Thursday, February 08, 2007

Blogger Tags and the Mysteries of Search Engine Traffic

I just realized that Blogger allows you to add tags to blog posts.

Actually, I must give credit where it's due and that belongs to my online pal and fellow member of Blogcritics Magazine and The Mondo Project, Mat Brewster. I've seen tags appear on blogspot blogs countless times, I'm sure, but absolutely assumed that they were part of some fancy plug-in that was not for the likes of me.

Part of my reintroduction to blogging from my own site on Blogger (as opposed to writing exclusively for BC, which I did for about a year) is that I've been able to better tune in to how bloggers are organizing themselves and their information, promoting themselves, and building audience.

This post is a bit of an experiment. Since I started posting here regularly since the first of the year, I've noticed that the majority of my traffic comes from the following sources:

* MyBlogLog: A great networking site for bloggers, it also helps to bring in some traffic.

* Techmeme: Great great source for following current tech and online media stories and the conversations springing up around them. I've been able to hit this page a nice number of times, and have brought back some visitors because of it.

* Blogcritics Magazine: Cross-publishing at the old battleship BC absolutely has a positive effect on one's "home site" bottom line.

* Search traffic: mostly, but drips and drabs from Yahoo!, Ice Rocket (I think mentioning Mark Cuban's name helps, which is indeed worthy of another experiment!), and Google Blog Search.

Search traffic is that great randomizer. If you can pull lots of it, you can sail off to Tahiti for six months and still have rip roaring traffic stats when you get back. If you don't, it's a grind-it-out battle to itch and scratch each reader home for supper.

This is somewhat the topic of a raging debate of the online moment, with entrepreneur and provocateur Jason Calacanis setting off fireworks with talk of SEO (search engine optimization, or rigging one's code to harness more search engine traffic) being "bullshit" and a swift and immediate blowback from the likes of Neil Patel following, who challenges Jason to allow him to increase his own traffic "by a minimum of 10 to 20% after 30 days of putting my changes into effect" with promises of no shady dealings on route. And it seems Jason has accepted – the great SEO throwdown is on!

In any event, without being shady (I know so little about code that this would be very difficult anyway!) and as openly as I can, I've placed a nice number of wide ranging links and references here that hopefully add up to nearly a coherent whole.

I've listed the following blog tags as part of this post: blogger, blog, blogs, google, search, SEO, ice rocket, mark cuban, google blog search, techmeme, mybloglog, blogcritics, jason calacanis, neil patel, page rank

So the questions are: did I "optimize" this post by writing a decent piece and linking out to fellow bloggers and engagers in the online conversation? Or will dropping a deluge of tags at the bottom help auto-magically bring home some visitors? Or, perhaps, did none of this pile up to a hill of e-beans in the vast vacuum of the blogospheric realm?

I'll report back the results, and look forward to your thoughts.


Unknown said...

I hope the tags work well. I've found they are a little like normal search engine terms - really popular or generic terms give you very little, due to being a small fish and all that. Ultra specific, but obscure terms get little traffic as well. Middle of the road often hits it pretty well as you can score higher ratings while still being a term searched for, or tagged through.

Staff said...

So far they seem to be doing a little bit in terms of traffic, but not a lot. The really nice thing is that they provide an easy way to navigate to every piece an author has wrote related to a particular tag.

Titles seem to be one of the most important ways to get picked up by search engines (and thus getting you more opportunities to get looked at and linked elsewhere), and where you link out to is also highly relevant.

Thanks for stopping by, Mat !

Unknown said...

I definitely love tags for that very reason - it makes navigating so much easier. I appreciate going to a new blog and being able to see everything they have written about orangutans in the wild, or whatever.

Staff said...

Tags are also a great way of seeing what a site is about: how it organizes itself and what it focuses on. I should figure out a way to pull DB's tags up on the side nav. I know that Word Press has an easy way to do it (e.g. The Mondo Project) but I'm not sure about Blogger.

Mat Brewster said...

Can't help you there. A long time ago I read some way to do it, but t'was very complicated and I never managed to do it. but you being the cultist and all, it should be no problem to search out and complete!

Mat Brewster said...

Don't ask me why it used the old midnitcafe name for that last one (and probably this one). The new blogger log-ins confuse me no end.

Staff said...

Blogger automatically switches over to the new platform in terms of logging in and commenting, but there's a strange transitional pause sometimes.

And the Cultist seeks out all online media knowledge, but some of it is a higher priority than others!

Edmund Yeo said...

The higher your Pagerank is (yours is 4/10 now), the more likely you'll get those Search Engine traffic. (the difference of traffic when I moved from 4 to 5 was pretty dramatic, I ended up getting consistent traffic even though, yes, I went vacationing at India for the past 3 weeks, sometimes, I'm not even sure whether it's a good thing or a bad thing) I'm not entirely sure whether tags do help that much (I get, well, maybe a few from those Technorati tags).

And yeah, there is a way to let those tags (labels) appear at the sidebar, but I just moved my blog to Version 3 yesterday, so not entirely sure, I think it would affect my current template, so didn't want to take the risk.

Staff said...

Swifty -- this site got lowered from a 5 to a 4 over the course of the last few days!

Anyone know if this is a plight that has befallen others on Blogger? It may be because I took an extended break from posting to this site, starting up again just before the new year.

Anonymous said...

I just got bumped up to a 6! the fact that you linked to me here and at BC probably helped push me up, so thanks.

You can definitely add the tags into the sidebar pretty easily. You have to make your template jazzed into bloggers 2.0 wackiness, which they will show you how to do when you play with it. This will kill any extra templateness you have added, but after that its a sinch to add in tags and other coolness into your sidebars.

Staff said...

Congrats Mat -- that's a huge leap! Please let us know how your traffic responds -- I imagine you may see a huge torrent of search engine referrals from now on.

And thanks for tip about the sidebar. I think though that I'm ready to move on to Word Press for a number of reasons. We'll see when I return from NZ!

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