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Website Performance Analysis - christopherfielden.com

Here are the overall visit figures since the site was launched in October 2011.

Year Sessions Users Page Views
2017
TBC
TBC
TBC
2016
232,009
169,972
338,862
2015
193,084
140,928
278,981
2014
151,916
111,824
225,624
2013
113,464
83,341
171,832
2012
24,068
19,883
38,871
2011
447
278
2,346

You can learn a lot more on my advertising information page.

I've used my website as a case study and written about it for Moz (a leading digital agency with a well respected and popular blog). Rather than updating this page, I'll just provide links to the Moz blog as they contain all the information you might want to know and more.

An Evergreen Content Case Study Pt 2 (written 2014)

An Evergreen Content Case Study (written 2013)

And below is an older post that I wrote prior to the Moz blogs.

Website Performance Analysis October 2011 to October 2012

I launched my website on 27th October 2011. Below is an analysis of the site’s performance from the October 2011 to the 31st October 2012. Why am I sharing this?

  1. I find it interesting, and thought other people might too

  2. Being transparent shows short story competition judges and short story magazine editors the kind of audience they can reach by being listed on my website

I created this website as a place to showcase the fiction I write and also as an experiment to see if providing useful, good quality content about writing could perform well in search engines without undertaking much SEO. So I did some basic keyword research to ensure there was an audience for the content and wrote the posts with the kewords in mind, but that's about it.

This post was written in December 2012. I will update it between Christmas and New Year in 2013, reviewing the site’s performance from 1st October 2012 to 31st October 2013.

 

13 Months of Google Analytics Statistics

1st October 2011 – 31st October 2012

I’m keeping my performance analysis relatively simple, showing the growth in traffic from different mediums, and which pieces of content seem to work the best. If anyone has any questions they would like to ask that might be a bit more complex, please contact me.

 

Traffic

Day by day

Google Analytics Daily Traffic christopherfielden.com Oct 11 to Oct 12

 

Month by month

Google Analytics Monthly Traffic christopherfielden.com Oct 11 to Oct 12

The top graph shows daily visits to the website, the bottom graph shows monthly visits. The blue line at the top of each graph is the total of all visits from all mediums, the orange line is organic traffic (from search engines like Google and Bing), the green line is direct traffic (visits from people who have typed the site URL straight into a browser without performing a search or used a bookmark) and the purple line is for referrals (visits that have come via links on other websites, like Facebook and Twitter).

As you can see, the site began to perform well and gain good exposure towards the end of August 2012, a couple of months after I developed the short story competition list and added to it regularly. You can see more detailed month on month figures in the table below.

All Visits

Organic

Direct

Referral

October 2012

4,212

3,608

371

233

September 2012

3,955

3,429

328

198

August 2012

1,977

1,616

168

193

July 2012

1,616

1,461

93

62

June 2012

1,048

877

87

84

May 2012

821

712

64

45

April 2012

564

441

45

78

March 2012

492

341

57

94

February 2012

300

168

100

32

January 2012

130

76

25

29

December 2011

132

54

53

25

November 2011

175

74

69

32

October 2011

128

5

100

23

Totals

15,550

12,862

1,560

1,128

 

Referrals

Day by day

Google Analytics Referral Traffic christopherfielden.com Oct 11 to Oct 12

The graph and table above are from Google Analytics and show referrals from other websites. There were a total of 175 referring sites during the 13 month period I’m analysing. Above are the ten that generated the most traffic.

Average visitor duration is how long people stay on the site. This is pretty high in most cases, but you’d expect that if people are reading stories and using resources.

Bounce rates are also quite high, but again I’d expect this. People will arrive, look at a story or use a resource and leave again.

It’s also worth noting that if a visitor bounces (arrives on a page and then leaves the site without looking at any other pages), Google Analytics seems to report them as spending no time on the page at all, even if they stay on the page for an hour reading it, so it can skew the ‘average time on site’ figures down quite a lot.

