State of the Blog address

kc8nd7BEiThis blog will be three years old on Sunday, March 13th, 2016. We started out enthusiastically trying to be a general interest news and interview blog, of interest to all Geocachers, whether or not they used, or even gave a hoot about our website. Just trying to get our name out there, so to speak, while hopefully providing some fresh content, and making a few geo-friends in the process (the interviewees themselves). You may have noticed we’ve lost sight of that goal for the past year or so; although the blog is far from abandoned, we’ve only talked about/promoted ourselves. The last interview was in October, 2015, and could easily be considered “self promotion” about some Geocaching events listed on our site by Rob, AKA obxgeek, from Northern Virginia. Our last general interest Geocaching interview was with the then brand new Geocaching Vlogger Geocaching Kaity in late March 2015. We did have a little flurry of guest content (by our standards) on the blog in May and June2015, however.

A very little known fact is the WordPress installation that powers this blog was, in technical terms, “pretty messed up” the last few months! Those issues have been 100% fixed by our new web hosting company, Kickassd.com! They did an outstanding job on our entire site, by the way. Hats off to them; highly recommended. So with that, why don’t we resolve to celebrate our 3rd birthday by “getting back into it a little”, and start aggressively pursuing some guest content, and bring you some Geocaching news and/or interviews (hopefully at least once a month). Because hey, with the It’s Not About The Numbers Blog having gone essentially silent (5 posts since May, 2014), someone has to do it! 🙂

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OCNA bucks the worldwide downward trend in new caches in 2015

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On December 11th, 2014, this blog reported that there was a noticeable decline in new cache placements in most (but not all) Countries in the world in 2014 vs. 2013. This was using Geocaching.com numbers (as given by project-gc.com), because lets face it, they probably have a 95% worldwide market share of Geocaching listings. Well, those numbers were down again in 2015, and that’s from the bad 2014 numbers! Just as an example, the numbers for the United States were:

  • 2013: 211,986 new caches
  • 2014: 161,659 new caches, down 24% from 2013
  • 2015: 149,986 new caches down, 7% from 2014

You can see from our previously linked to blog post from Decemember 2014, that we too at OCNA were feeling this trend, with 2014 being the worst year of our existence, as defined by new cache placements. Well, we decided to buck the trend in 2015, and in a big way, per the bar graph. We had our 3rd best year, with 440 new caches published! And we really blew up in Canada, as 77 of those caches were located there, as opposed to only 4 in 2014.  We attribute this 149% increase to gaining quite a few enthusiastic new users who created a lot of caches, by our standards. Some, but certainly not all of them coming over from Garmin’s opencaching.com site, which was on life support for a couple of years, and finally passed away in August, 2015. We also had our 2nd annual site run contest running the entire month of August, that certainly helped as well. We plan on having a third annual contest in August, 2016, and who knows, maybe more contests.

We thank all our users for helping us to buck the trend. Please help us to do it again in 2016!!

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OCNA Blogger does Washknight’s interrogations

yuckbackThe OpenCaching North America Geocaching blog is the blog for an alternative Geocaching website of course, but it’s no secret that other than guest content, it has always had one Author, known on most Geocaching websites as Mr.Yuck, pictured here with stylish army coat, sweatpants and backpack. We’d tell you more about him, and let you see his face, but all you have to do is read on, as this weeks post is him doing the Washknight interrogation. What exactly is that? Washknight is a Geocaching blogger from the UK, who in late September sent out 20 questions to a few fellow Geocaching bloggers to “interrogate” them. This then went sort of viral world wide, at least by the standards of the small Geocaching blogging community, and has become sort of a challenge. As of the date of this post, 18 other bloggers have taken the challenge, with a few more working on it. We ourselves first heard about it via Dabaere’s Only Googlebot reads this blog, and decided to give it a try.

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A year of Geocaching blogging (and an announcement)

Sorry for the image, but it was free, and the blogger didn’t feel like paying royalties for a better one. We were waiting until the last minute this week to attempt to secure an interview on a breaking news story in the world of Geocaching, but that didn’t work out in time for us. So as a replacement, we have our one year of blogging anniversary post, a week early! Yes, this blog was officially launched with it’s first post on March 13th, 2013, although it was in the planning stages for several weeks before that. So for our upcoming one year anniversary, we will reveal the 10 most viewed posts, and give a brief overview of our assessment of the first year of the blog. We also have a big announcement regarding this blog; however, it should be a given that the announcement won’t occur until well after the following page break….

