Many of the questions I receive about blogging center around “traffic”
- How do I get more traffic?
- Can you tell me about link baiting?
- What do I need to do to get on the front page of Digg?
- Which techniques work to get big named bloggers to link me?
- Where did you get so many RSS subscribers?
You might be surprised to learn I think these are the wrong questions …
“Traffic” considered in isolation is worthless.
You can get to the Digg homepage once a week and still not succeed if those visits come and go.
First you need to decide what your goal actually is. Do you know? Why are you blogging?
If you are blogging for attention then sure, a nice traffic graph or high RSS count is all you need. If though you want something more substantial from your blogging efforts then you need to tune your activities towards reaching that goal.
In most cases this means not “traffic” but a specific audience. You don’t always need hundreds of thousands of visitors, just enough of the right people in your market to reach your goal.
How do you know you are attracting the right people? Choose a good metric and follow it up and down.
In general you want people to be interested in what you write, yes? Take a good look at how many pages per visit are read on average. If your average views per session are over 1 then you are proceeding in the right direction, this means people don’t always just “bounce off” your blog but actually read. Another measure, one I am fond of, is comments. Not just quantity, which is the easiest measure, but also take note of quality.
There are other more targeted metrics also, more closely linked with your blogging goals.
For example my main metric is RSS subscribers because I want to gather a loyal repeat audience of people interested in blogging for business and reputation. Any activities that don’t steadily grow my RSS subscriber count, or worse reduce it, are not worth the effort.
Another blogger might monetize through affiliates or sell their own ebook. The obvious metric there would be sales. If you have a newsletter signup form then signups would be the key metric.
I wouldn’t just take money as your sole metric. There are many ways you can boost your short term finances at the expense of long term value. People could spend this month but feel ripped off and never return. Where income is a prime consideration link it with visitor retention or lifetime value.
The key point is rather than putting effort into generating “traffic”, work out what you want visitors to do then tune your traffic to those tactics that bring specific results. You will waste less energy and achieve your goals much faster.