Blog : AROnline growing again – thank you!

February 2018 has been the busiest month for AROnline since its last peak in 2011. For that, I thank you all for taking the time to come here and read our stories. In the grand scheme of automotive websites the amount of users that we have ranks as minuscule, but to be gaining readers at a time when many specialist websites are struggling counts as a great result.

I’d been worried that the existence of Facebook, and its ability to hoover up all Internet traffic, was having an adverse effect on AROnline for a long time. It looked like readers were going there, and not leaving to read quality content elsewhere – if the decline in users here was anything to go by, that really did seem to be the case.

However, sitting there and blaming Facebook while doing nothing about it was never going to fly. I’ve been working on this site for longer than I care to remember, and the thought of letting it shuffle off into obscurity – despite all of the great stuff we’ve uncovered over the years – was never really going to happen.

Giving you what you want

What to do, though? How do you get people out of Facebook and interacting with the site? After thinking long and hard about this issue, I decided the best thing to do was to stop thinking about it. Social media is an uncontrollable living beast, and one that’s best left to do its own thing, taking the people with it. No, what I needed to do was to give you what you want by keeping doing what I was doing.

The important bit was to make it easier to read what’s on here, while ensuring that the best stories are picked up by Google, and surfaced in more web searches – and, basically, that’s what’s happened. In 2017, I changed the way AROnline looks, making it easier to search, but – most importantly – also making it more visible to Google.

In between uploading new stories (they do still keep coming up) I’ve been re-editing the old ones, and making sure that they have been tweaked for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), as well as adding updates and more important information from the people who were there at the time, working on the cars.

The best month for AROnline since 2011

Popular stories were improved, and with the reference material SEO’d massively, new people were finding their way to AROnline and liking what they see. The end result has been pleasing to say the least – the long period of decline was arrested, and month-on-month since the summer of 2017, the number of users coming to AROnline has been growing.

Now, our traffic is at the highest level it’s been for seven years, when it had peaked following our move to a WordPress-based solution from a the static HTML site we’d been running with since 2002.

So, once again, I thank you for your continued support, and brilliant and enlightened contributions to the site, be it in the comments or via email. It’s good fun running AROnline and I enjoy everything I do here – helping share previously-unknown information, or remixing old stories that have been told incorrectly over the years. We’ve debunked many myths, and shared so many untold stories over the years – and I really do hope we can for years to come…

Keith Adams


  1. The site has evolved over the years and has become a source of automotive factual information, always handy for pub discussions. I’ve personally been a reader for maybe 12 years or more, so keep up the good work Keith and all the other contributers to the site.

  2. Seconded! As a former Rover engineer, from a family of Rover engineers, I really enjoy the stories. Been following a long time now and always a pleasure to recognize a name in the comments section.

  3. Hear Hear – I’ve been visiting the site regularly since 2005 just before the demise of MG Rover and there’s always something interesting to read, see and comment on… especially from the nostalgia angle!

  4. I’m perhaps one of a handful of people left in the developed world that doesn’t even have a Facebook account…! Call me old-fashioned but I prefer being able to visit a specialist website like AROnline to get my fix of motoring related stories minus the plethora of unrelated advertising and other annoying distractions. Keep up the good work Keith!

  5. I have been a regular reader since before the demise of MGR. I have to thank you Keith and your colleagues for all you do to create and share the site. There is nothing else of similar quality. It is so pleasing to see the site continue to grow and always fascinating to read new and updated accounts of the development of the cars.

  6. Facebook has its uses; I’m on it and use it quite a lot, but there are some things it doesn’t do very well. It’s largely geared up to be being at-this-moment with subjects that have a short shelf life. It doesn’t really do in-depth and at-length, which is why there will always be a market for AROnline and anything which covers subjects in a more leisurely, researched way.

    • That is so true. The vast increase in mobile phone use and ever smaller tablets with alltheir related difficulties of posting long items, LapTops are no longer main posting facility. The limitations of those smaller hand held devices encourages short often one-liner exchanges so salient larger content becomes an even rarer species… endangered species even if the massive move towards smaller hand held devices continues as seems likely. Couple that with an increasingly younger population who have never seen streets of cars with names like Morris and others with the Legend “Austin of England” on them, I suspect the once mainstream web-sites like these will actaully dininish. So the news that this one has seen an increase makes a refreshing change.

