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((((((((((((((((( WEBREFERENCE UPDATE NEWSLETTER ))))))))))))))))) October 12, 2000

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This newsletter sponsored by: Searchbutton, Search123 and Search Engine Strategies __________________________________________________________________

****************************************************************** Help your Web site visitors find what they're looking for - add site search today! http://www.searchbutton.com/lp/icnews.html The preferred solution recognized by webmasters worldwide. ******************************************************************

http://www.webreference.com http://www.webreference.com/new/ http://www.webreference.com/new/submit.html New this week on WebReference.com and the Web:

This week our own Andrew King shares some sure-fire ways to boost your site's traffic. Peek behind the scenes at WebReference and see what we do to build traffic.

1. CONTEST WINNERS: Signup and Win! 2. FEATURED ARTICLE: Traffic Boosters 3. NET NEWS: * Linux Group Seeks to Enhance Portability * World's Toughest Code Cracked * Cubicle Blues Blamed on IT * Yahoo Promotes Its Own Stock Plunge on Messenger

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1. CONTEST WINNERS: Signup and Win HoTMetaL Pro 6 and PhotoImpact 6!

Want to win some great new software? Signup for our newsletter today and you could win Softquad's HoTMetaL Pro 6 and Ulead's new PhotoImpact 6. Tell your friends! This week's winners are Lee McCreary of Roanoke, VA, José Madeira of Faro, Portugal, Ratna Sekhar of New Delhi, India and Dobrisa Adamec of Zagreb, Croatia. Congrats, enjoy the software!

http://www.webreference.com/new/contest.html

As always, we are looking for reader submitted articles through our Open Publishing Initiative. Did this article inspire you to write? Submit an idea today and your words could be here next week!

http://www.webreference.com/new/submit.html

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2. FEATURED ARTICLE: Traffic Boosters

By now you've read the pumped up platitudes of part-time designers turned marketers on increasing your Web site's traffic. Things like optimal keywords, guaranteed gateways, and other search engine hocus pocus. For first generation search portals these can certainly help, but a new breed of Web portal less easily swayed is upon us. In this article I'll share what's actually worked to increase WebRef's traffic over the years.

There are two main ways to increase your site's traffic, get more eyeballs (read unique visitors) and make 'em stay longer (read stickiness). We'll address both here. First, increasing your user base.

>Make your site worth promoting

Before you splurge on that big PR blitz, make sure you've got something worth shouting about. I've seen far too many under construction signs on recently promoted sites, not the ideal first impression to convey. You need to offer your users a value proposition, fresh content, free services and software, utility, giveaways etc. to draw users in and keep them coming back. Make your site easy to navigate, and *fast.*

>Fresh Content

Frequently changing relevant content is essential for high traffic. The source doesn't matter as much as the frequency. Sites like Slashdot have proved that update frequency means more traffic.

http://www.slashdot.org

>User-generated Content

Features like weblogs (slashdot.org, flashkit.com) and add-a- comment (photo.net) where users can post stories/comments gives your site multiple voices, and makes the discussion part of the content itself. Users feel a sense of ownership when they can post their own ideas, and they'll come back for more to see the latest thread as the content is always changing. At one time we had a BBS (UBB) on WebRef and we noticed a 20-30% increase in traffic (as slashdot's Rob Malda also experienced).

http://www.photo.net http://www.flashkit.com

>RSS

Yes, I've banged this drum before, and I'm going to keep on banging it until its heard. Creating and registering your RSS feed(s) can greatly increase your reach. After registering our RSS feeds (webref, Doc's JavaScript Tip of the Day) our traffic surged 50% in a couple months.

http://www.webreference.com/services/news/

>Newsletters

We've found our newsletters drive traffic back to our site very effectively, with 20-30% boosts on subsequent days. (this depends on your subscriber base of course) Having compelling content and tight copy helps, and boosting your subscriber rate is a must. See my previous article on increasing newsletter subscribership at:

http://webreference.com/new/tips/

HTML newsletters have twice the clickthru rate on links than text newsletters, according to _Poor Richard's Internet Marketing and Promotions_, so start a daily HTML newsletter to supplement your weekly text version. We send our front page out every weekday using a free script, available below.

http://www.poorrichard.com/ http://www.webreference.com/scripts/

Listen to your users and give them what they want, be customer oriented.

