Sunday, December 04, 2005

Newsweek & Technorati: one more way to manipulate your traffic, I suppose

I know that the Newsweek/Technorati partnership is several months old. Frankly I never gave it much thought. Until today, when I noticed a bunch of referrers to this blog coming from the Newsweek site and discovered that I was listed as a blog commenting on a recent Newsweek article. Truth be told, I was commenting on another blogger's comments on the Newsweek article, but let's let that be our little secret, m'kay?

It seems to me that if all one cared about was traffic, one should do the following things:

1. Go blog about every Newsweek article
2. Go check out what is on the front page of Memeorandum and write a post linking to those posts.
3. Find other similar well-trafficked sites that automate links and do the same.

I'm sure there are folks that do exactly that. If we go by Mr. Snitch's description of the 7 styles of blogging, and how they impact traffic, these folks would fall under "Meme-du-jour" bloggers. It's tempting isn't it? You've written some fabulous, lengthy post...brilliant analysis of a trend or deal or marketing effort (we're not talking about me now, this is compeltely hypothetical) and you tell yourself: oh this is far too deep and complex and non-sound-bite-y to get mainstream blogosphere play. The blogosphere likes their posts short and sweet (and preferably snarky about some promiment blogger or journalist or politico or technical guru.) Why don't I write a couple of meme-du-jour posts to drive a little traffic over here, and hope that people also find my brilliant regular writing?

So, is anyone out there brave enough to admit they strategize their blogging in exactly this way? I don't. But maybe I should? Because I don't think there's a single thing wrong with doing that. We all have to choose from hundreds of intersting things to write about every day. Why not write about the things that will get you traffic? I mean, say something original and pithy about those things, by all means, but why should the subject's very popularity forestall your writing about it?

Oh, that pesky little echo chamber issue? Or, the fact that one's motivation for that kind of blogging, so hungry for traffic stats, is likely driven by wanting ad click-thrus on one's site?

Well, so what? If you can find something new to say on a topic, more power to you. If you can't it's unlikely even this kind of meme-du-jour blogging will get you much sustained traffic improvement. And I assume no one puts ads on their blogs because they look so darn pretty. Nothing wrong, again, with having a revenue plan.

But I'm really curious: does anyone out there make this their blogging plan? And if so, have they found it to provide sustained improvement to their traffic? And if so, has this delivered them any benefits over and above higher traffic?

It seems like there are ever more ways to, dare I say it, artificially increase traffic. And yet, I hear the judgement in my own use of the word "artificially" and wonder why I have a tendency to look down on such efforts. So I hope those of you appalled by the very line of inquiry this post puts forth can give me a good reason you are so.

[On a complete and total side note: it occurred to me this morning to wonder whether Newsweek vs. Time is like Coke vs. Pepsi or Crest vs. Colgate. When I was growing up my mom got Newsweek, bought Coke products, and we used Crest toothpaste. I'm still a Coke girl. Until I switched to Tom's of Maine after becoming a vegetarian I was still a Crest girl. And when I pick up a newsmagazine in the airport book store I still reach for Newsweek. Anyone else relate to that at all?]

Super post, Elisa. I have debated blogging strategies with myself on more than one occassion, but have never stuck with anything long enough to be able to determine whether or not it worked for me.

Now, I just write what I want to write and don't worry about it.

On your Newsweek vs. Time question, I do, in fact, believe it is the same as Coke vs. Pepsi.

I was a Coke guy, by the way. Now, I drink Diet Dr. Pepper.
Thanks Troy. I tend to just write what I want too, but on the other hand I scrupulously track my traffic and referrers. Not sure exactly why...yet, but I do :)
Hi Elisa. As a matter of fact, I have gone out and researched the day's hot topics (using Memeorandum and similar tools) and posted on the day's hot topics. And that does drive traffic.

Don't think that because a writer has a topic chosen for him/her this way that (s)he can't add value to it, of give it a whole new spin entirely. That's what good writers can do. Great writers can even be compelling in doing so.

Beyond Memeorandum et al, another way of writing to a hot topic is simply to write about a subject bloggers are interested in. Such as (my) post you've linked here, which has been linked many dozens of times around the blogosphere. It's being newly linked every day, in fact.

Most of my writing is to please myself. But I do want to develop a readership, so I create some posts that are more like "work" - writing to a hot topic. It's "work" in the sense that the topic is assigned to me by my boss - the reading public.

Regarding "sustained" traffic: A following (which I think is what you mean) takes time to build. You can get quick hits using the "meme du jour" technique, but the readership is fleeting. The only answer I know of is this: If you want readers who come back, put in a sustained effort. And build relationships with readers (and other bloggers for that matter).

For what it's worth.
What Mr. Snitch says here about fleeting traffic is, I think, true. At one point, I signed up for BlogClicker, but I couldn't bring myself to use it more than once or twice because I felt that the traffic it might generate would be very superficial and ephemeral. to me, it seemed like most blog surfers prime motivation would be stay the requisite 30 seconds or so necessary to view a blog and then move on--all in the name of driving up their own traffic.

My stats, visitor wise, are far from impressive so far, but slowly improving. In the meantime, I value repeat visitors and "regulars" who take the time to comment--and I respond in turn. I'm hoping that this strategy will pay off in the long run, but since I'm doing this for love and not money, it's no biggie (is it?--lol).
Thanks for your great comments. I would pretty much agree, although I will say that there are plenty of "popular" bloggers whose sustained efforts are mostly to post one-line links to other things and don't "add" much as far as I can see.These are never my favorite blogs to read.

And Elvira, given the number of comments you get on your posts I'd say your efforts are paying get a lot of rabid interest in each post your write, which I agree is more fulfilling than more tepid visitors.
Deffinately some good points to ponder. Thank you.
God Bless.
GREAT post! First of all, during the original development of my blog, I tried to keep to specific topics, then after some time I guess I wanted to just be able to talk about anything.

Once, I even used an aggregator to feed my blog during a vacation - and I'll never do it again.

I get tons of traffic and it's not all about monetizing - lately, I've been so busy, they are just things I find of interest...
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