Blogging – Tags, Links, and Statistics
It seems that I have been inadvertently conducting a longtime experiment in blogging. WordPress provides some wonderful and comprehensive statistics; this gives me a good deal of information about the effectiveness of tags and other tools.
This blog is just celebrating its fifth anniversary. The target audience was, and still is, the older folks needing a bit of help to use and enjoy their computers and cameras. Early on I added several other blogs to keep any one more closely oriented to a particular topic area. This blog, This ‘n That, is more computing oriented. For specific questions I started Ask Ludwig and for just sharing images I use Gallery Ludwig for photos, and Silver Canvas for digital art, I call it “café art”. Below are four charts showing visits to my blogs. The vertical scales all differ and do not matter for this discussion. The top two are for the “talkie” blogs, This ’n That and Ask Ludwig, the bottom two for the “showie” blogs, Gallery Ludwig and Silver Canvas.
You can see the “showie” blogs get visited rather infrequently, whereas the “talkie” blogs get visited quite a bit, in fact hundreds of times a day. Let’s take a look at why that might be. There may be just a bit of useful information in this post for you. I don’t do many “chatty” posts like this one, so bear with me on this occasion.
When I started This ‘n That it was on another blogging service, “Live Spaces”, a service offered by Microsoft and discontinued long ago. When they shut it down they offered everyone help to move over to WordPress, past posts and all. So my earliest posts are preserved but the formatting and illustrations lost much in the move. The earliest statistics also were lost. Still, to this day my initial “real” post on “Live Search” still gets frequent visits. Now “Live Search” is long gone too, it was replaced by Bing. That first post used what I thought was an uninteresting and unusual search to illustrate how searching works. If you search “wicker chairs in aircraft”, either in Google or Bing, you will see my first post in the top returns.
How are visitors attracted to a blog?
There are several ways. I already mentioned the search sites, Google and Bing, we’ll come back to them a bit farther down. Tagging is a very effective way to assist visitors to find a blog and the posts on it. Links from other sites and blogs can drive traffic. Then there is the WordPress “social scene”. I will take these up one at a time.
Since the earliest days tags have been used in blogging. When This ‘n That started on Live Spaces I used the “Clubhouse” tags. This was a Microsoft tagging service. Microsoft also provided “syndication”, picked up the blog posts on their on Clubhouse site. This blog enjoyed huge popularity with visitors in the thousands per day. Microsoft, ever clever in snatching a good product or service from the certain jaws of success. discontinued Live Spaces in October 2010. The Clubhouse followed into extinction as did Clubhouse tags. Those tags that are still on my early posts simply no longer work.
With the move to WordPress I stated using Technorati tags in October 2010. I knew that I could not expect much traffic from Technorati. Technorati rated blogs primarily on frequency of publication. Not only did I only post when I had something relevant to say, but I also used the most topically oriented blog. Visits referred over from Technorati were never more than a “trace impurity”. I discontinued the use of Technorati tags in October 2013. The service made extensive changes and none of the tags on my posts still work.
So for me the tagging services of Microsoft and Technorati were a decided failure and those are of no use to readers.
WordPress has provided tags and those I have used all along, I even had gone back and tagged early posts. WordPress tags are “blog specific”. When you click on a tag on one of my posts you will be shown other posts using that tag on my blog. The tags do not lead to other blogs. They cannot bring visitors from other blogs, except as used in the “Reader” – see the “social scene” section below. Tags, however, can be very useful to readers and I plan on using them more effectively on all my posts. You might find this post of interest: Better Tagging for Increased Traffic.
Links, either in the sidebar or within the text of posts can be another help to readers. The group of blogs that I find complementary to mine, or of potential interest to my readers, has shrunk as some of the bloggers have discontinued their efforts. I need to do some research to find other blogs that are along the topic lines of mine. When I write a post I like to provide as much access to other material as I can find.
Links from other blogs and sites have been the largest source of visitors other than the search engines. Links really work and I recommend making good use of them to everyone in the blogosphere.
WordPress “social scene”
In recent years WordPress has been very active in building the users into a full-fledged community. A number of blogs promote blogging with tips, news, and challenges. The Daily Post is always an interesting read with inspiring thoughts and useful information. WordPress.com News is another site that is really helpful to bloggers. I have those blogs and a number of other blogs in my “Blogs I Follow” list. The WordPress Reader is a daily habit of mine, not only to get the latest posts of blog that I follow but to look in on what is happening in topics, that is tags, of interest to me.
The WordPress Reader, and the ability to “follow” WordPress blogs, provides the gateway to the huge WordPress community. I follow a modest number of blogs, and my blogs have small numbers of followers. There is a downside to this, I discovered. You can see it in the stats illustration above. The Reader shows posts and readers need not visit the actual blog to read and see the latest. My “showie” blogs, Gallery Ludwig and Silver Canvas, have actually more followers than my “talkie” blogs, This ‘n That and Ask Ludwig. I like to publish one photo or “work of art” at a time, and my followers can see that just fine in the Reader. Rarely do they visit my blogs to see other images.
The other downside of the way WordPress works is that only WordPress account holders can “follow” a WordPress blog. Most of my target audience is outside the blogging community so they are not “followers”. I have to reach them through other means.
The search sites are the main drivers for visitors to my “talkie” blogs. Both This ‘n That and Ask Ludwig get hundreds of visitors a day this way. Google is by far the biggest source, followed a long way behind by Bing with the other search sites just a small portion. My “showie” blogs, Gallery Ludwig and Silver Canvas get most visitors from links on other sites. This situation does not come as a surprise. Search engines primarily look for words or short strings of words. I rarely have textual material along with the images. So there is nothing for search engines to find. Obviously here is an opportunity to see if descriptive text along with the images will allow visitors to find my photos and “café art”. Of particular interest to me have been the listings of search terms. This shows the queries that folks entered in the search box. Very often my posts did not fully answer the questions and that has given me incentive to explore those topics in more detail.
Well, thank you for reading this far! I hope that my rambling thoughts have provided a little bit of useful information and maybe a tad of entertainment.
© 2014 Ludwig Keck