Well initial results from my site stats looked amazing, traffic up 4 to 5 times, but then I started to dig.
First, I looked at the referrer report; I noticed a lot of traffic from PC World and very little from the various press release distribution sites. This was not enough of an increase to explain the overall increase in visits. Total referred traffic up approx. 25%. The majority of the increase was from direct traffic.
So, I investigated the referring page from PC World. It turns out; they had put a link (blogs.pcworld.com/tipsandtweaks) to the free e-mail encoder on my site along with a favorable review. Yet that link only delivered a handful of the visitors. So I kept digging and checked my most popular pages.
My most popular page of the day was a page that doesn't exist on my site and was generating a 404 error (page not found). Had I made a mistake in my press release and pointed to a non-existent page. No, that was not it. Remember, there were no referrers to this page, all the traffic was direct traffic. So where was it coming from? Perhaps a new bot/spider that I'm not scrubbing from my log files. Yes that was it.
My site was and still is getting pounded by the AvantGo spider. AvantGo is a proxy utility for the Palm and Windows CE that helps sync users handhelds with the latest news etc. So my guess, AvantGo had picked up the press release from one of the many distribution points and was following all the links. Now since, AvantGo only supports HTML 3.1 (at least from my investigations) and no java script, and my site is built in XHTML, the poor little spider is having problems and getting confused by my web analytics java script tracking utility.
So it's back to monitoring it, and trying how to get AvantGo to stop calling a page that doesn't exist. I'm well aware that the benefits of press release are not just traffic to a web site, but it is an indicator of people's interest in the subject matter etc. At a minimum, the inbound links from the press release across all the sites it appears on should give me a boast in link popularity and that should help increase my overall ranking in the SERPs.