In blogging, whatever your topic may be, unique page views on the individual posts build up over time, and it is true the “latest” of the top 10 posts was from early October, 2013. With that in mind, we’ll give a couple of honorable mention shout-outs to posts we expect to some day show up in the top 10 overall most viewed posts eventually, supplanting some of these:

The top 10 posts: 

Just missing the Top 10 were the first of our two posts on The Cache me if you can Geocaching board game, and our tribute to the Late Sven, of the Geocaching Spoilers YouTube Channel. Honorable Mention goes to Sporadically featured OCNA Cache: Mt. Elbert Summit, and the first post of the two part interview with the creators of the Geolocation game Sighter. Those two “younger” posts are really up there on the page views, and we expect them to break into the top 10 over time.

We promised a brief overview of our assessment of one year of blogging: We like it, and we’re not going to stop! We are happy with the readership of the regular users of our website, and the readership we have obtained through promoting our blog via Social Media. We very much appreciate that many of our interviewees have promoted our interviews with them on their own websites and Social Media Outlets. Thank you to all of them for that. And a special shout-out to guest blogger HikerJamz, who runs a free ad on his show for our blog every week, and often briefly discusses that past week’s post.

We are, however, slightly disappointed with the traffic at the blog. More accurately, we are disappointed with the inability to get a decent ranking on a Google Search for Geocaching Blogs, Geocaching Bloggers, or Geocaching Blogging. It’s become rather obvious to us that it takes years of blogging about Geocaching with a Blogger.com blog to get decent search placement on Google. And this is despite implementing obscure SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques for Blogger.com blogs as outlined in this bloggers post on the subject. We haven’t asked, but we seriously doubt any of the Blogger.com Geocaching bloggers who have been blogging for years for their ranking know about, or are using any of those; and still nothing happens for us. All this while a WordPress powered Geocaching Blog not much older than ours, that gets posted to an average of less than once a month, sits firmly on Page 1 of a Google search of “Geocaching Blogs”. Another WordPress powered Geocaching Blog, which has been around for years, but is only posted to a few times a year currently, also sits on page 1 of those results. No names in either case, of course. :-).

The Big announcement:

You probably guessed it already. We’re migrating to the WordPress blogging platform in the very near future! By the way, did we mention Google owns blogger.com? Another obvious factor is the complete control over our own blog content on our own server. It might not be immediately obvious to most readers, but the blog.opencaching.us sub domain is actually just a redirect to a Google hosted blog. So what will happen? Sometime in the next few weeks, we will have a post announcing the change, and for “a few days”, this blog will only be reachable at it’s Blogger.com url http://opencachingna.blogspot.com. When the change over is complete, a WordPress powered blog will then appear at the normal http://blog.opencaching.us URL. Many ISP’s, our own included (Rackspace.com) offer simple “one click installation” of WordPress for new bloggers or webmasters. That is not the case for us, we have to undertake a full manual install, including creating a MySQL database for WordPress. Then once WordPress is installed, the old blogger.com blog content will have to be imported into WordPress via a plug in. So stay tuned, and be sure to look here for the official announcement!

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News about this Blog

This post is not being promoted or announced via social media. Some may have noticed in the very first blog post, I threatened to “host the blog on our own server”. That statement isn’t entirely accurate, the blog has actually been redirected to the URL blog.opencaching.us. I could post a link, but that would be rather redundant, wouldn’t it? We didn’t do this right away, because I was not the owner of the domain names opencaching.us, opencaching.ca and opencaching.mx for a few weeks after coming on board as the replacement 3rd admin.

As long as we continue to use Google’s Blogger software (and I’d have to say we’re pretty happy with it so far), the original URL, http://opencachingna.blogspot.com will always work, and no existing bookmarks need to be updated. Go ahead and try that one; you actually see blog.opencaching.us in your browser. There was a somewhat humorous glitch associated with this redirect though. I created some Address name records, commonly known as “A records” at our web host. One of our other admins noted that suddenly, you needed the “www” in any URL on our website, or you would get an error page. In other words, http://opencaching.us wouldn’t work, for example. Go ahead and try that too, it works now. Once I was informed, I knew exactly what happened, and this error was fixed within 2 hours at most, and happened in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday.

There is no set schedule for posts to this blog, and that’s a good thing too, who likes deadlines? But we have generally been posting once a week, and usually on Wednesdays. That seems to be working out pretty good. That being said, we may be a little late this week! Thanks for reading, readership has gone up every single week so far, according to the statistics we can see in the Blogger control panel.

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