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Drew Dowdell

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Some of you may have noticed a series of small changes being made around here. For every one small change you see, there are 10 more that you can't see that only really apply to how the search engines see the site. This is part of a concentrated effort on my part to raise the visibility of CheersandGears.com in the eyes of the search engines. This is a learning process for me, but since diving into this on January 1, we've seen some slight movement in the right direction.

I am expending this effort and money for two reasons:

First, we've been turned down by some manufacturers for being too small and not having enough unique visitors per month. There are multiple rating agencies that provide this measurement to the manufacturers, but unfortunately, the one used by the manufacturers who turned us down is also the least reliable at measuring. We are directly measured by 3 major ratings agencies (Google, Alexa, and Quantcast) with a small piece of code in the site that counts each page you view. The other rating agency, Compete.com, measures only by using a pool of 3 million random web surfers and then guessing what our traffic should be based on their actions. Obviously, I have issues with manufacturers using Compete.com as a way to measure CheersandGears.com's traffic, but it isn't something I can control. I can't change the game, so I have to play it.

Second - Money. I still want to be able to sell advertising directly rather than going through an advertising exchange but we are still too low with traffic to do so effectively. We need to roughly quadruple our monthly unique views before we can really look at direct advertising sales.

What can you do to help?

Take a look at the Follow Us thread, and if you're on Facebook, Google+, and/or Twitter, please use those buttons to Like and Follow us. Even if you follow our Facebook page, please "like" us using that button on the front as well, this is a different rating factor.

When you're out visiting other websites and leaving comments, drop a link back to relevant articles here on C&G where you feel they would fit. Links back from other websites are one of the largest site rank builders out there. But please, don't spam.

Share stories of ours you like on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. Every single story, gallery image, and thread has buttons for sharing at the bottom, just a quick "like" or "+1" really helps. If you see one of our stories come across your facebook wall, share it with your friends.

Where are we already doing well?

I can see some of the stats for what I consider to be our closest competitors, and in a few areas, we are doing very well.

1. Site stickiness - When most of you visit CheersandGears.com, you stick around a lot longer than when visiting other sites. Our average browse time is more than double that of our closest competition and close to triple of "that other" site. We also do a lot better than some of the big boys as well. Visitors hang around on CheersandGears.com for twice as long, on average, as they do on Autoblog, Jalopnik, and Edmunds.

2. Page views per user - Since you hang around a lot longer, you're not just sitting there staring at the same page all the time are you? Of course not! Another area where we run with, and beat, the big boys is in page views. Think of a top automotive blog or forums out there and more than likely we beat them in this measurement. Of the big boys, only Edmunds comes close... all others we beat by more than double... which leads to:

3. Bounce rate - Bounce rate is the measurement of people leaving as soon as the page loads. If you have a high bounce rate, that is typically an indication that people are not finding what they are looking for on the first try. The lower the bounce rate, the better your information is presented and organized. We're right in the middle of the "big boy" list. Our bounce rate is exactly equal to that of Autoblog.com. We're beaten by AutomobileMag.com and Edmunds.com and beat Jalopnik.com. Most of the Forums sites aren't close to us.

What I can share and what I can't.

Most of this information is public if you wish to do enough digging, but for competitive reasons, I do not wish to share exact numbers in a publicly searchable forum. However, if you guys want status reports regularly, I would be willing to share those in the generalized format like above once a month or so.

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Great update Drew, thank you for letting us know so we can drive the site better.

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I'm all for C&G continuing to grow and gain more exposure, but on the other hand one of the main reasons I'm still loyal to this site and have been for so many years is because of the sense of community we have. We have a basic core group of regular posters/visitors and the majority of us have been here since the beginning or very early in C&G's life and I fear a whole wave of new members may rock the boat a bit. But I can understand the need to gain more traffic and active members to give fresh ideas and perspectives as well.

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A good chunk of the community is already gone. I see familiar names on automotive websites that used to post here frequently. This sort of initiative will not only help get new people in, but maybe some of the old ones too.

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While we will always welcome posting members both old and new, the vast majority of visitors never post or even sign up. However, it is their eyes we are interested in. Having those visitors come and read our reviews or read our news is what gets measured, not number of posts. If you see one of our old regular users out there in the wild, maybe send them a PM and tell them C&G is still going strong and that they should check it out again.

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