I took last week off from writing a new blog post because I wanted to give my epic post on blogging mistakes a chance to gain some traction. I also figured it would be a good time to see how some of my efforts worked out as I worked on increasing my web presence after all that work I did on my mobile speed.
By now those of you who are using WordPress as your blogging platform of choice know that there’s an update, 3.9. It’s definitely changed some things, including overriding some of my settings for how I have my admin area colorized, but I’m going to let that go… for now…
Instead, I want to key on something you might not have noticed yet. If you look at the comment section of your admin area, underneath the names of people who comment on your blog you’ll now see this number. It shows how many times someone has commented on your blog; cool eh?
I thought that this would be cool to use because maybe I’d want to write a post showing how many people have commented often and how often they’ve done so. Then I looked deeper at it.
As an example I’m showing a strip of my admin panel (so, my colors are funky lol) highlighting our friend Peter Pellicia when he was calling himself Sire. You’ll notice that had made 3 separate comments; you’ll also notice that the number of approved comments WordPress is showing aren’t the same. Heck, they’re all drastically different.
I looked at a bunch of comments from Pete just to see if I could find a pattern. Turns out that answer is no. It’s not based on link, topic, email address, name… You can look at it yourself; there’s nothing defining what it’s looking at.
Thus, I’m forced to conclude that, even though it initially seemed cool, it’s really worthless information. There’s nothing legitimate I can do with it, and if you look at your information, at some point you might realize the same thing.
Sometimes that’s just how it goes. Some of us hold onto certain numbers as if they’re the Holy Grail while others look at those numbers and scoff. Let’s see… Klout score, page rank, Alexa rank, Compete rank, number of followers on Twitter, number of friends on Facebook… over and over we see numbers that are supposed to mean something that probably mean less than what we think. Some are good as a visceral reference (for instance, I tend to use Alexa as a broad based number to determine how well a website’s traffic might be, realizing that a site in the 100,000’s is working better than a site in the 3 millions while recognizing that a site in the 3 millions might be making more money if it’s targeted to its audience properly), but not much else.
For that matter, even the number of blog comments might not tell you what’s going on with your blog. The difference between a blog post with 300 comments and a blog post with 2 might be the popularity of the writer and not the content. If Sergey Brin writes a blog post and takes comments, how many people do you think will comment hoping that either he’ll see it and want to hire them to work for Google (ain’t happening kids lol) as opposed to commenting on this blog hoping I can help make them famous (that’s not happening either… for now…)?
Even Google Analytics, for all the press and publicity we’ve all given it, can’t really help us out. Most of the data about keywords is hidden in a collective area, so we don’t even know why or how people are finding us via search engines. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what the data they’re giving us really means in the long run; that’s not helpful is it?
Bummer right? If there are so many reports and such that we can’t trust, what can we trust to help us figure things out?
First, you know what your engagement is like, so trust your instincts. I love using Adrienne Smith as an example of someone who truly gets the engagement piece. Her blog posts always get a lot of comments, and not nickel and dime stuff. She puts things on Facebook and Google Plus and you see a lot of people responding to it, even if it’s just questions like what color is your dog (I don’t think that’s specifically one she’s asked but… lol).
Me? Most of the things I put on Google Plus are ignored, and sometimes I wish more of the stuff I share on Facebook was. lol Still, I know where I stand and have an opportunity to figure out what I need to do to improve. I don’t need any of the rankings to tell me what’s going on; I can see which posts people are commenting on and I know which of my tweets get shared on Twitter.
If you didn’t sit back and look at the numbers, are you comfortable trusting your own instincts to know where you stand on social media? For that matter, do you trust your instincts to help you get through life? Let me know; I’m interested in this topic and hope you are also.
I found this quite intriguing, enough for me to decide to write on the topic. I got inspiration for this post from not one, but two blog posts. The first one was from Marcus Sheridan on a post titled 10,862 Comments Later, I Realize Blog Comments are NOT a Business Model. This post led me to the second post by John Falchetto, titled The Right Traffic And What The 4hour Workweek Post Taught Me About Blogging.
John started with the premise that out of all the blog posts he’d been writing, he was getting lots of comments but none of it turned into business. At the same time, he felt that people reading some of his posts were missing some of the points he was trying to make, and of course that took away from the effectiveness of them, in his mind, and thus the possibility of getting the kind of traffic he was hoping for.
Marcus took this a bit further, and added a conversation he got to have with John.
First, he owned up to how many comments his blog has gotten in a very short period of time; puts me to shame. Second, he owned up to the fact that he hasn’t sold a single product geared to his main business from this blog, even with all those comments.
