Archive for June, 2007

Off To Alantic City

I’m off to Atlantic City in a couple of hours with a few friends and colleagues. Half of us (my half) will be staying at the Sheraton which is at the convention center, and the other half is staying at the Tropicana. I’ve only been to Atlantic City one time a few years ago, so I’m really looking forward to going. We’re only going for one night, and we’ll be stopping through Philadelphia on Saturday to get some cheesestakes and to pick up a dirt bike. I’ll be making a post later on how my friend is going to make at least $750 for a 2 hour drive to pick up a dirt bike…so look for that.

What Is A Bounce Rate And How I Improved Mine By 68%

Earlier on yesterday I was looking at some stats for my sites through Google Analytics. I never really paid attention to the bounce rate, but later on that day I saw a new post from Scot at Self Made Minds discussing bounce rates on his own pages. I decided to look a little further into it. Here’s Google’s explanation for bounce rate:

Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page). Bounce Rate is a measure of visit quality and a high Bounce Rate generally indicates that site entrance (landing) pages aren’t relevant to your visitors.

Basically a person comes to your site, and leaves without looking at any other pages, it’s considered a bounce. Obviously the lower bounce rate percentage you have, the better it normally is for your site. It would mean that the user found something they liked and looked further into the site for more. This is an interesting statistic to look at, because you can use these numbers to better optimize your site, for example by making the user interface easier to use.

So one of the main things I noticed in Google Analytics when look at stats for my eCommerce site ActiveTuning was that there was a drastic change in January. I noticed that pageviews, pages per visit, and bounce rate had all drastically improved. So what changed in January? I had actually redesigned the entire site, and according to the stats, it made one hell of a difference! A comparison between March 2007 and December 2006 shows these improvements:

Pageviews: Up 117%
Pages Per Visit: Up 92.58%
Bounce Rate: Down 68% (To 14.46%)

Those are some ridiculously drastic differences in numbers, and sales increases have shown for it. I built the new design for the site as optimally as I could from a users perspective, and more people are now using the site the way it should be used.

As Scot mentioned, here’s the breakdown of what percentage of bounce rate is considered good and bad:

Under 20%: Extremely hard to achieve and very good.
21%-35%: A good score and probably the one most should aim for
36%-50%: Cause for concern and investigation needed to see if it can be improved
Greater than 50%: Very worrying unless there is good reason.

Another important factor he mentions are some scenarios where the bounce rate is actually expected to be high:

  • Shoppers browsing for prices to compare
  • Mini Site
  • Info sites with good Adsense CTR placement
  • Ad campaign concentrating on one sales page
  • Site does not meet visitors expectation
  • Slow loading site
  • Poor navigation
  • Blogs where visitors read a single post and visit often without having to navigate

Looking at this list, you’ll see that blogs is listed as a line item. For us blogs, we can expect our bounce rates to be higher than normal just because of the nature of the beast. It should definitely be a goal to lower the rates as much as possible, but the way blogs work, it would be impossible to have such low rates as ActiveTuning for example.

I think it’d be a good time to see where my sites stand and how they compare in regards to bounce rates. First we’ll look at this blog since it’s inception. The average bounce rate is 83.61%, but it has been getting lower (June so far is 71.87%):

Bounce rate for DavidPitlyuk.com

ActiveTuning averages much lower, and normally is somewhere between 12-20%. Here’s a look at the bounce rates for ActiveTuning since March 1st:

Bounce rate for ActiveTuning.com

Remember I mentioned that just by improving the design and UI for ActiveTuning, it made a drastic difference in bounce rates? Take a look at this chart comparing December 2006 and February 2007 bounce rates:

ActiveTuning bounce rate comparison between redesigns

The rate dropped down from 55-70%, all the way down to the teens. Talk about an improvement!

What is your bounce rate like for your site? Do you have any sites that are lower than ActiveTuning? Scot asked the same question, and it’s worth taking a look at some of the comments that were posted on his site.

New Virginia Civil Fee For Traffic Tickets Is Nuts

Update: There is a petition against these fees that can be found here. VA residents, please sign!

There is a new ‘civil fee’ aka tax for Virginia residents which goes into effect July 1st, 2007…and it’s nuts. I can’t believe it somehow got through the system.

