Traffic Stats March 2012 vs February 2012 for

April 10, 2012 · 19 comments

in Time Sensitive

Traffic Stats March 2012 vs February 2012 for

Dealving into the
Site Analytics

The recent SEO changes have hit a wider path of bloggers than we first thought would be affected.

Depending on the impacts to your site, you might have realized this by now!

Because of the need for some of us to be able to directly compare traffic stats, I am publishing my February vs March stats.

Please note that I’m using a 29 day number due to February being an odd month.

So what can we learn from this?

Well, its obvious that my time on site and bounce rates suck. They’ve sucked for a long long time. That’s not new  and is an ongoing source of annoyance for me.

What is new however is that 6.75% decrease in SEO traffic.

Of course, in the grand scheme of things, that’s not that bad, but it’s still sticks out like a sore thumb.

You can also see that three of my top performing pages (all performing vis SEO) took sizeable hits between 10 and 25% decreases. The one has had some content thieft issues affecting it but the other two have no particularly good reason for the drop. There is no funny-business with those pages.

However, my content this month has been able to produce enough additional traffic to hide that drop in my overall traffic… and to have my site toying with breaking the 18k alexa mark, into the 17k zone for the first time.

I intend to look closely at those three pages (posts) that have fallen and see if I can boost them through a little gentle attention (and probably some gentle link building).

Even with this much SEO traffic, there’s a lot of work that needs done. However, at this time I’m honestly more interested in boosting the Direct and Referral traffic percentages to help guard against the impact of further SEO changes.

The total impact of these changes on me kinda results in a “shrug” however it’s still worth nothing.

Hope you enjoyed a look under the hood!

~ Kim ~
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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Ana April 10, 2012 at 10:27 pm

I know what you mean, Kim.

My overall traffic is down 16%, 27% SEO traffic.

How is it that we provide quality content and still get hit?…
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Kim Castleberry April 10, 2012 at 10:45 pm

Ana, the only answers I come to scare me. I’ve been sitting in on a lot of SEO talk stuff lately and there’s something I keep hearing… It could be a rumor but you know how some rumors out here are, they’re a hunch.

The rumor goes… that the things we link out to from anywhere on the site are reflective of our site in Googles quality index. And that this is now a bigger deal than it was prior. That means even a few links out to sites that Google has flagged as having quality trouble, can begin to wittle away at our overall “quality score”.

This hits you and I both in two places (1) comment links and (2) affiliate links. (I know we nofollow our affiliate links but you and I both know that Google still at least sees them.)

I have to wonder if this is why a few of the sites that are smoking me are using restrictive comment systems. In fact, while it costs them the SEO benefit of the comment and the activity credit for the comment… it almost makes a “framed” system look preferable.

The same theory is crossing my mind for affiliate links. Many of the new affiliate marketer plugins (and Pretty Link is right there with them) now offer iframe redirects. If we stop Google from being nosey would it minimize this problem? I don’t know.

I also know that you and I, and many other dofollow/commentluv/keywordluv blogs seem to be taking more of a penalty for that than we were. I can’t decide if that’s just because we now have so much more traffic and bleed-off or if something is going on. It could be just my perspective however and I hesitate to say one way or the other. Gail and I were discussing it the other day and noted that many sites were not pulling the PR we’d have expected them to be getting and those sites were D/C/K. Again, not happy thoughts.

When you look at your particular posts/pages that were hit the hardest, are there any trends your seeing?



Ana April 10, 2012 at 11:02 pm

Interesting thoughts, Kim.

And yes, a bit scary to think that giving back to the community in the form of links could be punished so severely.

Many of my product review posts were de-ranked, as well as my home page for some highly competitive keywords like “web traffic”.

So what’s your plan, if any?
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Kim Castleberry April 10, 2012 at 11:47 pm

Are you using the new schema/microformats system for your product reviews? If not, you should be. Google’s been pushing them real hard and giving strong favorite treatment. Might be something to test on those reviews. There’s a couple ways to do it but Hesham has a thesis compatible plugin available in the repository.

I know it was doing wonders for your list but I’d try removing that home page redirect plugin from your home page to see if that makes a difference. The reason it comes to mind is that while my android can get through yours, the person who’s site you mentioned you first saw it on, my phone can not get through/around it. If it has a flaw, there is a chance that the mobile browser script that Google depends on for mobile quality assessment is failing on your home page. With mobile views being almost required now and again favorite treatment, I’d want to make sure nothing was stopping that mobile bot. (I didn’t have trouble with my phone on your site though just the other guys.)

For me, I think I’ve figured out how to get SEO traffic reasonably naturally. Now I need to correct that bounce and time on site score which I’m sure are penalizing me. Those numbers make me groan as I’ve fought with them for a long while and they keep going the wrong direction. I also need to do some reading I guess and see if I can find a way to increase the total direct and referral traffic. I know how to get more SEO traffic but I’m kinda drawing a blank on how to get more direct traffic in any predictable manner. Makes me want to start a ‘bookmark me in your browser’ campaign! I should probably do some guest blogging to work on that referral traffic number although I don’t really see myself having the time for that at the moment. Any ideas welcome :)

Since Google seems intent to punish me for that bounce rate, yet most of it is because of the SEO bounce, I’m finding now that I’ve lost my internal resistance to putting a exit pop on those three strategic pages. The traffic is already leaving and Google is already downgrading the page, might as well test out my (selective) exit pop theory that I’ve been meaning to do for some time.

I noticed a very pronounced weekend weakness in my traffic that has not been so pronounced before this month. I want to delve a little deeper into those numbers and see if I can find out where that softness came from. Shaving a couple percentage points off of my traffic every weekend could be having something to do with these totals. Almost every site has weaker traffic on the weekends but mine has gotten more definitive so its worth investigating.

