A Look At Visits

We often talk about getting traffic to our blogs and websites, but I’ve wondered if everyone really know what it is we’re talking about. There are different places where we can get information from concerning our traffic, and those sources don’t ever really seem to match up with each other.

I thought I’d take some time over the next bunch of days to talk about this topic of traffic, and what’s really important to know as far as tracking your statistics is concerned, while rolling out a possible new way of writing some articles for this blog.

Unique visits are the number of times an event has searched your site looking for something. That’s a much different description than unique visitors, which is the number of times an actual person has come to visit your site.

Hosting companies generally track unique visits, because that’s what’s important to them and their statistics. That’s how they check how active your account is on their servers, or how much bandwidth might be being used. It’s the reason that there’s such a dramatic difference between the two figures when one decides to check all their statistics.

For this blog, I’ve done a comparison of a three month period, from January to March, of the two statistics, as a point of clarification. From 1&1, my host, my unique visits numbers are thus:

January – 16,307
February – 15,185
March – 21,634

From Google Analytics, which I still think is the best at telling you just how many real visitors you’ve had, I get this:

January – 1,767
February – 1,206
March – 1,918

Analytics also gives you another statistic that’s interesting in this regard. It’s called Absolute Unique Visitor, and on this one, it tells you how many people came once, as opposed to might have come again. This number is lower, but if you do the math, you can determine how many of your visitors actually come back more than once. For this same period, here are my numbers:

January – 809
February – 698
March – 1,410

What this tells us is that in January, 958 of my visitors, or 54%, were return visitors to this blog; February, 508, or 42%, were return visitors; March, 508, or 26%, were return visitors to this blog. For whatever reason, folks who frequented my blog more often have drastically gone away, and that doesn’t bode well for this blog for long, as return visitors are the ones who help keep you above water, and possibly are the ones who help you make sales along the way.

However, if you were looking to sell your blog, which I’m not, which is why I can share this information with you, the figure you’d give someone as far as telling them how many visits your blog gets, is the unique visitors statistic.

Why? Because it’s the figure that most people will ask you for, because it’s the statistic most people are set up to track easily. And it’s an honest figure in its own right, because one thing someone really wants to know is how often the search engines might be stopping by to check on the site, and in this case, Google is number one as far as visiting my site and producing unique visit statistics.

And there you go. Next time I’ll talk about page views, which I believe is infinitely more important than visitors.
 

Six Things I’ve Learned About Affiliate Marketing

I’ve written on this blog many times that I’m not the best affiliate marketer in the world. Well, I’d have to say that part is true, based on my history. However, what I can’t say is that I haven’t learned how to do any type of affiliate marketing, and if I decided to redo a few things, I believe I could actually start making some nice money at it. It would probably take some time to get to a point where I could be making enough to pay all my bills, but I actually do believe I could do it.

So, if I were going to start today with something brand new, what would I do, based on what I’ve learned thus far? Let’s look at my list:

1. I’d take time to think about a niche where not only could I write at least 100 articles about it, but that would somehow surround a product. I mentioned this in a comment on Sire’s blog once in response to a question someone else asked. I know someone who created a blog about hydroponic gardening, which means it was truly a small, defined niche. It was the only subject she wrote about on that blog, as it was new latest hobby. And, along with pictures she took herself, she had Adsense on her blog, but also had products related to hydroponic gardening. She was earning close to $1,000 a month on just that blog alone. She recreated that type of thing a few times, and was living fairly well. However, this wouldn’t only have to be a blog; a nice website might do the same thing.

2. I’d take more time to think of a domain name that people might actually know what it is they’re visiting for. With my Medical Billing Answers site, I did this very thing. It’s been making consistent Adsense money for me over the last five months, which is really nice. The problem is that there’s no consistent product that relates to it other than some books, and books aren’t quite a great seller, plus they have a low margin of return.

3. Set up internal linking from the beginning. When I started this blog, I had no real concept of internal linking. When I created my Reviews Of Everything site, I knew to create menus with categories, but I didn’t do a great job of setting it up for proper internal linking. Now I’m good at internal linking as it pertains to this blog, but I haven’t gone back to do it with my business blog, and I haven’t done it for most of my other sites. I have done it for my main business site, which has helped greatly, and I did it from the beginning with Top Finance Blog. I think if you create a niche site or blog, that will work wonders for you.

4. Join more than one affiliate program, but have an idea of what and how you want to market those items. I’ve only done this well for my Top Finance Blog, where I knew I would only market finance related items. With my medical billing site, I never thought about anything except for Adsense initially, and with my Services And Stuff site, I never thought out how to lay out my product advertising, so it’s a mish-mosh of stuff that just doesn’t work well. Even with my Reviews site, I have laid things out properly, but not matched up items well, which messes up sales greatly.

