Bryan Ruby


Thoughts, Words, and Deeds

SEO

A final goodbye to CMS Report

CMS Report Lite

Effective immediately, CMS Report has been shutdown with socPub designated as the website's full replacement.

Two months ago, I introduced CMS Report "Lite" as a slimmed-down version of the original website. Since our rebranding from CMS Report to socPub earlier this year, a number of content management professionals expressed the need to cite reputable CMSReport.com for their information and were uncomfortable with referencing an "unknown" website like socPub. With limited success since bringing this nostalgic website back online, I decided this it was time to: let the past go; redirect all remaining traffic from CMSReport.com to SocPub.com; and to shutdown the website for good.

While I had hopes that mirroring the content would be a win-win for both website...the analytics showed otherwise. I was prepared to see a decrease of visitors at one website in favor of another but in reality most of my intended audience targeting North America, Europe, and Australia continued to view content their content at socPub. CMS Report on the other hand attracted less than 12% of my targeted audience with instead 85% of the audience coming from India in the form of bots trying to look for weaknesses in my content management system. 

Google Panda Killed CMS Report's Aggregation

During the Memorial weekend, I decided to pull the plug on the CMS related news feeds we were streaming into Planet CMS. One of CMS Report's biggest strengths has always been pointing people toward the right direction in their search for content management systems. Knowing that one site couldn't support all the stories that needed to be written about CMSs, we began to rely more heavily on using a news aggregator within our Drupal CMS to provide you the links and excerpts to articles written elsewhere. I did this all with good intentions, but Google apparently disagrees.

Google constantly changes their search and ranking algorithms intended in part to weed out sites that lacked original quality content. The algorithm, Google Panda, does this in part by penalizing sites that artificially raise their onsite content by using the content of others. Sites that aggregate content from other sites get hit pretty hard in Google's search rankings. I thought I was in the clear by only providing a short excerpt and not the full content of the article, but the drop in referrals over time from Google Search tells me otherwise.

Last year, I ignored Panda because I knew my intentions were good, but the experts tell me that good intentions are not enough. I was naive and CMS Report paid the price. This has been a brutal year for traffic to CMSReport.com. My rankings and referrals from Google have dropped significantly the past several months.

CMS Expo: SEO Marketing Made Simple

CMS Expo 2011 - Avery Cohen on SEO Marketing Made Simple

I'm sitting in a CMS Expo session on search engine optimization. Search engine optimization is the descriptive term used by marketers to describe the process of luring traffic to your site by improving your position in search engine indexes.

Believe it or not, this is the first time that I've ever sat on any type of SEO discussion. I"ve just never worried about it as good content on a niche site like mine seems to already do well.  Evidently, that's not the case for all sites. Perhaps, I'm also lucky in that I have a lot of SEO already built into my site by using a CMS such as Drupal that tries to stick with standards. It probably doesn't hurt that I also have keywords such as "cms", "report",  "content management", and "Ruby" already baked into the site.

The speaker for this SEO Marketing session is Avery Cohen, founder of Metrist Partners. My Internet connection for this session isn't good, but I'll do my best to highlight some of the better points and keep this blog updating as the session goes on.

Lots of the things that Avery is going over in this session are general well-known SEO improvements tips.  For example, as a site owner you want to improve your inbound link initiatives. However, he's doing a great job on bringing up the details. For instance, some ways to increase links to your site as the more links you increase to your site the more search engines will take notice:

  • Press Releases
  • Your Blog
  • Social Media
  • Ask for Links
  • Duplicate Content Policy

Above all that the most compelling way to increase links according to the speaker is to "create compelling content". Creating compelling content can be established by achieving an emotional connection. This is what I wanted to hear. Those of us that run sites have seen to much email from SEO marketers that aren't focused on the content but instead are trying to game the system.

Under the shadow of the news feed

This post you are reading has been saved unpublished for a few days as I have feared it reads too much as a rant.  In this post, I'd like to discuss the difference between good and bad competition when it comes to similar "news sites" such as my own CMS Report.   I also want to touch on about how a CMS such as Drupal and Joomla brings both the good and the ugly online.  Unfortunately as with all technology, the modern CMS not only has been a blessing to sites dishing news for their writers and their users...but also a curse.

I've admitted in the past that I'm a big fan of Linux Today and often describe my own site as a mix of the Drudge Report and Linux Today.  In the early days, I wanted to provide a constant stream of excerpts from various sources regarding content management systems.  Similar to Linux Today, I have refused to use a fully automatic process for posting articles onto the front page of my site.  I prefer to read the articles myself and use good old cut and paste for the excerpts people see when they first arrive to the site.  I also wanted to be sure that the site provided more than just links and content from other sites but also original content salted a little with my own perspective or the perspective of others.

The manual process for aggregating news that I just described takes a little more time than even I had expected.  The negative result is that the "constant stream" of articles and links I intended to post never really happened.  My hat off to those quality sites out there that are able to pull this off.  However, while my process for posting the news isn't as efficient and it could be, I think such a process makes site such as mine and Linux Today not only more interesting for the reader but also genuine and honest.

