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Optimising an Old Website To Increase Visitors & Revenue

Bringing My Very First Website Up To Date

Many moons ago I bought a magazine, you know the type, how to build a website in a week-end. The difference is, this magazine was actually quite good, so I got hold of a copy of MS FrontPage and started to learn the ways of the Webmaster, using the free web hosting that came with my ISP.

I was about to get married at the time, and as we were making lots of things for the Wedding ourselves, I thought wouldn't it be a great idea to include those things in our website, so other happy couples could share our ideas and techniques.

As the website took shape I learned from my many mistakes, and managed to gradually produce something approximating a very amateurish site, but it was workable, and I got a few links, so the site got listed in the SERPs, and we got quite a few visitors.

Our joyous Wedding Day came and went, so I added a few pages to the site, but then I got greedy. I read how you could actually make money from the internet, and I threw myself head-first into trying to become a dot com millionaire from my little hobby site.

I started with Commission Junction, plastering my site with affiliate ads for Wedding Stuff, but the conversion rate was appalling, after 6 months my account was closed automatically and I had only made 2 or 3 pounds.

Maybe the problem was lack of visitors, so I joined web-rings, dodgy link networks and other ranking schemes that probably hurt my site more than it helped, all the time not bothering to add new content or optimise the pages.

Next came Amazon, which is packed with Wedding Books and gifts, so the borders of my site became a dumping ground for affiliate links, from which I earned a pitiful few £'s a quarter - rubbish.

Finally a tried Adsense from Google, the pay per click programme. At last I was earning a few dollars a day, but the hey-day of the site had passed, all the dodgy linking I had done had penalised the site to the point where few pages were in the Google index, and I was just getting a dribble of browsers from MSN and Yahoo.

That's where the site stayed for the next couple of years while I moved on to other, hopefully more lucrative projects, with my old, first site still pumping a couple of dollars every day into my Adsense account.

That is, until a couple of months ago. Revisiting the old website, I could see how my actions had ruined it. Huge, bloated pages, the home-page came in at 67k! In any other browser apart from Internet Explorer it didn't display right, and took ages to load. The Adsense ads looked plastered on, and there were many, many broken links and way too many links per page anyway. A real mess.

Firing up Dreamweaver, my new Website software of choice, the page checker reported 137 errors in the html of the index file alone! Determined to put things right, I was going to make the site clean and mean again, strip out the extra ads and useless JavaScript flashy bits, streamline the pages, improve and blend the ads, put a proper sitemap on it, and get a good reciprocal linking programme started again.

Looking at the images below, the old site actually looks ok, but that's only in IE 6, so I guess we better have some stats so we can measure any improvement:

Old Layout: All time, from March 05 to Oct 06, average page views per day: 190. Average clicks per day: 9.

Old Layout: September 06: 143 pages per day, 9 clicks per day.

New layout: November 06: 56 pages per day, 4 clicks per day.

Conclusion: The site has definitely taken a nose dive, but I'm not going to make any hasty changes. Google still currently has the old version of some of the pages in it's cache, and a search for the title brings up two versions of the Home Page! The site will suffer from some suplemental effects for some time to come, I think. However, it looks more professional, and I'm sure in the long run will attract more visitors, links and therefore revenue.

(Note: Adsense TOS means we can't actually talk in $ - sorry!)

It may be too late for WIBS, but it will be interesting to see if the changes I have made encourage Google to re-index the whole site properly, and get me more visitors. Time will tell!

The Old Layout
Home Page Old Layout
Flowers Page Old layout
The New Layout (Looks Familiar, eh!)
Home Page New Layout
Flowers Page New Layout

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