Dan Abrams came to us in the spring of 2009 with an ambitious plan to launch five unique websites in less than a year. He had already engaged the design services of Rex Sorgatz, one of today’s top media site designers, to do the graphic design. After hundreds of man-days of strategizing, programming, implementing, and tuning we are proud to be part of their unrivaled success. The numbers are astounding for such a young web presence and lean staff; 7 million visits and over 23 million page views for September 2010 with October to see another 25% increase.
This is no ordinary WordPress implementation; four of the websites included a unique new construct called the “power grid”. The power grid uses data from a variety of sources including the web, manual input, XML feeds, and others to generate rank for people, brands, teams, and various other entities. Sound Strategies designed and built all the administration, data gathering, analysis, and screen display functions for the power grid.
The flagship website is Mediaite which offers media news and opinion along with the power grid that ranks media personalities in a variety of categories. The sister sites include Geekosystem (Geek news and culture), Styleite (fashion news and opinion), SportsGrid (sports news, opinions, and rankings), and cousin site GossipCop (the only site that does not use a power-grid).
Other than underestimating the appeal of the content and therefore having to hustle to upgrade the hosting platform, the success of this project is easy to comprehend.
Dan Abrams and his team chose Rex Sorgatz to do all the designs. Rex already had an impressive portfolio and he and Dan’s team came up with five distinct designs that work very well together. Compare any of them to their would-be competitors and it is easy to see why the Abrams’ sites are so successful. Add in the element of the power grid and the difference and competitive edge becomes even clearer.
Unique Compelling Content
In this age where dozens of the top sites simply redact or re-purpose other content found on the web, Dan and his team focused instead on creating original content. He assembled a team of great writers who have proven themselves as top-notch journalists. Nearly all of the content is original and every story includes compelling images and or videos. In short, the content is entertaining and compelling as evidenced by the ever increasing subscription rate.
Sound Strategies has worked with the team at Abrams Media to develop an aggressive SEO strategy. Without getting into specifics of the proprietary programs we have built for them; we also use all of our custom tools to carefully monitor traffic, page rank, and phrase rank and report back to Dan and his team with our observations and suggestions.
Sound Strategies is not privy to all of the social media strategy for these sites, but frankly their web presence is everywhere and they have pursued nearly every productive social media vehicle. This was a major growth factor especially in the early months for each of the sites and continues to be critical to the ongoing success. They also send a very effective daily news letter for each of the sites. Having Dan’s name name associated with the projects immediaitely lent credibilty and led to increased attention for each one.
WordPress Performance Optimization
Mediaite is one of the largest WordPress implementations on the web. WordPress uses an incredible amount of resources and though it works quite well with light traffic, it can crush even a monster server if not properly optimized. Several of the off-the-shelf plugins needed to be fixed and some needed to be replaced. Sound Strategies implemented several different levels of caching and spent a lot of time carefully monitoring and tuning the server. The site not only handles in incredible number of daily visits, but can handle traffic spikes from even the largest news aggregators. We also created our own custom WordPress plugin to further optimize CDN usage.
Dan and his team selected NY based Datagram as their host. Datagram provides colocation, dedicated servers, and managed hosting solutions for several of the other large internet media outlets. The traffic grew so fast that we already upgraded the hosting platform several times and added a very robust Akamai CDN (content delivery network). The level of service at Datagram is unrivaled and with their help we survived traffic spikes, DDOS attacks, and incredible growth with very little down time.
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