Just Trying To Understand
This is the third in a series that explores what little I’ve learned about the world wide web and my attempts to grow traffic on the internet.
Over the past four or five years I’ve read hundreds of articles and subscribed to services promising to show me how to increase traffic with SEO tips. The biggest result I’ve seen is huge increases in my incoming emails but not much I can point to regarding it improving traffic. A vast number say the same things over and over and pretend that they are offering unique insights. I’ve used an SEO plugin that evaluated every post. The plugins seemed to follow the usual set of rules as well.
Areas I intend to cover going forward include:
- SEO best practices
- Using social media
- Issues with WordPress and other hosting options
- The echo chamber
- Paid traffic services
- The technology con
- Paid traffic and “influencers”
- Traffic data reports
Who Am I
This site is my hobby TheIntentionalTraveler.com (Intend2Travel.info). I was a photographer, I’m retired, in my seventies and I live for travel. Six continents, over 80 countries and more islands than I can count and every one of the worlds oceans. I started a free WordPress site over four years ago to let friends and family see where I am and where I’ve been. It was free and had nothing to do with money. As people visited and subscribed it may have started to become about validation. Fame and money started becoming a possibility but it was still my hobby.
Today I manage two additional free websites, a paid WordPress site (I ran out of room) two online store sites (only marginally successful) and almost a dozen social media sites along with two Etsy outlets. After all that, I confess that I understand very little about how to succeed on the web and it starts to seem like an addiction…
About Hosts And Names
WordPress – The Good and The Bad
There are lots of options for hosting and building a website. I’ve used three different website builders; WordPress, Wix and Google. Since I started with WordPress (before Gutenberg) I’m most comfortable in that design environment. When I started our first eStore I used Wix and that required learning their site management and design from scratch. I did learn a number of things in the process:
- Do your research before deciding
- Pay attention to potential traps (more later)
- Pick a design platform and stay with it
- Watch for loss leaders and high cost upgrades
There are actually two WordPress major options. WordPress.com is a for-profit hosting service operated by Automattic. WordPress.com launched in 2005, and is the largest WordPress host in the world. It is powered by WordPress, with some additional plugins and modifications added on.
WordPress.org is an open source project that has evolved in incredible ways over time. While it was developed and is supported by skilled, developers, designers, bloggers, and more, it has no organized support system. It does allow you to pick any web hosting service that allows the install with most providing 24/7 support.
- Single source option
- Free beginner plans
- Good support as well as a large user community
- Good templates and add-ons ($)
- More expensive and smaller storage capacity
- Site subscriber issues**
**Wordpress operates a subscriber plan where they keep control of blogger email addresses, preventing you from managing email campaigns yourself and making it more difficult to move with your subscribers to another platform. It also makes it very difficult to leave WordPress with your subscribers and go to another host and system.
My recommendation would be to find a host that supports WordPress implementation like BlueHost, SiteGround, GoDaddy, NameCheap and more and stay away from WordPress.com.
I’ve made a number of mistakes in registering domain names and have actually had to walk away from a couple because of cost and control. Because there can be issues with transferring your domain name from one plan or host to another and the process can take time, I now set up sites using two domain names. If I can, I register my own name and point it to the hosting servers (this can get complicated). That way the domain name stays under my control and I usually get a better price for renewals. The second domain name is the one I use in promoting the site and I keep control of it and just forward traffic. Most of my domains are registered with Google Domains. In the long run Google is the least expensive with an average of $12. WordPress.com starts for free with a paid plan but renewals are at Least $18 each year.
I’ve Experienced A Recent Change in Traffic
This is information from the previous articles. Just in the past six months my travel site experienced some good traffic growth. Following is a chart showing results reported by Google data along with the contributions from other search engines.
Looking at the data it raises some interesting questions:
- The Google impressions show major changes in growing, peaking in May and falling off again.
- The percentage of clicks per impressions also grow (from about 1% to 1.5%) with a peak in June and falling off again.
- The percentage of Google clicks to all other search engines starts at about 27%, grows to almost 57% and drops back over 3 months to 27%.
What do I make of this?
First, Google clicks seem to correlate somewhat with reported total impressions but do show growth in the percentages indicating a deviation of about a half a percent (same bell shaped curve) which suggests an anomaly.
Second, various search engine contributions as a percentage of total search referrals seem to remain constant when averaged over two months of results. The only exception is the Google contribution. Google’s share starts at just under 28% of total search referrals, grows to almost 47% in May and drops gradually back to under 28% (the bell curve again). Statistically it should have stayed at under 27% in alignment with the additional 5 other search engines.