Curious SEO Traffic Stats And Chasing Google Traffic, Despite Attracta

by on September 27, 2011

in consumer

Consumer news, Consumer alerts and a Consumer's opinionPart of the battle of for the internet or website SEO specialist or wannabe and such is keeping tabs on the things that can capitalize from SEO on the site you run.  It’s crazy to try and keep up with all the recommendations but at times, some things need to be taken care of.  If you don’t pay attention, sometimes things get clustered!

The other day I was tooling around and checking under the hood of my website, so to speak and I was glad I did.

Flashback: A few months ago I was tooling around with another SEO assistant or “helpful” process called Attracta. I did not think I had signed up for anything while playing with this process, so I did not give it another thought after my quick test.

Then last week they sent me an email telling me I needed to update my site map.  Wha???  Why would I need to do that?  Google and other search engine entities come by every website out there with their crawler bots to check on automatically generated sitemaps. Which almost all websites do tend to generate on their own.  And I have a plugin that does just that for me and this site.  (A sitemap is just a huge table of contents of your website.  That’s all.)

But what the heck, why would I submit a new sitemap to Attracta?  What do they have to do about anything?

It turns out that despite the premise that I thought I did not sign up for anything, it seemed that Attracta hijacked a file that search engines read. In that file Attracta had inserted a “redirect” line that pointed all the search engines to a sitemap that “I had built” over there on Attacta’s website months ago.

Not only were search engines seeing a static, three month old sitemap, Attracta was redirecting them to their own site.  Thanks Attracta! I presume that this redirect line had been screwing me over because site traffic had been slowly quieting down. (A redirect line just says that when you land on this file, go instead. being whatever destination you want to send your web surfers or web spiders.

Hence, as I am coming to learn, every time I tinker with a site or service that offers help in building traffic, all they do is f*! you up or take your money!  In the end there is nothing better than old-fashioned elbow grease to get the job done right.

Since I have now redirected search engines back to my own, evolving sitemap, my numbers are taking off again.  🙂

Cookies

So while I was tooling around under the hood, I took a look at some interesting website visitor statistics.  These statistics are tracked by Google via your web browser cookies.  They seem innocuous, but they can pack quite a bit of punch and all webmasters use these stats to their advantage.  Including Google itself.  Cookies are tiny little files that keep some info about you and the places you go.  Then Google can customize your web surfing experience.

Some view cookies as an invasion of privacy, but the web works based on how much info they contain.

Facebook

It’s cookies and such that doom the Facebook user.  Facebook grabs you hook, line and sinker because you have your profiles that you’ve filled out.  Then when you play games or access things on FB, those entities not only have access to your profile, but the extend beyond your profile and tap into your friends profiles too.  It’s a bit insidious.

Curious Stats

So I was going over some of my Google Analytic data and thought I’d share some curious numbers with everyone that came by the site in the last 6 months.

In the last 6 months, Firefox was the leading browser to visit this website.

The majority of my visitors use the ISP road runner.

The majority of my visitors came from the United States.

The top-three states that most of my visitors came from were CA, NY & TX.

The bottom three states in my stats were VT, ND and WY.  Hmm, and having family in VT, I guess I need to work on that one!

6% of my visitors were returning visitors (Thanks guys!).

Though the numbers say 6%, that may not be accurate if folks use cookie filtering services of some kind.  Heck, technically, I’m a new visitor to my own site every time!

Amongst my visitors using mobile platforms, Apple iPad’s and iPhones outranked everyone else, accounting for 78% of my mobile visitors.  10% of you came via your RIM Blackberry, various models.

As far as traffic sources go, 59% of you landed here via a search engine.  30% of you were referred here.

I really like the numbers I’m seeing and I appreciate everyone coming by and considering my site a place to visit.  All my categories are working very well and as well as I’d hope.  Thank you everyone.


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul forcey February 7, 2012 at 3:17 pm

I just looked at your site and I think you answer the question people come to your site with so they do not need to stay around. Not sure you can do about that apart from maybe extend your posts a bit so they at least hang around more.

You could just ask them to read something else. “Please read my other post” Not sure how much it will help but you can try.

Good luck with it.

Bruce Simmons February 7, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Yes Marta, this SEO thing is a very slow burn of a science that takes controlled bursts of experimental tinkering to get things right. Just don’t burn yourself out on any one item. It takes the whole picture to make it work. (And at times, great luck works in your favor too.) -Bruce S.

Marta February 7, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Thanks for the suggestions, guys. Here are my stats: av. time on site 1.24 min; bounce rate 78%; returning visitors 8.5%.
I’ve tried different “related posts” plugins with and without thumbnails (using thumbnails slows down load time, I’ve heard), and now I have manually inserted thumbnails for my most popular posts in the sidebar. These don’t seem to have made a difference.
The first day I inserted a thumbnail “related post” directly into my most popular page, bounce rate fell dramatically, but it’s back up again.
I guess I’ll just keep playing around and see what works.
Thanks again!
Marta

Bruce Simmons February 7, 2012 at 9:08 am

Marta, if there’s one thing you might learn as time goes on, web surfers are in a serious rush. I did a live surfing test with some folks and wow, was it upsetting to see them hit the article, fly to and click the source link instead of looking at my work. Or they hit the article and see the main point they wanted and off they went.

As in a real-world business model, I think about 1% of those who pass through will stick around and hang out and be repeat visitors. So brace yourself for that.

