February In Review – The Good, The Bad and the Downright Ugly

by Darwin on March 2, 2010

Another month has come and gone.  I usually have nothing but positive achievements and gratitude to report in my monthly updates that I’d been doing from my other blog Everyday Finance, but this month took me back down to earth.  For one, Everyday Finance, my first blog, is not even active any more, as Google has for some reason flagged it as “SPAM” for reasons unknown to me.  This is the downside of starting off with a free Google-hosted blog under the Blogger platform.  While free, you don’t actually “own” the blog and the examples abound of seemingly legit blogs being “deleted” by the bots for indefinite periods of time ranging from weeks to months to forever.

After 3 years with my first attempt at blogging:

  • over 500 posts
  • over 500 RSS readers
  • hundreds of thousands of page views later, I woke up one day to a deleted blog (I’m glad I started Darwin’s Finance!).

I don’t spam anyone and it’s a legit blog, but based on what I’ve read in the forums and the terms of service, the bots could flag you for any number of reasons and once resolved or outright killed, you may never actually find out what happened.  I’m not going to trash Google, as they may restore it any day now and frankly, they’re responsible for probably 75% of my traffic here. I’m still in the “appeal” process, but the process is somewhat of a black box.  I just don’t know if or when there will be any resolution.

If anyone has advice or has been through a similar experience, please share.

In the Press

Aside from the inclusions in various Carnivals and weekly roundups that I certainly appreciate (and reciprocate), this month I found out that I was nominated as one of 5 Finalists for the Best Investing Blog in the Plutus Awards. This was an unanticipated pleasant surprise.  Please check out the Plutus awards and if you enjoy the investing ideas and strategies you find here, please consider voting for me – just search “darwin” to fine me :>

Traffic/RSS/Twitter

For the first time in months, the traffic was down slightly month over month.

darwin-traffic-feb-2010

As you can see, there had been a steady rise in traffic, often by jumps of 20% or more month over month, which had me really excited, but this month things steadied out a bit.  There are a few reasons for that.  First, with Everyday Finance on hold for most of the month, that cost me a few thousand visits.  EDF had been sending me a fair amount of traffic over the past year by cross-promotion.  Additionally, as lame as it seems, February was actually a short month.  With an average 2,000 views per day, having 2-3 days short from comparable months cost me another 4,000-6,000 views.  So, all in all, in a comparable month under normal circumstances, I guess I would have shown decent monthly growth again, but in reality, it’s results that count.  And the results were not stellar since my goal is to grow each and every month, no matter what the margin.

RSS readership has teetered back and forth around 800 followers for the month.  I’m pleased with the continued trajectory of 50-100 new followers each month.  If you don’t know what RSS is, you should check out how RSS works.  It’s absolutely the most efficient and enjoyable way I track and quickly follow updates to all my favorite news organizations, blogs and other internet outlets.

Twitter – I’m over 1700 Twitter followers, but I don’t focus too much on Twitter followers as a gauge of success since many of the accounts are spam or don’t participate in the conversation.  There is a core group of probably 100 Twitter followers and fellow bloggers that I enjoy routine interactions with.  If you’d like to follow my Twitter, I go under the name Everyday Finance ironically.

Income

Since income is very strongly related to page views, my overall earnings for the month weren’t spectacular either.  I don’t report specifics for various reasons, but I was probably 20% off my trajectory.  Lower traffic and virtually no earnings from Everyday Finance were the primary causes.  While January was a blockbuster month in terms of advertiser requests and deals and the like, February was relatively light.  I presume perhaps the annual budget sends marketers off to the races in January?  I don’t know, but it was pretty quiet for direct placements this month.

Alexa Rank/Page Rank

My Alexa rank has continued to improve and I’m looking to break the 100,000 barrier some time in the next several weeks.  Why?  I don’t know that there’s a strong correlation with Google’s search success, but being a top 100,000 blog is somewhat of a badge of honor in the blogging world to at least showcase that you’re running a successful, legitimate enterprise.  While 100,000 sounds like a large number, there are millions of blogs created monthly, so the top 100,000 is actually viewed as highly successful.

There was no Google Page Rank update that I’m aware of this month, but I don’t focus on it too much any more anyway.  From what I’ve read more recently, Page Rank isn’t that strong a factor in determining what kind of search traffic you’re getting any more.  The system has become more smarter and looks at so many more things like incoming link quality, post frequency, images, visitor time on page and so many other things that can’t be represented by a digit.

Other Projects

ETFBase has been off to a good start.  While I haven’t been able to keep up the posting frequency I would have liked, I am getting some search traffic which is encouraging.  I’ll continue to cross-promote it and put effort into it since I believe so strongly in ETFs over other traditional investment vehicles and I think I have a lot to offer in terms of ideas, advice and new developments in the world of ETFs.  If you haven’t already subscribed to that feed, you can Subscribe to RSS here or check out one of these articles from last month to see if you enjoy the content:

My Most Recommended Articles at Darwin’s Finance

I am proud of several of the articles I wrote during the month of February and I hope you’ll find them to be useful if you didn’t read them already.  Here are my favorites from the month:

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Money Beagle March 2, 2010 at 9:19 am

Wow, I’ve never heard of that happening with Blogger. That’s where I have my blog hosted so I’ll have to make sure to do more frequent backups in case they decide to do something. Keep us posted on what you find out about why they put you on lock down.

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2 Budgeting in the Fun Stuff March 2, 2010 at 5:19 pm

I’m with Money Beagle (my blog is with Blogger), please tell us how it works out! That truly sucks eggs…

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3 Monevator March 2, 2010 at 6:03 pm

Gosh, I really feel for you with losing that blog man, that’s awful. I would be devastated if Monevator disappeared overnight. I hope it comes back for you.

Also, just to let you know your ETF base link isn’t working above…

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4 Darwin March 2, 2010 at 8:55 pm

Beagle and Fun Stuff,
While the incidence is low, you never know. I’ve had so much more success with WordPress since I started, I’d never go back even if my blog weren’t held hostage. Even if backing up content, the thing that stinks is all those broken links now. I might have old content back, which is of some value perhaps, but I’d need to repost it all here and wouldn’t have all the incoming links that I used to have. Best bet is to own it yourself.

Monevator – thanks for note; I left off the http!

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5 Kevin Khachatryan March 3, 2010 at 1:50 am

Wow, losing a blog is devastating, especially with 500+ posts… that’ s a lot of work down the drain.

I checked your alexa, you’re at 123k and you’ve gain 1,667 (that’s a huge jump at that number) in the past month. You’re also like top 20k in USA, which is amazing.

Good luck with getting to your goals, I read all your posts and I must say you have the potential!

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6 20smoney March 3, 2010 at 11:13 am

I’m still shocked about the blogger blog incident. What a shame.

I’d be curious to learn more of your views on the factors that are important for search success in addition to page rank. For example, you mentioned images, visit length, etc.

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