>Maximize Backlinks

This one's tougher, and a long-term effort, but essential for maximizing your traffic. Older sites generally have more backlinks (links pointing back to your site) but you can speed the weaving process by giving users a reason to visit with compelling content, useful services, free stuff and make your site so useful that bookmarking it is a no brainer. You can check your site's backlinks at, you guessed it:

http://linkpopularity.com/

>Maximize Popular Backlinks

Portals can drive a lot of traffic your way. I think the estimates of 80-90% of all traffic driven to Web sites is from search engines is overblown, but they are important (our logs tell us so). Lately, massaging your keywords has become less effective as a new breed of popularity-based search engine is emerging.

Sites like Google (and its Pageranked directory), Direct Hit, and Raging search rank sites by popularity (backlinks in Google's case) effectively eliminating keyword spamming techniques and rewarding sites with the most popular backlinks.

In effect, Google's Pagerank algorithm uses the Web's webmasters as a giant voting machine. We all vote with our external links. The "best" sites all bubble up to the top (assuming popularity equals quality). Increasing your pagerank is difficult but a doable thing. Longevity and tireless PR, viral backlinking, and prime memorable domain names all contribute to accelerate your site's weaving into the Web.

The popularity of pages that link to your site (backlinks) is also important. So try and spend time acquiring a few key high traffic links, rather than lots of lower traffic links. If you run multiple sites, link to each other on high traffic pages to raise your ranking in Google.

****************************************************************** 10% cash ----- search123.com pays referral cash! we built 123 for you. we set out to design a cutting edge space to search and be searched. we packed in technical power and cranked up the aesthetics. we engineered truly real time cpc listings and proxy bidding so you can be #1 and stay there. try it by 12/1/00 and we'll pay 10% on your referred accounts: forever. http://www.search123.com/flash/ ***********************************************************adv.***

>The Google/DMOZ/Yahoo Triad

But wait, there's more! The benefits of ranking high on Google don't stop there. You can leverage yourself into Yahoo by getting listed on AOL/Nescape's Open Directory (DMOZ). Yahoo has dropped Inktomi in favor of Google for their default search, and Google has Pageranked DMOZ for their directory:

http://www.dmoz.org http://directory.google.com

so when you search for something in Yahoo, the Pageranked DMOZ results come up! By virtue of WebRef's age, many of our experts are listed in the tip five in google for their particular keywords (try searching on "dhtml" or "3d" or "javascript" for example.)

http://www.google.com

Once Yahoo! switched to Google in August, we saw an immediate increase in traffic, site-wide. Our work with DMOZ and Google has paid off, now Yahoo and Google are driving more traffic our way. This kind of relevance ranking will surely increase and improve in the future (licensing google's directory, search engine etc.), improving relevance, and raising traffic at the busiest sites even further.

>Tell a Friend - Viral

Anything you can do to make your site spread virally, do it (within reason and the law of course). We use a tell a friend script to let our users do some of our PR, available at:

http://www.webreference.com/scripts/

>Stickiness

OK, you've done everything you can to boost your viewers, now let's give them a reason to stay awhile. Sites like EBay, Amazon and photo.net are sticky, with upwards of hours per unique visit. How? By offering such compelling in-context content that the user is hooked the minute he enters your site. You've made your site so darned useful that going anywhere else is out of the question. This is *the* site on this subject. Add in multiple voices (vs. one voice) all talking about that subject, and you've got an addictive combination.

Being a photographer, I find sites like Phil Greenspun's photo.net and photographyreview.com addicting as they're always changing with new user reviews and comments on whatever camera/lens etc. I'm interested in. Each time I return there's something new. If you're lucky, users will reach what's psychologists call a "flow" state, and forget about the time they are spending on your site. Great, they are grooving to your song, now let's keep them there.

http://www.photo.net http://www.photographyreview.com

>Fast Pages

Your site (especially your home page) should load as fast as possible, in less than 8-10 seconds. The idea is to get out of the way, and let the user get to the content they want.

