Big changes are about to come to AAR’s message boards.  But with any luck, you’ll barely even notice them.

Here’s the deal:  AAR’s message boards have previously been hosted on a separate server – not on AAR’s.  This has resulted in several problems, chiefly a very frustrating lack of customer service.  The second problem?  Site stats for our very popular message boards have not been included in AAR’s traffic numbers or in site ranking ratings on Alexa.com.   So, the result is that our Alexa ranking – one that was cited elsewhere on the Internet over the weekend – is only part of the story.

We’re solving both problems by moving message board hosting to the same company (a reliable one that actually, you know, responds when we have problems) hosting the main site.  What will the change mean to you?  Nothing if you enter the message boards from AAR’s home page.  However, if you’ve  bookmarked the message boards – as we know many of you have – then you’ll need to update your bookmarks after the changeover.  That’s it.  All registrations and threads will be preserved intact.

This change is imminent – over the next few days, certainly – and we’ll let you know when it’s coming via a heads up on the home page and the message boards.  If you miss the announcement and discover that your bookmarked message board link is dead, simply go to the home page for updated links.

And while we’re on the traffic topic (well, we were a paragraph or so ago, anyway) AAR’s statistical guru LinnieGayl Kimmel put together some fascinating facts:

  • Main site visits have gone up 41% since December 2008, while hits and page views are up 23% over the same period.
  • Message board visits are up by 41%, while hits and page views have increased by 23%.
  • Message board page views have increased by 50% over the past three months.
  • 63% of visitors enter the site via the home page.
  • 39% enter AAR via the message boards, then go onto the main site.
  • Over the past month, visitors to the message boards viewed an average of 12 pages per day and spent 9.1 minutes per day on the boards – an increase of 61% over the past three months – while visitors to the main site viewed an average of 2.7 pages per day.

These stats are derived from AAR’s own traffic data and from Alexa – the latter about which LinnieGayl is more than a bit wonky.  Apparently, amongst other limitations, Alexa only counts traffic from computers with an installed Alexa toolbar.  There’s other stuff, too, but honestly, LG sort of lost me there. (English majors didn’t spend a lot of time on statistics.)

Still, o-o-o-o-kay.  It is what it is – and it goes without saying that the same limitations apply to the rankings for every site.  Blythe, Rachel, Lynn and I thank LinnieGayl for taking the time to take our Web traffic and Alexa temperature which is always a good thing to do.

And don’t forget the big headline:  Watch the home page for the message board announcement.  It’s going to be a good thing.  Really.

-Sandy AAR