Traffic Patterns with EntreCard Adgitize BlogExplosion MyBlogLog and others

If you read many of the make money online (MMO) blogs, you will typically find recommendations to find a niche and stay in it. Like so many of other recommendations, I disregard it. I’ve configured my site to show the top seven categories that I’ve recently been writing in, and over time, they will shift, depending on what catches my interest. Today, however, I’m going to spend a little bit of time focusing on the make money online ideas. If that’s not your thing, please read some of the other posts below.

Another thing that the MMO folks talk about is trying to minimize your bounce rate. That is the number of times that people come to your site, look at a single page, and move away without clicking on anything. Personally, I like to have a high bounce rate. It means that people are finding what they want on their first visit.

One way to lower your bounce rate is to have more of your content ‘below the fold’. I usually don’t do that. However, if you want to learn about this, as well as about my experiences with what works and what doesn’t, click on Read more.

This provides an illustration of above the fold and below the fold. Everything here is below the fold. People have had to click on Read more to get below the fold from the front page. It is an extra click for them, but it makes the MMO gods happy.

Some people like to focus on ‘page rank’ as a key metric. Page rank is a rough approximation of how Google ranks your page. The higher the page rank, the higher you will show up in Google searches, and the more traffic you will get. The way to increase your page rank is to have more quality links pointing to your site. Links from people with high page ranks are generally considered more desirable than links from people with low page ranks. As of this writing, Orient Lodge’s front page has a reported page rank of 5, which is pretty good for the blogging world.

However, having a higher page rank isn’t all that its cracked up to be. It attracts more spammers and people wanting to exchange links. As a general rule, I don’t exchange links. It doesn’t do me much good. So don’t ask. If you write something interesting, I might link to that because it is interesting, but I don’t exchange links.

Also, despite having a page rank of 5, only 18% of my traffic comes from search requests. The MMO folks might suggest it is because I’m not optimizing my keywords. They’re probably right about that. I don’t pay a lot of attention to keywords. Over the past month, the keyword that has brought me the most traffic has been Smoking Jacket. Four years ago, my wife got me a smoking jacket, and that blog post has consistently been one of my top performers. Perhaps that is because there aren’t a lot of other good blog posts about smoking jackets.

As I noted in a different blog post, names of local political figures have been another big draw for me. My post about Colin McEnroe has been the best performing article over the past thirty days, and a search on Colin has been on of the top searches.

Another perennial favorite has been Drupal Themes. Now, this is an article I wrote over four years ago and I’m not sure how relevant any of it is any more, but it remains a top search. These days, searches on Woodbridge are getting more and more traffic. Also, as talk grows about the 2010 Gubernatorial campaign grows in Connecticut, Jim Amann has been a big search.

Yet as I noted, search traffic only accounts for a small amount of my traffic. The largest amount of traffic comes from referrals, and of referrals, the large source in EntreCard.

You may have noticed the EntreCard that I have on the right side of my page. The idea is that if you visit a website of someone else with EntreCard, you drop your card there. You get a credit, and so does the person you dropped your card on. Also, it leaves your card in their inbox, and people frequently look in their inbox for sites to visit.

With EntreCard, you are limited to 300 cards per blog that you have. I typically drop all 300 cards that I have, spending around an hour and a half doing so. That works out to be around twenty seconds per blog visited. This gets to a major criticism of EntreCard. EntreCard traffic typically has a high bounce rate, which doesn’t bother me that much. However, it also has a low average time on site. People don’t spend as much time reading and interacting if they use EntreCard. For me, EntreCard has a 95% bounce rate and the average time on site is about 22 seconds. That matches the time I spend on other people’s site, so I can’t especially complain.

Now thinking of this in terms of cost per click, which is a standard calculation for online advertising, charging my time at a fairly low rate, and looking at the clicks that Google Analytics reports for EntreCard traffic, I’m figuring that EntreCard is costing me about 1.2 cents per visit. Not bad. Yet there are lots of people that dislike EntreCard because of how it is run and I expect we’ll see a lot more other sites popping up.

