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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Traffic Doesn't Equal Popularity

The other day on one of the blogs I follow, the blogger asked why she should bother to keep her blog up if no one reads it.

Many people make the mistake of thinking that if no one comments, no one is reading. One might also assume that if their counters don’t register a visit, then that is a certainty that no one is reading.

Both untrue.

Counters count physical visits, yet I’ve had people (spammers) leave comments without the counter showing a physical visit. Also, your readers could also be reading you on a Reader (like Google Reader) or an RSS feed. Neither shows up on a counter.

As for comments, that’s more in line with sociological conditioning. I’ve noticed that the blogs that have lots of comments have a couple of specific attributes. Either the blogger in question is a long time member of a group, such as a subject-specific Yahoo group, school or work, or s/he blogs using Live Journal or Facebook, which supports the friending system.

This kind of social nesting instills a sense of obligation to visit and comment regularly to others in the same nest.

I left a comment for the blogger who wondered who read her and mentioned that I had more than 300 blogs on my reader. I checked just now and it turns out the exact number is 377. I don’t read them all. I scan them.

Greg was amazed one day when he saw me deleting post after post. How could I possibly read them so fast?

The trick is reading the title and the first couple of paragraphs for keywords. If the blogger doesn’t say anything interesting within the first few sentences it gets deleted.

Sadly, if they use a truncated post and don’t say anything interesting until later on in the page, they lose a reader.

Posts that repeat (old) news also get deleted unless the blogger presents it in a new or interesting way.

I do read my friends’ posts.

I also read in their entirety posts about animals, history, magic, and the paranormal.

Speaking of animals, I almost always comment when someone loses a pet, even if I’ve never commented on his blog before.

I rarely read excerpts unless the hook grabs me right away.

I don’t read reviews unless it’s a book I’ve read or plan to read. I almost always read reviews if it has spoilers. I love spoilers!

I don’t generally comment unless the post asks a question or touches on a subject I care about.

I made the mistake of commenting only once on a blog post about politics. Must have been a weak moment because I stay away from politics like the plague it is. It’s not that I don’t have an opinion. Far from it. I just prefer to focus on topics I enjoy exploring—and politics isn’t one of them.

In a normal week, I might make 5-6 comments out of 377 blog posts. If I comment on your blog, consider yourself one of the anointed holies. LOL!

So in closing, don’t assume that lots of comments equals true popularity. The world is a big place and most of us interact with only a tiny piece of it.

If you happen to score a lot of comments it means you’re either well supported by your nest of friends, you say some really insightful (or controversial) things, or you’re immensely entertaining.

While I read and enjoy all three styles of blogs, I hope I fall into the second camp by default. I know I’m not the ‘nesting’ type and I’m only funny every third Monday when I’m washing dishes by fireflies, but I truly, almost desperately want to deliver solid, practical posts.

And on days when I can’t deliver an informative post, I’ll settle for funny.

How about you? What do you want to achieve with your blog?

Copyright © 2009 Maria Zannini --


catie james said...

What do you want to achieve with your blog?

*chuckles* Excellent question. Still trying to figure out my answer...

Oh and I'm really bad - I don't even have one of those blog-stat counter thingies. :) Could never figure out how to install it over at LJ, so I just gave up on them all together.

catie james said...

PS: Thank you for the comment(s) - both here and on my blog. :)

Maria Zannini said...

My pleasure.

Stat counters have limited use since it only counts physical visits. The only real benefit I've found is that I can see where my name or subject shows up in a Google search. That's how I know my dog articles and the marketing posts are the most popular.

To me the most successful blogs are the ones that are quoted often. It doesn't matter if it's an entertainment, informational or social blog.

Marian said...

Great topic, Maria.

I started my blog because I knew that when I was eventually published, I would want a place to mention my books. And to me it would have seemed kind of, I dunno, crass to start a blog expressly for that purpose. So I decided to start the blog and put the books on it when they were published.

Then I found that blogging was immense fun, allowed me to connect with other writers, gave me ideas for future projects and has got me 22 free books so far. So it's done some good, even before my first book is published (though I did get an email from Anne Scott at Samhain yesterday about the manuscript!).

I like having comments and followers, but as you said, a lot more people read without commenting.

Maria Zannini said...

Hi Marian,

(hope that email from Anne had great news)

I was shocked and humbled once when I posted about my dog's death. Many of the comments were from lurkers who felt compelled to offer their condolences. They have no idea how much that meant to me. And I had no idea so many people were reading me.

I was telling Catie on her blog too that I have a friend whose blog is wildly popular. She is always being quoted, but she gets very few comments.

Your blog is one of my favorites because you always have the most interesting topics. I'd say you were very successful as a blogger.

Marian said...

It was great news, thanks. :)

She said they would like to offer me a contract for a fantasy with romantic elements and that I should hear from the publisher within a week.

I'm nervous. I always assumed that when I got a publishing contract, I'd have an agent to vet it. But I've read about the positive experiences a lot of writers have had with Samhain, yourself included.

I think posting about an experience of grief we all have in common will bring lurkers to comment. It's personal, it's universal, it's difficult not to respond to with empathy.

Thanks very much for your compliments on my blog!

Maria Zannini said...

Wonderful news! I'm looking forward to hearing more about it on your blog.


Marianne Arkins said...

I read most of my blogs on Google Reader, and only click through if I decide to comment.

I HATE HATE HATE truncated blogs, and deleted them all from my "follow" and from my reader. I know what they want me to do -- they want me to click through every day. I DON'T HAVE THE TIME. And, so they've lost me altogether.

And I blog because it's there. eventually, I'll probably get more regimented, but for now... I gab. That's me, IRL, too *G*

Maria Zannini said...

Google reader has been a real time saver. Every post is not going to appeal to every reader every day, so why go to each individual blog?

This way I can read what I want, bookmark it if it's particularly helpful or delete it if it doesn't do anything for me.

PS Marianne, you have a very social, entertaining blog, and you do present some very informative posts too. That's why I read you. :o)