5. Research better. I’m supposedly the king of research, but when all is said and done, when I created the sites I’ve created thus far, each was more of a whim than any concerted thought of how I would market anything. Even with Top Finance Blog, I didn’t think about monetizing it until two months after I started it, and I wasn’t sure then how I was going to do it. My medical billing site was the best planned site of all of them, and it makes the most money, and, oddly enough, it was an industry I didn’t have to research because I know it pretty well. For my next site, you can bet I’ll research, then select a niche, then pick the right domain name, select products beforehand, then I’ll set it all up and go for it.

6. No matter how well you set things up, you still need traffic. The most perfect site in the world won’t generate anything without traffic. There are really only two ways to drive traffic. One, through search engines, which means you need to not only do great search engine optimization, but hope to have a niche that will drive either lots of traffic or has loyal readers who’ll buy because they like your information. Two, through efforts such as what we bloggers try to do, or email, or things like Adwords, or hooking with folks who will help to drive traffic.

I think that’s enough for now. Of course, add anything you’d like to the mix, because that’s what we do around here, we share information and ideas. And I could have added a seventh, though it’s more negative, that being that sometimes affiliates drop you because they don’t feel you’re making enough sales, as I’ve been dropped recently by Apple stores and Newegg, though Newegg dropped me because I’m in New York state; so, those two will never be mentioned around here again.


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Sugar Alcohol Problems

Here’s a short story for you. As you know by an earlier tale, I’m diabetic, coming up on 12 years in September. It’s not always easy to know what to do if you’re a diabetic, and I have to admit that I’m not the best diabetic in the world.

I have a sweet tooth, and these cravings are hard to overcome. There are times when I don’t even know I’ve left the house to get something sweet until I’ve started eating it. That may sound crazy to some, but it’s the truth. Every once in awhile I get my mind just before I leave the house, and look to call someone to talk to, which usually helps me get past the craving. That’s the thing about a craving; if you can get past the time period when it’s really strong, then you won’t succumb to it.

However, sometimes you try to do something that’s not going to supposedly hurt you as much; I say it that way because things like pasta and bread are actually worse for diabetics that pure sugar, contrary to the beliefs of people who aren’t diabetic. With sugar, I get a big bounce, then it goes away relatively fast. With pasta, bread and the like, it’s considered a complex carbohydrate, and it stays with you for a much longer time. I can eat some dessert every single day and have it not affect me all that much, but one serving of paste every day for even three days drastically shoots my glucose numbers.

Anyway, here’s the story. About seven years ago, I was at the casino playing something (this was in the days before I was playing poker), and before leaving, I decided to stop by the dessert counter. They have some of the best desserts in the world there, and my eyes happened upon these giant peanut butter cups. Lo and behold they were also sugar free; I was in my glory! So, I bought 3 of them, as my wife wasn’t with me, and I knew I would be just fine because there was no sugar in them. I felt so confident that I ate all three of them on the drive home; just under 40 minutes.

Pretty much within the first ten minutes of being home, I was in the bathroom, and let me just say that it wasn’t a pleasant experience. I kept visiting the bathroom for the rest of the night and into the next day; it was painful to say the least. Thing is, as I thought about it, I realized that there were other times when I’d had something that said sugar free on it, and my stomach didn’t react quite properly with it, and I had no idea why.

As serendipity happens, my wife and I were going to a diabetic nutrition class that Monday, two days away, and I resolved to ask them about it. I did, and they told me that most people who make sugar free items add what’s known as “sugar alcohols” to them.

Sugar alcohols are carbohydrates themselves, and they come from plants, which manufacture them naturally. They’re supposed to be like sugar in taste, although they have different degrees of sweetness, and they’re not completely absorbed by the body. This means the blood sugar impact is less and they provide fewer calories per gram. Sugar alcohols also don’t promote tooth decay.

Sounds good, right? Well, the problem is that they aren’t totally absorbed in the body, and for some people, actually many people, they can ferment in the intestines and cause bloating, gas, or diarrhea. Some people aren’t affected at all; folks like me,… well, you get the drift.

How do you know if something has a sugar alcohol in it? Check the ingredients, and if you see anything ending in “ol”, it’s a sugar alcohol. The strange thing to me is that they put this stuff in a lot of things specifically for diabetics, almost like someone didn’t read this information beforehand. By the way, it’s not only diabetics who are affected by this, so if you’ve eaten something you know is supposed to be sugar free and have problems, you probably can’t handle sugar alcohols. And, if you’re lactose intolerant, you probably will have problems with sugar alcohols, and vice versa.

