If you are not focused on the iPhone hype, you probably noticed that some good content was written this week. Louis Gray posted about how he thinks The Importance of Blog Linking Seems to be Declining. There was some good discussion in the blog comments as well, so I highly recommend that you read some of it. Shortly after that, our wonderful host, Corvida, had an insightful post on the pros and cons of being Dugg as well as being Shared. Again, a very good conversation in the blog comments that are well worth reading.
Blog Linking From The “Bigger Boys”
I am here to say that Louis and Corvida are missing the point (sorry). There are not a lot of bloggers with more than 1000 subscribers. I would assume that most blogs stay under 100 subscribers for their lifetime. The rules for getting from 0 to 500 is much different. Louis starts with an interesting observation, where he neglects to realize that our perceptions change as time goes on.
At one time, I thought being linked to by the most prominent bloggers could have a significant impact on my traffic. And for a short time, it did. But now, I’ve seen traffic from other blogs to be driving an ever-declining percentage of visits to my site, swamped by social media tools, aggregation sites, and of course, Google search.
The “at one time” part really refers to a time when he did not have that many subscribers, like most of us. If I had 25 subscribers and I got a link from him or even Robert Scoble, that would be huge for my tiny blog. In the beginning, the only way to get traffic is to have links from bigger blogs. A small blog will not get any search engine traffic, mainly because there are not enough links to build any authority. Now that Louis has about 2300 subscribers, he will not get much traffic from a blog link. For Louis to get much traffic, the link needs to come from someone with an order of magnitude more subscribers, most likely a minimum of 20000-30000 subscribers. Even then, he would just get a nice bump in traffic. In order for Louis to see significant traffic from a referral source, he needs to feel the Digg effect.
The Publicity of Google Reader Vs. The Digg Effect
On the other hand Corvida recently passed the 1000 subscriber mark. She was wondering whether people find it better to be Shared or Dugg:
Lately I’ve been noticing that I pay more attention to how many times my articles are shared on RSSmeme and Readburner rather than how many times they’ve been voted for on Digg. I think I can safely say that it’s much easier to get your article shared rather than dugg, though I’m not sure why since it’s the same action with a different name.
This is a better question for a smaller blogger looking to grow. Google Reader Shares are fairly easy to get because people are sharing information with their friends. For a small blog, a share is great publicity because it can show up on sites like FriendFeed and Twitter where many more people can see it. This is a very organic way to grow traffic. You get the “home grown” following who will be much more passionate supporters of the blog.
This also allows the blogger to slowly handle the changing audience, which can be a shock. The changing tone of your readers can be a tough thing to handle if you grow to quickly. Getting Dugg is the “holy grail” of small blogs. It gives instant traffic and credibility to a blog that is looking to grow. A small blog can get 2000 pageviews per month and be happy. On a slow day, Digg can send a front page story 20000 page views in a few hours.
If your blog post does not get near the front page (and most likely it will not for a while), you really do not get much traffic from Digg. This makes Digg a not so good target for a small blog. As a blogger, you will not really find your groove for several months. Getting Dugg early will cause a lot of traffic that is not happy to see you, because Digg users see “new” blogs every day churning out garbage for articles. I am not saying Diggers are miserable people, but they are leery of a new blogs appearing on the front page. Now, I know I have said that getting Dugg is “not a good target”, but participating in social media sites is another good way to start growing the blog. If Digg feels intimidating, try the friendlier confines of Mixx and StumbleUpon. If your blog is highly technical or political, Reddit may be a better option to start with.
The idea I am trying to get across is that each step in the blogging journey requires different ideas to help the blog grow. Louis Gray may not care about links anymore, but as a small blog you need to worry only about links. Without links, nobody can find you. Then, when people do find you, be careful what you wish for.
This was a guest post by the fabulous YackTrack creator Rob Diana of RegularGeek.com. You can find more of Rob’s great work on Regular Geek, which includes great insight on Social Media, Semantic Web, web apps, and a ton more. Be sure to subscribe to Regular Geek too.