More Traffic for Your Blog
Blog Ethics: A Contrarian Point of View
This topic perhaps more than any other perks the interests of bloggers. It is the $60 million dollar question that everyone wants to know.
So how do you drive more traffic to your site? I have intentionally avoided writing topics like this because I know that it is an easy way to get more traffic coming to my blog. Almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy (not quite), but in reality it is more of a self-serving technique than anything else.
Tricks of the Trade:
The blogosphere has no shortage of self-proclaimed blog experts who will eagerly
tell sell you how to become a successful blogger. These so-called “experts” pad their blogs with keyword rich posts under the guise of entertainment or offering you something tangible to entice you into their lair.
After all, that is probably why you’re reading this post right now. Take for example the title which was borrowed from another blog. It reeks of money, success, fame and fortune doesn’t it.
As you can see it is not rocket science driving traffic to your blog. All that you need is an enticing title about a topic they want to hear, throw in some search engine friendly keywords and they will surely come.
Well, maybe it’s not quite that simple but these guys are real pros for what they do. Like sex, the topic of making money always attracts a crowd, and many bloggers have built themselves a lucrative income just using this method alone.
Some of these hucksters even have the temerity to put phrases like “Make Money” right in their blog titles, titillating their brown-nosing groupies that gravitate around them like flies on doo-doo.
But what really inspired this post is the use of ethics (or lack thereof) that these so-called blog “experts” are using to increase traffic to their site.
More specifically, a recent post caught my eye using what I can only describe as dubious methods to get more traffic. I know that it worked because I got taken for a ride myself.
There are many a blogger that have made lucrative careers for themselves by doing what is called ‘contrarian blogging‘. Even I have used this technique but that is not what I am talking about here.
Case in point:
These comments jumped right off the page. He says “write short, pithy posts.” And then a little later he says to “Write long, definitive posts.” Is he kidding? I certainly hope so.
Okaaaaay, so at this point I was beginning to wonder if I was the victim of a technique known as link baiting, and he was just padding his post with keywords to make the search engines happy and wasting my time.
It was quite a longish post with a lot of (almost) funny nonsense, and after further reading it occurred to me that some writers must think that inundating their readers with such a huge volume of so-called ‘tips’ will somehow add credibility to their post.
In this example it was actually more than 50 alleged ‘tips’ listed (last time that I checked) and most of it was just silly nonsense. I suppose it was the old quantity vs. quality mentality. (Whatever happened to the infamous “Top Ten” lists).
Or perhaps the writer was just trying to make a point that seems to have escaped me for the moment. Or maybe it was not meant to be serious at all… or perhaps it was all of the above? Who knows.
Nevertheless it got me thinking about a much broader problem in the blogosphere that I’ve been meaning to write about for a long time now.
A Closer Look:
So let’s take a closer look at our example shall we. The writer uses contradictions in his post to get our attention. All the while he hides his true intentions within a subterfuge of ‘humor’ to entertain us and make the post seem more palatable. Then he throws in the odd useful tidbit to give it the appearance of credibility. Hmm. Nice try but no cigar.
Indeed some people did find the post funny and I have caught flak for pointing this out. But there is one thing that there can be no denying of, and that is the main reason for posts like this is to seed the search engines to attract readers and bring in traffic. That is all, and nothing more.
Am I being too harsh? I hope not (but I don’t think so). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to knock anybody in particular but I felt deceived when I clicked on the link and I expect value for my clicks.
Having said that, let me be the first to point out that writing for search engines is not necessarily a bad thing. But let me also qualify that statement by saying it is only ok so long as it is done ethically and with the best of intentions.
Tricks are for
Tricks will only work over the short term. Your stats will temporarily increase, but it will come back to bite you in the buttocks later. Over the long run you are only hurting yourself because an offended reader is lost forever, and there are some ‘tricks’ that are crossing lines that perhaps should not be crossed at all.
I subscribe to a very different theory about getting more traffic to your site. Hence, the ‘contrarian’ subtitle for this post. The proper way for getting more traffic to your blog is to build a loyal following — not by tricking readers to your site and pissing them off.
