3 Years of 7 Tutorials - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Today is a big day for us: 7 Tutorials is three years old. It is a day of joy but also one of reflection. That’s why we would like to start with a bit of history about our third year of existence and recap the highlights that are worth sharing.

The Key Numbers - Subscribers, Traffic, Browsers, Countries

Let’s see the numbers about our subscribers:

  • RSS subscribers: 1162 vs 1813 (at the end of our second year) - 36% decrease
  • E-mail subscribers: 858 vs 859 (at the end of our second year) - no increase
  • Facebook fans: 1037 vs 432 (at the end of our second year) - 140% increase

Looking at these numbers, you might say that our website had the worst year ever. Fortunately for us, this is not true. In our third year of existence we have made many positive changes. First of all, we switched our e-mail newsletter service from the very poor service provided by Feedburner to the awesome MailChimp. Boy... did that make a huge difference. You’ll learn more about it in a later section.

The decrease of RSS subscribers took place over 48 hours, in august 2011. It seems that Feedburner made an important change in the way it tracks subscribers and all of a sudden it reported half the number of subscribers we once had. Most probably, the numbers reported today are closer to reality than they were in the past. Or this is simply a reporting problem. Either way, for the next year, we will consider changing the RSS service.

But let's look at numbers which present the real story. First of all, I would like to share the graph with our traffic for the year. You will notice that we started our third year on a bad note. The updates made by Google to their ranking and search algorithms have deeply impacted 7 Tutorials. It forced us to make lots of changes and by December 2011 we managed to get our act together and get back on track. Google started loving us again and the last few months have been simply amazing.

Traffic Staistics for 7 Tutorials

Looking at the numbers, the situation is as follows: 2.075.658 visits vs. 1.268.126 visits visits in the second year - 64% increase, 4.378.774 vs. 1.848.752 pageviews in the second year - 137% increase. This means an average of 172971 visits and 364897 pageviews per month. Another important change is a strong decrease in the Bounce Rate (how many people visit our website and close it without reading more than the page where they landed on the website) has decreased from 77% in our second year to 41% in our third. This is a very positive change.

Traffic Staistics for 7 Tutorials

The stats for the year have been deeply impacted by Google penalizing our website for several months in a row. Since our ratings got back to normal, the traffic levels have increased tremendously. To give you a perspective, the traffic for the last 30 days has been: 233.126 visits and 646.990 pageviews. This means 35% more visits than the average for the year and 77% more pageviews.

Getting back to our third year: we received the most traffic from search engines (71.78%). Referrals were pretty strong too with almost 18% of our traffic. The campaigns shown in the graph below are mostly direct traffic. In total, the direct traffic was about 10%.

Traffic Staistics for 7 Tutorials

Regarding the browsers people use, the top 5 has changed dramatically in the last year. Firefox is the lead browser on 7 Tutorials, while Chrome is a close second. Internet Explorer has lost its lead and represents the 3rd most used browser.

Traffic Staistics for 7 Tutorials

The top countries from where 7 Tutorials is read have remained mostly the same. The most important change is that the traffic from India has increased considerably and that South Africa is no longer in the top 10 - it was replaced by Indonesia. Comparing with last year’s stats, you can notice a very important change: the number of pages per visit from each country in the top 10 has raised vs our previous year. This is really good news for us. It means people are more engaged with our website and read more articles than they used to.

Traffic Staistics for 7 Tutorials

Top 5 Most Read Articles

In terms of popular articles, the list remains almost the same as in previous years. These are old articles, which do very well, especially with search engines:

How to Connect to Wireless Networks
Transfer Files via Bluetooth Between Phones & Windows 7 PCs
How to Burn DVD's with Windows DVD Maker
How to Connect to Hidden Wireless Networks
The Top 7 Screen Savers for Windows in 2010

With the launch of Windows 8 and the many editorial changes we have made in the last year, we expect this list to change in the course of the next year.

