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Friday, October 14, 2005

Search Engine Referral Windfall or Natural Course of Events?

I lost the original version of this post this morning, when I was about to run for the bus to get to work. This version is off the top of my head...

A funny thing happened to me on the way to vacation. While I was spending 2 weeks redesigning and relaunching websites and trying to rethink the focus of my blogs, I didn't post a single entry to any of my blogs. And yet, I still managed to get a steady stream of traffic, albeit small, which was nearly as much as I was getting when I was madly writing and posting 5-10 long entries per day, and doing everything else besides. The question on my mind is why?

The short answer is: search engine optimization of my posts. The long answer can be found in a lot of places, including the article 26 Steps to 15k a Day. This is the gist of the article: Post at least once a day, and within one year, you'll have nearly 400 posts and 500-2000 referrals per day.

Now imagine what you'd have with 3-5 posts a day: 1500-10000 referrals per day, if this concept is linear, maybe even more if the payoff is exponential. And what's more, if you cover a range of sub-topics within a particular topic, your referrals will probably increase even further. In fact, I'm getting referrals from the strangest combination of words in search terms - terms that I couldn't possibly have predicted or intentionally optimized for.

The fact that I am a rather verbose writer in many of my posts has actually helped me in terms of engine referrals. And the ultra-popular bloggers that write and post several short summaries (with relevant links) per day have the right of it: you don't have to write original pieces yourself to get high traffic. Personally, I'm unsatisfied doing that; I need and want to write original, longer pieces.

Search engines truly do love content, especially new content. But it takes time for your blog to build a "critical mass" of content, at which point the engine referrals don't stop. I'm not there yet, but I'm finding a higher percentage of engine referrals now than when I started "professional" blogging a few months ago. While I wasn't blogging for 2 weeks, the majority of my traffic was from MSN, Technorati, Google, Yahoo, and others, in decreasing order of referrals per day. I may only have 70 posts on my "biggest" blog, but I do have over 300 pages of content overall in less than 3 months, and once I get back into the swing of things, I'll be posting close to 10 entries a day (except Sundays), and some free classic books.

Digging deeper, I've applied my geek skills to analyze my Google AdSense revenues. While it's probably too soon to be sure, I've noticed a steady increase in revenue. What I've done is applied a statistical technique known as MMAs (Multiple Moving Averages), which are used in the stock market to predict a market upturn or downturn. [I successfully predicted 3 out of 4 North American market changes in 2000 with this method, but haven't applied it since. Unfortunately, I'd lost several thousand the year before in a stupid penny stock purchase, so I didn't have any investments.]

The basic idea is to average up ad revenue over several sliding windows of time. I've used 7 days, 14d, and 28d. I determine the average revenue in each sequence of days and plot it on a chart. I then compare short-term and long-term graphs to see trends. My trends show a steady rise in ALL windows, which typically signals good things. But the blogosphere is not the stock market, and what happens is basically unpredictable, until you have some critical mass.

To anyone interested, I'll be reporting the results of my findings regularly over the next year in this blog and in my NetMetrics blog, which will be moving over to the WebGuru multi-topic blog somewhere on my new geekSchool/ MathGurusOnline website sometime very soon.

(c) Copyright 2005-present, Raj Kumar Dash, http://blogspinner.blogspot.com

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BlogSpinner-X serves two primary purposes. Firstly, it houses the original version of my Blogspinner blog, and contains the full-text of my older entries. Secondly, the more recent entries are excerpts of the full-text entries posted over on Blogspinner V2.0. In other words, the "X" stands for "eXcerpt".

About Me
I'm a geek/ philosopher/ composer/ artist/ cook/ web programmer/ consultant/ photographer/ blah-blah-blah who is also a published writer and author. This is one of several blogs that I write.

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(c) Copyright: 2005-present, Raj Kumar Dash, http://blogspinner.countwordula.com/