Third, after his conversation with John, he started to wonder if maybe there were things he could do with his blog that John was starting to do, that being to make sure to write a post a day, sometimes more than one, and increase the prominence of the blog, at the possible exclusion of comments, to potentially generate more income. Of course I’ve kind of simplified the thoughts of both posts, so it’d be a good idea to go read each one of them.
I commented on Marcus’ post, but not on John’s, mainly because John asked a question I wasn’t sure I could answer in a short comment: ‘Which lessons has your blog taught you?‘.
Good question, eh? Well, let’s take a look at it if I may, based on not only the question, but their two posts and the title of this post as well. Numbers please!
1. I used to have a pretty tight blogging schedule for this blog; I still do, but not necessarily by design. I had a yearly goal of 300 posts a year, plain and simple. That meant 25 posts a month on average, and I was able to do it. At some point, though, I decided that it shouldn’t only be about the numbers of posts; I wanted more comments.
So I slowed down the number of posts somewhat, and I started getting more comments. I still don’t come close to the number Marcus or many other people get, but it did increase.
Yet, do you know when the biggest period of growth this blog ever had was? That week last November when I had two blog posts a day, the first one being a regular post and the evening one advertising one of my products.
The overall traffic for this blog shot up drastically, even if comments dropped significantly. Both my Alexa rank and Google Analytics said my numbers increased. And do you know when I had the most traffic to my business site?
The week after when I did the same thing on my business blog that I did on this blog. Very few comments but a drastic rise in visits.
This does seem to prove one thing; the more posts one has, the more traffic one gets. I know someone is going to say “I don’t write that many posts and look at my numbers.” I’ll just point to my latest business blog as an example; I added it to my SEO site in August and without many comments traffic has risen 65% in less than 90 days; wow!
2. With traffic comes higher rankings… of sorts. My Alexa ranking for my SEO site has gone from 2.78 million the day I started the blog on that site to 483,000 and change on Thursday.
That’s not bad for less than 90 days, and that’s just with a post every 3 days. And without all that many comments; it does say something for having more activity. It doesn’t address where the blog would be if I were posting daily, but for now the traffic stats are undeniable.
3. Well, we do have to come down to business, don’t we? Comments don’t equal business; both Marcus and John are correct on that. We all still want comments, but John’s now increasing the number of posts regardless of the number of comments, and Marcus is thinking about it.
Me… I’m not sure. Well, I am sure, but I’m not sure what I can do about it. I’ve always said I didn’t expect this blog to make me a lot of money, but I did hope that it, in combination with other things I was doing, would at least generate more business interest than it has. However, my SEO blog has yet to generate any business interest either, but I figure it’s still kind of early.
I might be able to get a boost after a live presentation I’m a part of next week at a conference called the BizBuzz Social Media Conference here in the Syracuse area, where I’m talking about business blogging; at least it’s part of the overall strategy. But a stat I will report based on a little case study is that out of 36 keyword phrases I came up with before starting the blog I’ve increased in the number I’m found by from 13 to 23, and the rankings are higher as well for all but 2 of them. So, the potential for business there has increased, even if it hasn’t happened yet.
Anyway, those are the lessons blogging has taught me regarding these things. Now, I have my own questions. Do you believe writing more blog posts would help your blog improve its rankings? Do you believe you’d be capable of increasing the number of blog posts you write, even if it were just as an experiment? And finally, what do you want from your blog, or blogs?
Man, I love when people make me think! 🙂
Last week our friend Kristi had a post on her blog titled 125 Fearless Female Bloggers. I thought it was a pretty neat list, and I decided I wanted to do something like that for black bloggers.
Of course, because I was doing it, the thing wasn’t going to be easy. I had to decide on my criteria. I came up with these rules for myself:
* had to be an individual blog
* had to be a self hosted blog
* couldn’t be an entertainment blog
* must have lots of newer content
* had to be ranked under 200,000 on Alexa
That last one almost proved to be my undoing. Turns out there aren’t a lot of black blogs out there under 200,000 that fit the criteria. Most of the blogs that do are entertainment blogs. I excluded them because most of the content on those blogs isn’t original content. That doesn’t make them bad, but it just didn’t work for what I wanted to do. And I will acknowledge that some blogs are high because they’re attached to a person’s website; that’s not a disqualifier in my book, just a smart business move.
I know most of the blogs I’m going to talk about, but I have to admit that I then had to go do some research. And I have to admit that I’m somewhat at a loss on how other folks ranked blogs when they did similar posts. One guy had to stop because he was going off Technorati for years, then they changed their algorithm. I’m not really trusting Technorati right now because this blog’s been growing in numbers in many ways, yet Technorati has dropped my rank to around 125 from 494 earlier in the year, and raised my business blog to around 425 with way fewer visitors.
