“The experiment” – The conclusion thus far

Ok, Ok, I think I found the conclusion down here somewhere…

A few weeks back I was having some fun with blog posts, and conducting a little experiment. In part 1, “The search phrase experiment and what makes a popular blog post“, I posted some musings on what makes a a popular blog post, based on my four or so months blogging. As also experienced by other bloggers, I had received some odd search engine search terms, which led to my site. I was interested in what phrases might prove popular in pulling in viewers, so I added some random popular search terms taken from the Google “hot trends“. I wanted to see if this boosted viewers in any way.

In part 2, I picked up on some points I had missed in the first post, then mused that using popular search terms might not be a benefit at all purely because there will be a lot of sites catering to the popular search phrases, and thus my site will rank low among them. So this time I posted on advertising, sex slang (via a quiz), typing search engine optimisation and looking at the related search terms, and highlighting the 15 most popular blog sites. Would any of these categories work?

So what did happen? Well first I would differentiate between the blogging community, or more specifically, the blogging community on WordPress, who have the reader, the “follow” and “like” functionality, and readers outside of WordPress. This is important, the wordpress community is different because:

  1. The community is likely finding my site via the wordpress search terms / reader, not a search engine, the obvious choice being Google.
  2. Or because I commented on another blog that the person reads (or read), and they decided to look me up.
  3. Or they already follow me.

This is not the same as finding it via a search engine. You may have a blog site via blogger or bloodspot, or some other blogsite, but in those examples, you are out of the wordpress loop. You may just be web searching for something, and found my site, but you are still not in the wordpress loop. Within the wordpress loop, the posts proved relatively popular, given that it was June / July and audiences are down a bit anyway. They drew in a reasonable amount of comments and likes. People are interested, because they too are bloggers and wondered, did the experiment therefore have any effect. Or they wished to make comment on my ideas about what makes a popular post, which looking back, were also largely for readers within the wordpress loop.

So on the one hand the posts did ok, and even gained me a few new followers. The search engine side however… I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but I shouldn’t be because it is a result in itself, but there was nothing. That’s right, it added nothing of any significance at all. No bump in viewing stats even on the posting days. In the last 30 days, my top five most popular search engine terms were:

  1. Word association list – I have no idea why that suddenly became the most popular one recently, but it did, linking to some old writing exercise post.
  2. my big fat gypsy wedding – from my old tv vegetable posts, one presumes.
  3. the wire drama – From an alternative take post.
  4. reasons for writing – Nothing springs to mind here ?
  5. rolling stone 500 greatest albums – this one has been consistent on the search stats since I posted on it.

In fact I got more searches via the phrase “VW classic beetle” matching to a “100 word fiction” post from a few weeks ago. I did wonder why this might be, why it seemed to have next to no impact at all. Then someone pointed out to me that the posts having so many links and terms of different types, might register like spam pages, and not rank high in searches. Is that true? I do not know. It sounds feasible. I know Google does a lot of categorisation based on the amount of links which link from somewhere else to your page. But they also have some spam detection which works hand in hand with the page ranking. In that sense I could have created some spam posts.

One other related point, I seem to have a decent number of referrals from “StumbleUpon“. I had no idea what this is until I noticed it in the stats and checked. That one needs more investigation

So to conclude for now, the posts proved relatively interesting to regular readers and one or two new ones, especially within the wordpress loop. Some of my ideas struck similar experiences to other bloggers. The experiment in putting together several different categories of “nonsense”, had no impact on viewers via search engines. This might have been because the pages were categorised as spam. This sounds feasible because none of the nonsense has pulled in even the odd search term viewer after a “something” I used. As a comparison just the words “Fiona Apple” from a list of music I need to catch up with pulled in some views via search engine. I definitely was not the only site with those words on it given she just had a new album out via a major label.

If I was to self publish a novel and needed the blog to partially promote it, some more lessons in website optimisation are required. Assuming I could be bothered to do it, which I probably would. Hmm… maybe the experiment shall continue.

Lexicon word of the day: nubbin.


23 comments on ““The experiment” – The conclusion thus far

  1. Ohhhh, that’s interesting πŸ™‚

    I’m actually quite shocked lol


    • Elliot says:

      It amused me as well. I had not thought that I might get categorised like spam in the page ranks. I bet any one of those individually would have had an odd impact.

