Top Lists: A Traffic Looping Tool

Stephen Yagielowicz

In the continuing quest to evolve my old 'crypt' sites, I have looked at several different methods for sharing traffic among them. Today I'll discuss one of them, my "in-house" Top List. While more server-intensive than a simple link list, the advantages of this technique are compelling:

One of the primary benefits of running a network of sites rather than focusing your efforts on one single site is that you can leverage certain qualities such as content and traffic by sharing it among your participating Web sites. The simplest way to do this is via reciprocal linking of these sites, but after the first handful this becomes a cumbersome affair. While the use of "includes" may simplify the task, sometimes you are better off by linking to your own "links page" or other internal link list.

Wanted: AVS List Traffic
One of the times in which it becomes particularly wise to do so is when you are building AVS sites, as their requirements for making the AVS' link list are becoming increasingly stringent, and one of those big linking requirements is a limitation on the number of outbound links. Many Webmasters question how they could accommodate all of their linking needs while using only 5 or even 2 links on their site. Using those links to link to a new "site" full of links is one answer:

With this in mind, I set out to link up a few dozen AVS gallery pages with an internal (or "private") link list. The main difference between my link list and any other list is that all of the sites appearing on it are mine; as such the site is not open to outside submissions, so rather than a 'traffic generation' tool, I am using it as a 'traffic retention' tool. This is more understandable when you consider that the traffic I am retaining is almost exclusively from the AVS link list, some of the highest quality available, and I wish to hold on to it for as long as possible, and not dilute it with dubious sources of outside traffic.

Cream Rising to the Top
I faced the decision of whether to use a straightforward link list, that while easily categorized and modified, low in bandwidth and server overhead, and all around the most flexible option, or to try and set up this old CGI / Perl Top List script that I had just stumbled across the .zip for.

I had downloaded quite some time ago, and it languished forgotten in 'the vaults,' waiting for just the right "someday." This seemed an interesting application for this script, and so I decided to give it a try.

As a "Top List," this server-based script will dynamically list the linked sites in the order they send traffic. If I could find a way to ensure that 100% of the traffic coming from the AVS' own link list was looped on itself, counted, filtered and retained, then I would have accomplished my goal.

I easily installed and setup the List Site PRO script, first using the online admin panels, and then clumsily bashing the code around in ways that I will not pretend to understand, but with enough trial and error, produce a workable solution.

All the while I kept thinking about the 'triggering' possibilities that would let me maximize the amount of surfer traffic that the referring site would send into the script — a simple text or graphic link would not "pull" anywhere near "100%" and so was unworkable — but when the script was ready to go, I had a solution in mind. As for the term "net traffic" I use it to mean "JavaScript enabled surfers actually hitting my first 'content' page...

:and Sinking to the Bottom
I decided that a great way to determine the net traffic I received from the CyberAge link list was to setup a full-page stealth console or "pop-under" ad on the URL that the AVS used to send traffic into my site, and to then launch the Top List from there. This non-intrusive approach is only really visible "after" the surfer leaves my site, and displays other sites within my network that he can enter for free with his CyberAge ID.

The Top List will rank the sites according to their "popularity," and I have full control over options such as update frequency, I and can test traffic flow based on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, viewing the results at a glance; and since the list is dynamic, surfers won't necessarily see the same listing order on repeat visits.

Here's the JavaScript I used to launch the Top List:

SCRIPT language="JavaScript"
!--'TOP LIST LINK URL','_blur');

if (window.focus) {
window.focus(); }
// --

While a counter or stats program could deliver more detailed traffic information, including the TOTAL amount of traffic the AVS list sends me, rather than this method's "net traffic" amount, the counter wouldn't provide a real traffic benefit, plus the dynamic nature of the list lends itself better to the sort of repeat traffic I expect to flow through it. As for the term "net traffic" I use it to mean "JavaScript enabled surfers actually hitting my first 'content' page, after being filtered through the AVS' 'Middle Page Bonus' Full Page Ad" — a more meaningful measure of actual AVS list traffic than is the "gross" amount.

This is just one example of a traffic looping method in which you can share surfers among your own network of sites. If YOU have some traffic tips you'd like to share, click the link below:
~ Stephen