Highlights - Prizes for our Readers

If you have been reading us from some time, you know that we like to reward our readers for sticking with us. In our third year we organized quite a few giveaways and shared some cool prizes: 5 One-Year Licenses of Norton Internet Security 2012, 5 one-year licenses of Kaspersky Internet Security 2012, 30 Step by Step eBooks from Microsoft Press, 7 one-year LastPass Pro Subscriptions, 2 One Year Licenses of Bitdefender Total Security 2012, another 5 one-year licenses of Kaspersky Internet Security 2012 and 25 Copies of Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security 2012.

It is a pretty long list and we hope you have enjoyed them.

Highlights - The Year of Change

Starting the year with lots of issues caused by Google and their algorithm revisions forced us to make many changes. Here are the most important:

  • We analyzed all our content, identified the most poor performing articles and deleted them.
  • We improved the way our site is organized.
  • We optimized the way we placed ads on our website and tried to reach a balance between their numbers, their positioning and how easy it is for our readers to read our articles, without being too bothered by them.
  • We changed the branding of the website and the way it looks.
  • We moved our e-mail newsletter from Feedburner to MailChimp. This was the smartest move ever. With Feedburner you just see a number of subscribers going up and you have no real understanding whether people read your newsletter or not. With MailChimp, we have learned that having a big number of subscribers is not that relevant. Their actual engagement is the most relevant. Today, we have a curated list of subscribers who really open our e-mails and read our articles. To give you a perspective, with Feedburner, our e-mails were opened by 15%-17% of our subscribers and the articles were read by 2.5-3%. With MailChimp, we managed to curate and manage our newsletter service so well, that 40% of our subscribers open our e-mails and 11% of them read what they receive. This is a huge improvement we are very proud of!

In the background there were also quite a few staff changes. Today, the only regular writers are myself and Marte Brengle. The rest of the team contributes more on an ad-hoc basis.

Regarding our editorial policy, we also had many changes:

  • We started focusing more on unique content. In the last few months you have noticed more detailed tests and analysis which are not so easily copied by other websites and that bring lots of value to our readers. These articles were very well received, started lots of conversations and brought lots of high quality referrals from large websites. We plan to continue writing such articles on a regular basis.
  • We improved the quality of our Security for Everyone series. Our reviews are now even more detailed than in the past and provide more value. We will resume the series at the end of this summer and improve our reviews even further.
  • We started new series of articles, on topic such as: Hardware & Gadgets for Windows users, Windows Phone and Windows 8. With the upcoming launch of Windows 8, we do expect our Windows 8 coverage to grow. Unfortunately there is not that much left to write about Windows 7. Our content can easily amount to 2 or 3 books about this operating system and we feel like there are not that many subjects to cover about it.

We hope you have enjoyed these editorial changes.

What is Next?

What’s next? There are many exciting things coming. For some we started the work many months ago but since we are not done, we cannot share anything tangible at this time. With a bit of luck, we should launch 2 books by the end of our fourth year, if not even 3. We will share some exciting news about one of them very soon.

We plan to change the look and feel of our website, after we are done with the work on one of the books we mentioned. Then, we will try to expand the team again and find cool writers to join our team on a more regular basis.

Last but not least, we will consider changing our RSS service to something more useful and more professional than Feedburner.

Tell Us YOUR Opinion

We would like to thank you for reading & interacting with us. We very much appreciate having such awesome readers.

Before you close this article, do tell us what you think. What did you love and what did you hate about the third year of 7 Tutorials? Is there anything you would like us to change? Is there anything about the changes we mentioned that you love?

To celebrate the event, we organized also a giveaway with cool prizes for you to win: Read 7 Tutorials and Win Geeky Books.

Discover more:
About the Author: Ciprian Adrian Rusen
I love technology and I work in IT for more than a decade. I am the co-founder of Digital Citizen and its chief editor. Alongside my work as an editor, I am also an author. I have written and published 7 books, most of them about Microsoft products and technologies. They are translated into more than 12 languages. In 2014, I have been recognized by Microsoft for my technical expertise and involvement in the community with the title of Microsoft MVP - Windows Consumer Expert.