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The Secret to Increasing Your Traffic Overnight – Hint, it has Something to do with Going on Holidays

Today I was asked about a post from a few months ago on Savvy Affiliate that did a little analysis of the Alexa graphs of four blogs (including ProBlogger) which had surges in traffic that were the beginnings of sustained traffic growth.

In the post Scott observed a surge in ProBlogger’s Traffic as can be seen in the following graph.

Problogger-Alexa-3

This surge happened in April 2006 and as I rarely look at Alexa (or take much notice of it as I find it a bit flakey – I don’t trust the actual numbers but the trends that the graphs reveal are interesting) I hadn’t really noticed it before.

But because Scott has posted about it I thought I’d dig back into my archives to try to identify what the cause of the surge was.

While Alexa don’t give a lot of detail when it comes to dates I’d estimate that it happened in April of 2006. What exact date it was I’m unsure.

So what happened in April 2006?
As I look back over the archives of that month two factors jumped out at me. Which of them (if any) was the reason for the surge in traffic I’m not sure – but here they are:

1. I handed my blog over to Guest Bloggers – for two weeks in April 2006 I took a holiday (our last break before our baby was born) and I handed the blog over to a number of guest bloggers. While I did have a few advanced posts set to go off over the month it was largely others who wrote the blog for half of the month. The number of posts on ProBlogger for the month were lower than any other month for the year and comment levels were fairly normal.

2. I switched to Full Feeds – my gut tells me that this was actually a significant factor in the surge (although at the time I was scared that I’d see a lot less actual visitors to the blog because more people would stay in their feed readers). I don’t remember exactly the result on traffic at that time but it initially was a little lower but did grow from this point (and subscriber numbers leapt up).

What didn’t happen in April 2006?
My initial thought when I saw this surge was that it happened on a day that a ProBlogger post hit the front page of Digg or that it happened on a day that I wrote a post that got ‘discovered’ on a bigger blog. However as I look back over the posts of that month there were no such instances that I could identify.

From what I can see, there was no big spectacular event that was responsible for the surge. It may have been something to do with some fresh voices, it could have been connected to going to full feeds (which did bring about a rise to my subscribers at the time) or perhaps it was just the accumulation of numerous events over time that added together at this point to see a rise in traffic (or perhaps Alexa really is screwy and it’s some sort of anomaly – maybe a handful of new subscribers all using Alexa toolbars started following ProBlogger that day).

Lessons from the Experience?I guess the lesson is pretty obvious – switch to full feeds, let others write your blog and go on holidays! :-)

PS: Seriously though – what I do find interesting about the graph is the latest surge which happened the day that my new design was launched. I guess it’s paying off so far – although it’s still a little early to tell.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. YouNeed2See says:

    You know I run a student website at http://mynoteit.com and there was a bunch of talk that tech-related websites all got an Alexa boost for some reason, but nobody knew why. I can tell you we didn’t do anything different during that month to get a jump like that, and I’ve heard similar stories from other bloggers who it happened to.

  2. Mal Keenan says:

    Darren,

    Have you seen a general increase in blog traffic since switching to full feeds. I was reading about this tactic today on John Chow’s blog.

    Can you report a difference good or bad?

    Mal

  3. Eric Odom says:

    Great idea about the guest bloggers!

    I can see how it would be interesting as a reader to see what they have to say while the normal blogger is away.

    “I guess the lesson is pretty obvious – switch to full feeds, let others write your blog and go on holidays!”

    I wish all lessons were as tasty. :-)

  4. Glen Allsopp says:

    I think that is because everyone is blogging about the new design ;)

  5. Jason says:

    I just tried to go partial feed for a week on my main blog and lost 50% of subscribers and traffic went down considerably!

    Dang it Darren, why didn’t you write this two weeks ago?

  6. Tallfreak says:

    What does “going on a holiday” mean? I’m American and we don’t talk like that here. ;) jk I need to take me a holiday to Austrailia so I can have “no worries.”

  7. I don’t have the readership that you have but I have recently switched to full feeds and am also seeing a modest rise in my numbers including my Alexa stats.

