2011 Year in Review from a Technical Perspective

I know Lizzy is planning on doing a 2011 year-in-review from her perspective, so I thought I would do a quick look back at 2011 from my perspective as the “tech guy” for the site. I’ve been seriously slacking lately on my technical articles, but I promise I have a few new ones coming out soon. Between spending holiday time with Lizzy, working 50+ hours a week, trying to teach myself electronics (seriously) and reading (I’m currently about halfway through the 4th book in the “Game of Thrones” series by George R. Martin) I’ve just let a few things go lately, including my SEO/social media experiments.

We started at the beginning of 2011 with a brand new web address with no site and no visitors. While Lizzy was busy cranking out her first book, I built the site using WordPress, and we were off and running. Our Alexa rank in January was over 13 million, which means we had few-to-no real visitors (aside from us.)

My first goal was to make sure that if anybody was looking for Lizzy, that they would find her. That job was simple enough. Placing her profile and books at several locations across the internet vaulted our page to the top of any “Lizzy Ford” queries. With that established, I decided to try to go after people who were looking not specifically for a particular author, but rather certain genres of books. This proved quite a bit more difficult as there are a lot more websites trying to get ranked for “romance ebooks” then there are “Lizzy Ford”.

In order to get our site ranked for more competitive terms I put in A LOT of hours doing link building work. I’ve gotten a lot better at it now and learned some great shortcuts, but it really wasn’t fun at the beginning. The worst part by far trying to negotiate reciprocal link exchanges. I was amazed by both the lack of responses and rejection I got when I tried that path, especially from people who probably would’ve benefitted more by being linked to our site than we would theirs. Reciprocal links were – and are – an important part of link building, but it isn’t fun.

Battling for web traffic really is a war of attrition. Similar to selling books, people seem to randomly explode for no apparent reason, but usually it’s a slow and steady climb up the charts. The first half of the year, the biggest spike in traffic our site was 2,333 visits during the week of February 13th through the 19th when Lizzy launched “Damian’s Assassin”. At the time that spike seemed otherworldly. However, in the second half of the year, 2,333 visits for the week would be the lowest we’ve seen in the past six months.

Our Alexa ranking has gone from around 13 million at the beginning of the year to 164,777 now. That means our site is the 164,777th most visited site on the internet. That may not seem super impressive, but it’s a good ranking and I’m proud of it. I remember looking at sites with rankings in the 200,000s at the beginning of the year and thinking we would never get that high.  As I write this, we’re at the bottom of the first page on Google for the term “romance ebooks”. I would be lying if I said i didn’t do a little dance when we passed up Barnes and Nobel for the #10 spot 🙂

One thing I wish I would have focused on sooner was social media. I encouraged Lizzy to get on Facebook and Twitter from the very beginning and to be active and she did a great job with it. It wasn’t until the end of the year that I started to get a good grasp on a solid methodology to use for Facebook and Twitter. The Twitter methodology I talked about in an October article has boosted Lizzy’s followers to over 2,000. The good part is that they are all targeted for a phrase they mentioned or a person they followed, so it’s not just 2,000 random people but 2,000 people who have an interested in romance ebooks. The bad part is that we didn’t start using the methodology until October! We should be around the 5,000 follower mark a year from now.

On the Facebook side it’s all about using Facebook ads, but we used a really good strategy to go from a few hundred fans to over 1,000 fans in about a week and for not much money. I talked about this experiment in a few different articles. Once again, these people were all laser targeted for a specific term. I’m not interested in thousands and thousands of followers; I’m interested in a solid core of followers who are interested in what Lizzy has to offer.

I didn’t want to get into specifics in this article, because the ‘how’ methodology of the above has been covered in my SEO and social media articles. I just wanted to outline the gains we’ve made this year. If you had a good year with your blog or website I would love to hear about your success and what you did to achieve it.

12 thoughts on “2011 Year in Review from a Technical Perspective

  1. Sounds like you put in a lot of hard work and were well rewarded. Lizzy is lucky to have you. Keep up the good work and let us Lizzy fans know if we can help

    PS: Game of Throwns is awesome!

    • I’m lucky to have her too 🙂

      And doesn’t Game of Thrones rule??!!! 99% of the books I read are non-fiction technical books but I really wanted to read this series and they have not let me down.

  2. I bought my domain the beginning of September and by mid to late Sept really started “launching” it. I’ve been a hardcore IT sherpa devotee from the beginning. If the IT Sherpa said take the blue pill I took the blue pill. I no longer even ask what the blue pill does I just take it and wait to see what happens. In the relatively few short months I’ve been running my according to the IT Sherpa (aka Matt)’s methods.

    My Google PR is 4 and my alexa ranking is 1 million. I started out at over 18 million so it’s quite a huge drop and every week I see it drop by about 100K.

    My approach to link building was a bit different. I basically offered to design headers and buttons for people if they’d put my ad on their site. I’ve seen great success with this method. People like free stuff.

    Facebook and Twitter I still jump about like a fish out of water but 2012 I’m determined to at least make some use of Facebook. Twitter is really NOT my thing so I figure it’s better to focus my limited time on building that which would be more helpful and which I don’t mind wasting hours on.

    My plan for 2012 basically , just be more disciplined more focused make better use of the time I have, making more connections with people. 75% of the hits I get on my site are google based I’d like to start focusing more on a “readership”. So that’s my plan. We’ll see how much of it I actually “do” in a few months from now lol.

    • Thank you 🙂 All of your hard work has really paid off. What you did in one year is one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen. YOU CREATED A BUSINESS OUT OF THIN AIR!

      And Twitter isn’t your thing, but it’s so easy!!!! I’m telling you, start building an following now and it will be there if you ever want it.

  3. Matt, always great to hear your words of advice. And I have to agree, Twitter is EASY, and I say that being one of those people for whom it “isn’t my thing.” In fact, I find Twitter much easier to utilize than Facebook nowadays (don’t get me started on the constant changes at Facebook …).

    I’ve got A Game of Thrones in my to-be-read pile, but I’ve been putting it off because I first wanted to finish Steven Erikson’s Malazan Books of the Fallen series (which I LOVED). I’ve heard from numerous readers that if you like GRRM, you’ll like Steven Erikson, though this hasn’t been true in all cases. I’ll be getting to “Thrones” this year hopefully, but there’s so much to read!

  4. The constant changes and the fact that the main source of inquiring new friends are ads or things that cost money like giveaway managers. Twitter can be done in a few minutes each night which is why I like it. It’s not my thing either, but that’s what I have Lizzy for 😉

    Lizzy can back up my claim that I read nightly, but never fiction. My books are on computer programming, electronics, baseball stats or whatever else that’s shiny and caught my attention at the book store. That said I am absolutely loving the Game of Thrones. The best part is I can read all five in a row without waiting for years at a time like original fans had too.

    • That’s why I’m slowing down now that I’m in #4 🙂

      My friend just knocked out all 5 in around a month and is now waiting impatiently.

  5. Hi! Now i really feel bad about neglecting this site! ;( I first discovered Lizzy when i visited smashword for the first time last year. That was when i seen Katies Hellion! After i finished Katies Hellion, i immediately looked up her other books! I dreaded finding out that Katie’s Hellion just came out so the next book was going to take

  6. sorry it accidently submitted -.- well long story short i used to visit this site everyday but i kind of got busy with school and work, i’ve been neglecting the computer for some time lol But i wanted to say i love this site and really appreciate all the hard work you put into making it everything that it is today 🙂

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