Facebook

Facebook is my top referrer. The larger spikes you can see on the graph all occurred when I shared stories I’d had published on my personal Facebook profile. So the visits are largely from friends and family who wanted to read the stories.

Wine Educators

I receive visits from Wine Educators as there is another Christopher Fielden who is a wine author and they link to the website – presumably he owned the domain in the past (I didn’t know this when I bought it). You can find out more about him on Amazon.

Little House Creative Workshops

LHCW used to be called Laurel House Creative Workshops (you will also see this on the list of top 10 referrals) but changed their name during 2012 to Little House Creative Workshops and built a new website. I won their short story competition in 2011 and they link to my site.

Portishead Carnival

One of the bands I play in (AD/HD – a Bon Scott era AC/DC cover band) played at the Portishead carnival in June 2012 with The Wurzels (I can now die happy). I have a music section on the site about the different bands I play in and the carnival linked to the AD/HD page.

My Blog Guest

This is a blogging platform which I tested out for work (I work at an SEO Agency in Bristol). The profile I set up had a link to my site, so some bloggers who saw it must have checked the site out. While testing MBG I wrote 3 or 4 posts which all link to christopherfielden.com. This is the only ‘link building’ I’ve undertaken for the site. Any other links have come naturally, through my fiction being published or people wanting to link to other resources on the site (the Portishead carnival and LHCW are good examples).

 

Landing Pages

Google Analytics Top Landing Pages christopherfielden.com Oct 11 to Oct 12

The table above shows the pages people land on most frequently. There is one clear winner.

You can drill down into landing page analysis a lot further than I have here, looking at the different mediums that bring traffic to each page and visitor paths through the site once they’ve arrived on a certain page etcetera, but I’ve decided to keep this simple.

Short Story Competition Page

The short story competitions list is by far the best performing page on the site. Of the 15,550 visits my site received during the 13 months under analysis, 9,061 landed on the competitions page. The bounce rate is high, but I’d expect this. People will search for something like ‘short story competitions UK’, find the page, use the resource and leave again once they’ve decided which competition/s to enter. So I’m not overly worried by the seemingly high bounce rate.

82.66% of visits to this page are new (they’ve never been to my website before). This means 17.34% are returning visitors. That’s 1,571 returning visits from people using the page again.

Many competitions contact me directly and ask to be listed on the page (on average between 1 and 2 a week). I’m hoping this growth will continue, so the page will be even more successful next year.

I update the page regularly (at least twice a month, sometimes as often as twice a week) which keeps the content fresh, helping it perform well.

Short Story Magazine Page

I started the short story magazine list much later in the year, so it hadn’t had time to develop and start performing well by October. Judging by the results in November and December, I expect this page to outperform the homepage in 2013.

Devil’s Crush

To date, this is my best performing fiction page. Devil's Crush was the first short story I had published. I’m very proud and my head is swelling. I need to lie down...

 

Keywords

Google Analytics Top Keywords christopherfielden.com Oct 11 to Oct 12

The information above is again taken from Google Analytics. It shows the top ten keywords and phrases that have brought traffic to the site through organic search. There were 4,302 different key-phrases used to find the site. As you can see, most of them are to do with short story competitions.

(not provided)

Due to maintaining user privacy (hmm, I could get my soap box out, but I'll leave it in the cupboard…), keywords and phrases typed by users who are logged into Google accounts while searching (and can therefore be tied directly to their searches) are listed as (not provided). During 2012, Firefox and Chrome have been updated so they no longer provide keyword data of this nature by default. So (not provided) will grow and grow.

This means the way people think about keyword research and content generation will change. With 20-25% of searches in search engines being new every DAY (a staggering statistic, but I’m assured it’s correct), concentrating on specific keywords will become less important. Producing fabulous content people want to read seems to be the way forward.