  2. rtd14 says:

    You sound like you’ve learned a lot from your experiment. That is great. I appreciate you sharing your results. I know I need to learn more about search engine optimization. It is a skill greatly sought by employers. Thanks again!

  3. There’s so much about this that I don’t understand and it seems so daunting to try to figure out. Glad you took a stab at it, though, for the rest of us weanies.

    • Carrie Rubin says:

      I’m with you, Sheila. Much of this I don’t understand and never seem to have the time to learn more about it. Glad someone else is paving the way. Thanks, Elliot! πŸ™‚

      • Elliot says:

        You might be building up my part a bit much on this one. I think I understand less now! As I replied to Sheila, I think really learning about search engine optimisation might be a little dull, which is why we all put it off or give it a miss.

      • Carrie Rubin says:

        Well, you still know more than me. πŸ™‚

    • Elliot says:

      I don’t think I much understand it either. I think if I was to really learn it, it would be a bit tedious and dull. It was fun on the posts (well my thoughts on popular posts within wordpress were fun to do), but beyond that… zzz.

  4. I did a post on nerds and shirt pocket protectors. I get more hits on that tag than one would imagine.

  5. Margarita says:

    I recently checked my spam folder (I forget it’s there) and most of the stuff there came from “StumbleUpon”. I was a little nonplussed by the amount of spam I received that seemed to come from a post I did on a salad…and my mind numbs somewhat at the thought of exploring all the widgets and gadgets available to us in cyberspace. Baby steps for me! Thanks, Elliot! πŸ™‚

    • Elliot says:

      I did some posts on spam, then for a few weeks, my spam folder went into overload. It has stopped now.

      Actually on the subject of widgets, I use a web browser extension to remove most of the advertising from websites, which is really quick to install and stops most of it. That one is great.

  6. I know diddly about search engine optimization. But someone found my blog this week through a search for “vegetative state.”

  7. jmmcdowell says:

    Well, you can add me to the list of writers who are clueless about SEO. And that’s probably not a good thing if I end up with an e-publisher or going full indie. When I’m closer to publication, I’ll need to increase my “social network” presence. But I’m dreading that prospect.

    I just typed brain splats into Google and many of your posts came up high in the results. But is that because we’re both on WordPress and Firefox and Google know that? Maybe I should try it from a “neutral” computer with no cookies stored about me….

    Whether they had the intended results or not, your posts on this subject have been interesting.

    • Elliot says:

      I am also dreading the social network presence if I go via the self publishing route.

      I think typing “brain splats” finds my blog ok, but how many type in that as a search phrase? I need to update the blurb at the top of the page, maybe I should include some interesting search phrase in that.

      I suppose even though the result showed little, that in itself was a result and showed something. Cover too many subjects in a post and you’ll likely end up looking like a spam page. Hmm…

  8. I don’t think we can ever really understand how SEO works. I’ve decided that if you just use good titles and tags, the search engines eventually find you. The trick is to know what people really search for. Like you said, no one is probablysearching for “brain splats” (which is a very good title, btw) but by including what people ARE searching for in your tags, the search engines wlll come. And the longer you are around, the better you do, it seems, as far as landing on the first page, which is what you want. How many times do you go to the second page of a search list. I rarely do.

    • Elliot says:

      I do know that most people who use Google, will tend to use the links on the first search page of returned results, and obviously those which are nearest to the top. Most people don’t go beyond that.

      Getting good search terms is one thing, but getting others to link to your site improves it a lot.

  9. Smaktakula says:

    StumbleUpon has been very good to me, although “it” tends to prefer my less wordy posts.

    Speaking to how people encounter blogs, personally, I’ve found that I (like point 2) have found most of the blogs I read through comments on my site or on other sites that I read. Interesting name? Interesting comment? I try to check ’em out.

    • Elliot says:

      As I mentioned, I had never really heard of it, let alone used it. I did take a quick look. It look useful if you want to find some random sites covering subjects you like.

      I think I am more likely to check out the people who leave as comment rather than those who just “follow”. I’m not knocking people who follow, but in following up, the commentors definitely get priority.

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