Befuddle Closed: Back Soon

My first website is moving. I started work on creating Befuddle in 1999 when my ISP freenetname gave me some free web space to create a single home page.

Well that was some home page!

I don’t know when Blogs were created but when my site launched in February 2000, it was essentially a web log of my drunken tales.

I got a few mates to contribute and then people started to email in their own drunken stories.

Within weeks of the site launching I was in national and regional newspapers. It helped that the website was selected as a “Yahoo! Pick of the Week.”

Then when Britney Spears was filmed drunk at the age of 18, I thought the pictures of the drunken celebrity would sit well with my site, that was totally based on drunken humour.

Traffic escalated with the pictures and so it wasn’t long before I was searching for more pics of celebrities out on the town.

I also realised that I had a niche as there was little in the way of competition. There were adult sites that were charging subscriptions but I just thought I’d post them up for free. After all, they weren’t my pictures in the first place.

Befuddle became tagged as the “Home of Drunk Celebs.”

Then there was Paris Hilton. I was the number one listing for the search term “Paris Hilton” on the day her first home made movie was spreading across the Internet.

I had 125,000 daily visitors and I then got introduced to affiliate marketing and selling text links. I was charging a small fortune for a single text link to advertisers, who in turn were making money selling the Paris video. I made some cash and some Befuddle pages had a PR of 6 at the time. I had to make money though as in those days, bandwidth was costing me 100 a day just to keep my site alive.

It didn’t last too long. Google did an algorithm update and thousands of sites appeared.

Then Befuddle got neglected for several years, whilst I concentrated on some affiliate only shopping portals and blogs.

But still after a few years without updates, it was still attracting thousands of daily visitors to its hundreds of celebrity pages.

In 2007, Google presented a malware warning to the site and I could have closed it down then. That would have been the easiest solution.

However, the brand and traffic are still strong. The home page still has a PR of 5, so I didn’t want it to just die off.

The site is all built in HTML and development coding has moved on. So it is time to move it from its host to one with a PHP server and with large space and bandwidth allowance. Servage is perfect for that.

The original terms of service from freenetname were well and truly broken. I think you were only supposed to have a 35K page but nobody ever got in touch.

So today the site is down as it’s moving home. If it arrives on the other side of its DNS journey safely, then I’ll look at ripping it up and trying something new during 2008.

It has potential. I had some very good late night conversations at a4uexpo on how it could be developed.

Before you go, if you do a search for “drunk celebs” on Google …

… I have the top 9 links!

Befuddle has X Factor

X Factor judge Dannii Minogue is inadvertently helping Befuddle become a rising star again. Google is still giving Befuddle the big X exactly one month after labelling it as a ‘malware site‘.

However hot Dannii is top of the searches and a search for ‘dannii minogue’ in Google is returning the new look Befuddle as the fifth result on page one. This is resulting in rising visitors (ahem), page views and advertising revenue.

Befuddle is now making more revenue than before. Gone are the adverts from Claxon Media and alongside the larger size images, are Google Adsense adverts at the top and bottom of the pages. It is here that the financial transformation looks interesting. Since AdSense was introduced to Befuddle after the 10th September it made $66 last month. Already it has made $55 in the first 10 days of October.

All the hundreds of old celebrity pages were ruthlessly removed from the site and a selection of new ones added for Britney Spears, Dannii Minogue, Denise van Outen, Emma Jones, Gemma Atkinson, Jessica Simpson, Jordan and Sarah Harding.

Dannii Minogue is on the nations television screens every week and it’s no surprise to see that there’s hot search activity for her.

Befuddle is currently receiving 900 unique visitors each day despite only promoting 8 celebrities at this time. The Dannii Minogue section of pages were viewed over 4,500 times yesterday. This resulted in $17 of Adsense revenue.

When the malware problem was raised, Google traffic dropped from 950 unique visitors to 80 overnight. It has now climbed to a steady 250 each day

Pageviews were at 12,000 a day then dropped to a low of 2,500. Now they’re at a healthy 6,500 page views a day.

So today Befuddle is making 8.50 a day and this is despite it only having 8 pages of celebrities. I’ve hundreds of pictures and pages ready to upload from my home pc, so I’ll be watching the traffic and new revenue stream with interest.

I’m planning to spend my time on my much more profitable discount code site but I know I could make more Befuddle visitors a little bit happier too.

‘Save Befuddle’ group tops 50 members

50 friends, colleagues and Internet marketeers have joined the ‘Save Befuddle’ group on Facebook. The group was created as a morale boosting exercise as my site Befuddle hit its lowest ever patch. I needed quick solutions and support to save my site within a self-imposed 10-day deadline.

As reported on Facebook, this blog and Affiliates4u, Befuddle had been punished by Google for distributing Malware. A search in Google for say “Victoria Beckham drunk”, returned “Warning – visiting this web site may harm your computer!”

Traffic has nose dived. Google organic was sending me approximately 1,000 unique visitors a day and now it’s just a handful.

The site is still receiving a few hundred visitors each day, down from just short of 2,000 visitors.

Not knowing where the problem came from I removed all US based third party advertising and counters. This left the pages looking terribly ugly so I deleted all celebrity pages. This drastic course of action also meant I didn’t have to single handedly have to manually check each one. Some celebrities had 100 pages in their own sections.

I’ve posted up some new drunk celebs pages in a different directory and used the opportunity to display larger size images along with some YouTube clips to make the site more sticky.

I’ve also added Google AdSense to the pages so that not all revenue is lost. AdSense is generating about $6 a day with the current levels of traffic, which is a lot more than the flashing advertising ever did.

On Sunday I submitted my site for review at where the site is currently in the process of being reviewed.

Thanks for the support here, on Affiliates4u and Facebook.

Befuddle will be saved and will come out stronger.

Bye Bye Befuddle

I’ve worryingly received an email from Google today saying my Befuddle drunk celebrity pages, “can cause users to be infected with malicious software.” As a result, “This site may harm your computer” message is printed on the search pages and the link goes to a warning page.

The email gives three example urls but it applies to many and to be honest I can’t see anything wrong. Google does say, “in many cases the webmaster is unaware because the site displays content from an ad network that has a malicious advertiser.”

My pages do contain advertising from a third party, Claxon media. I don’t know if they are to blame or not but they’ll be the first bit of code to be removed.

Now, firstly, I have to say that I have not updated Befuddle in a long long time. Seven times since 2005 in fact! Twice in March 2007, three times in January, once in December 2006 and then it was back in January 2006 before the last update.

Despite the low frequency of updates it still receives credible traffic as it receives up to 4,000 visitors each day. At its peak it had 125,000 visitors a day just as Paris Hilton became globally famous.

Now updating Befuddle is not going to be easy. It hasn’t moved with the times. It’s not written with a CMS or using server side scripting.

It’s flat HTML all crafted by hand. The site was launched in February 2000 and the code and design hasn’t progressed much since then.

Editing all my pages is going to be a painful manual chore. On top of that, I don’t even know what I need to remove. There’s no guarantee that if I remove all the advertising, that I have removed the problem.

I’ve just looked at my analytics stats and can quickly see that my Befuddle stats have halved overnight.

Now it’s a race against time. I’ve got exactly a week before my two week holiday abroad to save Befuddle.

It is an old site that I’ve grown out of. But I am fond of it and you always have to respect having thousands viewing something you’ve built.

If I don’t move quick, Google may drop the site for good. It could be a blessing in disguise but if the site is to close I want it to be my choice.

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