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Showing posts with label webmaster. Show all posts

Spend the Time On Your Site So You Can Win Awards

There is an interesting phenomenon on the web called awards. What happens here is that a webmaster agrees to visit a site and review it based upon certain criteria. If the site passes the review, it gets a graphic known as an award. In return for the time spent on the review, it is understand that the winning site will link back to the award site.

site awards

Many webmasters feel that awards are nonsense, they just take up time and bandwidth for no good reason. If you hop onto a newsgroup and post the question, you will get this response. They will patiently explain (and point out that they've explained it a hundred times before) that award programs do not build traffic and thus are useless.

Well, in my humble opinion, this is blatent nonsense from webmasters who do not understand what award programs are all about. While they do not build huge amounts of traffic, they do have a huge number of advantages and benefits which should not be overlooked.

When a webmaster applies for an award, he is asking for his site to be reviewed by a third party. Usually this third party will check the site for a number of factors, including load times, clean graphics, good navigation and so on. So one immediate fall-out from the awards process is better sites. In order to win any "real" award (as opposed to awards just blindly given out), a webmaster has to clean up his site to a certain degree.

Of course, if that webmaster continues submitting his site to awards he will eventually run into one that he does not win because it requires a really good site. Now the webmaster has a challenge - really clean up his site and make it very good indeed! Thus, this causes even better sites to be created.

Okay, so one benefit is awards lead directly to better sites. Are there other benefits? Of course. Most award programs of any value have a list of winners - thus you get a link exchange. And since you link back to the awards site, they also get a link exchange. This raises the popularity of both sites in the eyes of some of the major search engines, perhaps improving the rankings of the sites.

Oh wait, but won't this increase the traffic to a site which has won a number of awards? It can lead to quite a few more hits to a site. Hmm.

On top of that, if you win any of the big awards such as those put out by any of the major PC magazines, you will see a very large increase in traffic.

What an award really is, at it's base level, is not a traffic builder. What an awards program is is a way to get some peer review going on the web.

And that makes it a wonderful thing.

So what is my advice to any webmaster, good or bad, beginning or advanced? Apply to at least a dozen awards a week! If you don't hear back within a couple of weeks, review the criteria again with an eye towards determining why your site might have failed (you won't hear back from any award if you lose).

For example, if the criteria are "quick load time", "good graphics" and "good navigation" you should check all three. Get on a modem and verify your load time. See if your pages have dozens of tacky animated GIFs and double check your navigation. If you have to fix some of these things, feel free to resubmit to the award when you have finished. Be sure to let them know you have make major changes so they will review your site again.

You see how it works? If you don't get discouraged and simply take a non-response as a way of saying "do better and try again", you'll do great.

What's the long and short of it? Awards programs are excellent! They cause peers to review sites against posted criteria, which improves the state of the whole web. They do increase traffic, and last, but not least, they cause webmasters to start communicating with each other.

Isn't it grand?

Watch Your Web Statistics

One of the most critical, and most often overlooked, jobs of a webmaster is to monitor and react to the statistics of his web site. I cannot overemphasize how important this function is to the survival of any web site. It does not matter whether you have a personal home page or a high-traffic commericial site, you had better be watching your statistics.

web statistics
Web Statistics

Why? Well, presumably you want someone to visit your site, otherwise why did you create it in the first place? Thus it's important to examine your statistics to see if people are visiting, what they are visiting, and how long they are staying.

Let's begin with the most basic statistic, which most web sites have in one form or another. This is a simple "hit counter". The hit counter simply tells you how many times your page has been viewed. In it's most primitive, and usual form, each refresh, each view, everything counts as one hit. More advanced hit counters don't update on mere refreshes.

The hit counter is primitive but useful nonetheless in that you can find out if anyone is visiting your pages at all. Of course, you have to remember that your own visits count also, and subtract those numbers accordingly.

Better statistics packages such as Hitbox have many, many more features. One of the most useful is the average count of pages viewed by each surfer. This is valuable because it tells you if people are leaving or sticking around, which gives you insight as to whether your content is any good. If this number is high you can also infer that your site navigation is good.

Another good statistic is the amount of time spent viewing each page. This is another good way to tell if the content is any good. Pages within your website which have short values here probably need to be improved.

Very good statistics packages such as Hitbox (or direct access to the server logs) can provide the extremely useful Referrer statistic. This value tells you where your visitors are coming from, which is useful to tell you if your link exchanges and other promotion efforts are working.

Speaking of server logs, if you can get a host (such as Bizland.Com) which gives you access to these you are in great shape! One statistic you should always keep your eyes on is 404 errors. These are bad links within your own website. If you have any of these you should look through your site for the invalid references and get them fixed.

As you can see, web statistics are an incredibly valuable way to watch over your website to see if it is producing the desired results.