Does Article Writing Produce New Visitors?

At the end of October I started a little Article Directory experiment, in which I wrote and published an article for several article directories and then watched what happened. The main aim was to produce new blog readers, but there might also have been a few other benefits that I’ll also explore.

Article Experiment

Reviewing The Experiment

I wrote articles, each to the minimum standards for each directory, and submitted them all. The targeted article directories were: EzineArticles.com, LargeArticle.com, ArticleCube.com, ArticleSpy.com, FreeContentArticles.com, ArticleDunia.com and ArticleMobi.com.

However, the signup to ArticleMobi.com never went through so I was not able to publish it there and FreeContentArticles.com wanted links to them before they would publish it, so I backed out there too.

Where Did I Receive Traffic From?

This one is very simple to answer by searching back on Google Analytics:

  • ArticleCube.com – 27 sessions, 76 page views
  • EzineArticles.com – 3 sessions, 9 page views

You may notice that the list is a lot shorter than the list of directories that I actually managed to get articles live on!

Out Of Interest, Sites Linking In According To Google Webmaster

  • ArticleCube.com
  • ArticleDunia.com
  • ArticleSpy.com
  • EineArticles.com

So 2 of the directories might not have sent any traffic, but at least Google is seeing and recognising their links. However, if you look back to the original part of the experiment, I was extremely unhappy with both of these 2 sites.

ArticleDunia.com sent me some spam about unrelated articles and inflicted constant popups onto me (probably why there are no readers clicking through) and ArticleSpy.com reviewed articles very infrequently (although I’m told it’s usually very quick) but it’s filling with a lot of spun content, which is also probably why it’s not sending real readers.

It’s Quality That Counts

EzineArticles.com has always been very strict about it’s quality controls. In years past I’ve been pulling my hair out trying to get articles accepted by their editors. In the past it has sent tons of traffic to my sites and I think it’s a matter of hit and miss as to whether 1 single article will work. Previously this has certainly been the case with 1 article having loads of readers and the next hardly any.

ArticleCube.com, whilst easy to get it reviewed, takes a lot more effort to prepare the article now requiring at least 1 dedicated image to be included in the article. However, they are a small directory, which I first thought would mean they wouldn’t send much traffic. I was wrong!

The smallness of the directory actually means it concentrates readers into a few articles. I’ve noticed on the directory a few areas in which there have not been posts recently that are relevant to my ramblings, so I will be targeting writing over the Christmas break at some of these areas.

Because of the way these directories work though, I’ll prepare the articles and release them over a few weeks. Best levels of traffic are achieved when the article is “new”. I expect this is because it also appears on the home screen for a few weeks after publication.

Coming Up

If you have found this useful then before you go off and submit your own articles do feel free to Stumble ad Tweet this article!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and the newsletter as I will shortly be coming back to my blog commenting experiment from November. Some of the blogs sent plenty of traffic whilst others sent next to nothing (or indeed exactly nothing). I think there’s a very obvious pattern in which blogs are sending traffic through commenting so if you apply a little bit of thought you can concentrate on posting comments to just a few blogs and probably enjoy the experience much more. Commenting isn’t just about commenting to get visitors – it can be enjoyable too and that’s when it works.

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You Can Rapidly Increase Website Traffic With This Trick, But Should You?

I’ll follow this up once all of the statistics are in and I’ve looked over everything objectively, but here’s a quick teaser on how I’ve been getting 200-300 new visitors to this blog EVERY DAY for the last 10 days. And why I probably won’t be doing it again!

Essential wordPress Plugins

Shortly after I first started out in my own business (2003!) I discovered the “power” of popups and expired domain redirects (I’ll explain in a minute) to increase website traffic. At the time monitoring traffic was very basic, so I just took the traffic and accepted it.

It appeared good and for a short time I was a reseller of the expired domain traffic. I advertised it on a stand alone traffic website and bought it wholesale from another seller. Complications with payment, more to the point a quick succession of failed payments, tied with difficulties of advertising what I was reselling cheaply enough to make a profit meant that I eventually dropped the product.

But then a few weeks ago I stumbled across on offer of free traffic, which was in return for writing a quick post and mentioning the company I could get a free 10,000 visitor campaign.

What is Expired Domain Traffic?

Simple. If you own a website and then don’t renew the URL, what happens to the people trying to find the website? Although the search engines should drop the listing between you not renewing it and someone getting to buy the URL, there will be bookmarks, links in forums & blogs etc.

So people are trying to visit this website, but finding it no longer exists. What happens if then someone buys the URL and redirects the traffic to another, similar, website?

That’s the theory. It should be highly targeted traffic looking for specific information to read. What could be better?

