When I started this site in March, after I stopped working with Vario Creative, where I had previously been blogging, I expected that the same traffic building steps that had worked for me before would work here. After 5 months, I can safely say, that’s not the case.
You see, when I started blogging at Vario, the important keys to getting readership were Technorati position and getting trackbacks from other sites. In today’s world of sploggers and spammers, the trackback is dead, and Technorati is increasingly irrelevant. In fact, now Google Blog Search is really the source for accurate linking information, so much so that WordPress has a feed of links from them in the blog dashboard.
My stats have been looking really good, upwards of 240 readers a day, but when you dive into them, you’d find that the majority of the traffic is coming from Google and is associated with an image of a shark eating someone. It’s driveby traffic, they come into the site, and it’s one and done. No long term readers, no comments, no added value. Yesterday, Google realized the error of their ways and my image is no longer showing up in Image Search. The Google well has run dry.
So this begs the question, where too from here? What I’ve decided is to do the same thing I had done on Cycling.com – an open field test, this time for building blog readership. The metrics I am seeking:
- Unique users are nice, but they’re a poor measure for success – This is gross tonnage statistics, and only the depth of visit statistic will be of any real interest.
- Measure reader involvement – I want to make this more of a discussion.
- Encouraging links – For a while I was getting really good links, such as BusinessWeek.com, Entrepreneur.com, but I haven’t seen much lately.
- Content – I’ve been writing fairly compelling content, as always, but I think I need to look at creating more open calls to discussion.
- Linking – I need to provide more links to people writing on the same issues I am writing.
- Value – I need to find ways to provide better value to the reader.
- Understand the Readership – In many ways, I’ve been writing for myself here. Perhaps I should think more about what the market really desires.
- To Develop Community, Use Community – I need to spend more time reading and commenting on other blogs in my sphere of influence. Of course I will use my site in my signature.
- Increase Post Volume – I’ve been slacking off, with only an average of 3 posts a week for a while. Time to increase the number of interesting tidbits on which I comment. Not every post needs to be a definitive guide on a subject.’
- Social Networking – I’ve been doing social networking since 1995, so I guess I should be able to leverage it better than anyone. I’m updating my Facebook account with posts, I post to Twitter when I have an important post, and generally leverage that aspect. I do notice a bump when I post to Twitter, but it depends on the time of day, etc. I worry about burning out my network there, so I try to only self-link a couple times a week.
- More Community – I need to get more involved in communities where I’ll be in front of people whom this blog is written for. That’s not the Reel-Time.com or Cycling.com crowd. Luckily I have just such an opportunity coming up very, very soon.
- Homepage Summaries – I’ve been posting full content to the homepage of the blog, hence I can’t tell when anyone dives in deeper, and it doesn’t really tell me what people are reading. That’d going to change. I also worry I’m getting slapped by our Google Overlords for having duplicate content.
- Dive Deep into Google – I’m not liking what I see in my Google results. I know this stuff backwards and forewards so I need spend some time doing SEO on my own site. Right now, I know Google Webmaster is barking about problems with my Feedburner Rss feed.
So what’s really happened to blog building? I think we can lay it to rest on two basic issues:
- Sploggers/Spammers have made trackbacks/pingbacks utterly irrelevant. The Trackback is Dead, get over it.
- I believe in a lot of ways, microblogging apps have made us less focused. Our info now is finding us, and it’s coming in 140 character bits of text. This enables us to be a little lazy.
Building Blog Traffic – Best Practices – Blog-World Watch
Building Blog Readership One Comment at a Time – Air Blogging