Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

My New Year’s Blogging Resolution

Posted on | January 4, 2010 | 8 Comments

It’s simple: Suck less.

A lot of things happened in 2009, but one of the most important to me was I switched blogging platforms for Greeley’s Ghost from Blogger to WordPress. (Tip of the cap to Dean Rodgers, Portland, Ore., PR pro and author of the Koifish blog who tipped the balance for me on the decision). One of the key reasons I made the switch is that WordPress simply is a more robust publishing platform to manage and nurture SEO. As part of this, I changed URLs from greeleysghost.blogpost.com to greeleysghost.brian-fuller.com (thank you, David Naylor, of TruthEntertainment, my Web guy), as part of larger “branding” strategy.

So what happened? Visits and page views fell by 50 percent. If I were a business, I’d fire myself.

OK, there were some highlights:

  • Time on site doubled
  • Pages per visit increased
  • Direct and referring traffic increased (hello Twitter!)
  • The bounce rate fell about 10 percentage points.

So, what to make of all this? It could be any number of factors.

  • The economy tanked; no one had time to screw around reading blog rants, but the ones who did had plenty of time because they’d been laid off.
  • I made a conscious decision to post fewer items and try to make the ones I did (about once a week) a bit more thoughtful. Conclusion: Fewer posts=less traffic.
  • My SEO strategy blows. My back-end tagging and SEO work is reasonably diligent, IMHO. My search traffic was down a few percentage points year over year. Why is this? Perhaps my posts are so varied that they’re topically inconsistent with a good search strategy.
  • I anticipated that vigorous Tweeting and Facebook mentions of blog posts would lift traffic, but there could be a disconnect between those audiences and what’s on the Ghost. Those paths definitely lit up but not as much as I’d thought.
  • My posts have grown stale and boring (or TechInsights and EE Times didn’t lay off so many people last year–those posts always drive traffic). Either or both could be true.
  • The URL switch hurt traffic levels. Perhaps. Numbers late in the year are better in 2009 versus 2008 but not that much better. My page rank tumbled, but I’ve climbed back up since the middle of the year to levels I had on Blogger.
  • More people spending more time on Twitter and Facebook nibbling content rather than trying to wade through blog posts. I plead guilty to that.

The change between 2007 traffic and 2009 is not nearly as dramatic as from ’08-’09. In other words, ’08 may have been an anomaly for some reason. But I want to get a handle on this. I do this exercise to understand audience patterns rather than find a way to make my own traffic mushroom; I’m not in this for the money.

Therefore, my New Year’s resolution for my own blog is:

  • To write shorter, more frequent posts
  • Keep pushing the SEO levers in WordPress.

We’ll check back in in June (assuming I’ve actually found that TIME to do that) to see what’s trending.

Any other suggestions on content, frequency, tone, angle and so on would be most appreciated and taken to heart. I could blog all day just to hear myself blog, but that’s not really the point!

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Comments

8 Responses to “My New Year’s Blogging Resolution”

  1. Jackie Damian
    January 5th, 2010 @ 7:41 am

    Brian, pretty sure it’s #7, the Twitter and Facebook phenomenon. There’s a lot of competing media out there, but keep on blogging.

  2. John Donovan
    January 5th, 2010 @ 9:24 am

    I agree with Jackie. There are so many worthwhile media outlets that Twitter is the only way to surf them; RSS is too much of a fire hose. Information overload makes for short attention spans, and who has time to read long, thoughtful pieces? Information is replacing insight.

  3. Kerri Hicks
    January 5th, 2010 @ 9:48 am

    Here’s another strategy…what’s your “quarter inch hole”?

    You have a drill, right? Why? To have a drill? Or to do something with it? Perhaps, to drill holes. You also have a quarter-inch bit for your drill. Why? It’s not for its own sake, but it’s for what it can do. Put the drill and the bit together, and its use can create for you what you want — in this case, a quarter inch hole.

    What’s your quarter inch hole with your blog? Why do you blog? The answer to that is your quarter inch hole.

    Everything you do, every decision you make, should be in service of that quarter-inch hole. Is everything on your blog serving that need? Or diluting it?

