Monday, June 16, 2008

Traffic Jam

A technical interlude, folks. Today, I'd like to talk about web traffic. Most specifically, I'd like to talk about The Sleaze's web traffic. This has been significantly down over the past few weeks. Not just in terms of page views, but, more worryingly, in terms of visitors. I can't remember the last time I had to endure such a poor run of traffic. Right now, traffic has regressed back to the levels of two years ago, after a sustained period of growth. So, what's changed to cause this? Well, nothing in The Sleaze itself, that's for sure. The same stories which have traditionally generated traffic are still there in the archives and have been joined by newer stories which, until a couple of weeks ago, were also proving popular. Maybe I've gone out of fashion; overnight, apparently. Part of the problem is that I'm largely reliant upon traffic from search engines, mainly Google, as I don't advertise and really can't be bothered to exchange links with sites I don't like in the hope of generating a handful of visitors. Consequently, if people aren't searching for terms contained in my pages, they won't come to me. Ironically, I'm not short of traffic from search engine spiders, indexing the site. Sadly, these aren't translating into real life visitors. Of course, there are all sorts of things which could be distracting my usual visitors - Euro 2008 comes to mind.

So, what's the solution? I'm not sure there is a simple solution. I'm updating my sitemap, which might help with the indexing of my pages on search engines, but as I said earlier, indexing doesn't seem to be the problem. I could try tweaking the key words I use to try and optimise the pages for popular searches. Now, here we come to the other big issue I wanted to discuss - quality of traffic. You can have thousands of visitors a day coming to your site, but if they're arriving there as a result of searches for something completely different to the actual subject matter of the site, they are unlikely to stick around or return. That's the problem with relying upon the vagaries of search engines. I find that the overwhelming majority of visitors from search engines are actually searching for porn, or porn-related, subject matter. They get a satire site by accident. I've decided that I want better quality traffic - visitors who are actually looking for satire. Even if this means lower overall traffic levels. After all, there's really no point in slaving away producing content if it doesn't get read by people who might appreciate it. S0, how do I achieve this? That's a tricky one. As a first step, I'm overhauling my key words to try and match those most closely associated by Google with searches for satire-type material. It's a small step, one which will take a while to have any effect, but in the long run it might mean that I'm actually reaching my target audience. We'll see.

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