Free Outstanding Pro-Level SEO Tool

For the next 22 hours, that is.

SEOMoz’s Open Site Explorer is free for the next 22 hours. It gives insanely good insight on why Google and the other search engines send (or don’t send) traffic your way.

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Fast Server = Happy Users = Better Statistics

Visits +9.88%
Pageviews +46.19%
Pages/Visit +33.05%
Bounce Rate -9.29% (less is more with this metric)
Avg. Time on Site +3.14%
% New Visits -1.33%

Digest those numbers for a second. Did I start posting about John & Kate suddenly? No! I moved my Volvo site to a very fast server.

Those numbers represent yesterday (Friday, August 14th 2009) vs. the Friday before. That’s all. No magic or tricks, just a faster server. This may fall into the “No Duh” Department of Internet Research, but people are more likely to click around your site if pages get served quickly.

Search engines may send more traffic (Visits +9.88%), I’ll report on that soon when I have more data to make that call.

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Improve a Stock WordPress Install

A client asked me — now that his new site is working well and he’s comfortable running it — what improvements (tweaks, plugins, whatever) would I suggest to make it better? Here’s what I said:

  1. His site is not served from the “root“, so I recommended he serve it from the root. Example: don’t do http://example.com/wordpress instead do http://example.com! If it’s not possible to serve from the root, it’s not a showstopper. SEO will actually not suffer if you don’t act. Your content is generally judged on how relevant it is + how many link to it + how often it’s freshened. The depth of the URL — at only 1 directory — shouldn’t matter. Do it for human readability reasons.
  2. A nice touch/eyecandy is a Javascript called Lightbox (link to WordPress plugin). You can see it here http://sianafashions.com by clicking on the images. It can also act as a dumb gallery for sets of images. Works automatically — nothing for you to do.
  3. Your traffic may already be tracked by a server-side app like AWstats. Whether it is or not I suggest the free Google Analytics. Warning: Google will know your site’s traffic from the inside. I feel that using Analytics isn’t giving up my sites to the Dark Side, and that getting the (very, very powerful) traffic analysis is worth the trade. I use GA on all my sites.
  4. Many Twitter plugins like this one are available to display (presumably your) Tweets if you’re interested.
  5. Sitemap plugin improves SEO by writing to an industry-standard xml file at site root that search engines bots read and digest. I use sitemaps on all my sites. Highly recommended and nothing for you to do.
  6. Social bookmark plugins like this one add a “Share This” link on each blog post. I’m not crazy about these but there is no downside that I can think of. Helps SEO if the links are used.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AWStats

Bottom Dropping out of Ad Revenue

My various web sites have pretty good traffic, and ad revenue has been a growing slice of my income pie. In the past ~6 weeks the revenue from¬† Google ad spots has dropped maybe 20%*. And that’s with an increase in impressions on the order of 40%*.

The number of ads shown is going up — I’m adding different spots throughout my sites, with each of those showing more frequently — while the overall revenue is going down.

On the flipside, buying traffic has gotten cheaper. I’ve managed to reduce my average bid while keeping the amount of incoming traffic steady.

* off-the-cuff numbers

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Increase Web Sales: ID’ing Bottlenecks

To improve your ecommerce sales, it’s important to identify the bottleneck in the buying process and attack that first, whether that’s the cart, the colors, the design, the consumer trust level, or the quantity or quality of incoming traffic.

Terminology:  traffic is people visiting your site via organic search, advertising, or type-ins. Your cart, your site design, and site content, are all components of conversion. To increase your sales, you increase traffic or increase conversion, or both.

But which? The answer is whichever is cheapest.

Read the rest of this entry » »»»»» »

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