Recovering from a Hopeless Situation
by, April 11, 2009 at 12:27 AM (1809 Views)
As I hinted at in my last entry, March was a dismal month for Cracked Egg Studios and VaultWiki. On April 1, I essentially made it my mission to find some way to turn our fortunes around. Don't know if I succeeded in that, but my efforts in the last 10 days have definitely made some other improvements.
I have been trying to increase the site's performance in search engines, get more referrals from other sites, and get more VaultWiki response from our ad campaign. I should probably comment on the last point. Since we started the campaign in August, I thought the ad would point to the product page, because that is what I typed and Google's "preview" of the ad seemed to work correctly. However, I discovered YESTERDAY that because of the way Google encodes the URL to prevent users from being kind and going to the site without actually clicking the link, it was inserting an extra ? into the URL and attempting to make a second query string. Needless to say, for months (and hundreds of dollars and lost sales later), users have not been landing on the product page whenever they clicked on the ad.
I fixed this problem and watched as my other SEO magic boosted the site's thoroughfare by at least 300% compared to the March averages for several days straight. For hours I did this, freaking out over the transparent box that was covering my site but was really just a Google glitch that they apparently haven't bothered to fix on their end for 2 years.
For 10 days I worked to get people to stop bouncing (leaving the site after a few seconds of viewing only 1 page). I did what I could to be cross-browser, cross-platform (although we don't have such a variety of platforms here). I made the site's flash intro 15 seconds shorter, and made the "Skip Intro" link bigger. I made the wording on the VaultWiki product page slightly friendlier. I added pictures to the product pages. I stopped obscure errors I have never seen personally but were reported in the logs.
I went back to all the other site's I have been in and started posting about my own. I corrected the out-of-date URLs. I updated the few free addons I have on vb.org to keep my name circulating over there. It's entirely possible that crackedeggstudios.com is doing better simply because crackedeggstudios.net no longer exists to syphon traffic (it finally finished expiring). I added new News articles and released a new VaultWiki build (traffic and sales always seem to spike around releases).
Then I discovered the map overlay. In city mode, there were dots everywhere. People in cities I never heard of in Russia, Italy, Argentina, and China were visiting. Apparently some of them knew English because they weren't all bouncing!
I have known all along that in order to keep the site alive, it needs to appear like a living growing organism. If there aren't updates, if there's not activity, then it will die. I noticed this on thingamabob.com2, its subsidiaries. Nick tried the inverse on freeunitedclubofkids.com - only making updates when there was activity, but that has only perpetuated the deadness of the site. Updates, updates, updates!