 

Content Ethos

At the time of writing (Dec 2012) there are 34 pages on my website. The site has a domain authority of 23 (out of 100, so fairly low - when I started the site it was 19 (I think - idiot that I am I never made a note of it, but it was definitely in the high teens (it looks like domain authority is going the same way as page rank and will soon be / already is an inaccurate metric - page authority seems to be more accurate, so for the record, the homepage has a page authority of 36 at the time of writing (sorry, WAY too many brackets...)))). Rather than trying to generate reams of content, which can result in sub-standard output, I chose to create fewer pages, taking more time over each one. The aim was to try and create some detailed, high quality, useful resources which could be updated or added to regularly, keeping them current.

One of the benefits about doing this is that you can add dates to the pages, showing when content was last updated. I have done this on the short story competition page and short story magazine page. Users can see the content is cared for and updated regularly. So can the search engines. I don’t know whether this has had any direct impact on the success of the pages, but, due to the algorithm updates over the last year, it seems logical that it would help.

Quality Control

As a form of quality control for fiction, I only publish short stories I’ve written that have won competitions or been published elsewhere.

For the non-fiction pages, I’ve tried to write helpful posts, keeping in mind what users might find useful. Yes, there are some exceptions – pages which are just there for personal reasons (like my mullet, for example). Still, I’ve tried to think each piece through, rather than just writing for the sake of it. So even the personal pieces should be entertaining, if not entirely useful!

 

Sales Analysis

I have links on every page of the site, enabling users to buy my book, a thriller called Wicked Game. You can buy it on Amazon UK (for 77p - what a bargain!!) and Amazon US and Lulu.

In short, sales over the last year have been poor.

Amazon

I listed Kindle versions of the book on Amazon in March 2012. Since then I’ve sold 8 copies from the UK store and 0 from the US store. Soon, I’ll be a millionaire...

Lulu

I have had the book listed on Lulu since its release in 2010, so it’s been available for the entire period under analysis.

I've sold 31 copies through Lulu (admittedly, the majority were to family and friends):

  • 26 in print format
  • 4 eBooks
  • 1 PDF download

While this is disappointing, the website isn’t a shop and selling books wasn’t my primary concern when it was built. This is just as well, seeing as I’d have to live to be about 12,500 years old to become a millionaire from book sales at the rate they are currently flying off the shelves… It would just be nice if I sold a few more on the side to help subsidise the site.

Having said that, I’m hoping to make some changes which might help usability from this perspective over the coming year, as it’s far from perfect. I also intend to write a book containing my short stories, alongside details of my experiences of getting them published, the aim being to help other writers become published authors. I’m hoping to get this done over the next 18 months or so. This will tie in much better with my website’s audience and should – fingers, toes and dangly bits crossed – have a better chance of generating sales. We shall see.

You’ll find more analysis on this page next year, but do feel free to get in touch using the form below if you have any questions or comments.

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The Critically Acclaimed Thriller by Christopher Fielden.
Amazon: 5 starts.
Lulu: 5 starts.
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Comments:

Your comments:

Pamela G
Hi, I really like the website.  It's easy to navigate and pretty comprehensive.  I'm interested in writing for children and am part way through a novel for 9-12 year olds; have several picture books which are in various stages of incompletedness, and one I think, is good to go.  I'll certainly be viewing the website again for competitions directly related to the children's market.  Kind regards, Pamela

Chris Fielden
Great, glad it was useful Pamela :-) Best of luck with the writing - that's a pretty tough market you've picked!

Annette H
Hi! Christopher, thank you for your most  useful and enjoyable website.  As a new "would be" short story writer, my interest in your page of competitions continues to give me a number of options and the time that I have available to enter my work.  Such an amazing resource to offer freely.  I confess it warms the cockles of my heart to find such generosity.  You state that "Producing fabulous content people want to read seems to be the way forward."  Fabulous it certainly is and I have gained a great deal of pleasure, information and encouragement from simply browsing your lists and reading your work.  

Once again, many thanks and every success. .

Chris Fielden
Thanks Annette, it's really nice to receive feedback like that - makes it all worthwhile :-) Best of luck with your writing.