Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Stumbling Along

I had the tedious experience of having a story from The Sleaze posted on Stumbleupon by someone this weekend. I say tedious, because it followed the usual pattern - lots of traffic to a single page for a twenty-four hour period before everything crashed back down to normal. Now, I know what you are saying: he complains that traffic is down, but when he gets a whole shed load of the stuff, he still bloody complains! The problem, of course, comes down to the type of traffic the site is getting, as much as its volume. The Stumbleupon incident demonstrates this perfectly - sure, like all social bookmarking sites, it can produce huge amounts of traffic, the trouble is that it is entirely transitory and doesn't benefit the site as a whole. In this case, it resulted in a story I wrote some eight years ago, Burglars' Banquet, suddenly going through the roof traffic wise, whilst newer, more relevant and better written stories were ignored. Moreover, only a tiny fraction of those visitors bothered clicking on any other pages and even fewer (if any), will ever return. In a nutshell, they're 'low quality' visitors, who aren't really interested in the site or its content.

The same goes for most of the traffic generated by social networking services like Facebook and Twitter. Despite what many internet 'gurus' will try and tell you, these services are utterly useless for building meaningful traffic for sites like The Sleaze. (That said, I have found that once a story is posted on Twitter, Google will generally index it far quicker than it normally would). So, the quest for every webmaster's 'Holy Grail' of quality traffic continues. But what exactly constitutes 'quality' traffic? For commercial sites it means visitors who actually buy the products or services they are selling, of course. For the likes of me, it means visitors who are actually looking for the kind of material I'm publishing - these are usually characterised by the fact that they read multiple pages in a visit and return at regular intervals. Interestingly, over the past few weeks, I've had quite a few more of this type of visitor than usual, but whether this is developing into a trend, it's too early to tell. But why should I care what type of traffic I'm getting, a hit is a hit, isn't it? Well, over the years of publishing The Sleaze, I've found that there's nothing more disheartening than realising that large numbers of your visitors clearly aren't remotely interested in anything you've written. There really is no point in writing and publishing stuff if nobody appreciates it. As I've said before, it is far better to have fewer, but more appreciative readers. Now, it could be that there aren't significant numbers of web users out there interested in my stuff, but I remain convinced that the quality traffic is out there somewhere. Finding it is another matter.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home