Saturday, April 2, 2011

Blog housekeeping: Taking a break

There's a reason I've been posting at least one article a day since the beginning of March - I need to brush up on my own skills concerning web traffic, advertising, and other issues my clients need. Some conclusions?
  • Advertising is pretty close to not worth it. There were over 500 hits on my site during March, and several clicks on the ads (I believe the Adsense T&Cs say I can't say how many - what I will say is that the number was on the lower end of the range other websites say is normal, but within the range.) At this point, Adsense is estimating a dollar figure for these ads so low it'll be years before Google mails me a check. And that's the estimate, the amount of verified "revenue" for July 2010 - February 2011 is less than 1% of the estimate for those months! I'm going to keep the ads up for one more month, and I'll review what happens after that.
  • Google provides some useful tools, including Analytics and Webmaster, to help content makers look at how their sites are accessed. Webmaster concentrates on the "Google" side - what's driving traffic to your website? How does it appear on the web? I actually noticed that some times people were hitting my site after making queries that I didn't directly answer, but were asking things I was interested in writing about. So I wrote articles on those subjects.
  • Analytics focuses on how users use your site. Behind the scenes it tries to identify specific users so that it can provide more accurate stats than, say, Blogger's "Stats" dialog. While Blogger might say you had 25 hits in one day, Analytics may report that only four people visited your site, but they each visited an average of six pages, and were on the site for an average of 10 minutes, etc. Like Stats, it also provides information broken down by how people reached the page. Analytics is, unfortunately, easy to block and frequently is, but it certainly gives you a lot of useful information anyway.
  • Other useful tools? Feedburner - It's a Google thing and entirely integrated with Blogger, and has features like the ability to set up an auto update of Twitter. Feedburner basically takes over your RSS feed, providing a customized version for those who want to subscribe using RSS.
In the end though I learned that not a lot of people are interested in this blog, that on occasion you'll have a hit (one article, unfortunately one of my flamebait ones, generated about 12% of the traffic last month) but most will be largely unread. But, on the positive side, Google seems to trust blogs a little more than other websites when coming up with search results, which means if you're just out to amplify your point of view, well, they're a great way to do that. I'm going to blog more lightly this month. But I hope to be setting up a useful HOWTOs site in the next few months that'll be more than just a bunch of opinions. Talk soon, Paul