What Is It?

Any Virginia drivers that get anything from minor to major traffic violations are going to be paying a civil fee over the next 3 years that range anywhere from $250-$1,000 per year. For example a DUI will run you $750/year for 3 years, so you’ll be shelling out $2,250. How about something a little more ridiculous? Failure to use your turn signal is $350/year which is $1,050.

In Virginia anything 80mph and over is considered reckless driving…so if you are on a 65mph road, and going just 15mph over the speed limit, expect to pay either $350/year for a misdemeanor or $1,000/year for a felony.

These fees are before any sort of court fees, ticket fines, etc. It’s also on top of an annual point tax if you have enough points on your record. Judges have no say over the tax, so if you go to court and plead guilty, you are paying the full fine.

What Does This Mean And Why Is It Unfair?

This whole thing just seems to me like it was something that was created by traffic law firms. Why you ask? They will basically not have unlimited business because people would rather pay a traffic lawyer a few hundred dollars to get the chance of potentially getting any charge dropped, then to pay $750-$3,000 over 3 years on top of anything fees, fines, and charges.

I can see some of your arguments…”Drive good, don’t pay”. I agree with you, if you are breaking the law there should be a penalty, but I think that this crosses the border of excessive. For example if somebody were to steal some candy from the grocery store, they should have a fair punishment…they shouldn’t get the death penalty. The death penalty would be an excessive penalty. This fee just seems very skewed towards benefiting law firms to me.

Albo, a senior partner in the Albo & Oblon, LLP traffic law firm, can expect to see a significant increase in business as motorists seek to protect their wallet from traffic tickets that come with assessments of up to $3000 in addition to an annual point tax that tops out at $700 a year for as long as the points remain.

That above quote from TheNewspaper.com is exactly what I’m talking about.

This, on top of property tax on vehicles in Virginia, is really making me start to double think my residency here. I think it may be time to consider going to back to Maryland.

Do you think the fines are excessive? Or do you think it’s ok? What are the laws like where you live?

Feel free to check out the official VA Supreme Court document(PDF) explaining and breaking down the civil fees.

Free Link Exchange Ad Network…Does It Work?

AdGridWork LogoI got an e-mail this morning that I had a new message on my MyBlogLog (feel free to add me as a contact and/or join my community) from a guy that happened to come to my blog via StumbleUpon. He was asking me to test drive his new free advertising co-op called AdGridWork. It’s essentially a free ad network which works through contextual link exchanges.

You sign up, make an ad, and place the ad code on your site. As you generate impressions and clicks, the ad you create advertising your own site will get displayed on other network members pages. You get free advertising for your site (at the cost of giving up some ad space on your own). This may be especially good for newer and low-mid trafficked blogs where it’s not worth much money to give up space where a paid advertisement can go.

The concept seems good to me, I’m really just surprised the AdGridWork isn’t somehow monetizing it. I would have thought they would do something like a certain percentage of ads would be theirs and paid to them…or at the very least ads promoting other websites which they own.

Does it work though? The good part about answering this question is that it’s absolutely free to try out and see for yourself. If you do decide to sign-up, let me know how it has been working out for you. Either by posting a comment or writing a review (and then let me know and I’ll link to you).

I’m going to do a compilation of reviews that I find here which I’ll keep updated:

Another interesting service that the same guys provide is called ReviewBack. It’s simply a marketplace to find other similar blogs out there that you can review for free, and they will review you back for free. A nice, free, easy way to build some traffic.

Dodge Viper Flips Over Fire Hydrant

Dodge Viper flipped over a fire hydrant

Since I own a Dodge Viper, this news immediately caught my attention. A red and white Dodge Viper GTS lost control and hit a fire hydrant during rush hour traffic in Addison, Ill. The car flipped over, and leveled off the fire hydrant, causing water to gush everywhere. Luckily the driver managed to get out of the car uninjured. Sounds like a scene from an action movie, huh?

The Viper forums had a couple of notable quotes in response to the accident that made me chuckle:

I guess this is not the best way to get a “free car wash”.

I wonder if that hydrant was loaded with Mr. Clean Auto Dry…

Ebay Listing: Clean Title, Florida car, never seen rain!