      Long may that continue. I have sadly observed some similarly interesting car enthusiasts web sites disappear and others are seeing much reduced activity or even next to nothing compared with their heights only a few years ago.

      Such is progress.

  7. Well done!

    I think we’ve reached “peak Facebook” anyway, not helped by some of the data hoovering stories that have come out recently!

  8. I do enjoy the mix of stories about old and new cars, and the occasional hidden gem that I might have missed. As for Facebook.. what’s that?

  9. Worry not Keith, the site is safe for years to come. I like the new articles, but also going back into the annals of history to review all stuff ‘British’ on a regular basis. If I’m anything to go by its ARO, a bit of footie (mainly BBC Sport) and then current affairs and thats all I look at.

    Thanks again for all your hard work, it is much appreciated (as is that of your colleagues)

  10. As you say, you can’t fight Facebook and other social media, so you have to embrace it. From my experience, I’m sure that many people think that Facebook and Google is the internet.

    The way you have to look at is – how many people (myself included) discovered aronline through Facebook? And how many more people read your content when it is posted on Facebook. I find it fascinating looking at how many visitors are on my own website the minute I post on Facebook. The key is to put great content on your website, then post the link on Facebook. Aronline is a briiliant website with a very popular facebook page too, so you’ve got the best of both worlds.

    Thanks for all the work you put into this site, it’s great to read about the everyday cars from the past rather than exotica I’m never likely to own, and good to know there are so many like-minded people!

  11. As another “anorak” who doesnt use facebook I’m happy to come onto a website where there is talk about oily, metal things with a free “rosetinted glasses” prescription included. Keep up the great work. Love to read more of the ‘bangernomics’ type blogs.

  12. Been reading this since the start in 2001. Always a fabulous resource, and every day it gets better.

  13. Been an avid reader of this site since 2004 and love its nostalgia and stories that you make you think what if.

    Again another non user of social media – most of it’s toilet and with so many people not actually communicating but posting drivel it’s nice to come on to here and mostly see sensible conversations!

  14. SEO is a shady business, but I’m glad it’s working well for you Keith.

    More car ownership stories please! Tell us about your Citroen GS. Tell us about your FN2 Civic. Tell us about your Minis. Tell us how you manage the logistics of owning, storing and maintaining a ton of old cars.

  15. Use social media, come across a lot of new/updated stories from links you post on the AROnline FB page.

    Love this site, have done for years, while Rover itself closed in 2005, the story is still being told, and the descendants (JLR, MINI, MG) are still alive and doing well.

  16. Keith, Ian N and team you have a website that is second to none for anyone wanting to enjoy everything that is BMC, BL, ARG and more besides. My most sincere thanks for wonderful words and pictures published here and the time and effort that goes into it. Writing from NZ I assure you you are appreciated the world over. Keep it coming.

  17. 8th most valuable company in the world
    2.2bn monthly active users
    Been in the news a bit recently 🙂

  18. Well done.
    Love this site, always a fabulous resource since the start.
    Congratulations and Thank You for all the hard work.

  19. Love this site and thank you for your hard work.

    Is there anyway you can link to your pages from the Wikipedia page for some of the main suspects – Allegro Marina etc etc – might up your traffic even more? Certainly don’t worry about social media!

  20. I used to read this site avidly. It’s a great resource and I appreciated the mix of stories and thought it was great how we started commenting on ten year old articles when you re-posted them. Where else could I read about class 43 power cars, buses and BL without changing sites? I don’t want a FB or other social profile.
    I’ve visited less frequently recently. I want to read about old and British cars: I get more than enough about leaving the EU without looking for it here too.

  21. I’ve been reading this site for longer than I care to remember, the quality of information here is amazing. I don’t have a Facebook account, I am more interested in spending time enjoying well researched articles as well as reminiscing about my Dad’s 70s BL adventures. The site is great, give Facebook et al a wide berth.

  22. Been coming here for years and years for my almost daily dose of things AR–and intend continuing to do so for the foreseeable!! Keep up the good work Keith and thank you!
    Nearly forgot — have taken the plunge and bought myself a Triumph 2000 Mk2!

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