The Secret to Driving Blog Traffic

trafficSince I’ve started paying a little more attention to traffic in the past month or so, I’ve been reading people’s suggestions for driving more traffic to your blog.  There are no end to blog posts out there, especially from people who want to make money from page hits, for getting a lot more people onto your blog.  I’m part of a Google+ community for blogging and these things are posted almost continuously.

You know what they all conclude the secret for  driving traffic to your blog is?  Lying.  Yes, that’s right, lying.  Doing whatever you can do, saying whatever  you can say to con people into coming to your blog, whether they stick around or not.

Want some examples?  Those are easy.

How about guest posting?  Now I may be naive but my opinion on guest posting has always been that if a fellow blogger needs help, is going to be out of town or is too busy to write posts for a while, I’ll jump in and write some content to help them out.  It’s not about me, it’s about producing the best content for their blog and being a good blogging neighbor.  But no, apparently I’m wrong, the whole point of guest blogging is to get yourself hits.  Fuck the blog you’re writing on.  You should find a blog with a bigger readership than yours and write a link-ridden post that makes your blog look good in hopes of getting a bunch of their readers to become your readers.  I’ve written plenty of guest posts in my day, but you know what I’ve never done?  I’ve never asked anyone if I could do it, I wait until I’m asked.  Why would I waste your time, space and bandwidth trying to get hits on my own blog?  It seems stupid.

How about controversy?  That seems to be on everyone’s list.  Do something specifically to piss people off.  Talk about dishonesty!  It’s one thing to write a post that creates controversy if it’s something that you really feel, it’s another to find a topic people feel strongly about and purposely write something that makes them mad so they swarm like locusts all over your blog.  Now yes, controversy sells, we know that, but running around kicking babies just to make them cry seems a bit absurd.  I can honestly say that I have never written a blog post solely to piss anyone off.  Sure, lots of what I write has that effect, but not that purpose.  Believe it or not, I don’t go out intending to be a dick.

One of the newest I’ve seen is Triberr, a site for people who will go around and post links to your posts, so long as you’ll reciprocate and post links to theirs.  Keep in mind, these aren’t people who are going to read your work ,decide they like it and then personally recommend it to others, these are just link farms.  They don’t bother to read anything  you write, they just post links by rote.  I find that horribly dishonest.  My word means something to me, if I’m going to put out a link to another blog, it means I’ve not only read it, I found it valuable and I am personally recommending it to others.  This is just dishonesty galore.  There is another one called JustRetweet that does the same thing.

The same can be said of randomly following people on Twitter in hopes that they’ll follow you back.  I put this into the  same category as paying for Twitter followers.  I find this mindless, but then again I’m not trying to look impressive, I actually want the people who follow me on Twitter or Google+ or Facebook to be fans of my work.   I’m looking for readers who are actively engaged members of my particular community.  There are so many people who follow me on Twitter and get offended that I don’t follow them back, but I’m just not going to do it unless I look at your timeline and see if you’re saying anything I might care about.  The overwhelming majority do not so they do not get followed.  The ones who try to advertise to me anyhow get reported for spam and blocked.  Honestly, although I shouldn’t, I believe that if I’m going to follow you, I’m advocating what you’re saying in general.  I’m agreeing to some degree with what you’re posting or tweeting.  If I disagree with everything you say and everything you do, why would I follow you around and attach my name to your crap?

Finally, the old StumbleUpon and Reddit trap.  This is an issue because they really don’t produce the effect that I’m after.  You can post your own articles on StumbleUpon or Reddit, or get others to do it for you, and yes, from time to time you’ll get a huge number of hits as your site gets flooded with link-monkeys.  However, the overwhelming majority of them won’t even read your article, almost all of them spend mere seconds on your site before moving on to the next link.  They won’t read, they won’t comment and they won’t be back until the next article that gets Stumbled comes along.  This is utterly pointless, except to those who make a few cents for everyone who clicks on the page.  For those of us who are content providers, who actually produce articles that we want people to read and respond to, there’s no point in StumbleUpon or Reddit and it becomes dishonest when you get groups who just go around Stumbling each other’s posts to avoid getting Ghost Banned.

