What a crazy, challenging, and ultimately wonderful year 2008 was on a personal level. I held two corporate jobs; was laid off from one and resigned from the other; ultimately decided to be a solo consultant and will add a third client this month; and also took on a role as Assignment Editor for Search Engine Land. (That’s just the career stuff; nevermind that I published a book, continued to manage an uber-popular U2 site, and started Hyperlocal Blogger, too.)
But this post is just about this blog, Small Business Search Marketing. And I’ll start with a confession: This post is as much for me as it is for you; this is the post where I talk out loud to myself about successes and failures of the past year, look at what worked and what didn’t, and lay the foundation for what I hope will be continued growth of this blog in 2009. But first, I think you have to start by looking back.
Visits & Pageviews
That’s a screenshot from Google Analytics showing numbers for the full 2008 calendar year. At the start of 2008, this blog was averaging about 240 visits and 696 pageviews per day. So, visits went up by about 80% when measuring the daily average, and pageviews went up about 5%. I should continue to think about only showing extracts of posts on the home page, which is something I’ve given thought to from an SEO perspective, and would certainly help increase pageviews, too — a key metric for advertisers.
But I think the pageview thing is more about a change in the way I blog here: Since the blog began in 2006, I’ve averaged 27 posts per month and 350 words per post. Towards the end of 2008, though, I’ve been averaging below 20 posts per month, but about 450 words per post. My blogging has changed to less frequent, but lengthier, more in-depth posts. I’m trying to avoid echo chamber posts as much as possible. I hope that’s a good thing.
(All the stats and charts won’t show what I think is the smartest thing I did all year: In May, I dropped the registration wall and opened up comments to anyone who supplies a name and email address. The impact was immediate and dramatic, and I’ve met a lot of great people from the comments they’ve shared and the conversations we’ve had.)
I’m thrilled that search engine traffic only makes up about a third of my overall traffic. It’s not good to rely too heavily on a single traffic source; diversity is key for any web site. At the same time, you want to have an SEO-friendly web site, too, and on that count, I think this blog is doing well: That 37.59% for 2008 is up from only 28.8% in 2007, so things have certainly improved. The top keywords bringing me search traffic remain the same as in 2007: “merchant circle,” “google local search,” “msn local,” “how to seo,” and “local search marketing” are all among the top 10 of referring keywords.
As far as referring sites go, the top of the list is pretty much the same as a year ago. Where it gets interesting to me is at Nos. 9 and 10. My friend David Mihm has become a primary referrer to this blog. 84% of those 1,100+ visits are from his excellent Local Search Ranking Factors. (Thx for inviting me to take part, DM.) And then at No. 10 is Twitter, which I resisted joining for a long time, saw no value in it, then joined … and now can’t imagine not using it.
Among search referrals, Google sent 83% of my search traffic, down from 91% in 2007. Yahoo sent 10%, up from 2% a year ago. And MSN was at 2%, just below 2007.
At the start of 2008, this blog had about 1,700 feed subscribers and is now in the 3,400 range most commonly. Every so often that bumps up above 3,500. I’m pleased to have double feed subscribers in the space of a year, but don’t know if that’s a realistic goal for 2009.
The blog’s home page and this old post about Merchant Circle continue to be the two most-visited pages on the blog, but I’ll limit this list to just the content that was published in 2008.
1.) SEO Success Pyramid – Can’t say I’m surprised; this is probably the best thing I’ve ever written/created.
3.) Adding A Business to MSN/Live Local Search – I know we talk a lot about Google Maps, but I get so much traffic from small business owners wanting to know how to get listed on MSN Local.
6.) Part Two: Why Use Yahoo! Answers – one piece of a 3-part series
Interesting to me that six of the ten articles listed are about social media in some way. I guess the message is that there’s a lot of interest from people wanting to learn about those marketing opportunities.
That’s all for now … thanks for reading this far, and thanks to all who read this blog on a regular basis. I’m always open to feedback and constructive criticism, so if there’s something I’m doing that you wish I wouldn’t, or something I’m not doing that you wish I would, please use the contact form and tell me about it.
Happy New Year!