  8. That’s crazy.. wow. I guess it’s time to offer the spotlight to some guest bloggers?

  9. Ollie says:

    I totally agree with the holiday idea. Twice now I’ve gone on holiday (two weeks at a time) and just left the site with a few (non-topical) pre-published posts. And twice now my site has made significant progress in visits, comments, and exposure while I was away. In fact, I recently told my readers I’d be holidaying more often in future!

  10. mon@rch says:

    Full Feeds? Hmm . . . . I have read in many other post that it was better to only give some feeds! Here is a question, probably in one of your post somewhere . . . . I use to be dial up and made my blog so that on the main page would show one picture and first paragraph to my posting (mainly for myself because I had dial up)! Is that a good thing to have a “click more” button to actually make people open the post to view the whole text? Regulars probably will do it but thinking about it maybe people for google, and yahoo might not do so?? What is your thoughts?

  11. interesting that no obvious reason exists as it appears to be quite a big jump. However, you may want to look at around Jun 05 and Aug 05 where u see similar surges. What are the reasons for those and could they be extrapolated for Apr 06? Just a thought…..

  12. Andrew says:

    I switched my feed to full feeds and I have had +50% of subscribers and readership

  13. hehe, hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it actually has to do with the “great alexa spike of april 06″. Here’s what happened in short:

    1) digg article appears on the homepage that digg is about to surpass slashdot in alexa ratings
    2) digg users download alex toolbar
    3) digg effect hits alexa… permanently.
    4) sites that are technology, geek, and web oriented have a noticeable or huge jump. check out flickr.

    more info here:http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/2006/04/27/the-great-alexa-spike-of-2006/

    If im wrong, please pardon my ignorance. Everything you said in this article is awesome strategy. Sorry i’ve taken so long to comment on here. Take care Darren!

    -jlb

  14. CatherineL says:

    Interesting. If your guest bloggers have significant traffic, and they told their readers that they were blogging on your blog – that could explain some of the increase.

    Mmm – I wonder what would happen if you did a guest blog on my blog, and told your readers about it.

  15. Switching to full feed will get you more incoming links from more sites that are using rssfeed.

  16. I’d love to attribute an increase in traffic to going on holiday (LOL!)….actually, I’d just like to have the amount of traffic that you get! WTG Darren! :)

  17. Marko Novak says:

    I just came from holiday and my traffic stayed the same. Which is not bad, because I thought it will decrease.

  18. Well I have to say that it took me a few times to get used to your new design but now that I know how to work my way to finding your latest posts – I’m feeling better about your blog.

    Guess I’m just used to seeing a blog in its more traditional state of having columns and the blog entry in the middle.

    I don’t know if you were analyzing your site for its traffic or its adsense earnings (or maybe both) but I have found that it can be quite frustrating trying to figure out what cause a “surge” here or there – its enough to make one crazy.

    It kind of reminds me of a time when I worked at a radio station and the ratings came out for the previous 4 months. Our station finally made it into the ratings and I remember my boss racking his brain trying to figure out what had happened during that time to cause the increase in ratings.

    He couldn’t remember or think of one thing! So out of frustration he just gave up!

  19. Rhys says:

    Interesting that. I’ve noticed recently that there has been a bit of a backlash against guestblogging. I suppose if you announce your intention to be away and say that there’ll be guestbloggers, then people wouldn’t complain.

  20. Nice analysis. I always enjoy reaching into the archives and watching traffic trends.

  21. That’s really fascinating. Like you, I’m not 1000% impressed with Alexa, but those stats can be useful. I personally volunteer to be your next guest blogger!

  22. Sydney says:

    (Sitting here wondering if I have anyone as insane as I am who could possibly ever take my place at my blog if I wanted to take a vacation. hmmm…)

    LOL – Nah, my blog isn’t for business. I just like to listen to you guys banter back and forth because I like tech. I don’t care about my hits. I’m just thrilled with the fact that I can let all of my crazy baggage hang out online. In front of everyone. And be judged by strangers. Virtual strangers anyway.

  23. full feed distroys the uniqueness of individual blogging

  24. redwall_hp says:

    My subscriber count more than doubled over the course of a day (from 35 to 89) because of StumbleUpon. I switched to full feeds yesterday because of that. I’m hoping it will help keep those 89 subscribers and maybe draw some new ones.

