I’m sure many of you have heard of testing a page or layout using two or more different styles. You can mix up the words, layout, anything. It’s commonly referred to as split testing. Many times though, the changes we make to our sites are not done is this fashion. We change the logo, or we change the wording to our tag line. There are all sorts of little things that we do that just don’t get the fair split test. Unless of course, you test your journal.
Just one year ago, nearly exactly one year ago, I wrote the post Journal Analytics. It is about the importance of tracking your site changes in a journal. This is something I have done for years now, and still do today. Looking at Best Web Image’s Feedburner stats this morning, I was reminded on how valuable those notes really are.
Looking at my Feedburner stats this morning I found that for some reason my new subscriber numbers were not going up as fast as they had in the past. Email numbers were steadily rising, and then come Valentines, something hit the brakes. I was still getting subscribers, just not as many as I was used to. Was the form broken?
Checking all my forms or methods that I could get subscribers, I found everything worked fine. It had to be something that I did to the site, and that meant to me…time to check my journal.
Having very few changes in template on this site over the past couple of months, the stinker stuck out like a soar thumb. The day after Valentines day I had moved my Popular Posts that I list in the left sidebar above the 125 x 125 banner ads. It seemed like a good idea, and in my notes I even wrote down why I did it. It was to encourage more page views. Did it work? No. Did it interfere with the number of subscribers I was getting? Most definitely.
So if you look at my Popular Post list now, you will find it back under the ads in its original location. Apparently the ads are working like a division in space, making the subscription form more emphasized. This could be a possible clue supporting the idea that ads really are blocked out by visitors.
Keep notes on changes made. I made a change to my site that I believe was a rock solid good idea. It turned out to be a dud, having a negative impact on my site. If I didn’t have those notes, I doubt I would have remembered what I did a month prior, and would still be suffering from the unknown change.
Another less obvious lesson? Use more than one source for statistics on your site. This isn’t the first time Feedburner stats have revealed to me an required fix or change.