The Myth of Online Ad Revenue

Did you hear the reports about all that money to be made from online advertisements?  In 2006 alone, Internet ad revenue was estimated at $16.8 billion USD.  You have also likely heard of bloggers making thousands of dollars in just a short amount of time through online ads. If you believe this is another post about making money from online ads or how to optimize your site for the search engines, you are going to be disappointed.  I'm not here to tell you how to make money online but when you shouldn't be making money from advertisement on your site.

When I originally placed ads on my site about a year and a half ago, I actually didn't do it for the money but to give free advice.  Over the years I've had friends, relatives, and even a few clients that asked whether it was worth placing ads on their site.  I honestly did not know the answer to that question and decided it was time to try things out for myself.  How much money could the typical site make through online ads?
  
In early 2006, I placed online ads from various "advertisement" services on two of my former sites, Like that Idea and the WebCMS Forum.  By the second half of the year I also placed advertisements here at CMS Report.  While my first two sites are low traffic sites, CMSReport.com has gained popularity and according to Alexa is currently ranked in the top 100,000 Internet sites.  Nevertheless, none of these sites are a Yahoo! or YouTube but I think they could be considered as typical sites in terms of visitors and content for most bloggers and small businesses.

So how much money did I make from my three sites?  I made $53.17 USD.  I don't think I'll be quiting my day job any time soon.

Alex King does it better

When I first started developing this website, CMSReport.com, it was my intention to also take "the opportunity to provide a series of how-to articles on building a Website using Drupal".  I wanted to help those getting started in using a content management system for their site by suggesting some tips and ideas that could make their life easier.  As time wore on, when it came to my own site I found that except for a few well written posts I failed miserably at this goal.

I'm pretty good at tasks such as developing, innovating, documenting, and system administration.  However, some people can't walk and chew bubble gum at the same time.  Unfortunately, I'm one of those people.  I have difficulty developing and documenting at the same time.  This isn't unusual as one of the most talented programmers I know struggles with documentation and will ask me for help in writing instructions for his own software.  My point is that when you find people who is blessed with being able to document their own work you need to let others know about that person.

Measuring traffic at MySpace, Yahoo, and your site

BusinessWeek published an interesting article titiled, Did MySpace Really Beat Yahoo? The article discusses the difficulty to confirm which site actually has more traffic, MySpace or Yahoo.

The discrepancy has revived complaints about the accuracy of reporting agencies' results, which often differ from companies' own audience measurements (see BusinessWeek.com, 10/23/06, "Web Numbers: What's Real"). It also underscores the rivalry between comScore and Nielsen//NetRatings for recognition as the most trusted source for Web-traffic data. The winner, if one emerges, may set the standard for how site popularity is measured, influencing how marketers dole out billions in online ad dollars each year. Recognizing the high stakes in that tussle, comScore and Nielsen//NetRatings both are refining their tactics.

Initially, you might say, "who cares, the sites I design won't compete with these big dogs". But consider this, there is not a client or site owner that doesn't want to see more traffic with their sites. The client already knows how many users they were getting with the old site. What happens if the client now observes that the site you redesigned gets less traffic? At least, less traffic according to the the statistic package they are using. Either way, the client isn't happy and wants to know what you're going to do to correct the problem?

Did the design changes you made really chase the site's users away? Is there something in the stats package that don't account the traffic correctly due to the new features you added? These type of questions you need to be able to answer convincingly and without hesitation.

Traffic Rank and Site Confusion at Alexa

A few months ago I came across Alexa Web Search for the very first time. Alexa not only offers the usual search engine features, but also additional site statistics dealing with traffic ranking. Naturally, I entered my own site into the rankings to see what I could find. Considering my site has been around for only six months I was impressed that I had a traffic rank under 300,000.

Considering that there are nearly 50 million sites presently on the Internet, a site ranking under half a million is pretty good in my book. I had heard that sites using the Drupal content management system ranked well with the various search engines so I was pleased I chose Drupal for my site. All and all, those first few moments visiting Alexa were spent patting myself on the back for a job well done.

Then to my surprise I noticed that although I had typed in cmsreport.com, Alexa displayed uly.net. Uly.net was a domain I had never heard of before visiting Alexa.com. Worse, it appears that uly.net may have been benefiting from the traffic my site receives.

Traffic Rank for uly.net:

218,200

Where do people go on uly.net?

  • cmsreport.com - 98%

Now some of you might be asking yourself, why do I really care how my site is ranked? I'd like to say, it really doesn't matter to me either since I do run this site for "fun". But, I have an ego. I do get a sense of pride for finally having a site where people actually show up and visit. Put it this way, when you host sites that rank above 2 million you feel somewhat rewarded to finally have a site with only six digits in its rank. More importantly, there is benefit to understanding how traffic rankings from sites such as Alexa, Google, and Technorati are being utilized.