"Helping people who help people"

I’m pulling statistics for the annual Smart Marriages conference where I’m presenting a website traffic workshop and will be interacting with a lot of marriage folks.  I am a numbers person and love the analytics of website traffic.  I’m pulling numbers for The First Dance because anyone can advertise on it if they have any credentialing in therapy or even as a premarital educator.  Unfortunately premarital folks aren’t used to advertising so when they do, they sometimes go the wrong direction and lose a lot of money!

I see so much spin and hype when it comes to getting people to advertise on websites.  I have known better and STILL been swindled into not only believing the results would be great, but believing what I knew not to be true.  That is, I was advertising on The Knot, a large wedding website, where I went to help plan my own wedding.  I knew people did not really look at the wedding directory listings.  They went and stayed for the message boards.  And I knew the “one million visitors” they proclaimed (they now say 3 million) was not quite what I, as a local premarital counseling advertiser, would get.

If you take the 1 million visitors, let’s say at least 50% of those are message board users who never go to a directory.  500,000 is still a huge number, per month.  The Knot has a lot of logistical help so a huge percentage of their visitors are on there to get a checklist, to shop for items on the knots shopping website, and to read articles.  If you actually narrow down to THOSE IN YOUR ACTUAL STATE, with an ACTUAL INTEREST in finding what you offer, who THINK of the Knot (vs just Google for premarital counseling),  you aren’t going to draw a lot of people.  Trust us.  We learned, as did two colleagues, the hard way.  We were locked into a six month contract at $125/month.  I literally drew more traffic to our site by those who clicked on my username from the message boards, opened my profile, and found the link.  And I was not selling our website.  I was just a regular message board user answering peoples questions.  AHHHHH!!!!!

OK, so enough venting about our costly mistake.  Here’s where it gets fun and here’s where you’ve got to be very analytical.

In the last six months, we can verify The First Dance has drawn 5,800 search engine terms related to premarital help.  These are 485 DIFFERENT phrases, representing all variations of premarital counseling, pre marital, premarriage, marriage prep, etc. 

The next step is to look at how many people actually viewed our premarital pages.  The numbers are fascinating and this is why I love search engine work.  From search engine optimization work, in the last six months, we’ve drawn another 19,000 visitors using 517 different phrases.  These are all the terms we wish for, on wedding family drama, wedding budget advice, and all the “issues” we feel we have something unique to offer in a crowded wedding world where all the advice is about the same and lacks a “systems” viewpoint.

But those numbers are scratching the surface.  Another 17,600 terms were used in the last six months but our web traffic tool (awstats) and our host company do not want to STORE all that data so they lump it together.  We can only guess among that 17,600 different phrases, maybe 50%or more were premarital terms.  (We’re that middle company who gets a lot of web traffic but wouldn’t want to pay thousands of dollars in software to super closely track our traffic.)

Add in our relationships with other websites, all the journalists who cover us, our social networking (we just hit 1,000 followers on Twitter last night!) and we have a lot of “bees buzzing” around who might, through no original searching on their own, find out we have a ton of premarital counseling options! 

The result?  In six months, 140,000 premarital pages have been read.  This is exciting because it fits our mission to help strengthen new marriages!

( We always talk about being “fast growing” and the numbers agree.  In 2007 the entire year yielded 11,000 premarital page views, 1, 800 terms for premarital help.   That’s a 1,280% increase in page views in two years and 322% increase in keywords used.)

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