Web Site Traffic and the Almighty Link

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes (the PC Doctor) wrote a story over at Problogger about how he doubled his blog traffic in 30 days.

Here’s how he did it with my commentary, then I’ll talk a little about my experiences:

1) He tagged his posts with Technorati tags.

I do that as well, and have for some time. Technorati is a great way to find both articles you want to read as well as people to read your articles. Around 8% of the traffic to Newsome.Org comes from Technorati. More almost certainly comes indirectly via links from other blogs who found Newsome.Org via Technorati.

Still I wonder how many non-bloggers use Technorati to find content? I hope a lot, but I bet a lot of Technorati users have blogs of their own. I hope over time non-bloggers will use it more and more as a springboard for blog content.

2) He leveraged his existing website by linking to his blog.

I do this a little, but my biggest website, ACCBoards.Com, is a sports site, and I don’t post much about sports here (because this is a tech/music, etc. site AND because my network agreement with Scout.Com says I can’t). So even though I have access to a ton of readers via ACCBoards.Com, it’s a little harder to leverage off of that site because of the content differences. One thing I am considering doing in 2006 is adding a reference to my blog in my speakers bio, so people will hear about it when I’m introduced at conventions, speeches, etc. But again, the content is not a perfect match and the crossover will be limited by that fact.

3) He used trackbacks.

I use trackbacks some, but honestly not that much. Most people I link to find out anyway via Technorati or otherwise and some link back to me. I may reconsider trackbacks in 2006 and start using them more. I would love to hear thoughts, pro and con, about trackbacks via comments (see below for the comments link).

My experience building (and continuing to build) this blog has been both rewarding and a little frustrating. While my traffic and subscriber count have grown slowly but steadily, it’s hard to keep up the momentum (boy is it hard). Too often blog growth feels like farming rocky ground. You plant the content and wait for the traffic to grow. Sometimes it does, but sometimes it seems like an uphill battle. Like farming, increasing blog traffic depends on a lot of variables you can’t control.

And the most important variable? Inbound links from other blogs and websites. I am certain about this.

To grow a blog you simply have to find a way to attract inbound links. You need a “content web” that leads readers from one site to another as they follow a conversation. Ideally, you want these readers to join in the conversation via comments and trackbacks. But it all starts with links.

Attracting inbound links is hard, though.

I still don’t feel comfortable asking someone for a link. For better or worse this is a fact, even though I enjoy it when I get an email fishing for one (and most of the time give one). I asked for links in my Christmas List (and got some- thanks all), but even writing that list felt a little uncomfortable. A lot of the experts say it’s OK to ask for a link as long as you do it the right way, but it just feels odd to me.

I’d rather just write good posts and wait for the links to grow naturally. But that takes time and it’s easy to get discouraged. Maybe I’m selling myself and all the effort I expend here short by taking this approach. Who knows?

I guess what I’m saying is that if you want to build your traffic organically, you have to work hard and be very, very patient. I’m trying, but it’s hard.

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