We’re number 751,306!

It’s probably a little premature to pass out those foam rubber fingers like they have at footall games- but there is cause for celebration nonetheless.

aerial view of Beeline Motocross ParkMany of you probably know that I moonlight as the webmaster for a motorcycling site called Places 2 Ride. The site began in 1998 as a promo for my buddy Brad’s motocross track (aerial view at right). People were e-mailing him from as far away as Michigan asking about other places in Oklahoma to ride their dirt bikes. To save time we started posting info about Oklahoma’s off-road riding areas and MX tracks. Eventually we registered the domain name: places2ride.com. As the name implies, it is a site about places to ride motorcycles. Today this includes motorcycle race tracks, scenic highways, popular urban boulevards, twisty trails, etc.

The cause for celebration has to do with visits to Places 2 Ride web site. For years the site has been a popular stop for a small number of regional motorcyclists. Recently I have made a full frontal assault on making it a nationwide listing plus events, riding gear reviews and newsfeeds. When I began my campaign the site was ranked by Alexa somewhere in the 1.5 to 2 million vicinity. That basically means there were about 2 million web sites more popular than Places2ride.com.

Today that number is 751,306.
Alexa Certified Traffic Ranking for www.places2ride.com

I doubt that Yahoo is worried about losing traffic, but it’s reassuring to see your efforts produce tangible results. Now, back to the grindstone…. next month I’m shooting to break 700,000!


Always Searching

Most of us take simple computer tasks for granted. For instance, like visiting a web site we might read or hear about. You open your favorite web browser and type the ubiquitous dubya-dubya-dubyas in the address bar and hit the enter key. Right? Assuming we typed in the web site’s address correctly it will eventually appear on our screen. Seems pretty straightforward to me.

I found just how wrong I was last week while working on a project that would be promoted through a new sub-directory. The project name would thus be added to our normal domain name. So our usual www.companyname.com would become www.companyname.com/project. There was nothing secret about it, so we decided to publish the test site to the live server (also gives the search engines a chance to find it). Pretty common practice, I thought, so there didn’t seem to be any reason to get alarmed. We send it out to our group of testers and they’ll type it into their address bar and have a look at the project test site. What could be easier?

The next day I found just how wrong I was.

Find and Ye Shall Seek
My boss beeps me and says nobody can “find” the test site. Before I had time to realize who I was talking to I asked, “Whaddya’ mean find it?” Turned out he was just as perplexed as our test group.

After a little digging I found out my boss was typing www.companyname.com/project in to Google. Since the sub-directory was less than a day old it didn’t return any search results. It did provide a simple link to the URL, but he didn’t bother to read that part or click the link. I calmly suggested he enter the web address into the box on the toolbar and see what happened. He was amazed.

I later found out there is a very large percentage of Internet users who “search” for web addresses. If you don’t believe me check your web stats. Look at the referring search terms report for your own domain name. I bet you’ll find some. This is the modern equivelent of dialing the operator to connect you- even though you know the number. Do they even do that anymore?

The lesson I learned from this was to publish new directories for a few days in advance of any public test. That allows the search engines some time to discover the new address, and return some sort of result. Also avoid promotions that use a “pre-domain” in place of the typical WWW. Like project.companyname.com. The problem you’ll run into here is people insist on adding the WWW on the front and it will 404. It’s probably best to stick with the simple www.companyname.com/project instead.