Big search engines drive the increase
Traffic to the AAN Web site has shot up more than 700 percent since the launch of the redesigned site in July.
Measured by “unique visitors,” a common usage in Web parlance, traffic jumped from 3,636 in July to 14,333 by the end of 2001 and then rocketed to 29,873 in February, a 721 percent jump in six months.
“We have worked hard to make our Web site a rich resource of news and information about our industry as well as a sampling of the best it has to offer,” says Richard Karpel, executive director of AAN. “The increased traffic is a testament to the job AAN Communications Director Lyda Phillips has done editing and organizing the content on the site.”
While the unique visitors measurement has some inherent accuracy problems (it uses a unique IP evaluation algorithm), it is a common enough unit to be useful for comparison and tracking purposes, says Wil Gerken, chief technology officer of Tucson-based DesertNet Inc., the company that designed and maintains the AAN Web site.
“These numbers are getting impressive, particularly the growth rate, which doubled after the first month of the redesign and doubled again in approximately six months,” Gerken says.
Measuring the number of page views shows similar explosive growth, shooting from 51,384 in July to 194,718 in January and 247,915 in February, a 382 percent increase. Page views measure every page that is accessed on the aan.org Web site, that is, a look at the home page is one view and then a jump to an internal page is another.
Approximately 65 percent of the traffic coming into aan.org in February is from the giant search engine Google. That is a dramatic shift when compared to the cumulative traffic since July where Google accounts for only 20 percent and most traffic was coming directly to aan.org either from individual bookmarks or typing the URL directly into the locator.
“This tidbit points out a few things: 1) the site is being heavily indexed and scoring high rankings in the search engines,” says Gerken. “And 2) you could possibly conclude that these visitors are from the general public and not from within the association.”
Gerken points out that each aan.org page has about 70 links to member stories, home pages, outside sources or interior aan.org pages.
“Suggested links play a major role in increasing overall site traffic by offering the readers tangents to follow, as well as aiding how search engines traverse the site, and in some cases these links even weight the pages higher in search engines,” Gerken says.
In fact, the sharp upturn in traffic followed the launch of a new Web site feature in early November – the “This Week in Alternative Weeklies” section featuring links to important stories published by member papers.
“The AAN staff is doing an amazing job with this site, and the world is noticing,” Gerken says.