Et Al / SEO

Web Traffic Experiments—Changes, Tests, and Trends?

So, so, so much thinking. I am never bored with web development because there is always so much to research, study, do, and test. In the last week or so, I’ve been studying the traffic sources here at and over at, and at both, we’re getting a growing amount of search engine traffic. That’s good, and I’m pretty sure I can attribute a lot of that growth to the use of the SEO All-in-One Pack, a WordPress plugin that allows me to add description and keyword meta tags to each post. Bueno.

But I’m concerned about a drop in the traffic from referring sites and direct traffic. It seems as though people are finding specific posts on SJA and LPO, but they’re not sticking around to check out the rest of the site. No bueno.

So I’ve made some adjustments to both sites and their RSS feeds, and I’m keeping tabs on the stats to see if anything changes. And in case it matters, I tend to develop SJA and LPO together because they use the same WordPress core and many of the same plugins, but their audiences are somewhat different. SJA has about 40 subscribers via RSS while LPO has about 130 via email. SJA has more followers on Twitter, but LPO has more fans on Facebook. The SJA readers tend to be a bit more on the bleeding edge of the Internet than LPO’s readers. There’s some overlap, but not much.

This was the state of SJA and LPO:

  • SJA and LPO were both imported to Facebook notes (my profile and the LPC page, respectively).
  • SJA and LPO were both fed to their respective Twitter accounts.
  • Both SJA and LPO RSS feeds were full text.
  • SJA’s Twitter account is fed to my Facebook status, so my tweets about SJA go to Facebook.

And this is what I changed:

  • Both SJA and LPO RSS feeds are summarized. About three lines of text are sent to the RSS feed, which means that I lose all text formatting and the first few sentences must compel people to click through to the web sites. Bleh. I don’t think this will be an issue for SJA, but I’m curious about LPO since many of its readers subscribe through email and are used to getting full text in their emails. At the same time, as LPO increases its content, summarized posts will keep the email brief and scannable.
  • Both SJA and LPO are still fed to their respective Twitter accounts. This allows readers an alternative method of subscribing to the RSS feed (by following these accounts). I added instructions to the LPO site for receiving updates via text message (via Twitter), so people can receive our feed via email, RSS, or text message/Twitter.
  • SJA is no longer imported to Facebook notes. My friends were commenting on my notes/posts in Facebook rather than commenting on SJA, which meant they were getting my content on FB rather than on SJA. I’m also working to delete my 300+ imported notes from FB. My friends can still read my headlines/recent posts in my FB status and can follow a link to my blog.
  • LPO still imports to Facebook notes. Now these are summarized notes, so LPC fans still have to go to the web site for complete info.
  • Both SJA and LPO utilize the WordPress 2.3 Related Posts plugin. This plugin finds related posts for the current page, and adds them to the bottom of the post. My hope is that SJA and LPO will be a bit more “sticky” and keep readers around for longer spans of time.

It’s been about a week, so any “trends” in traffic are hard to decipher with so little data; however, there is some difference in the stats from Google Analytics:

  • On SJA, direct traffic is up about 26% and referring site traffic is up about 22%.
  • On LPO, direct traffic and referring site traffic are both up about 1%.
  • For SJA, clicks from Facebook have increased about 31%, 23 clicks to 35 clicks.
  • For LPO, clicks from Facebook have increased 257%, from 7 clicks to 25 clicks.
  • Visits, unique visitors, and pageviews are up on both sites. On SJA, 30-47%, and on LPO, 2-5%.

My best guess for the increase in SJA traffic is the closure of last week. Any traffic that was going there is being redirected to SJA. And for the increase in LPO Facebook clicks, we added a bunch of old pictures to our page and discontinued our Picasa web albums, and our people are getting tagged in those albums and those tags are appearing in news feeds across Facebook. There are too many variables to know whether my traffic plan is working, but I’m hoping these mini trends are a sign of what’s to come. As always, I’ll keep you posted.


3 thoughts on “Web Traffic Experiments—Changes, Tests, and Trends?

  1. So rather than allowing your friends to read your SJA postings on FB, you now want the traffic at SJA? Is the traffic count more important than the convenience for your friends?

    In case you can’t tell, I also dislike summary feeds, especially for a non-commercial site like yours that forces me to click through for more. Why not let me consume it the way I want to consume it Sarah?

    • @steve That is correct. Primarily, I want all of my comments here, but for the most part, my FB friends and my blog audience don’t overlap too much, so it’s not a huge issue.

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