Some other ranking blogs decided to rate people based on… well, there you go; I’m not quite sure. Maybe it was feeds, maybe it was how “black” they were on their blogs… I just have no clue. So I had to determine a standard, and there you go; no matter what people think about Alexa, it still is a more viable tool than many others I’ve found.
Why was I compelled to do something like this? Because when it comes to numbers, there really aren’t a lot of black bloggers comparatively. And there certainly aren’t a lot with clout. Sure, some have influence, but probably one of the famous names in the group is Marc Lamont Hill, who some people might know because he’s been on TV a lot, and his blog only comes in around 250,000; not bad, but outside my criteria.
And there’s the preamble; now on to the list, which is 8 only because I couldn’t find two more in about 2 hours worth of research; that’s a shame.
8. Attraction Marketing Online – 141,107 – Mavis Nong writes this blog, and it’s pretty much along the lines of the types of things I sometimes write about here. It’s mainly about marketing, but she also talks about plugins and blogging and the like.
7. How To Split An Atom – 123,399 – Steve Spalding is the creator of this blog, and he talks about all sorts of things like blogging, politics and social commentary.
6. Evelyn Parham – 113,692 – Evelyn talks about health issues, healthy living, natural products and vegan stuff; I like it, but I never going to be a vegan! 🙂
5. Afrobella – 112,099 – her real name is Patrice Yursik, and she talks about black hair care and beauty products for the most part. I doubt most of you would benefit from this, but a few of you might enjoy some of what she writes about.
4. Oliver Willis – 84,301 – Oliver’s blog is definitely political, and he has multiple posts a day on the topic. Some are very short, links to other posts, some are videos, and some is commentary; my man is definitely passionate!
3. Biz Chick Blogs – 79,341 – Tia Peterson’s blog is one of my new favorites because she covers mainly topics about blogging and writing. She’s also a go-getter, writing on a couple other networks.
2. Basic Blog Tips – 55,483 – I don’t know her last name, but I see Ileane everywhere. She’s well respected and well liked, and man does she offer lots of tips on blogging, which makes sense based on the name of the blog.
1. 2 Create A Website – 6,477 – I have to admit this is a new one for me. Lisa Irby is a webmaster for many sites who writes on blogging, websites, traffic… basically internet stuff and ideas. And even though most of the time I think it’s kind of a joke, hers is the only blog on this list with a PR of 5 (heck, Ms. Ileane’s blog is a PR 0 like mine; come on now!).
And there you have it. Please visit these blogs, and if you see something you like make a comment and let them know I sent you.
Man, that’s a tough question, isn’t it? Even though there’s one more week to go, the reality is that we’re 2/3rds of the way through this year. There’s so much more to do, but we’ve done so much already, haven’t we?
When I took a look back to my goals for 2010, I can’t say that my progress towards them is all that pretty. However, it’s not a total loss like it was for 2009. So far, I have reached one of my goals, that being to get at least 3,000 real visitors a month coming to this blog. At the time I’m writing this, I’m averaging 3,200 visitors a month, which is pretty neat. And my Alexa rank did get to 106,000, so I was pretty close before it started going back up a little bit. But I still have a shot at that one.
I’ve also taken on some things I hadn’t planned on for the year as well, so it all balances out at some point. Still, I’d have to say that overall I haven’t quite accomplished what I was hoping for, though on 4 of the 5 I’ve improved over the beginning of the year.
What do I hope to accomplish by the end of the year? I hope to take my social media marketing workshop to another city. How I’m going to do that is still up in the air, but it’s a goal. I want to hit another milestone figure, that being $300 in one month online. I think my highest month was around $225, so it’s not totally out of range. Yeah, my goal for the year was much loftier, but at this juncture I just want to show progress. I have ideas; no I’m not sharing them. But if something succeeds, you’ll be the first to know.
I’m backing off my goal of 500 RSS subscribers for the moment and I’m going to shoot for 200. That might be attainable, as I was at 161 one day last week, and as of January the highest I’d ever had was 126. It will take a lot of factors to happen, but one can hope.
I also want to continue working on growing my influence locally, since, at least for now, I think I’m covered online. I think that if I can do better locally, my financial standing would drastically improve, and I’d feel more free to take time off to go to Barnes & Noble here and there just to have some time to myself out of the house. I work a lot; rather, I sit here at the computer doing a lot.
So there’s my bit of sharing; what would you like to share?