Wish I had your background in traffic as anything deeper than this and I’m way out of my league.


Ana April 10, 2012 at 11:58 pm

I do use Hesham’s plugin and quit using the home page redirect as quickly as I started with it – not great user feedback. lol

You are great with social media, Kim, so I don’t think that part of your referral traffic is the problem.

Guest posting would definitely help your authority; I’d highly recommend you jump on the bandwagon.

Everything is always a trial and error, isn’t it?
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Edyta April 11, 2012 at 6:46 am

Hi Kim,

I noticed that my organic traffic increased in March. Do you know what changes made Google? How can I explain it? Thanks!


Kim Castleberry April 12, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Hey Edyta, there have been numberous changes to the SEO rules in March including a new update to Panda, more penalties on ads above the fold, more penalties on over optimization (which may not yet be in effect but will be soon if they are not). No one has detailed specifics but we do know that many of the algorithms were updated and approximately what changed. So if you’ve seen a boost from SEO it’s either your new content performing well, or that you had a competitor knocked out of the rankings and so you moved up for some term. Nice work!


Edyta April 13, 2012 at 2:53 am

Thanks Kim. I have the following article: that uses main keyword 10 times but it is still number one in Google. Do you think that it is over optimized? Should I correct this article? Thanks for your help.


Elena April 12, 2012 at 4:40 am

Maybe you could reduce your bounce rate if you’d put links to other articles directly in your new post. Don’t rely just on “Related posts by Kim:” Actually you should do more than this; mention “I wrote about this several [...] ago, (click here to see the post)”


Kim Castleberry April 13, 2012 at 11:30 am

Elena, interlinking is a great tip and I usually do a lot of that. However, this post was really “off the cuff” and I simply didn’t for this. I wanted it published just to get some stats to the community. I generally do a fair bit of interlinking but thanks for the reminder to pay attention to it :)


Micahel April 12, 2012 at 10:08 pm

On my sites that are more SEO targeted, in particular my baby boomer site, i have seen a big drop in traffic. Some of that was because some of the topics were seasonal but part of it was simply because my pages just dropped down, in some cases way down. I’m not a big BH person, just simple stuff, but it still came down to losing the traffic. I think that ‘s kind of a bad thing.

On my sites that are mostly social traffic I see a big increase and some decent SEO traffic, but for the most part, SEO traffic fell at least 15%. Blecch


Nicholle Olores April 13, 2012 at 12:14 am

Your stats from March to April is not bad actually Kim. I had also good result last month and I am very happy to know it. Thanks for sharing your status!


Quentin Pain April 13, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Hi Kim,

So glad I came across your blog. Sharing these stats is wonderful of you. The whole concept of bounce rates is idiotic by anyone’s standards. I have commented on this in the past in the webmaster tools forum, but of course there is no comment.

Here’s why it’s stupid:
1. Google say they are after great relevant and unique content. Good.
2. They say articles should be to the point, not spammy and certainly should not try to game the SEs.
3. If someone hits a relevant page from an SE and stays there to read it all, get precisely what they came for (as we are told to give them), what are they going to do afterwards? Leave, right! They have got what they came for. You have fulfilled your part of the SE contract.

And yet you get penalised for it! What’s a blogger to do? Well it’s plain obvious. Don’t deliver everything on that one page. Do a minimum of add a ‘Read more…’ button. Or install a plugin that puts related links at the end of your article. Or tease the reader with some bait to click further, etc. etc.

In other words you simply have to do more or less the opposite of what they say is good for the reader!

I have a fairly high traffic page on one of my sites. My bounce rate was around 90% back in October last year. Now it is 49% (91.30% v. 49.77%). All I did was split it into 2 articles. The original landing page then became a choice: click A or B depending on what you wanted from it.

The page used to be perfect for the reader. All they wanted in one place. Now they are forced to click through, and all just for me to get the bounce rate down to please the big G.

What do you think? Am I missing something here?


Val Adams April 14, 2012 at 9:09 am

Quality content is still not enough for panda? That sounds really scary and the scariest thing is the rumor that you’ve heard Kim. If that’s really true, then a lot of people or blog owners will make their comments section NO follow. I also wonder what techniques @Edyta and @Nicholle Olores are using since they got good results.

Anyway, thanks for sharing your Google analytics Kim.


Steve-Personal Success Factors April 14, 2012 at 8:26 pm

Kim, I have found that after each Panda update, my sites take a dip over the next couple of months. But then, they seem to go back up. Do you think they are doing an initial weed-0ut that hits every site, and then the sites that are consistently producing good content rise back up to the top?
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Andy Nathan April 15, 2012 at 5:22 pm


While my traffic is around 20K, a lot of my numbers mirror yours. My bounce rate has been in the 80% for longer than I can remember. Plus, SEO dominates my traffic which I never feel too comfortable with.



Peter Lee April 17, 2012 at 2:39 am

I have almost the same bounce rate as you Kim. I’ve heard that bounce rate will affect Page Rank. If that’s true, how much is a good bounce rate to Google then? Thanks.


Tammy Hawk-Bridges April 17, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Wow thanks for the look under the hood!

I have a question for you. Outside of organic SEO traffic what is your favorite traffic driver? For example I have learned that if I taper off on Twitter (which I am not fond of by the way) that my traffic declines by 30%.

Curious if you have a similar experience with a platform?



Anonymous September 19, 2012 at 10:12 am

Wish I saw a spike like that in my Google Analytics account :( Really chuffed for you though! Well done


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