Let me repeat that again — the proper way for getting more traffic to your blog is to build a loyal following the honest way. And the way to do that will be discussed in more detail later in this post.
Beware of the Phonies:
The second point that inspired this post is an observation that I’ve noted about these so-called blog tips experts… which is not only their similarity, but also the many differences of opinions that are floating around out there.
Another example: He says “Keep tweaking your template to make it include every conceivable bell or whistle.”
Now according to some so-called experts that is a complete no-no. In fact some purist blogs are generally against using most any type of widget that is known to man (or womankind).
Some bloggers will also tell you that SEO is everything, whilst others will tell you that SEO is irrelevant when it comes to blogs, etc., etc. Sigh!
It certainly makes it confusing for the average blogger, and that is one of the primary reasons for this blog… to help you sort out the nonsense from the crap in your quest for blogging enlightenment.
How NOT to Drive Traffic to Your Site:
Regarding the points above, I’m not going to tell you to use (or not use) widgets, bells or whistles. Because stuff like this is a matter of personal preference, much like website design is.
But I will tell you that I recommend only adding stuff to your template if you feel that it adds real value to your readers and fits in with the theme of your blog.
Like your mother always told you — “moderation in everything”. Don’t just add stuff for its wow factor.
That old saying the “grass is greener” has never been more applicable than the blogosphere. The mouse is the equivalent of your television clicker so don’t turn them off (no pun intended).
Similarly, avoid using flash doorway pages. Why on earth would you want to delay your readers from entering your site? It was hard enough getting them to click on your link in the first place. (If you are still having problems understanding this point then please read the above paragraphs again).
And if you are going to use surreptitious methods such as link baiting, then please be ethical and don’t abuse it. When a reader clicks on a link to your site show them respect and give them what they expected to find at the other end of that link.
How TO Drive More Traffic to Your Site:
Content is king. It is now an old cliché but has never been more relevant. This is the most important point of all — write quality posts that fit in with the theme of your blog and try to do it every day.
If you can’t write every day then every other day or at least once per week. You reap what you sow, and the more regularly that you write good content your blog traffic will also increase incrementally.
Don’t be stingy sharing your link love and spend time promoting your blog. Stay on top of new technology but don’t be so quick to jump on every fad that may come your way.
Above all else use common sense when building your site, be ethical in your use of methods for driving traffic to your site, and be consistent in your writing patterns.
The TRUTH about Successful Blogging is…
Nobody has all the answers and many a “successful” blogger has made it for different reasons. There is no set path and the road to riches can be as far and varied as the world itself.
So let’s be realistic here (as well as honest). Not everyone can make it to the top. If everyone became rich who would pay the taxes? If everyone was the boss, who would do the work? If everyone was on the bloggers’ A-list we would have to create a Super A-list! You know what I mean?
The fact is most of us will never be king (or queen) or make it to the “A-list“. Once we finally accept that logical conclusion, that is when the word “successful” will become more meaningful on our own terms… not according to what the world would try to sell us.
Like I said before — “Even if your blog brings you a measure of satisfaction you can’t overlook that as achieving a level of “success”. It’s all relative. Above all, enjoy yourself and have fun with your blog.”
Let’s face it, most of the ones who are making the real money are also the ones who are selling us the dream. That unfortunately is reality. I’m sorry to be the bearer of that bad news but unlike others I won’t blow smoke up your you know what to make a fast buck.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy:
So does that mean we shouldn’t even try? Of course not, but be realistic and don’t be obsessed with it or it could turn you into a loony (and I don’t mean Canadian dollars for all you Canuks out there ;-).
And please be ethical. You can call me old fashioned or stupid if you like, but making money and popularity isn’t worth sacrificing your dignity. At the end of the day you still have to face yourself in the mirror.
In life all that we can do is our best and be satisfied with the results. If you have already arrived at that point then you are a successful blogger.
Happy blogging and may the ’sphere be with you.