I’m glad your traffic increased using attracta. That’s awesome news. And you might consider what Paul suggested. I trust Paul. He’s good people! -Bruce

Paul forcey February 7, 2012 at 8:45 am

Marta, define a high bounce rate?
How long is your average visit length?

Images can help draw people down a page and at the bottom of the post have something telling them to go to the next page. If you do not tell people what to do next they often close the page or bounce back to Google.

I use this plugin at the side on some sites and at the bottom of others, it pulls in your image and a tiny synopsis of the post so people are more likely to read the next one.

Good luck working it all out
Paul

Marta February 7, 2012 at 8:35 am

My frustration is that, though traffic has increased EXPONENTIALLY after I started submitting to Attracta (a couple times a week), I still have a very high bounce rate. Nothing I do seems to help folks stick around. So I’m wondering if all that extra traffic is nothing but bot traffic??? Someone suggested my content is TOO good and folks leave after getting exactly what they want on first landing. Any thoughts on how to decrease that bounce rate? Thnx

Bruce Simmons September 30, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Ken,
On this website I don’t use a Robots file. I intentionally kept it robots.txt free. (Well, I didn’t before this) Now I point to my sitemap in it. So when I was mucking around with ATTRACTA, at the time, there was no file.
-B

Ken September 30, 2011 at 6:58 am

Thanks Bruce. Just one more thing to help me understand the issue:

Did you have a robots.txt file in place before signing up for Attracta?
If so, what did it say?

It seems from your answer that you did not have a robots.xtx file in place before you created your Attracta Sitemap. Our system is programmed to add a link to your Attracta hosted Sitemap (not a re-direct) as the last line of an existing robots.txt files, or to create a new file if one does not already exist.

If you did have a robots.txt file before creating your Attracta Sitemap, that would indicate that something went wrong when the file was updated. If that’s the case, we would like to investigate our system logs to find out what happened.

Thanks for you assistance.

Bruce Simmons September 28, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Ken,
In my robots file, the first line was blank and the second line had the redirect.
Maybe I was warned about ATTRACTA modifying my file, but I don’t recall that. Doesn’t matter.
It is what it is.
Bruce

Ken September 28, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Bruce,

I understand how you feel. Anyone thinking their Sitemap was “hijack” would be upset.

However, you’ll find that this is not at all what happened.

First, any Sitemap you had in place was not effected at all by adding an Attracta Sitemap. Your original Sitemap was still listed as the primary sitemap in your robots.txt file, and was still being used by any search engine that visited your site. If you didn’t have a robots.txt file and were manually submitting your existing Sitemap through a Google Webmaster account the same also applies: The site’s existing Sitemap would be given president over ours.

When you created the Attracta sitemap we added a line to the _end_ of your robots.txt file telling search engines where they can find it. However, we did not alter any existing entries in your robots.txt file. We put the line about the location of your Attracta generated Sitemap at the end of any existing robots.txt file intentionally to be sure our Sitemap does not conflict with, or interfere in any way with, an existing Sitemap– or any other instructions in a site’s existing robots.txt file.

Under the Sitemap protocol, the first sitemap listed in the robots.txt file is the Sitemap crawlers will use.

Also, while Google highly recommends the use of XML Sitemaps, Google has stated that they can only help sites, and that inaccuracies or omissions will not have a negative effect a site’s listings. Google does not “blindly” rely on Sitemaps. They only use them as a “guide” or “starting point” for their crawler. (They know well, in fact, that many Sitemaps tend to be out-of-date)

We have over one million sites using our Sitemaps. While most of our users did not have an existing Sitemap when they signed up, we do have a lot of experience with this sort of “prior Sitemap issue.” I can assure you Attracta’s Sitemap did not cause any problems on your site.

Bruce E. Simmons (BruSimm) September 28, 2011 at 11:13 am

Ken,
What I did not like was that ATTRACTA hijacked my own sitemap and redirected things to their own map of my site. My sitemap gets updated daily. (actually, after every new post.)
So my take is that they “hijacked” my site and I did not have an updated sitemap, as far as search engines were concerned, for a few months. That is, for me, unacceptable.
Actually, incredibly annoying. (I’m struggling not to use profanity, but I’m at that level of angst about this.)

Ken September 28, 2011 at 10:16 am

Your’re absolutely right. Success takes “elbow-grease.”

All the things you mention doing to “bring back” your ranking are good advise… especially paying attention to the details of site traffic analytics and keeping up a program of basic SEO activities.

I’d just like to correct one thing: Attracta sent you that reminder to create and submit a new Sitemap precisely because your current Sitemap was out of date.

Using Attracta to create a new Sitemap is absolutely free. You can create Sitemaps and submit them to the top four SE’s at anytime, at no cost.

Any site will loose ranking over time if it does not have fresh, well written content, on-going link building activity, and pay attention to implementing Google’s guidelines for SEO best practices. One of those Google guidelines is an XML Sitemap that is frequently updated.

Keep up the work and I’m sure you’ll have even more success with your site.

Ken

paul forcey September 28, 2011 at 7:52 am

As you say Bruce it is really a matter of elbow grease. There are very few things that make up a successful site:-
Content
Links
Good file structure

Make contacts who can give you a link back, add decent content (which you are good at) and Wordpress takes care of the file structure for you.

Don’t forget link diversity, get links from lots of different places and don’t be scared to add content that is aimed at a specific keyword once in a while.

That pretty much gives a basic run down on what I would tell you if you were a client.

Paul

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