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:
- The community is likely finding my site via the wordpress search terms / reader, not a search engine, the obvious choice being Google.
- Or because I commented on another blog that the person reads (or read), and they decided to look me up.
- 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:
- 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.
- my big fat gypsy wedding – from my old tv vegetable posts, one presumes.
- the wire drama – From an alternative take post.
- reasons for writing – Nothing springs to mind here ?
- 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.