Monday, January 14, 2008
Comments are not the only way to measure blog success. There are dozens of ways to track all sorts of traffic patterns. And a lot of ways to goose them. Every now and then when I have a comics-related post I will link to it in the Comics Curmudgeon comments and it will generate hundreds of pageviews, but rarely any comments. It's nice to have hit and run readers, but it's better if they can be made into regulars. There are all sorts of memes and link exchanges and places to pimp your blog, but if all you are doing is tricking people to your site, it won't create steady long term readership growth.
The blog traffic generated by cheap gimmicks or weird Google coincidences is pretty ephemeral. Sometimes for some reason a particlular post will become suddenly popular. Back when my traffic was in the low single digits daily, I called them a BlogStorm. I still get them and they can be more severe now that my GoogleAuthority (however that is figured) is much higher. Usually I can figure out what site is linking to me or what current event suddenly make an old post relevant again, but sometimes it remains a complete mystery.
Last week my traffic took an uptick with lots of searches for variations on "Walker/Browne wife". And this isn't the first time such an odd search creates a flurry and then disappears. Several other times I have been inundated with people trying to find "Hi Lois drunk neighbor". My only theory is that whenever there is some web trivia scavenger hunt that relates to the Walker/Browne comic strip oligarchic dynasty, I get the benefit of it since I am one of maybe three blogs that have ever discussed the relationship between Lois Flagstone and her brother Beetle Bailey, not to mention Hi's dipsomaniac neighbor Thirsty Thurston. There, you got your damn answers. Now leave my blog alone.
I used to be addicted to Sitemeter stats and would compulsively check them 50 or 60 times a day but got discouraged when I learned that most visitors to my site were hopelessly LostGooglers search for some occasionally very prurient things. When I was polishing my template (now that would make a great euphemism) as part of National Blog Posting Month, I consolidated my blog RSS feed to Feedburner and my documented subscibers went from 5 to 82 overnight. I had a much larger audience reading my blog on purpose then I realized. From a not wasting time point of view, Feedburner stats are much better than Sitemeter since they only update once a day. I briefly hit 102 subscribers the other day only to fall back down to 92. I have no idea what pissed off ten readers in 24 hours, but I guess 300 pixel high pictures of Charles Krauthammer's mug will have that effect on folk.
BlatantCommentWhoring™: How do you track your traffic? And are anywhere near as obsessive compulsive as I am?