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!