The following graph shows summary statistics for visitors and page views of this blog over a period of one year (July 2012 — July 2013). As you can see the visitor count was fairly steady throughout the year, with a sudden drop off in April/May 2013, followed by an exponential increase in traffic week-over-week since that point in time.
As you may guess from this post’s title — the visitor traffic pattern has changed back in May due to the fact that I adjusted the WordPress permalink settings. A bit of background info about permalinks: “By default WordPress uses web URLs which have question marks and lots of numbers in them, however WordPress offers you the ability to create a custom URL structure for your permalinks and archives. This can improve the aesthetics, usability, and forward-compatibility of your links.”
Around the time when I started this blog, I also signed up for Twitter. Back then, I was too lazy to look for a good URL shortner, which was required at the time if you wanted to post links on Twitter. Now of course the URL shortner is built into Twitter and is automatically embedded into every link in order to obtain detailed traffic analytics (which is what Twitter is trying to monetize). In any case, back then I chose a Numeric structure (http://baudlabs.com/archives/123) for my permalinks. I thought it would look cleaner, be less prone to spelling mistakes, and easier to send via email.
Sometime back in April (2013), while listening to Mark Suster on This Week in Venture Capital, I heard him mention that one well know Search Engine Optimization (SEO) trick was to use full post names in the permallinks (http://baudlabs.com/sample-post/), as these were much better indexed by search engines such as Google. I gave it some thought and went ahead and made the change.
As you can see from the graph there was an immediate drop off in visits and page views right after the change. That’s expected, as almost all the URLs on the site have changed. Then the search engines reindexed the site and the daily visitor count started growing exponentialy, doubling in the first month and tripling in the second. It is very safe to say that the above described SEO trick works really well. On the same note, improved tag values seem to help with SEO as well. I am using a lot more tags now to describe each post.
On a final note, I am including a quote from the Google PageRank FAQ: “In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share. Sites’ positions in Google search results are determined based on hundreds of factors designed to provide end-users with helpful, accurate search results.”