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.