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Wed, Aug 6th - 8:05PM

Our Webring Experiment: July + Conclusions
Five months ago on March 8th we (the Lilith Gallery Network) began an experiment to determine the value of advertising on WebRing.

Now in August we have completed our experiment and you can now see our March results, our April results, our May results, our June results and our July results (below).

Our experiment was fairly simple. Spend $6 more each month on promoting 12 of our webrings (we were previously spending roughly $10/month during the December/07 to February/08 period, so this boost brought it to approx. $16). The webrings in question have plenty of our own sites in them, along with the sites of friends and people with similar interests. Feel free to join a few of them:

The Cyberculture Webring
The Fashion, Models & Art Webring
The Gothic Webring
The Incredible Art, Culture & Music Webring
The Politics & Issues Webring
The Ultimate Poetry & Art Webring
The Visual Artists Webring
The Great Sex and Romance Ring
The Movies & Television Webring
The Women's Webring
True North, Strong & Free
The United Feminists Webring
The Art History Webring
The Pagan Art & Gothic Fashion Webring
The 2008 United States Election Campaign
The Anti-Censorship & Free Speech Webring
The Business & Politics Webring
The America Webring
The Civil Rights Webring
The Blogs & eZines Webring
The Journalism & News Webring
The Artists & Writers Webring

Getting more visitors to our site would not be easy. Our experiment was being conducted during the worst time of the year for internet surfing. Most people are outside enjoying the weather and website visitor statistics in June for example are usually half of what they are in December (see last years results below). We've termed this the Summer Internet Blahs.


Unique visitors: 192701Number of visits: 225590 Pages: 394588Hits: 3177108Bandwidth: 79.67 GB Unique visitors: 110354Number of visits: 131007 Pages: 294505Hits: 2038891Bandwidth: 48.97 GB Unique visitors: 95501Number of visits: 115992 Pages: 336645Hits: 2075599Bandwidth: 43.64 GB Unique visitors: 121334Number of visits: 146802 Pages: 452666Hits: 2803938Bandwidth: 60.92 GB Unique visitors: 104317Number of visits: 126503 Pages: 406583Hits: 3815949Bandwidth: 75.32 GB Unique visitors: 89279Number of visits: 105790 Pages: 346695Hits: 3263214Bandwidth: 60.67 GB Unique visitors: 128495Number of visits: 148210 Pages: 504788Hits: 4127349Bandwidth: 79.02 GB Unique visitors: 131446Number of visits: 153354 Pages: 541560Hits: 4605653Bandwidth: 88.09 GB Unique visitors: 145285Number of visits: 172341 Pages: 628051Hits: 5349192Bandwidth: 103.71 GB Unique visitors: 162862Number of visits: 196985 Pages: 713607Hits: 6329105Bandwidth: 129.11 GB Unique visitors: 174395Number of visits: 210172 Pages: 765774Hits: 6611816Bandwidth: 132.46 GB Unique visitors: 229498Number of visits: 273752 Pages: 1125615Hits: 9019392Bandwidth: 188.00 GB  

Jan
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Despite the SIBs however, our website managed to maintain and even grow in popularity between January and July (as shown by the unique visitors column below).

MonthUnique visitorsNumber of visitsPagesHitsBandwidth
Jan 20081938712332689645737746195162.16 GB
Feb 200821048725414110341578450589176.87 GB
Mar 2008244558294853125267410223899225.68 GB
Apr 200823454428732012227309805778215.28 GB
May 200820934925291711644918622925188.69 GB
Jun 200821699826078412065478577835190.59 GB
Jul 200823012027464710939509193743195.20 GB

These numbers are not directly related to WebRing however, but to provide some background info to our overall performance.

What is important is how many clicks we actually get from WebRing.

February 5275.
March 5840.
April 7192.
May 7049.
June 6517.

July? 6835

So our visitors from WebRing definitely went up... and based on our math we get roughly 4 to 5 visitors for every penny we spend on WebRing. Pretty inexpensive compared to Google advertising.

We also received another 700 visitors from our WebRing blog during July.

We also had a theory that our WebRing boosts how many visitors we get from Google by increasing the Google PageRank, but the statistics for that are inconclusive and we have since tossed that theory out the window.

Now its important to note that WebRing is our only source of paid advertising. Everything else we get is word of mouth.

Thus what is really interesting to us the amount of visitors we received last year (when we were spending considerably less on WebRing) compared to now. Our January stats are practically identical, but the stats that follow are nearly double the previous year (and we will note that our 2006 stats are practically identical to 2007).

Month/06      Unique visitors              Month/07      Unique visitors             Month/08      Unique visitors
Jan 2006      152047                         Jan 2007      192701                          Jan 2008      193871
Feb 2006     143546                         Feb 2007     110354                          Feb 2008     210487
Mar 2006    146436                          Mar 2007     95501                           Mar 2008     244558
Apr 2006     119210                         Apr 2007     121334                          Apr 2008     234544
May 2006    121158                         May 2007    104317                          May 2008    209349
Jun 2006      107664                         Jun 2007      89279                            Jun 2008      216998
Jul 2006       102126                         Jul 2007      128495                           Jul 2008       223962
Aug 2006     129330                         Aug 2007    131446
Sep 2006     144425                         Sep 2007     145285             
Oct 2006     187960                         Oct 2007     162862             
Nov 2006     207401                        Nov 2007    174395             
Dec 2006     171026                         Dec 2007     229498             

So what has changed? Is our website spontaneously becoming popular through word of mouth just because we're so good at what we do (and are presumably getting better at it)? Or has promoting ourselves on WebRing really made that much of a difference?

We'd like to think both.

To the limits of our experiment we believe it is highly valuable to promote your website on WebRing, but we add a caveat to that: WebRing will only do part of the work. For this to really work your website must be QUALITY, the kind of website that will gain word-of-mouth after people browsing WebRing take notice of it.

WebRing is a great tool for promoting a quality website, but if your website is crap... then you really can't expect it to perform miracles.

The onus is on the website designer to make a website people will appreciate, enjoy and even explore (you will note that the average visitor to our website stays for approx. 5 separate pages).

If your idea of a website is baby photos and a couple of photos of your dog molesting the cat, then you probably belong on Facebook or MySpace, where that kind of thing belongs and only your friends (because seriously who else is going to enjoy looking at Junior drooling?) can see.

For a fashion or jewelry designer, an artist, a journalist, a musician, a writer or even an economist making predictions then WebRing is certainly the place to promote yourself. We've noticed that there's a lot of groups on Facebook/etc that promote such things... but nobody is actually clicking on the material and going to the websites in question.

With WebRing it is different. People do actually visit the sites and browse. The kind of people who just plain enjoy surfing it seems.

The biggest flaw with WebRing is all the abandoned webrings filled with crappy sites that have raped the auto-checker system. The staff at WebRing assures us that this problem is going to be fixed in the near future (and we've even been helping them out).

But that flaw can be worked around by simply joining large webrings with ringmanagers that do a good job of actually managing their rings. If the ringmanager is paying attention they visit each site to make certain its family friendly, that it isn't full of stupid moving GIFs, broken images, noisy midi files or too much freaking advertising, (webring manager pet peeves) and that the site in question is at least a passing grade in website design.

It is those well-organized and moderated webrings that are the ones that people actually surf, and at the same time present opportunities to promote your quality website.

So yes, its worth it to promote your website on WebRing provided you pick your webrings carefully and you put some effort into making your website so you will gain the benefits of word of mouth.

This experiment and conclusions was conducted and written by the Lilith Gallery Network.


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