Tuesday, May 06, 2008

What drives your blog traffic these days?

After a lively discussion with my friend Ronni Bennett of Time Goes By on how you just can't rely on Technorati to help you find links anymore (it's pretty much broken for that), I got to wondering if linking to other blogs was all that important anymore in the grander scheme of traffic....

Are links still the *thing* that drives traffic to our blogs the way they did a couple of years ago? I started to wonder more about this, as my traffic blossomed last week while my Technorati rank (and links) took a swan-dive. Over the past few weeks, I'd even noticed that my traffic has a habit of blossoming and staying steady--mostly due to where I'm at in Google. So I was quite intrigued by Darren Rowse's survey of his Problogger.com audience on where their traffic comes from:



Apparently, I'm not the only one who gets a sizable amount of her traffic from Google. Darren was interested to see how many bloggers report links from social networking sites. Being somewhat active in Facebook, and having seen some traffic boosts from Twitter links, as well as how people promote their blogs and blog posts of others, I can understand how social networking links can boost your readership (or at least click-throughs.)

What might this mean for bloggers when it comes to rank and authority? Well, for one thing, while Twitter is searchable, Twitter links do not add to "rank"--which used to be the one way of judging a blog's authority. If we added Twitter links, we'd also have to add Facebook links--which are much harder to aggregate. But if bloggers aren't keeping blogrolls (many aren't) and they aren't linking as widely as they used to, then the idea of blog links as a measure of authority kind of goes by the wayside...

It might be that social networking sites, plus links from other blogs, plus repeat readers, plus links from other sites, plus our Google traffic, is what will give us authority. It might mean that I have to be a bit more shamelessly self-promoting and post links to my new blog posts on Facebook, get a Twitter account and tell everyone about my blog posts (and the posts of others) and then hope that some other bloggers will link to me too...

Does this seem like a lot more work than it used to be to try to figure out what's going on with our blogs? Are we maybe adding more noise to the signal? And is this really giving us authority or just popularity?

Maybe, when it comes down to it, there's no real "authority" in blogs that aren't written by voices of authorities. Maybe we are only authorities--or experts--within our own social spheres, which we carefully cultivate out here in the variety of social networking applications that are out there.

And where does Google come into this? Is, perhaps, Google the channel by which we gain authority and significance on the web?

All I can say is the blogosphere is an ever-morphing, ever-changing place. And how we get traffic--and even authority--might just depend on what our intention is for our blog. Do we want to be linked and loved, or do we want authority from search. Can we do it all? Do we have the bandwidth (or the time of day) to do it all?

Then again, maybe it all depends on our personal priorities for our blogs....

Just my $.02...

2 comments:

Wendell said...

"Do we want to be linked and loved, or do we want authority from search?"

I'd choose linkage - if it really is an either/or. I think that being part of a larger body of work (a group of blogs that sometimes refer to one another) puts me next to readers who are interested in topics I post about. Maybe a dialogue can begin...

Google hits can be "one offs". For example: I've have more than a hundred readers land on a post about music sharing on my multiply.com blog. Not one of these looked at another post or returned to the blog. Maybe they were gravely disappointed? Who knows. In any case, the "traffic" didn't generate "readership" (much less "community")

Does that make sense?

Tish Grier said...

Totally makes sense, Wendell....in fact, the whole click-through/pageview vs. readership thing is what makes advertising folks absolutely nuts. There've been some great discussions about how you can have hundreds of people click through to your blog and nobody stay to read: that it's when people spend time on your blog that makes the difference...

I sometimes feel like the Chazz Palminteri character in A Bronx Tale who said he'd rather be respected than loved. I seem to get a fair amount of respect from Google, but not sure how much "love" I'm getting, as I'm just not as social as I used to be (and don't write about one particular subject in order to create connections in one 'sphere or another.)

Overall, I think that as the blogosphere grows, and there become a multiplicity of tools to communicate and get the word out and create links, we'll have less and less authority-measurements. Which will freak out marketers and p.r. folks: how will they be able to know who's got authority??? It might work *for* us, if they take the time to read, or against us, if they just rely on one or two forms of measurement. And we bloggers will have to think more about what, and who, matters to us :-)