In Practice

For the first week Google Analytics was reporting just over 200 sessions a day to my site and the last couple of days around 300 new sessions.

But, is that real traffic? Does it have a benefit to my website? How do I measure it?

Well, during the campaign I’ve not had any increase in Twitter followers nor new subscribers to the newsletter that I would attribute to this traffic. I have seen new followers (and I sincerely thank you guys and welcome you to my site!), but concentrated around the day when a guest post was published on Mostly Blogging.

How about actual page views? I’ve typically seen page views from this traffic running around 110%-115% of number of sessions. It would appear at first glance that 10-15% of visitors are viewing a second page, or various combinations of maths around that.

However, that’s just the headline rate. When I looked at what pages have been viewed and their hit count, every single page view is of the home page. Instead it looks like 10%-15% of sessions are refreshing the home screen, which looks strange.

Funny Statistics

As I’ve said the campaign is still running, but I’ve noticed that the number of visitors through this source that are using Internet Explorer is over 90%. This to me isn’t “normal”. It’s a long time since IE was that dominant. These days IE is lucky to be around 40% of users.

It could be that there’s a problem with their software that means there are a lot of redirects going on and it’s only possible to do this with IE. Maybe.

However, the campaign to date has been 100% desktop. I usually expect 70% desktop and the remainder (see my earlier post The Importance Of going Mobile for a breakdown).

So the supporting figures are very strange.

It’s Not Finished Yet

The campaign isn’t over yet. It’s still got a bit of time to go and once it does complete I’ll analyse it fully and see which sources seem to have done what. However, the biggest problem is that the traffic providers can never provide example links etc to look at, so you can’t test for yourself that it’s doing what it says.

I’ll come back once I have had chance to analyse it fully, but later this week I need to go back to my little experiment with Article Directories as the traffic from those articles has now dropped to a background level so I can say what’s happened there with confidence.

If you want to make sure that you don’t miss the follow up of the full traffic analysis or want to read about my traffic generation through article directories, follow me on Twitter or sign up to the newsletter.

Or why not really make my day and Stumble this page!

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Securing Your WordPress Blog With Plugins And More

3 weeks ago I wrote about my 4 favourite security plugins. It only took about a week for me to discover another plugin that I found so useful that it instantly expanded the list. Now it’s my 5 favourite security plugins!

stolenadminThe theory I work to is one of layers. Don’t leave all your security down to one method. At the time my blog was under attack – a very persistent attack as you can see here:

loginattempts

The attack went on for over a day with the attacker trying different passwords. Eventually I installed the new plugin and stopped their attempts. By stopping them from trying to guess the password there’s a new level of security in place.

Security through obscurity

This one is often hotly debated. Security through obscurity is basically hiding what you need to protect. But that level of security is breached by knowing where the hiding place is.

An example is leaving your front door key and alarm code in a plant pot by the front door. Anyone looking in the plant pot knows how to get in. This is where this type of security is poor.

Another example is the army camouflaging large tanks. Obviously a layer of paint doesn’t physically protect the vehicle and if you know where the vehicle is you can attack it. But the camouflage can make it more difficult to find the vehicle. It is adding a layer of security.

So I installed WPS Hide Login by WPServeur. Now anyone trying to access 13weekchallenge.co.uk/wp-admin (try it if you want) doesn’t see the admin page and can’t try to login. You need to know the URL of where it is moved to in order to try to login.

The other layers

I still maintain other vital layers of security. The next is Limit Login Attempts by Johan Eenfeldt. This detects multiple failed login attempts from the same IP address and blocks access from that IP address after a few failures. However, in the main attack I think they were using infected machines to direct the login attempts from different IP addresses, so getting around this tool.

After that Plainview Activity Monitor by Edward Plainview was setup to record all failed login attempts. I could see the userid and passwords tried on every attempt. Useful to see if the attackers are getting close…

This brings me to the base layer of security. Strong passwords and secret userids. I can’t stress too much how you should not use Admin nor Administrator as your userid (see the previous post for details on how to change your userid). 2 in 3 attempts that day used one of these, the remainder tried the website name. Simply by not using these I had ensured they could not guess the userid & password combination.

After that you are down to passwords. Use a good one. Most attempts to hack this blog have used password, 123456 etc. See the list of useless passwords that I detected hackers trying on this blog before I hide my admin.

Off site layers of security

After that we’re down to best practices. Keep your connection secure and virus free. An unencrypted internet cafe connection could just be being watched and give everything away.

Security isn’t complicated

None of the above security steps are difficult to apply, but together they give your blog a much stronger chance of staying safe and away from the control of hackers.

