Blog Traffic

I know I’ve talked about why I blog, but in the past week I’ve had three people ask me about how I get new commenters and new visitors to my blog.  There are tons of resources on how to increase traffic to your blog (google “how do I increase traffic to my blog”).  But people have asked me, so here are my thoughts.

I am a new blogger – I’ve only had this blog since December 2009 – but my site hits have been gradually increasing over time. 

May 2010 was an oddity – I was published on the WordPress.com frontpage.

I don’t get a ton of hits, but I get enough to hold my interest, and to make writing regularly worth it on the days when I don’t necessarily want to write.  These are some of the factors that I believe play a role in getting people to check out my blog, and to keep them coming back:

Cross-publishing on Facebook and Twitter.  I get most of my regular, returning readers from Facebook.  I think that a lot of people don’t like to subscribe to receive email updates, so FB and Twitter provide an opportunity to unobtrusively knock on the door when I have new posts.  Also, I have friends and family who do FB, but don’t read a lot of blogs.  FB connects them to me. 

Including popular, controversial or unique words in my posts.  Sex, circumcision, diet, porno, Marilyn Monroe, atheism, ValleyScare.  All of these words have coincided with a bump in my viewership and my google search hits.  One of my favorite bloggers, Jeremy from Cafe Witteveen, put the word “vuvuzela” into one of his posts during this summer’s World Cup and received a generous boost in his viewership.   This is a good way to get people to glance once at my blog, but not a great way to gain loyal, returning readers. 

Getting noticed by bigger blogs so that they publicize for me.  I consider this to be one of the coolest things that has happened to me during my time in the blogosphere, and yes, even more than being published on WordPress.com: Jen from BlagHag took notice of my blog and thought it was decent enough to add it to her Recommended Reading List.  Whenever I add a new post, her blog updates so that my post shows up in the left-hand column.   I usually get ~10 hits per day redirected from her site.  I also show up on some blog rolls on other sites and get occasional hits from those.  It’s audience bias – when the bloggers who have an interest in reading me put my blog on their website, chances are decent that their readers will also have an interest in what I’m writing.

Posting early.  Or late.  It seems like I get a rush of hits in the morning, a smaller bump over the lunch hour and then after 5pm.  These are the times when regular readers check their blogs, and I try to publish accordingly.

But whenever I post, I try to post regularly.  I’ve talked with other bloggers and blog readers about this, and it seems to be a popular idea that even if you post once per day, if you post in a predictable manner you’re going to retain regular readership.  People want to know that the stop at my site is going to be worth it.  I like to publish early in the day (but that doesn’t always happen).     

The more I post, the more I show up in google.  Seems pretty obvious, but as my content has grown, I’ve been suprised at some of the searches that lead to my blog.  I have found that some of my past posts are bolstering site visit numbers on days that I don’t publish new material.  Google has sent quite a few visitors my way for a few select search phrases:  Ada Lovelace, ValleyScare 2010, Green Porno, Pi Necklace, MN Renaissance, Chikage Windler, Gluten Free Pancakes, Girl in the Rain.

Get lucky enough to be published on WordPress.com.   At the time my blog was chosen for the WordPress front page I was getting an average of maybe 25 hits/day.  I received 1,383 hits that day.  As soon as I disappeared from the front page my hits came back down, but my daily average moved up to about 35 hits/day. 

Getting site hits has never been the purpose of my blog.  I enjoy writing about what I’m up to and sharing cool, geeky, science, political and social news.  But having readership – especially an active readership that comments, debates and commiserates with me about the things that I write – is definitely a bonus. 

Thanks for stopping by.

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15 Responses to “Blog Traffic”

  1. jana Says:

    Interesting, educational, intriguing – your post, yet again, made mi visit worth the click.
    A quick question: do you ever worry about spam referrers? Do you count them towards your “readership”, or do you ignore those hits as irrelevant numbers?

    • biodork Says:

      *sigh* Spam referrers are of course an issue, and I’m not sure how I can separate these from non-spammers in my hit count – I would LOVE that, but for now I have to count them in my numbers. Any suggestions?

      I also wish that WordPress didn’t count my own comments towards the total number of comments. I’ve been to a few blogs where the number of comments make me think there’s a hot debate going on, and when I open the post, half of the comments are from the authors saying something along the lines of “Thanks!”

      I do love that Aksimet has managed to keep almost every single spam *comment* from my inbox, and I do know how many of those have been screened out.

  2. George W. Says:

    The first couple weeks I was blogging, my only site visits came primarily from spam referrers. Now that I have a pretty regular group of people stopping by, I don’t much care for them anymore.
    It would also be nice to get views broken down into unique views instead of counting every individual pageview. Some days it appears that I got 65 views when I had one guy who read every post I ever wrote.
    Akismet does kick ass. I’ve only ever had one spam comment slip through in the whole time I have been blogging. Which is admittedly not that long.
    I first came here via Jeremy, and stayed for the great content. Keep up the good work.

