A Slight Design Refresh and a Bit on No Film School's (Social Media) Traffic
You may notice things look a little different around here today (if everything looks the same, you might have to hold Shift and click your "refresh" button). Note there are no major aesthetic changes -- I switched the titling and typography (I was always more of a sans-serif kind of guy, whatever that means), and there are now Twitter, Facebook, and StumbleUpon badges on single posts. I've also created a No Film School Facebook Page, which now has a home in the sidebar. Many of these changes have been driven by a look inside the analytics of this site, so let's look at No Film School's recent stats:
Statistics for the month are displayed on the left. ((The stats are from last month, as I wrote this post last month in preparation for these design tweaks, which took a bit longer to implement than expected.)) Statistics for the year are displayed on the right, revealing No Film School is growing, thanks to you! Up until January of this year it was "just" a personal blog, so I'm glad to see my efforts to making it into a more interesting and helpful site are succeeding.
Despite this growth, however, I'm well aware it's going to be impossible to maintain that growth rate as just one person who isn't working on this full-time. So I dove into the traffic using Google Analytics -- which is free, and easy to implement on Wordpress sites using the Google Analyticator plugin -- to see where this traffic was coming from. Where am I doing well, and where could I improve? Of the past 30 days of traffic:
- 3% came from Facebook
- 4% came from Twitter
- 26% came direct (someone typing in No Film School.com into a browser)
- 28% came from Google
New Media Douchebaggery
These numbers mean a few things: the first is that I'm not doing a very good job of being a new media douchebag. I only joined Twitter a couple of months ago and I only added a Facebook page for No Film School a week ago. Part of this is because I was doing an experiment where I wanted to see if posting 4 times a day would organically grow traffic, ((Verdict: yes, posting 4 times a day did grow the site's traffic, but not by a huge amount, and I felt I was just reblogging other news instead of writing anything intelligent.)) and part of it was because I simply didn't have the time to implement a comprehensive social media strategy while trying to put together a feature film project at the same time. But I'm getting better at it and I'm planning on rolling out even more social design elements at some point -- and as always I'll share what effect these tweaks have on traffic. According to the statistics, Facebook generates the majority of all social sharing traffic, followed by StumbleUpon at #2 (note that Twitter is likely underreported given many people use applications and mobile devices that don't show up as referrals from twitter.com):
Not seeing the badges at left? That's because your browser window is too small to allow the badges to float to the side, in which case they automatically shrink and reside at the top of the post. I stole this flexible behavior from Mashable, although in my case I'm using a custom implementation of the Digg Digg Wordpress Plugin. If you'd like your own version of these sharing badges, try the Digg Digg plugin or the Smart Sharing Plugin from WPBeginner. In theory, these "floating" sharing badges are superior to versions that scroll off the page, because they're persistent.
Beyond Facebook and Twitter, the other thing to note from the above numbers is that Google is No Film School's #1 source of traffic. However, if you drill down a bit deeper, you can see I'm not doing a great job of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The site is focused on independent filmmaking and, at present, DSLR content; it should follow that people searching for DSLR-related content end up at No Film School. However, here are the top search terms that result in visits to NFS:
- macbook pro fan noise
- No Film School
- no film school
- dslr cinematography
- macbook pro fan
- macbook pro loud fan
- macbook pro noisy fan
- dslr cinematography guide
Of the above, most of these terms are being entered by people who have already been to this site and are just looking to come back. Typing "nofilmschool" or "dslr cinematography guide" into a Google search box isn't generating new traffic -- these searchers have already been here and are just using Google as an easy way to find their way back. The only content that is really directing new visitors to this site is an article I wrote long ago about replacing my Macbook Pro fan, and these visitors generally aren't independent filmmakers (and aren't going to stick around).
Search Engine Optimization
Going forward, it'd be nice to figure out is how to better optimize my site through backlink generation and better SEO copywriting (which involves monitoring keyword density). One good solution to keeping track of all this might be to use the Wordpress plugin Scribe SEO; if and when No Film School starts making money and hires additional writers, I can definitely see that being a handy tool, but right now that would be overkill. As it is, my strategy to split the DSLR Guide into 28 pages probably hasn't helped, as search engines see each of the pages as a separate article instead of scraping it all at once. I'm getting a lot more pageviews by virtue of the pagination, but is it possible the guide could be pulling in exponentially more visitors if all of the content was assigned to one URL?
Who knows. If I get too deep into search engine optimization I risk being a blogger who never gets a film made. However, the reason I'm doing all this -- other than to see if I can keep growing this site -- is because I believe this knowledge will come in handy for marketing, distributing, and monetizing films. The world needs more filmmakers who know how to self-sustain.
Are you a blogger? Do you have any traffic tips you'd like to share, or do you have any questions about anything I've shared above? Let me know!