Attending BlogWorld this year generated a lot of questions in my mind about blogging and challenged some assumptions I’ve held dear for perhaps too long. I’m not saying that all of these items below are wrong, but just that they deserve closer inspection. And, as always, YMMV.
- The importance of your subscribers. Look, I love my subscribers, especially you. It’s great that people subscribe to our blog. However, the stats bear this out: search engines deliver over 73% of our traffic, and over 85% of our traffic comes from first time visitors. What we need to do now is capture these names by making them an offer they can’t refuse.
- The importance of comments. (Oh my God! He just shot a white elephant!) Look, I love seeing comments, just like I love seeing replies and RTs when I tweet something. It’s nice to see social proof that your posts are having an impact. However, comments aren’t clients. Quite honestly, I’d prefer to have people fill out our contact form on our Web site than leave a comment. (Interestingly, this blog feeds automatically into my Facebook profile, and I get more comments THERE than I do HERE.)
- The importance of categories. I’m not claiming that categories are not important, but as I look at my stats, the most popular category page for the last month was the Entrepreneur and Small Business category, which placed a less-than-stellar 52nd most popular page. It accounted for 38 page views out of 9,640 page views for the month. And although math makes my head hurt, that’s like just shy of .4%, right?
And, of that small sliver, some percentage of those page views are coming from the category tags below each post, not the category navigation. So, it’s an even smaller percentage of visitors who are clicking on those links. Also, all those links are reducing the value of other, more important links on my blog.
Maybe a better approach would be to de-emphasize or even completely remove categories and replace them with a search (which has a smaller footprint anyway.) I could use that space to link to “top” posts, whether by views or blogger decree. Alternatively, put a better call-to-action there, generating more email newsletter signups or traffic to our Web site for conversion.
- The importance of RSS. “Oh no you did-dn’t!” OK, I’m not giving up my RSS feed anytime soon. We get a lot of subscribers via RSS and I can see from my stats that some people are accessing the blog that way (although, anecdotally, a smaller percentage than before). However, it’s a dirty little secret among many of the people at BlogWorld that many of us rarely check our RSS feeds anymore. Instead, we get alerted of the best posts from people we trust on Twitter.
- The importance of blogrolls. I used to implore clients to include a blogroll. “A blog without a blogroll is like a dead end in the blogosphere. I don’t link to blogs that don’t share the love.” That was then, this is now. Personally, I rarely click on links from someone else’s blogroll anymore, and I don’t know what value there is for the blog owner. (However, I am much more likely to click on a link to another blog that’s appears within a blog post. Too many blogrolls are simply a collection of dust bunnies that the author no longer even reads.)
- The importance of pinging. Again, I’m not going to stop pinging (through services like Pingoat,) because it takes almost no time or energy to do so; however, I’m not seeing traffic from the Web sites I’m pinging. Maybe there are some secondary benefits, like PageRank, but I’m not sure.
Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment and let me know. (Said un-ironically.)