And there you go; a non-marketing post for once, but still part of my mission of diabetes education. I hope you stuck around for the teaching part.


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Thoughts On Facebook – The Followup

At this point, I’ve been on Facebook about 18 months. I realize that I’ve talked less about it specifically, as this is only my third post about them, than about Twitter, whom I’ve talked about more than 30 times; wow!

The last point I wrote about Facebook had to do with what I considered bloat, as in all those applications and games and the like that seem to proliferate there. And it continues to grow, as well as the little odd stuff, and even Facebook’s advertising. But this post is kind of a follow up to a post I wrote last year in May called, oddly enough, Thoughts About Facebook.

Back then, I was saying how I was slightly dismayed because there doesn’t seem to be much conversation going on there, even though they have literally thousands of groups. That still seems to be the case now. I have noticed that the users of Facebook seemed to have figured out that they have some kind of power, because groups can spring up out of nowhere about something that someone dislikes, and within a week can have well over 50,000 people who are mad about the same thing; how come no one ever creates one of those groups where everyone is happy?

I also talked about a group that I’d set up at the time, and even though it seemed to be a needed topic, I had less than 25 people who had joined. Well, I never have reached 50 people, and the people who have joined almost never talk; actually, most of them have never said a word. I’m an only child and know how to talk to myself, but I’m not going to publicly keep doing it if I’m not sure if anyone else really cares.

I will give Facebook some credit for this one, though. In the last few months I have connected, albeit briefly, with people that I haven’t seen in years. And I’m not talking 2 or 3 years. I connected with a guy who was one of my first roommates in college over 30 years ago. I only saw him the one semester, then never saw him again, and he found me on Facebook. Then about two weeks later, someone who was supposed to be my roommate for my junior year showed up and reached out to me; that’s just under 30 years. I’ve connected with a few other people I hadn’t talked to in many, many years, or rather they found me, and that’s always a nice thing because, well, that used to be me, searching for everyone, then at one point I thought “hey, they don’t care, so I’ll stop”, and then they’re suddenly anew in my life.

And, just as suddenly, they’re gone. And it’s that thing that’s disappointing about Facebook. People may have great intentions, but there’s so many distractions on Facebook that they just can’t stay focused, and they either get caught up in all that noise oro they leave because it’s all too confusing. People rarely talk, and that’s bothersome to someone like me. And what was Facebook’s solution to that? They added a Twitter stream to the site so people can see Twitter messages there; what does that say about Twitter? And are they going to get me to talk about Twitter here now?

Nope; the links I’ve put in are sufficient. Still, I have to say that, though I’m kind of disappointed, I’m staying on Facebook. Just having the opportunity to find long lost friends and acquaintances, and get to play all these different versions of Scrabble (I’d play Scrabble, but the folks who created it messed it up, and it moves too slowly), is enough to keep me visiting. But I rarely stay long, and if Facebook is going to hope to make money off itself, it’s going to have to figure out how to keep people still long enough to get their attention. Then again, in my affiliate marketing attempts, I guess I need to figure out the same thing, eh?

That’s how I see it, though; what about you?


Number 401; A Pattern Of Steadiness

This is my 401st post, and as I do after each century post, I’m going to give a recap of the past 100 posts. I’m also doing something with this post that I haven’t done for any other posts in the past 100, that being I’m skipping three days before this post, as my last post was on the 13th, in honor of what would have been my parent’s 52nd wedding anniversary if my dad was still here now.

When compared with number 301 and, oddly enough, number 101, the more things change, the more they stay the same. First, compared to 101, it took me six months to write my first 100 posts; it took me just under 3 months to write my third 100 posts. This time around, it took me four months to write 100 posts, which makes a bit more sense. One hundred posts every four months comes out to 300 posts a year, so if I keep that up I’ll hit 600 posts by my next anniversary; “if”, that is.

Also, most of the categories remain the same, but the order of posts concerning those categories has changed. Three of the top categories from my first 100 are still here, and from my last 100 four are still here, but this time around, I’ve added two new categories, which means that my top five is, for this month, a top six. Here they are:

Blogging – 20

Internet – 18

Marketing – 15

Research (new) – 7

Affiliates (new) – 6

Writing – 6

I find it interesting that “research” entered the top five/six this time around, because that shows, at least to me, that I’ve had more things that I’ve tested or investigated to share here than I could have had early on, mainly because I hadn’t had the time to evaluate anything. The thing about researched posts is that they take a long time to write. Steve, our friend the Trade Show Guru, compliments me all the time on my output, but researched posts show that I don’t just write everything off the top of my head, that sometimes I put real thought and real time into it all. Just thought I’d point that out. That blogging is at the top of this list is somewhat surprising also, because I’d really thought I had been giving more time to internet marketing topics this past quarter or so, and, though they’re both up there, I’d have thought they would be in the lead; nope.

