Jeff Kee recently asked if he should announce the latest version of WordPress. Good question.
Why Should We Announce New Improvements to Our Blogs?
Why should we announce if we’ve upgraded, changed things, or made improvements under the hood to our blogs?
I have two schools of thought on this.
Sharing Improvement News Builds Trust and Communication
I believe we should announce changes to our blogs if they impact the reader’s experience. This is critical. It keeps our blog’s activities transparent, prepares our readers for the changes, and points to the changes so they will know what is different.
It also shows action. Where there is action and energy, energy and action follows. People will jump up and suddenly pay attention. They are often compelled to comment, telling you what they noticed, or didn’t notice, and what they like or don’t like about the new addition or change. This increases participation and often breaks the ice that stops some readers from commenting. They know you want their input, and since you asked nicely…they want you to know they are paying attention.
It also builds trust. It is confusing to arrive on a site a reader’s grown comfortable with and see it changed. The first thing they want to know is “why”. For some, the changes will be uncomfortable until they see the benefit. For others, they will see the benefits immediately and want to tell someone, including you.
If changes are drastic or obvious, I believe your blog readers need to know.
What You Do With Your Blog is Nobody’s Business
What goes on under the hood of your blog is no one’s business but your own. Honestly, who cares if you’ve upgraded the Ultimate Tag Warrior WordPress Plugin to the next version? Do they see the change? No. Who really cares if you’ve changed the wording in your footer from alphabetical to order of importance? Nobody. If the change doesn’t change the way people use and read your blog, why bother saying anything?
There is, however, an exception. The exception to the rule is if your blog is dedicated to explaining what goes on under the hood of blogs in general. Then it’s part of your responsibilities as a blogger who blogs about blogging to share the tips and tricks of running a blog, including describing the changes you make to your own. This helps people learn more about changing and improving their own.
Since most people who blog, blog about subjects unrelated to blogging news and tools, why should you bother your readers with something that they don’t care about?
People come to your blog for a specific reason. If your blog is about sports, and all you blog about is sports, do your readers really care that you upgraded from WordPress 2.1 to 2.1.2? No. Do they care that you replaced one version of a related posts WordPress Plugin with one by another Plugin author? No. All they see is a list of related posts. It’s still a list of related posts no matter how it is generated. Do they care that you gave up a college play-off game in order to install the latest upgrade or Plugin? Maybe, but probably not. They only want to read about sports, not your behind-the-scenes business.
After an upgrade or new release of WordPress or a popular WordPress Plugin, I see a lot of announcements everywhere on blogs that never talk about WordPress or WordPress Plugins babbling on about the news. I know these people are excited about the information and want to share it, especially if the upgrade was a challenge and they want some pats on the back for the attempt and accomplishment, but is it necessary to tell the world?
Again, I will stress this. I believe if it doesn’t impact their experience, don’t share.
Stick to what you blog about best and leave the hidden, behind-the-scenes business of running your blog to yourself.
Then why do so many people talk about it? Because they think it gets them something.
Upgrades and Blog Changes Bring Traffic and Page Rank Juice
Outside of those who blog about blogging, there are three main reasons people tend to announce changes and upgrades to their blogs.
- They want people to know they’ve done something with their blogs. (Brag)
- They want to increase traffic to come see what has changed. (Attention)
- They want the Page Rank juice of linking to and being linked to the upgrade. (More Attention)
Is it important for a friend to know you just had the oil changed in your car before they ride in it? Probably not. Car owners get their oil changed all the time. It’s part of the responsibility of owning a car. If they knew you had a problem, then they might want to know.
An upgrade is similar to changing the oil in your car. It ain’t much to brag about. So why do we feel compelled to tell them we just had the oil changed?
We say things all the time that we’ve done, just because we need to say them, not because they need saying. We think that by telling people we’ve done something, we are showing the world that we are not static but willing to risk and change. We’re doing things, not just sitting around poking at our blogs. Whether you can see them or not, “Things are happenin’ here!”
Many also believe that an announcement of an upgrade or change will bring in more traffic to their blogs. Yes, it might, but is it the kind of traffic you want?