Well, thats one way to wash the underbody

There are two videos that I found, the first one is a news report by a CBS affiliate. This video is the best, but can only be played on their site.

The other you can watch here:


Although the Viper is a great car, they also make great Dodge trucks. They look best when coupled with the newest truck accessories and truck bed covers. People also seem to like chrome accessories to make their truck shine! Read all about trucks today.

Breaking The Odds Of The Business Failure Myth

I’m sure you’ve heard the statistic that nine out of every ten businesses fail. For those of you in the beginning stages of a business, or even thinking about starting one…that’s a pretty harsh number that can scare some away from investing their time and money. Based on this number, 90% of all business attempts fail!

Now enter the teller of good news! That statistic is highly exaggerated! In reality 65% of new businesses are still operating after four years according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Business Tracking Series. On top of this, about a third of the statistics that show a business to be a failure may actually be a success. How so? Those business may have closed because the owner sold a portion of the business or may have sold the entire thing for another opportunity.

Debunking this myth is great news for those looking to get into business. Your chances of success went from 10% to 65+%! So don’t just think about it…do it!

[Source: Business.com]

New WordPress Version Released

WordPress just released version 2.2.1, which fixes some bugs, as well as some security holes. Here’s a list of fixed bugs:

  • Atom feed validation fixes
  • XML-RPC fixes
  • Widget backward compatibility fixes
  • Widget layout fixes for IE7
  • Page and Text Widget improvements

A list of security holes fixed are as follows:

  • Remote shell injection in PHPMailer
  • Remote SQL injection in XML-RPC
  • Unescaped attribute in default theme

Due to the security fixes, it’s highly recommended to upgrade to the latest version. It can be downloaded here.

The Best Blog Designs From The Technorati Top 100

Nobody can argue that blogs have been the talk of the web over the last couple of years. For those that can appreciate a good design, like myself, I thought it would be interesting to look at the Technorati Top 100 (Most Linked To and Most Favorited) blogs and see what the best of the best designs were. Now keep in mind that Technorati’s list is organic, meaning it constantly changes. I looked at all of the top 100 from each list on the evening of June 20th, 2007.

Speaking of design, for those interested, I am currently working on a custom design for my own blog here. Do you guys think it would be good enough to make this list? I do know that there are plenty of blogs out there with some amazing designs that can blow some of these out of the water. Feel free to post your comments with any links to what you think is the best of the best.

Without further delay, here’s the best blog design from the Technorati Top 100 list:

TechCrunch

Techcrunch

Engadget

Engadget

A List Apart

A List Apart

The Huffington Post

The Huffington Post

Copyblogger

Copyblogger

456 Berea St.

456 Berea St

Read/Write Web

Read/Write Web

Continue Reading »

How Did You Find My Blog?

Simple question today…how did you come across my blog?

How Come Growth In Visitors From Search Slowed Down?

I’ve been specifically watching the number of unique visitors from search engines that my blog is getting over time. You would think that as more content is generated, more traffic from search engines would also be generated, right? So lets take a look at the number of unique visitors from search engines I’ve received since the inception of my blog:

Chart of unique visitors from search engines since my blog launched

Based on the chart, we can see that the number of visitors have definitely gone up since the beginning, and the trendline proves that. The problem lies in the numbers from about mid-late April through today:

Uniques from search May-June

We can see here that pulling this range of dates significantly changes the perception of search growth. The trendline over the last 1.5-2 months has pretty much flatlined, even though my content has doubled. I’m pretty much stuck in the 30 or so uniques per day range over this time…and I’m very curious as to why that may be?

Which Search Engines?

The only search engine pretty any sort of significant traffic has been Google. I would say that at this point, the other engines are not bringing in enough traffic to constitute even being worried about those numbers.

What Can I Do?

I’m looking to you guys for some help on this one. Do you have any recommendations as to why I may have gotten this halt in growth from search engines? Why would it not continue to grow as content grew? I can provide any other data needed, but I’d like to figure this one out. I think it would also be interesting to see what solutions we can figure out, and how it affects the bottom-line over the near future. Post your comments below or contact me directly with any ideas or feedback you may have. If your advice is good and may help out, I’ll make sure to provide some recognition to your site or blog.