    There’s also a disconnect between your blog and your home page — what’s your home page doing? Seems like it’s an expository resume, which is important to have. But what’s it doing that your blog’s “about me” page isn’t doing? Or what SHOULD it do? And why does it look different?

    These are the questions I have to ask all my clients all the time. Most of them aren’t thoughtful enough to answer them, and they just carry on writing their blogs. But to most consumers of media, a “blog” is just a web page. We as content creators may think of the content differently, but most consumers do not. The only expectation that “blog” sets up is that it’s going to be current. Other than that, it is just part of Brian’s web presence. It should fit with (or spearhead) the rest of your online brand.

  4. Dark_Faust
    January 5th, 2010 @ 10:33 am

    suck less” – That’s an excellent resolution. It moves to the top of my list.

    Good, candid analyze of your social media experiences – past and future. I would add one more indirect cause for the decrease in traffic, namely, fatiguing of our readership base. So many folks – many ex-editors included – have launched social media websites that it’s hard to keep up with them. [I’m not talking about you blog, Brian, but rather full blown website social media “experiments.”] Unfortunately, most have failed due to a lack of enough original content and a poor understanding of the need for lead gen and website metrics for sponsors. A few of these editors have found corporate work, but many are still struggling. Plus the world of semi and EDA contain to change, returning to the traditional business supply chain which means less direct coverage is required.

    So, reader fatigue is becoming a real issue. Regardless, you are “dead on” with your conclusions:
    > write shorter, more frequent posts
    > Keep pushing the SEO levers

    And move to subjects and topic areas that reach a larger audience. This is a double-edged sword, but as editors, we must continually re-invent ourselves or become ghosts of far less stature than your infamous Mr. Greeley.

  5. Brian
    January 5th, 2010 @ 11:19 am

    You, ladies and gentlemen, are brilliant as ever.
    I do this blog because I love to write, to try to connect dots, to work my pointy little head, to play with new technology and to learn about how audiences evolve and react to new media.
    That’s many drill bit sizes. If forced, I could narrow the topic interest into:
    +Media evolution
    +Content creation strategies
    +Social media tools and trends
    +The economy

    There’s a very loose thread that runs through there, but it’s a light weave.
    So I don’t have a fixed beat; I “cover” a region and the over-arching problem is that a lot of things interest me and I find worth exploring by writing about them.
    That said, I don’t write much about the semiconductor industry (which I’m in) here, so I need to think more carefully about the drill bit analog and John’s recommendation.
    Thanks, gang!

  6. Kerri Hicks
    January 6th, 2010 @ 7:28 am

    You remain introspective and smart. (But you’re still older than I am.)

    “I do this blog because I love to write, to try to connect dots, to work my pointy little head, to play with new technology and to learn about how audiences evolve and react to new media…a lot of things interest me and I find worth exploring by writing about them.”

    When those reasons are more about me and less about you, I’m going to be more likely to read your blog. So if that’s your goal, you need to write more for me, and less for you.

    (Not ‘me’ me. ‘Everyone else’ me. I’ll always read your blog.)

  7. Lou Covey
    January 7th, 2010 @ 10:40 am

    Speaking for myself, I didn’t know you had moved for a while because I use an RSS reader to alert me to new posts. And since I didn’t have the new url in the reader it wasn’t alerting me. It was a few months before I noticed that you had dropped to the bottom of the pile… That’s what happens when you’re following 50 blogs and writing 6, I guess.

  8. Loring Wirbel
    January 18th, 2010 @ 7:43 pm

    Kerri’s comments are too purposeful for my taste. I believe in Nike-style anti-marketing-marketing, the kind that says “We’ll pretend to ignore you, the audience, for so long that you’ll learn to love our aloofness.” That strategy implies NO SEO!!!! It’s an adjunct to the strategy of recommending books and music and movies that I call “The train leaves at 12:10. Be there or be square.” In other words, do NOT rave about a movie, mention it once quietly, then pass it by. People learn to either pay attention to what you say or regret it later. I would say that the point of aloofness and no SEO is not to be unreachable or a snob, but to craft the image of being the nearly-unreachable sage. Screw Twitter torrents. The long-term blogger or community commentator should strive for inscrutability.

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