Next, my most popular articles during this time period. Four of the five were written after #301, which is a good thing for the most part, but one of my articles came beforehand, and I’m kind of surprised it’s still popular because I’d have thought, with more people moving to Vista (or maybe that’s in my own mind”, that this particular post and tip would have dwindled. It’s at number four on this list of visits:

Top 100 Singers Of All Time – 232

Visa Black Card – 155

My Big RSS Subscriber Contest – 144

Getting Google Desktop To Index Thunderbird – 143

The Keys – 140

Next, comments during this time period. This fourth period showed more growth in comments, as it went from 1,344 for the previous 100 to 1,804 this period; I like that. I still wish it was much higher, but I don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. My most commented on articles were:

Upgrade To WordPress 2.7.1 – 70

My Big RSS Subscriber Contest – 60

At Least Be Professional In Your Writing – 55

Nine Best Blogs Of 2009 – My List – 55

Page Rank/SEO – A Short Blogging Research Project – 48

So, there’s those stats for this past group of articles. Now, on my quest towards 500, I’m going to change up a couple of things, because, well, it can either be an experiment, or it’s something that just needs to happen; let’s hear what your thoughts on it are overall. One, I’m thinking about reducing the output of my articles a bit. I’ve been averaging 5 articles a week, and though I can easily keep that pace up, I’m wondering if the number of articles actually keeps the number of comments down. Maybe the output is so much that it’s hard to keep up with each article. I’m not really sure, but I do know that I visit blogs where there might only be one post a week, possibly two, and I see hundreds of comments on those; you see my highest is 70, and that’s over four months time.

Two, I’m thinking that the longer posts, stories notwithstanding, get less activity, for all the work I put into them, and that’s problematic. My solution is to think about breaking them up into multiple posts while spacing them out. So, if an article goes more than 750 words, I’ll break it up into two separate articles that may come in around 370 to 500 words each, since I’d have to add a few words in rewriting a second article to blend in with the first part of an article. That could mean that, for some of my posts, there might be 3 or 4 parts to it, but maybe that’s what’s needed to make sure everyone has a chance to see everything, and maybe the first part drums up interest in seeing the rest of the story, or, if no one’s interested, then the second part helps me with my SEO part. Of course, this can’t be standard, because some posts will have to go over 750 words for cohesion, but I think it’s time to consider it. I want this blog to grow, and though it’s growing, it’s not growing as I’d like it to. And, as I’ve seen how easy it is to post-date articles (this one is actually being written six days ahead), I could easily go out an entire month’s worth of posts, and if I need something more current I always have the option of adding something anew, even if it’s just a quick little video that I like at the time.

And three, I’m thinking that I might add a weekly post of deals that some of my affiliate marketing companies offer, along with codes and the like. Commission Junction and Google Affiliate Network products always have their advertisers sending me new short run specials, and sometimes you can save upwards of 15% if you’re given the code to add onto your sales page while you’re checking out. I’m not sure how popular that would be for everyone, but hey, one has to find new and unique ways to market themselves and their products, right? This one I haven’t fully decided upon, though; I want to think about it some more.

And, one final thing before we move on. I still want more RSS subscribers, and obviously I’m not afraid to ask for more subscribers either. Just to throw this out there, Technorati has finally, FINALLY, bumped me up, and now I’m sitting around 85,000, which I’m not upset about at all. But I want more readers, more visitors, more commenters, and more people talking about me and writing about me. Folks, I’m looking to not just be popular, I want to be a movement! So, get out there, spread the word, share my name and some of what I write on your blogs or Twitter or Delicious. If you haven’t noticed, one thing I often do here is use someone else’s post to write a post of my own, but I link back to it. It’s a good tactic, and even Sire got into the mix by mentioning John Dilbeck in his post against Google’s new advertising policy. It’s works great.

Anyway, by the time you see this, I’ll probably have already put some of these things into practice. Doesn’t mean it’ll stay that way, of course, but for awhile, unless I have a story to tell, this may be the last article you see from me that is more than 1,000 words at a time. For now, please enjoy what I’ve produced up to this point, including this post, and let’s see what the heck 100 articles brings.

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