Abort73’s Annual Diagnosis
I spent Saturday morning on a familiar porch in Los Angeles where we convened for Loxafamosity's annual board meeting. For those who don't know, Loxafamosity Ministries is the official and admittedly unconventional name of the non-profit organization that's responsible for Abort73.com. I handle the day-to-day decisions, but once a year our board gathers to analyze and discuss the "big picture" stuff. It's always an encouraging time together as we try to figure out what's working and what isn't – all with the continued aim of making Abort73 as effective a resource for combatting abortion as we can possibly make it.
For the second year in a row, God has spared us from financial crisis. That doesn't mean we're swimming in money (monthly giving has only matched or exceeded our budgeted target three times this year), but we've been able to pay our bills on time, and I've been able to take a salary each month. A couple years ago, that was not always the case. Our fairly drastic efforts to reduce spending have helped stabilize a bottom line that looked bleak in 2009. And through it all, Abort73's influence has continued to grow (a lot!). By God's grace, we've been able to do more with less.
The foundation of Saturday's discussion was an 8-page document that focuses on Abort73's 2011 web traffic. You can download it here. Compared with 2010, Abort73.com's total web visits are up 72% (638,388 visits through 10/26/11). Pageviews have more than doubled (up to 1.29 million), and our Google traffic has increased by 94%. While experiencing increases from most of our traffic sources, search engine traffic is responsible for the biggest gains in 2011. Last year, web searches accounted for 53% of our visits; this year they account for 57%. Direct visits grew from 83,140 to 128,329, but now account for 10% less of our traffic total.
An increased share of the search engine pie is something I've been after since the very beginning, and 2011 brought some encouraging gains. Our "US Abortion Statistics" page now lists in the top few spots for abortion statistics and abortion facts. As a result, the total pageviews for US Abortion Statistics is running a narrow second to the Abort73 homepage and has three times the traffic as the next most viewed page on our site: Abortion Techniques. The good news is we're at the top of some high-volume, abortion-related keywords. The bad news is 82% of the people who come to our statistics page leave without viewing any of Abort73's other pages. Though there is plenty of helpful data on that page, it's not the page I'd choose if I could only show someone one.
In some ways, this is a microcosm of what we're seeing across the board. Search engines bring in a higher volume of visits, but direct traffic yields higher quality visits. What does that mean? It means that people who type in "Abort73.com" directly, or do a search for "Abort73," tend to view more pages and spend more time on the site than those who are referred to the site through an abortion-related search (so keep wearing your Abort73 T-shirts). One of the reasons this happens is because search results are more likely to take people straight to the page they're looking for. If people are looking for U.S. abortion stats, and Google takes them directly to our statistics page, it's understandable why they might not go any farther. Still, there are certainly adjustments we can make to put this page to better use and make it more likely for visitors to view more of the site. To that end, I'm going to embed our 2-minute overview video into the body of the statistics page and include some text links within the statistics themselves. Look for those additions next week.
Here are some of the other observations that were made over the course of the meeting and what we'll be doing to address them:
- Though we've made great progress in Google, we're still missing some high-volume, abortion-related keywords. By modifying the title and/or description for a handful of pages, we should be able to start cracking those results.
- The title and meta description of the Abort73 homepage may sound a bit too technical or academic. We currently rank at the bottom of page two for the search term "abortion." But because it's such a high-volume keyword (3.35 million searches a month), it's still brought us more than 7,000 visits this year. A more inviting title and description may be able to drive that number up significantly.
- Abortion Regrets has quietly become one of the most powerful sections of the Abort73 website. There's an authenticity to the stories that connects with people in ways that arguments sometimes can't. We need to feature these accounts more prominently by linking to them in more places and adding the Facebook and Twitter tools we're using elsewhere to make these stories easier to share and comment on.
- You Care About Me, Right? is being severely underutilized. This is such a great resource, but we need to figure out how to get it in more hands. We'll be contacting some churches this January to see about distributing them on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.
Finally, we talked with hopeful anticipation about a possible move and expansion. For the last 5+ years, my family has lived in Rockford, IL and run Abort73 out of our basement. It's been a great, rent-free solution, but as we eye our next move, we'll almost certainly need to move Abort73 offsite, and we'd really like to land in an office/retail situation where we could have an actual walk-in storefront. Lots would have to happen to make that a reality, but we're excited about the possibilities. Where will this next move be to? God only knows, but Raleigh/Durham and Wilmington are leading contenders right now. We're also eyeing the publication of a book I've been working on that was finally completed last month and has great potential to further expand the reach of Abort73. There's no deal in place at the moment, but we have some leads and are praying for the best. Whatever lies ahead in 2012, we'll take the adventure that comes to us and trust God to sort out the details...
Michael Spielman is the founder and director of Abort73.com. His book, Love the Least (A Lot), is available as a free download. Abort73 is part of Loxafamosity Ministries, a 501c3, Christian education corporation. If you have been helped by the information available at Abort73.com, please consider making a donation.