One site that I’ve found very interesting is Adgitize. Adgitize is the first site that I’ve actually paid to advertise on. With Adgitize, you add a widget to your site and you get paid based on a collection of criteria, including how many visits your page has, how many times ads are viewed, how many sites you visit, and whether or not you are an advertiser.

Currently, most Adgitize users are also EntreCard users, so it makes a lot of sense to combine Adgitize and EntreCard. I find I can visit my quota if Adgitize users as part of my time visiting EntreCard users. Current calculations are that my revenues from Adgitize will cover half of my advertising expense on Adgitize. It will be interesting to see how this changes as Adgitize continues to grow.

Using the same Google Analytics, I’m currently calculating my Adgitize advertising expenses at about 1.3 cents per visit. For whatever reason, Adgitize has a lower bounce rate. It is still at 90%, and I still don’t pay much attention to bounce rates. What is more interesting is that Adgitize users spend an average of a minute on my site. So, while Adgitize and EntreCard cost essentially the same per visit, Adgitize is three times as valuable in terms of engagement.

Next on my list of referring sites is BlogExplosion. With BlogExplosion, you earn credits for each site you visit. You need to stay on the site for at least thirty seconds to get the credit. You also earn ‘mystery credits’ and credits from referrals.

Doing similar calculations as I did for EntreCard and Adgitize, the cost per visit on BlogExplosion is effectively 21 cents. I believe that the Google Analytics report is somewhat off, because it lists the bounce rate at 99% and the average time on site at 2 seconds. Whatever the real numbers are, BlogExplosion, in and of itself seems pretty ineffective.

Yet this gets to where there is a flaw with the calculations. This is all based on the assumption that I am single tasking and that there is no value to visiting the sites using EntreCard, Adgitize, or BlogExplosion. However, this is not the case. First, I’m gaining value by finding interesting blogs, and sometimes commenting, joining discussions and developing new friendships. Also, when I visit a blog, it may be through BlogExplosion and provide me an opportunity to drop an EntreCard of visit another site through Adgitize.

Another aspect of this are sites like MyBlogLog and BlogCatalog. These sites provide widgets that you can use to display who has been coming reading your website. I have both widgets on my website, and I’ve explored other ones as well. MyBlogLog is sort of the grand daddy of the reader roll widget websites. They are owned by Yahoo and have some great functionality. I’m a big supporter of open systems and I like their support of FOAF. However, currently, I’m getting twice as much traffic from BlogCatalog as I am from MyBlogLog. Either way, they are both good widgets to support.

Another interesting site is Adjix. They are a link shortener that works nicely with TwitterFeed. With TwitterFeed, the RSS feed from my blog is sent to Twitter. I specify Adjix as my link shortener and if enough people click on the links, I’ll eventually get some payout from them. I’ve been using them for a month and a half. At the current rate, I will get a check from them in about four years.

However, from the statistics, I can see that TwitterFeed is the fifth highest referral source. If you aren’t using TwitterFeed, you’re leaving traffic on the table.

After the TwitterFeed traffic, most of my traffic comes from other blogs that I have some sort of relationship with. Some of these are friends that I’ve met through sites like EntreCard, Adgitize, MyBlogLog and others. The other important sites are social networking sites like Twitter itself, Facebook, Disqus, Digg, Netvibes and Bloglines. Every once in a while, there will be something I wrote that gets a lot of traffic from sites like Digg or StumbleUpon, but so far, they have been fairly rare.

So, there is a brief view of where my traffic comes from. Not surprisingly, the category that gets the most traffic is Connecticut which is also the category I’ve written the most in over the past month.

Hopefully this is useful to others thinking about their traffic patterns and how to boost traffic. Have any of you done this sort of analytics? What have you found?

Hopped over from Adgitize's