Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Importance of Links for Traffic

This morning I saw a first-hand example of why links to your web site from other sites can be so effective. I was looking at the Google Analytics for the hobby site that I run for the Austin Scale Modeler's Society. The traffic for that site has been pretty steady overall. But I noticed a huge spike in February - five times the normal number of visits.

Digging deeper, I saw that almost all of that traffic was in a 3 day span in February. I thought there was no way this traffic was legitimate, must be some kind of DOS attack, or something. I looked at the geographic stats, fully expecting a spike in overseas traffic in that time period. But it wasn't there. As usual, most of the traffic was from the States. I looked at the content analysis and saw that most of the traffic was to the home page, so not much enlightenment there.

Finally, I started looking at the referral information to see where it was all coming from. Turns out all that traffic was being generated from one site - HyperScale - that had a link to our home page in their "What's New" round-up on Feb 12. I recalled contacting them and asking them for a link on their site. Boy, did it work!

This is not a commercial site, so I don't know how many sales conversions that would have resulted in, but I can't see how a 5-fold increase in visitors could have hurt. Just goes to show that taking the time to "pound the pavement" for reciprocal links can really pay off.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Getting an Indented List to not Indent

It seems like it should be really easy. I want a bulleted list, but with no indent. In other words, I want the bullets aligned to the left with no indent, but I still want the space between the bullet and the text.

Why would I want this? Lots of reasons. I may have a list that is contained in a table in a page column where it makes no sense to indent the list.

It seems like this should be easily controlled with CSS, but not so. All my attempts at this resulted in results other than what I wanted. Attempts to reduce the left indent usually resulted in the bullet simply vanishing or other odd stuff. I tried having the list items without the actual list tag, which worked in some browsers but not others; I encountered problems with the text wrapping under the bullet.

I thought I must be missing something so I searched a bit online. It seems there really is no good way to do this. Apparently the indented list was intended to be just that - an indented list. Thus, there is no standard reliable way to change it.

What you end up having to do is create a table where each row is a list item with two cells. One cell contains an image for your bullet, the other contains your text. It works, but it's hardly efficient.

Just one of those HTML oddities, I suppose.