONLY way you can grow your audience is by exposing yourself to people who have never heard of you. That is exactly what both of those posts did for me. Having the same circle of people retweet, stumble and comment over and over does NOTHING for you. It is a circle jerk inside an echo chamber. This month I grew by more subscribers than most blogs have total, and it is because I found way to introduce myself to a new audience.
You will notice the big jump in pages per visit and time on site. There were several things which contributed to this:
- I removed the thumbnail links to wahoha and mgid.com and replaced them with links to my own content. What few complaints I did get were usually about those thumbnails. Those links generated about 3,000 visits per month for me, but they were low quality. By just writing more, I can compensate for the traffic loss. Also, those 3,000 visits were probably generated by 2,000 people clicking on them and leaving my site. Those 2,000 clicks are now staying on the site.
- I massively decreased the load time of the site. I wrote about that before. The end result for pages per visist isn’t quite the jump I saw in the first few days, but it has remained substantially higher.
- I added a “Best of” section in my navigation to some of my more popular posts from the past
I don’t expect massive jumps in this number in the future. If I get them they will be due to an influx in new readers who are exploring old content and it will only be a temporary increase. Any systematic increases will be small and incremental from here on out.
I have also read some speculative posts about Google using analytics data to determine “quality”. If that is true, then increasing time on site, pages per visit and reducing bounce rate should all help drive search traffic.
I’ll be writing 2x a month for BigThink.com. They were recently named by Time Magazine as one of the 50 Best Websites on the internet. I’ll probably be writing about more than just travel, or least more than what you might expect from a guy who travels. I also hope to have 1 or 2 more pieces appear in the Atlantic in September.
After bragging about my increase in search traffic I made a site wide change in how I display my HTML titles. I used to have the name of my site in every single title. I removed it and now the title is just the title of the post. It is cleaner and shorter. My traffic dropped a bit after I did it because I had so many pages change at once, but I expect it to bounce back.
I’m also changing how I title my daily photos. I’m no longer using the format “Daily Travel Photo – Place Name” but rather used the more descriptive text found in the caption of the photo. I think that should bring in more long tail traffic and the old format wasn’t doing anything for me.
As of today I’ve finished the huge glut of photos I had from the last 4 months and I will have much more time to write. This will mean more posts on my site (I have a long list) as well as more guest posts.
This has been a big stumbling block for me. Editing photos takes time to do it right and I can’t write about some places until I get the photos done. I have a few more from Tahoe and Mexico I took this month, but there aren’t too many of those.
Having taken care of most of my site load issues, I’m going to focus this month on conversions and tracking. I haven’t really paid much attention to this lately and I think I can see large jumps in conversion if I focus on it. I will also be implementing some changing to my Facebook page which I think should result in growth over there as well.