As a follow up to my “Web Traffic Summary, December 2008” article I am providing a summary of web traffic for the month of January. Refer to the above referenced article for the main points behind this series and what I hope to accomplish – simply stated I am providing a month-by-month summary of our web traffic goals, actual traffic levels, and our perceived rationale behind the web traffic results.
Our second month was marked by two significant events. The first event was the migration from the wordpress server to our own private server. For more information on this event refer to “Blog Server Migration Part I”, and “Blog Server Migration Part II”. The second significant event was our decision to monetize the blog; refer to my series on monetization titled “To Monetize Or Not To Monetize”, “Monetize With Donations”, and “Monetize With Affiliate Marketing” for more information as to our decision to monetize as well as specifics of monetization.
Although blog server migration and monetization efforts had an impact on traffic, all was not as expected. Figure 1 provides a graphical representation of web traffic for January 2009.
Figure 1. January 2009 Web Traffic
Figure 2 provides the numerical traffic values behind the visual representation shown in Figure 1. Figure 3 provides a view of the weekly web traffic and Figure 4, a monthly view.
Figure 2. January 2009 Web Traffic Summary
Figure 3. January 2009 Weekly Web Traffic
Figure 4. January 2009 Monthly Web Traffic
January 2009 was characterized by the following highlights:
1. January 1, 2009 – Server migration complete and monetization implemented
2. January 16 – 24, 2009 – Server down
3. January 25, 2009 – Low traffic day of 0 hits in a single day
4. January 27, 2009 – High traffic day of 1,739 hits in a single day
I will step through each of these events in greater detail.
Server Migration & Monetization
This was quite a bit of work. First we had to research how to accomplish the migration, what to expect, and finally we worked through New Year’s Eve and had the site completely migrated by New Year’s Day – January 1, 2009. Although we expected that server migration would have an impact on the traffic, the impact was somewhat unexpected. Our thought was that a major part of the impact would be from prior readers not being able to find us, however this aspect turned out to be trivial when compared to other issues that arose.
All appeared well until about January 16th when we began encountering a drastic drop in traffic. It appears that the traffic levels we were accustomed to receiving on the WordPress server were not handled well on our private server. The issue was that there just too much traffic for our server to handle – a good problem to have on Month 2 of existence! This led to our server shutting down each hour for nine days. It had taken us about five days to realize there was an issue and about four days to correct the issue.
Basically what would happen is that the server would reset each hour. When it reached the saturation point, or point where it was overloaded with traffic it would shut down. Initially this would occur late in the hour, and initially for only a few hours a day. Towards the end (when we discovered there was a problem) it was shutting down the first few minutes of a given hour!
To prevent others from feeling the pain I will provide the symptoms of the problem and how we corrected it. If we would have known there was an issue, what the symptoms were, and how to correct it, our traffic levels would have been much higher! Here were the symptoms that we saw, in order, which correspond to the traffic “depression” we witnessed from January 16 – 24:
1. Steady decrease in traffic
2. Traffic bottoms out to unrealistic levels – roughly single and double digit traffic when we were accustomed to receiving traffic in the hundreds and thousands
3. Occasional site down with only a blank screen, an error message was not present.
For a good amount of time we could bring up the blog on neither my or Amy’s computers. At some points she could bring up the blog fine with her system, but I could not – initially this led me to believe I was having an issue clearing cache – which was not the case. Eventually the site was down on both systems.
The problem was finally resolved by working with our server provider, iPowerWeb who informed us that we required an upgrade to our server to handle the increased traffic levels. The upgrade took approximately four days. Once the server was upgraded we did have another unrelated error on the server end – which iPower promptly resolved once they were made aware of the issue.
The last significant event that occurred during this month was monetization. As far as we could tell, monetization did not have an impact on traffic – this is consistent with what Steve Pavlina had reported in his article “How To Make Money From Your Blog” and therefore was not unexpected. We expect that traffic was impacted by two items, one was the server migration as previously discussed and the second was frequency of posting new content.
Refer to Table 1 for overall traffic patterns for the two months that CCBbuzz has been live.
Table 1. CCBbuzz Traffic Summary
Keep in mind that December 2008 traffic data was from the WordPress server and therefore will not be displayed on our stat counter on the new server. Note that there was a decrease in traffic from Month 1 to Month 2 of 3,542. Our initial goal was 20% higher from the preceding month which would have been 27,135 hits. Although we did not achieve this goal we are happy with the results nonetheless – here’s why. We were not expecting the influx of traffic to shutdown our server, which actually occurred on two separate occasions – again this is a good problem to have in this stage of the game, although unexpected. There were some valuable lessons learned from this that we expect will mitigate the effects of potential future problems.
Given the scope of the problems, we were expecting much worse for our traffic numbers. We offset this by stepping up our frequency during the final week. Instead of our internal goal of posting one new blog entry per day we posted four per day – instead of one post per 24 hours, we achieved one post every six hours. We accomplished this without sacrificing quality, which as all bloggers should realize is number one – content is king.
So in essence the server meltdown was a double whammy. First it prevented visitors from viewing our site and therefore we were not given credit for their traffic. Second, with the server down we were not able to post new content during that period. This added to the issue of our posting in the beginning of the month as being a bit inconsistent which we hope to rectify in February 2009. Now for the lessons learned.
One final item worth noting concerning traffic. Other sources such as LinkShare, CyStats and StatPressCN are reporting that we are showing significantly higher traffic than our current stat counter on our blog. We struggled with this for a time but believe the LinkShare, CyStats, and StatCN are including spiders and other “bots” that crawl your site for search engines – we believe our stat counter is only counting “human” visitors. LinkShare, CyStats and StatCN put us at 33,000 to 35,000, just for the month of January, where are stat counter places us at 19,070, quite a difference – we decided for the purposes of this analysis we will stick with the more conservative result until we hear otherwise.