After the recent upgrade release of WordPress, I clicked on hundreds of links telling the world that they had upgraded. I wanted to know what problems they were having so I could report on them to you with my weekly WordPress Wednesday reports, and on my own blog about WordPress. Will I go back and revisit those blogs? Doubtful. Most of them weren’t about subjects I was interested in, or covered so many topics, I couldn’t be bothered to dig through them all. Using myself as an example, I’m the sudden burst of traffic to your site, and I won’t be back. Was your announcement worth that? Did it help?
Your attention-getting traffic methods should be focused on attracting traffic that keeps coming back for more, not the sudden burst of interest that doesn’t stick around. Sure, you might attract a few this way, but if your blog is about sports and I’m here to read about your upgrade experience with WordPress, trust me, I will not be back because you have nothing more to add to my WordPress interests. Write posts that attract sports-oriented readers and you will encourage repeat visitors who are more inclined to click those ads and writing about your posts on their blog because they will want to support and encourage you to keep blogging about sports.
There is also a lovely mythology about how to get Page Rank juice by linking to the big guns. WordPress, Technorati, Google, and similar serious big gun sites. If you link to them and they trackback a link back to you, you get a double whammy of SEO Page Rank scores to push your ranking up, right?
Jeff Kee made that assumption:
If you put links back to the right WordPress update pages, your pingback gets logged as a comment. The pingbacks give you a linkback. You get a link back from a high-PageRank website (I remember seeing one of the pages rank as high as 10/10). That improves your site on Google’s ranks, adds a link to your blog so Technorati can see. It’s awesome.
Yes, if it worked that way, it would be awesome. Like anything that looks too good to be true, this is another of those.
Every WordPress Theme contains a link to WordPress. It says “Powered by WordPress”. Millions of various WordPress versions have been downloaded, and the number of blogs out there using WordPress Themes with the “Powered by WordPress” or other WordPress links is beyond counting. A search on Google reveals 51,500,000, and you know they rounded that off. How many people have linked to WordPress in their blog articles? Bazillions.
What about Technorati? People still believe that their tags must link to Technorati in order to be valid. They don’t, and the technique encourages users to leave your blog rather than stick around for more. It still makes for a ton of links to Technorati.
Don’t you think the algorithm running Google’s Page Rank knows these things? With so many links to these sites, and trackbacks back from these sites, the link juice must be diluted. So your outgoing link to them doesn’t get you the magic power of increasing your page rank as you might think it does.
While it has been proven that the
nofollow attribute in links doesn’t work to stop comment spammers, I believe that Google’s web crawler still recognizes it, though other search engines don’t. That trackback link in WordPress blogs, be it the official WordPress site blogs or all WordPress blogs, carries little credit back to you unless they have turned off the
nofollow. WordPress hasn’t. Yet. And even if they do, don’t expect much credit from their site in a trackback. Google considers a lot more than incoming and outgoing links. Have you taken that into account?
The most important aspect of determining your blog’s Page Rank in Google continues to be content and keywords.
The more scattered your content and keywords, the less likely it will rise to the top in general searches. As many people learned recently in my weekly blogging challenge, it can take a lot of very specific words to find yourself near the top of Google search results. The more concentrated and related the keywords are in each of your posts as well as your overall blog, the better score your blog will get towards moving you up the ranks of search engine results.
By keeping your content on the straight and narrow, focusing on your specialty and attracting a solid audience who keeps coming back for more and links to you as the expert, you will get more link juice and Page Rank credit than from linking to WordPress or any other site in an upgrade announcement.
To Announce or Not To Announce
It’s up to you whether you announce or not. Why do you think it’s important to announce upgrades and hidden under-the-hood improvements? Should you? Or shouldn’t you? Is it because you really want your readers to know what you are doing? Is it because you blog about blogging? Is it really because you want the link juice?
Who would really care if you did announce upgrades to your blog? Your readers? You? Look closely at who really gets the juice from your announcements, and you might reconsider making them.
Lorelle VanFossen blogs about blogging and WordPress on Lorelle on WordPress.