Some of you have been following the Learning Corporate Finance saga on this blog for the last few months. It is a story that started in February of this year when I finally gave in and started uploading content we generate as part of my risk training practice online. Rather than doing video which is awkward, expensive and difficult, I just took my notes, cleaned them up a bit and dumped them online.
From February to June nothing happened.
Well to be fair in mid June 2010, visitors to Learning Corporate Finance blog crossed the monthly visitors to our primary 7 year old Alchemy Technologies website which was a big deal since total traffic across all the domains we owned had just doubled. But the expected few hundred thousand dollars a month in revenues didn’t materialize. In June I almost shut the business down since I had promised myself that if in the next three months the site didn’t start printing dollars while I slept, I would put the hosting charges to good use elsewhere. I had burnt enough money in the two years that had just gone by and in another life earlier that my threshold for new experiments had come all the way down the sub-100 dollar mark.
Then one fine day in June, traffic to the site doubled and kept on the monthly growth up trend all the way till mid October when the site crossed 7,500 visitors and 15,000 pageviews a month mark.
End September we experimented with our online finance course store when a reader asked for a downloadable pdf file and before we knew it we had our first sale before the first week for the online finance store was out. Within the next few weeks it became apparent that the content plus excel spread sheet approach was working. Slowly but still working. While the amount was only 4 dollars and 99 cents, to see a concept finally generate revenues after ten years of tweaking the business model was a personal first. Just like becoming an actuary after failing one exam after another for eleven years.
While we didn’t win at the Asia Pacific ICT Awards in Kula Lumpur, the event allowed me to finally spend some face time with Zafar and Badar Khushnood. Both suggested that it was time we moved the business from a subdomain on oilinsights.net to its own home at http://financetrainingcourse.com. The next three weeks were a painful exercise in discovering everything I didn’t know about redirecting a sub-domain to its new home. Traffic and advertising revenues plunged as the site went up and down all the time but surprisingly still content sales still held up and crossed a hundred dollars.
November then became our first month at the new home. Course inventory now included courses on Value at Risk, Interest Rate Models and Simulation, ICAAP, Asset Liability Management, Counterparty Limits and Treasury Profitability. Our biggest sale came in at 49 dollars and caused a minor celebration at work. While we were still not breaking even, the few sales a week kept spirits up. As expected the redirection slowed traffic down initially but as soon as the site was up Adsense revenues went through the stratosphere. In September just before the APICTA Awards we had crossed 24 dollars a month. October because of the redirection disruption as well as traffic generation efforts was a disappointment at 17 dollars a month. November just blew past all expectations and closed at 51 dollars. Gross content sales crossed 160 dollars. By end November we had started seeing multiple sales a week up from a single sale a week since the online finance course store went up in late September.
And now standing at the end of the first week of December traffic is finally back at the pre-redirection levels. Today we crossed yet another important milestone when Karachi was unseated as the city with the most visits in a week by London and New York and while at a national level domestic visitors fell to the 5th place.
CTR is slowly climbing up as I experiment with the theme, ad placements and keywords and RPM is down to a dollar per 1,000 adsense views.
So here is why you start reading the post in the first place. I am not sure what has worked or not worked but somethings have certainly done better than others. Here is my list of suspects that I think have helped with traffic, adsense revenues as well as better and higher SERP results.
Did these in May and June
Non Organic Traffic Growth
Yes, but not recommended
Ignore 25,000 visitors of 6.99 ads
Choice of Theme
Click Through, Pageviews per visitor, Time on site
Yes, but free themes work just as well as paid
Experiment till you get something that works
On page SEO
Titles, URL, Tags and Meta
Internal Link Building
Yes with the right choice of key words and some research
Cross Posts, Index Posts, Review posts
Personalized Launch Emails
Linkedin and Facebook network
External Link Building
SERP, Page Rank, Traffic
Yes, but requires serious effort
200 pages a month
Yes, Top Left Hand Corner rules
No, not recommended
Blog Roll Link Exchange
No, not recommended
Irrelevant for PR now. Ask for posts with embedded links
Keyword in Title, URL
Cbping wordpress plugin
Adsense Competitive Ad filter
RPM, Adsense revenue, CTR
Adsense Target Sections
Pick a niche that you can dominate but is large enough for you to touch a million visitors a month. For me it was Finance and Risk.
Depending on how much time I get over the next few weeks, I will try and cover some of these items on this blog. But till then think about the above factors. Would love to hear about what has worked for you or not. And if you could a similar post on how to go from 20,000 pageviews to a 100,000 pageviews in three months, I would love to read it.
Qualifiers. Everything I know about SEO I have learnt from two close friends over the last few months and I am not an SEO specialist by any stretch of my or your imagination. But the real lessons were learnt doing it with my own hands and trying to see what works or doesn’t work with Google. All of this was done with a team of three people working part time on content over the last 10 months or so.