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How To Change Your WordPress UserName

If you are using Admin or Administrator as a username on WordPress you are breaking one of the simplest security measures going. However, WordPress does not provide a simple way of changing the username. It is still possible and very easy. Just follow these steps!

loginattempts First though, why is it so important? Well look at these recent attempts to break into this blog. All are using one of 3 predictable user names (and this attack went on for over a day, a few attempts per minute from different IP addresses, until I closed it down with a clever plugin).

Because my username is none of the 3 being tried the hacker stood no chance. Even had they stumbled onto the correct password, the mismatched userid protected my site.

It’s almost like having 2 passwords to guess – they have to guess userid & password at the same time.

Unfortunately it’s not as simple as editing the username. However, the steps required instead are very simple once you know the sequence!

(If you can’t read any of the images click to enlarge).

createuserStep 1. Create A New Admin

You can’t rename your admin user, so create a new one. Give it a username that you can easily remember (however you can save it and your password into your browser).

You will need a separate email address to your main account for this, but if you are self hosting hopefully you can create email addresses and by using a separate email address you add a further level of security.

Give this new user the maximum “role” available – Administrator and then Add New User to finish creating them.

Click on the confirmation email to activate the account, sign off as the current user and sign on as the new user. That’s the difficult part sorted!

Step 2 – Edit User

renameuserNow that you are signed on as your new user, let’s apply the other security step of hiding your user name from posts. It also makes the posts look more friendly than posting them all by “Admin”

Go to Users, click Edit under your new Admin user and scroll down to Nickname and enter your chosen name. This is the name that we will be displaying on all your posts as your author name.

Just entering your nickname isn’t enough, WordPress won’t use it yet. Look at the drop down box below “Display name publicly as”. Expand the box to see the 2 names and tap your nickname.

Now hit save. From now on you have an admin user that is not obvious and you are hiding your login name. However, you still have that Admin / Administrator or whatever userid lurking.

Step 3 – Get Rid Of Old Admin

There’s 2 ways of doing this. The easiest (but least secure) is to simply edit the old Admin user and set their role to subscriber. Now, should someone break into the userid then at least they shouldn’t be able to do any damage.

The more secure way is to delete the userid fully. First, make sure you have a backup of your database (if you aren’t making backups already, look at my list of security plugins for a suggestion).

selectdeleteNow, simply go to the list of users and below the old userid, when you put your mouse over the row Delete will appear. Click that. Don’t panic, there’s a step to go yet before it is actually deleted!

confimdeleteOn the following screen you are asked what to do with all content created by that user. This is why it’s important to have a backup, just in case you get carried away here!

Just select  “Attribute all content to:” and from the drop down box chose your new userid (probably the only one there). Double check that the delete option is not ticked and then Confirm Deletion.

That’s it. A bit long winded but you have effectively changed your userid by deleting and creating a new one.

There’s plenty more security steps to apply – have a look through my list of security plugins. That list will be being updated shortly too as I have another one that I think is essential and that in the last week has prevented most hackers even being able to start to attack the blog!

If you are interested in that, then subscribe to the newsletter, follow on Twitter or both and you’ll be the first to hear about the updated list.

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I Increased My Traffic Drastically Last Week And You Can Too, But Do You Want To?

Last week, after weeks of trying, my blog’s traffic finally shot up. It was an easy trick to apply and anyone can do it. But, would you want to?

redirecttraffic

As the above screen print from Google Analytics shows last Friday this blog jumped from hardly any visitors per day (especially on days when I wasn’t trying hard!) to over 200 new visitors every day. I’m studying carefully how useful this traffic is and it will keep coming for a couple of weeks from this source.

But the big question is although it is easy to do (and in this case totally free), would you want to do the same?

Put it the other way around, why would you not want to see such a huge increase in traffic with no effort?

Well although it’s great to see the increase, it’s only really beneficial if it’s useful visitors. That is visitors that come back and read again, maybe sign up for updates and possibly even comment. So for now, until I’ve fully analysed the results, I don’t want to say too much about what the trick is.

I don’t want to give false hopes nor criticise a system if it works well.

If you want to know how I’ve received over 800 new visitors from the USA in the last 4 days then you will need to follow me. I’ll publish my review and exactly how you can try the traffic too in a few days.

You can either follow me on Twitter (@13weekchallenge) or subscribe to the newsletter below. Don’t worry, in either case your details remain safe and the only time that you’ll hear from me is when a new post is ready.

Until then, if you prefer you can read right now about why I think SEO is no good for a blog and how to increase traffic simply by studying your Google Analytics. There’s tricks there that everyone can learn from to make sure their blog is working for them.

Don’t forget to subscribe – otherwise you might miss out on how I’m suddenly generating thousands of new hits to this blog!

 

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