Infinity Loop: The Weirdness of Web Traffic

This week’s Loop is a little off-topic, but might be of interest to some of you so I thought I’d throw it out there. I’ve been doing the whole blogging thing for a long time. Started back in 2006, about the same time I was working on the Moebius Adventures Core Rules book. And I’ve had a few blogs during that time. But one thing that always throws me for a loop is web traffic.

social-media-labelsMaybe you’ve played with various ways of spreading the word about your blog posts?

These days I tend to use quite a few different methods:

Mostly I rely on G+, Facebook, and Twitter and handle posting through Buffer (if you haven’t tried it yet, it simplifies posting to multiple social media sites by a HUGE factor).

I’ve also toyed with these:

Here’s my weirdness from recent days…

StumbleUpon is a strange beast. I’ve put some stuff up there and it’s just disappeared into a black hole. And sometimes it brings me thousands of hits. But the problem with SU is the engagement time. The week of January 3 to January 10, I had more than 1,000 visitors stumble through for a total of nearly 14 hours on the blog (stats courtesy of Clicky.com). The downside? The average time per visit was 46 seconds and my bounce rate shot up to 76%. So though SU users might stumble through my site, only 1 out of 4 are sticking around longer than 10 seconds or so.

I’m not complaining – traffic is good. And I have the most traffic I’ve had in a long time on this site because of SU. I just wish folks would stick around a bit longer.

It’s not new either. I’ve seen it before at Game Knight Reviews as well. It’s a very hit or miss proposition and you never know what might spark interest.

OuroborosWhat’s the truth about all of this?

Ultimately, I’m not convinced any of it helps.

Sharing to multiple audiences quickly becomes a huge pain in the backside, which is why I’m so happy for Buffer. It supports the big three and that’s good enough for me. I haven’t noticed much of an uptick from any of the other communities ever. (Reddit used to send me a fair amount of traffic, but I had some issues with running afoul of the moderators and occasionally getting sucked into the flame wars that can erupt there.)

So the focus shouldn’t be on WHERE you should put your posts, just POST and make sure it’s great CONTENT. The rest will follow with time (but spreading the word occasionally doesn’t hurt either).

I know it’s cliche to say that if you post great content, the users will come. And considering all the writing I’ve done for the last 8 years of blogging, I can say that’s a hit and miss proposition at best. So hedging your bets by spreading the word in like-minded communities where you can cultivate some long-term fans is a good thing.

Don’t rely on social media for your traffic. It’ll come or it won’t. You don’t have any control over what may suddenly explode into a million hits. Don’t get discouraged if you hear crickets from the audience. Write for yourself first. Enjoy sharing your opinions and ideas with others. Hopefully that’s enough and you’ll get a few new fans or even friends along the way.

But have fun and don’t get discouraged – because occasionally thousands of people may stop by your blog for 10 seconds each and do absolutely nothing. :)

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This article has 8 comments

  1. Bill Reply

    Fitz,

    Firstly, you’re in the RPG niche. I’ve said to others before, it’s a BRUTAL niche to try even publishing in. There is so much content to wade through and people are willing to settle for half as good (or worse product) for free vs paying for good product. I may sound jaded, but I’m truly not. It’s just a brutal brutal industry when running any true business analysis on it. You either need to keep your margins low enough to try to compete with hobbyists giving it away or run a big budget project where you hope that it can recoup its costs.

    Secondly, there are ways to make your page “stickier”. When you are running through your analysis, you need to figure out what you’re trying to get the user to do, then make sure they do that thing. Primary example: do you realize there are 3 places to enter your email address on the left sidebar? THREE??? Am I supposed to enter it 3 times? Am I getting 3 different things for entering it all 3 times? Are you selling my email address to someone else if I’m dumb enough to enter in the wrong one? (I know that’s not the case, but users have fears of receiving more offers for “male enhancement” than they could ever wish for).

    Remember, it’s sales copy. You need to lead people to the destination you want them end up at. You also need to think about the structure of your posts to get the results you want. Even this post; why not insert a little blurb in the middle that says “If you want to see my most popular post ever go to http://moebiusadventures.com/greatest-post-ever“. Make sure it opens in a new tab so they don’t leave where they’re currently reading.

    If you are trying to sell someone a new book, be sure that the link doesn’t open in a new window, but work hard to make sure they can get back to your page from the sales page. Emails are internet gold and you should encourage everyone to give you theirs so you can email them all your great content, then you can even do a monthly review email to everyone. If people don’t like how often you email them, they can unsubscribe, but you still reach them in their inbox- somewhere they check every single day and you’re sure to keep them even if they stop reading Stumbleupon.

    Those are just a couple comments on how to improve those numbers and understand where people are going to. There are so many things you can do to help yourself out and you’ll only get better at it with a little practice.

    As always, I wish you the best. Take care.

    • Fitz

      @Bill – Wow. Thanks for the great advice. Plenty there to wade through and figure out how to proceed!

  2. Venger Satanis Reply

    I’d heard of Stumble Upon somehow, but didn’t really know what it was or how to use it. If it got you even a little more traffic, then game on! Just joined. Thanks, hoss.

    VS
    Venger Satanis´s last blog post ..And so it goes…

    • Fitz

      Awesome Venger! I’m sure you’ll have some luck with it – just odd luck in my experience. :D

  3. Seth Drebitko Reply

    Have you reviewed what pages get the best results from Stumbleupon? It probably is more of deciding what is best stumbled.

    For example: when I’m stumbling around the interwebs it is more for a neat story, I’m less likely to stay for company updates, and product teasers.

    I think the tricky part of social media is finding a balance between content to cultivate your established audience, and neat shiny things aimed at pulling in people lost on the internet.
    Seth Drebitko´s last blog post ..CoA: Technology and Science of the Azure Galaxy

    • Fitz

      Hey Seth – Yes, I can pinpoint which pages get hit more frequently. Seems to be mostly crunchier articles on design, so it falls in line with your approach. That said, I also think it varies wildly based on the keywords I use and I haven’t been able to ferret out the pattern there yet. It’s definitely entertaining and I look at the stats as more of a curiosity than anything. If I continue to put out good content for my existing audience, life is good. :)

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