>Dynamic Toolbars

Adding our new SSI dynamic nav bars to every page on WebRef definitely increasing traffic (not unique visitors, they just bounce around more now). We dynamically create an include with the most popular areas of WebRef plus the three latest articles and include this footer on every page. For example see:

http://www.webreference.com/index2.html

The top nav bar is now a table with links, avoiding the delays users experienced with our old ISMAP.

>Ubiquitous Consistent Intuitive Navigation

Along with our new toolbars, strategic linking to other relevant stories, (similar stories often found on database-driven sites) and previous and subsequent articles helps keep users interested. See our 3D Expert's technique at:

http://webreference.com/3d/lesson102/3.html

Adding a "you are here" breadcrumb trail, with a logical hierarchical structure, helps orient users, wherever they arrive at your site. Add in "printable version," similar stories, and other niceties are some thoughtful touches that can increase your user satisfaction.

>News

We pump in fresh news using News Harvester to the front page every 10 minutes, and use an unobtrusive DHTML news flipper to rotate through the stories. For details on doing this yourself see:

http://www.webreference.com/headlines/nh/ http://www.webreference.com/dev/evolution/

These are some of the techniques that I've found that have actually worked to increase WebRef's traffic. Let me know if you've got some tips that have worked for you.

****************************************************************** Attend Search Engine Strategies * Dallas * Nov. 9, 2000**

If you're job is to get traffic to your Web site, Search Engine Strategies 2000 is a "must attend" event. Learn the techniques and tips that will help your site get noticed by search engines and directories. Register today and SAVE $100! Visit http://seminars.internet.com/sew/dallas00/ to attend or to get more information! ***********************************************************adv.***

About the author: Andrew King has been creating Web sites since 1993 and is the founder and Managing Editor of WebReference.com and JavaScript.com, two internet.com properties. Trained as an engineer, Andrew morphed himself into a self-taught webmaster first on a local freenet, and then a Web design firm.

Andrew has written for MacWeek and Web Techniques, and contributed to Jim Heid's "HTML and Web Publishing Secrets." He has an MSME from the University of Michigan and can be reached at update@webreference.com.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 3. NET NEWS: Linux Group Seeks to Enhance Portability, World's Toughest Code Cracked, Cubicle Blues Blamed on IT, Yahoo Promotes Its Own Stock Plunge on Messenger

>Linux Group Seeks to Enhance Portability

The Free Standards Group released the first version of the Linux Development Platform Specification (LDPS). By establishing the LDPS, the Free Standards Group is hoping to ensure that programs developed on a conforming platform will be portable to all current generally available Linux distributions. http://www.internetnews.com/wd-news/article/0,,10_482381,00.html InternetNews.com, 001012

>World's Toughest Code Cracked

A team of Swedish computer buffs have fought off thousands of rivals from around the world to crack what was billed as the toughest code challenge ever set. They had to decipher 10 increasingly difficult codes set by author Simon Singh in his international bestseller "The Code Book." http://www.cnn.com/2000/TECH/computing/10/12/britain.code.reut/index.html CNN.com, 001012

>Cubicle Blues Blamed on IT

One in ten office workers in Britain, the United States, Germany, Finland and Poland suffers from depression, anxiety, stress or burnout, according to a study released this week by the International Labor Organization (ILO) the United Nation's labor and human rights agency. According to the ILO's study, the major cause of all those black moods is information overload. http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,39406,00.html Wired.com, 001011

>Yahoo Promotes Its Own Stock Plunge on Messenger

Yahoo found itself the subject of a little-known personalization feature Wednesday, automatically notifying its own customers of a precipitous 21 percent drop in its stock price. http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-200-3167545.html CNet.com, 001011

That's it for this week, see you next time.

Andrew King Managing Editor, WebReference.com update@webreference.com

Catherine Levy Assistant Editor, WebReference.com clevy@internet.com

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