Below, you will find a chronological order of events which brought the 10milliondollarpage.wbca.ca to become what it has become today.
Through our webserver logs, we can tell how may hits our site gets. However, without using external analytic tools, it is difficult to tell how many of our clients ads are clicked.
Our clients have that information from the http_referer information from their logs. They also know how many mouse overs or popups were viewed (depending on the adtype) based by the image or iframe retrieved.
Well, through some creative server side scripting, we are now able to log the clicks as well (not mouseovers however). Should be some interesting statistics coming in now.
When we first started our journey, we chose our own unique size for the popups. It was 350 pixels wide x 100 pixel high. It was like this up until today.
After doing a fair bit of research on advertisement sizes, we decided to go with a more common ad size - 300 x 250. This ad size is very well accepted by advertisers and consumers and would blend well with our site as well.
We initially had the popups being a bit transparent. The reason behind this idea was to allow the consumer to still see the other GRID images at all times. But after mulling it over a bit, we decided to show the ad with no opacity changes. It could have led to some confusion to the consumers if an underlying GRID image bled through a popup. So we have removed the transparent popups.
Almost into the Xmas season. A lot has happened on the back end of the server(s) in preparation for a ton of hits.
Firstly, we split our server, one dedicated to serving webpages, and other to handle emails. We also split based on expansion. We are currently running our webpage on an entry class server. Once the website server start receiving plenty of visits, we now have a clean and quick upgrade path through our service provider to an Enterprise class server.
We also changed out our webserver software. For years, we have been running Apache as the webserver. Why not? It was initially installed on our server instances by default, so it was just a matter of changing some configs, and poof, you were up and running. It integrated smoothly with PHP, our development standard. However, in preparation for the webserver to become extremely busy, we started to look at what was necessary to optimize for high volume traffic. The more we read, the more we realized we were running the wrong webserver.
So, in November, we switched over exclusively to NGINX as our webserver. We have read articles about using NGINX as a load balancer in front of an Apache instance, but doing additional research and experimentation, we figured NGINX would be the best alternative using it solo. Our website, although PHP generated, offers almost all it content statically. The only page which changes is our main page, which changes every hour, and this blog. Once our page is ready to go again, it is again static for the entire hour. NGINX is suited for static delivery and we fit that category.
Converting all our configurations from Apache to NGINX didn't take too long. In fact, it was kind of fun. Tweaking it took a bit of doing, with me setting up caching to make it a true speed demon, or should we say daemon.
We are ready for our site to become busy.
Ironically, the website was fairly simple to put together. The part which took the most time is the purchasing process. This entailed reserving, email validation, xml file generation, xml file emailing and a few other back end processes. We think it was ironic, because the bulk of the work will only be visible while we are selling the pixel blocks. Once all sold, we will be disabling this code.
The recent fine tuning was generating a pdf as part of the email. This way, the customer has something more than a plain email for confirmation of their purchase.
We've changed out the Blog once again. Nothing really wrong with Wordpress (maybe), but going through our logs, we noticed a far number of 'explorers' out there who check for and attempt to log into Wordpress sites. Initially, we had just renamed the admin.php to something else until we needed to use it. We received a notification that a new Wordpress was out and that got us thinking. New versions are released as a result of improvements, but also bug fixes or security vulnerabilities. The last thing we would want is this site to be hacked, so we have limited the use of third party applications. Effective immediately, our blog has a home-grown backend. Bye-bye Wordpress.
Well, we are getting good rankings with Google, Yandex, Baidu, Ask, but with Bing / Yahoo, it is not showing up as expected. We even opened a ticket with Bing to see if they can investigate. We explained what we were seeing, but their logic is not recognizing our site properly. Oh well, we can't wait anymore for organic search engine ranking to occur.
Only 2 days of running WordPress, and we are not impressed. The comments - SPAM, SPAM and SPAM. So unfortunately for anyone who wants to leave a valid comment in these posts, we have temporarily (perhaps permanently) removed the comment functionality because of these crazy spam comment "attacks". Over 30 garbage comments in about 48 hours.
However, if someone truly wants to leave a comment, we still have the https://10milliondollarpage.wbca.ca/10-million-dollar-page/contact-us page.
Well, we finally gave in a bit to our purist goal of home-grown website development and are now using WordPress for our Blog. This is actually the second "canned" solution on our website. The first was for the blog as well, which is now being replaced by WordPress. We previously used nibbleblog, which was also a very easy and powerful blog tool.
The reason for the switch? WordPress is an awesome, rapid development tool. For Christmas, I was quite geeky, and gave my 10 year old daughter a geeky gift - her own website! So rather than having her ssh in and edit pages by hand (which we do for the main page, and all other pages other than this blog), we figured she can use a Web driven tool to maintain her site. Stay tuned for her site - not launched yet, but domain is purchased already for her.
So today, we migrated all our previous blog posts to WordPress posts (keeping all the dates as previously, for historic purposes).
Our site still isn't placing well with Bing search engine results. And we figured out why.
The 10milliondollarpage.com domain was registered a number of times in the past. Including ourselves, it has been registered 6 times since 2005.
The most recent before our purchase was until March 2014. Because of this, search engines still have some history of the site, and are still actively looking for the older pages. We are generating proper 404 errors (page not found), so it will take a while for the search engines to realize that the older pages are gone, and the new 10milliondollarpage.com is here to stay.
The other domains (tenmdp.com, tenmilliondollarpage.com) also had previous owners.
The 10MDP has been tested on Firefox, IE, Safari, iPad, iphone and Android devices.
We are ready for the next phase of our launch. Stay tuned.