    • biodork Says:

      I know what you mean about unique views, or visits. I’m not particularly computer savvy, so I’m not sure how they would do that…tracking by IP address? But I do appreciate how much WordPress stats do break it down currently; it’s pretty nifty.

      Thanks for stopping by, George W. I’ve been over to Misplaced Grace a couple of times via Jeremy as well. I like your writing style and the topics are always interesting.

    • Jeremy Says:

      Firstly, congrats, Biodork on the upswing in hits. That’s great!

      Secondly, to clarify, I didn’t mean to get the World Cup Vuvuzela bump. I posted something with a vuvuzela joke, tagged it “vuvuzela joke”, and “vuvuzela joke” got hits from search engine terms. It simply shows the power of making sure you tag your posts accurately.

      For instance I went to a female doctor last year. It was my first time with a female doctor, and I loved it. I wrote about it. I tagged it first time with female doctor, and every day I get hits from that post from people looking for porn.

      Tertiarily, It seems to me that wordpress has clamped down on statistics and page views. I’m having a hard time looking it up to verify it or not. But it seems that with the new look you might have noticed in your dashboards, that they also rewrote the statistics code. I had a sudden drop in stats at that time (by almost half). I played around with checking my blog from different logged out computers and it definitely seemed to offer less page views.

      I know, it’s very unscientific. And I could be wrong. But the correlation seems highly probable to me.

      At the same time, it was a huge deflating honk to experience such a drop in hits. But if they are more accurate, that makes me feel better too.

      • biodork Says:

        Oops – I didn’t mean to imply you were fishing for hits with the “vuvuzela” tag; I just remember you writing about the increase you saw when you did post the joke.

        That’s hilarious about “first time with a female doctor”. I actually get hits for “animal porno” quite often after I wrote about Isabella Rosselini’s “Green Porno” book, which is about the mating habits of animals.

        Bummer about the stats drop – that is a honk. But like you say, if the stats are more “accurate” – i.e., more “real” readers, less spam visitors, that’s good. I haven’t noticed a drop since they changed to from Flash to Flot, but maybe I just haven’t gotten as wildly popular as Le Cafe yet, so I’m less attractive to spam referrers 🙂

  3. fysical Says:

    Posting your blog on facebook and twitter is really good, and Search engine optimise your blog with popular words and stuff. A good way to get traffic is exchanging links with other blogs to. People should email each other and ask if they want to exchange links and give each other some traffic 🙂 good post anyways! Keep up the good work.

    • biodork Says:

      Hey fysical – thanks for stopping by and for commenting.

      This idea of “If you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” really works and is evident everywhere – it’s right up there with the Golden Rule. But I don’t like the idea of cross-promoting like this…it feels more like marketing and advertising than I care to engage in. I’m not saying it’s wrong, but I like the idea of promoting sites that genuinely catch my interest, and I really only want to be promoted by sites that like what I’m writing. I don’t want a business contract with other bloggers.

  4. 9 Blog Writing Tips Says:

    […] Blog Traffic « Biodork […]

  5. organicgreen doctor Says:

    just started blogging 2 months
    have found your blog on blog traffic to be helpful
    and hopeful
    thanks organicgreen doctor

  6. Jeremy Says:

    I also wanted to add to this list that one of the best ways to get mad hits is to go to events that other people want to go to and aren’t able to.

    Tina and I went to The SSA sponsored Creation Museum visit with PZ Myers. I wrote about it and took pictures. I tweeted the day of, and uploaded pictures. I still get a handful of hits a week from that. At the time, I got over 7,000 hits in one day and a lot of regular readers from that event.

    Last February, I went to the John Loftus vs Dinesh D’Souza debate. February and March were two of my biggest months.

    Both events were relatively major investments. I traded hotel/gas/time/misc expenses for great hits. At the Loftus debate, I was forced to stay another night in a hotel because of weather causing another day in car rental.

    My next investment will be at the Stewart/Colbert event in Washington DC at the end of the month.

    Cheers,

    Jeremy

    • biodork Says:

      Excellent point – I’ve noticed the unique events phenomenon, also. Like the Restoring Sanity Rally is going to be. Totally FREAKING jealous that you’re going, btw. And super excited that you’re going because I know you’re going to have some incredible photos and write ups for us!

  7. Michael Lombardi Says:

    Excellent post. I would gather that all of these points are spot-on, though from personal experience I don’t receive many hits. I think a decent amount of that is because of my limited audience base (school-age kids wanting bio knowledge).

    FYI, I believe I found you on Jen’s blog but don’t remember if it was from a comment or the link on the side. If I had to guess, you posted a good comment, so I followed the link. 🙂

  8. Dwindling readership – special weekend post « Good in Parts Says:

    […] Blog Traffic (biodork.wordpress.com) […]

  9. elmaquino Says:

    I drop little bit.ly links to my site right after a comment; and my traffic has exploded. http://bit.ly/dUWxCA

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