  25. Paquito says:

    I think guest bloggers can be a solution though you should be careful when using it because of your blog’s consistency…

    If you’re used to talk around specific subjects setting an specific tone when writing, it’s tough to get used to, even for two days, a new voice talking around similar things…

    Anyway, I think holidays are a good occassion to close “the business” and take some fresh air for everybody (specially for the one who’s writing it :-)).

    Regards from Spain (I’m part of that overnight traffic :-)).

    Paquito.
    http://paquito4ever.blogspot.com

  26. Joe says:

    “…or perhaps it was just the accumulation of numerous events over time that added together at this point to see a rise in traffic…”

    I tend to agree with this statement. The same thing happens all the time in financial markets. A stock will suddenly take off and all the experts clamor for a simple cause when often there is none.

  27. Danny says:

    I was just considering whether or not to change my full feeds to partial. I’m pretty sure I’ll be sticking with full. I have been placing links to other content on my site and affiliate links within the content. This makes monetizing on the feeds possible.
    I’m not sure how well guest bloggers would work on my site, but I’ll be looking into that, too.

  28. Well now that is strange. I would never have thought that guest bloggers would have such an effect. I really can’t begin to fathom that one.

  29. Interesting. I was under the impression (and have read several times) that partial feeds are the way to go. I will have to try full feeds and see what happens.

    Does anyone know if reading a blog through a feed reader affects Alexa rank?

  30. Phi Nguyen says:

    How can you use full RSS feeds and also keep your Hotlinking protection up?

    There doesn’t seem to be a clear method to have images appear in a full RSS feed without also giving spam sites access to your images for them to hotlink.

    Anyone have any solutions for this issue?

    The closest solution I could think of is inputing all the major domains of RSS readers like google and bloglines into my HTaccess file.

  31. Brad V. says:

    LOL. I love your last bit of advice: “Go on holidays!”

    But I think there is something to say for letting guest bloggers take over for a while. For one, they probably bring their own loyal readers to your blog (after all, you’re not going to have someone unknown who has never blogged before be a guest blogger). And having a big-name blogger write a guest post can probably bring a lot more traffic in as well.

    Blogging is a very organic art form that depends on one thing: community. If you feed the community, it will feed you as well (if that makes any sense).

    Great post!

  32. Do you mean to say your guests fare better than you?

  33. Hey, Don! says:

    Darren,

    aren’t there other factors to consider as well? Were there any particular topics you wrote, or the guest bloggers wrote, that got searched frequently via Google? How old was ProBlogger by that time – 3 mos, 6 mos? Perhaps more pages got archived in the search engines.

    I saw quite an uptick on my blog traffic in early August when so many people wound up on an earlier post I wrote about Donald Trump’s company investing in Mexico . . . I searched current news but that didn’t reveal why so many people caught it a few weeks later after I wrote it.

  34. Sean O'Neill says:

    Darren,
    This is a great post. Full feeds seem like one of the likely culprits behind the jump. (Plus, maybe you were refreshed after your holiday, and your better mood was reflected in even better blogging. Hey, I’ll grasp for any explanation that’s an excuse for longer vacations.)

    I have the same question as Phil, though:
    How can you use full RSS feeds and also keep your Hotlinking protection up?
    Regards,
    Sean

  35. Shaji says:

    I also experienced the same thing…
    I understood the necssity of the post frequency from you..
    thanks a lot….
    Kerala arts, culture, tourism, travel guide, places, news, articles….

  36. ryan scott says:

    Hmmm I am trying to find the take away from this, and can’t find one!

    I like to think there’s something real about it, not magic. I don’t think you’ve figured out what it is, so I’m not sure what the newsworthiness is. ?

    Do you think guest bloggers were promoting their participation in some new venues?

  37. I’m confused on one point.

    Does full feed mean that you don’t have a link to “Read More” on your post on the main index page? Should you get rid of the tag in wordpress because it hurts the full feed option, or are they irrelevant to each other?

  38. Jeremy Day says:

    Hi Darren,

    I would have to agree. Guest writers can add a lot to a blog and many times their traffic becomes your traffic. You never know where you will get links from. I just linked to this specific article because of a link in Alexa. In any case, I think adding guest writers to this site has made a wonderful difference. Lots of fresh perspective.

    Cheers,
    Jeremy