So maybe that’s my problem, I’m unwilling to be dishonest.  I’m unwilling to screw other people over to get hits.  I’m unwilling to mislead people down a primrose path because I want more hits.  All of these methods could be useful in some small way, I suppose, right up until people want to use them as get rich quick schemes.

I get so sick and tired of being part of the human race sometimes.


5 thoughts on “The Secret to Driving Blog Traffic

  1. I know it can be frustrating, but one really can get new readers from StumbleUpon. I still find atheist blogs with which I am not familiar by stumbling. And if they look good, I often add them to my feed reader. Maybe we're only talking about something like 1% of the people who find you via StumbleUpon coming back, but given how little effort is involved in using the service, I'll still take it.
    My recent post Dear Muslima Revisited

    1. Oh, I know that you can get some traffic from these sites, I do all the time, it just tends to be very transitory traffic. I\’ve got one post I wrote more than 6 months ago that is still getting traffic virtually every single day from StumbleUpon, even though it hasn\’t had a single new comment for almost 2 months. Putting random eyes on a post is one thing, generating repeat, engaged traffic is another. I\’m willing to bet that the people who came to read that post never read another thing and never came back again. This has got to be about more than just hits.

      1. "This has got to be about more than just hits." I suppose that depends on your goals and why you are blogging. I view hits as a crude metric of interest and reach, but ultimately, I'm writing because I enjoy it and because I find it useful in clarifying my thoughts. If others find it useful from time-to-time, that's great, but I imagine I'd do it even if nobody was reading.
        My recent post Before You Accuse Someone of Being a Troll

        1. I would too, you're the one who started the whole "how to get more hits" thing over on your blog. :)

          Now I'm actually interested in the metrics of it and how someone like me, who doesn't care about the reach, but about the quality of the reader, would go about drawing in an excited and interested crowd. It just strikes me that everyone suggests such a scattershot method, just trying to get hits without worrying about the quality of the hits, it just strikes me as very inefficient. There just has to be a better way to get quality views without spreading shit on the walls in hopes it will draw the flies.

          1. Hmmmm……with such a huge market, such a wide potential audience to sift through, and such low cost/effort to get things out there, I don't think that standard notions of "inefficient" mean much, as they might when applied to a business with higher overhead or an in-person local community.

            Before the internet (and sometimes still), unknown bands might spend the $20-$50 to print up say 2000 or more fliers for a gig, and the band and whatever friends they could muster would hand them out in the community where the gig was scheduled, along with maybe a few cheap posters. Only a teeny-tiny percent would respond, but if you get even 1% of the handbills and a hundredth of a percent of the poster viewers to stop by, that might be anywhere from 10 to 100 or more new potential fans, who would at least give you a listen for a song or two. It's inefficient as all fuck, but it was cheap, accessible, and got the word out to at least some of the desired market while avoiding big costs and rampant mis-marketing. I think the internet is more analogous to on-the-street "guerilla marketing" or the modern version of "word of mouth" than it is to any stand-alone business model version.

            I really appreciate your dedication to honesty and quality, and I don't think you need to sacrifice any of that. I think that Atheist Revolution, Friendly Atheist, Stupid Evil Bastard and a few others are pretty good examples of that. Of course PZ at pharyngula, who has decided to amp drama and forego honesty on many an occasion now, is still one of the largest atheist web writers out there, but he built that traffic and name from the early days of the internet, and has also lost a lot of it with various stunts. Some of those who grew up in his shadow, so to speak, are getting their feet now.
            You may never hit what his numbers were a few years ago, but who cares? It's not a competition, and he can't even hit those numbers now. The market has changed.

            I still say, keep up the good work, and as long as the work is good, there is nothing wrong with pimping yourself when given the chance.

            Or maybe you're just stuck with us, and tough titty.

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