Years ago, we had just moved to a large city. My husband, not being used to freeways, was driving on one, just as he always did on the country roads. As he was enjoying the scenery, he heard a siren and then noticed flashing lights in his rear view mirror. Being the courteous driver that he is, he pulled over to the side of the road. The police car, pulled in behind him.

My husband was confused. He knew he hadn’t done anything wrong.

When the officer came to his window, he said, “I’m not sure why you have pulled me over, Officer, I know I wasn’t speeding”.

“No”, said the officer, “you were “petting traffic””.

Confused, my husband said, “Petting traffic, what’s that?”

The officer replied, “You were going too slow, and holding up traffic”

“Didn’t you notice the line of cars behind you?”

My husband had to admit, he hadn’t noticed.

The officer gave my husband a warning, and went on his way…

Although this was the first and last time I heard the term “petting traffic”, the story reminds me of how traffic comes to our blogs. Some days it’s coming in, over the speed limit, and we see large spikes in our traffic

Other days, it’s like we are “petting traffic”, and we see deep valleys in our stats.

Isn’t traffic fickle?

What this tells me, is that content is ‘king’, (or maybe, for us female bloggers, we should start saying, content is “queen” ๐Ÿ™‚ )What do you think, girls?

By writing good content, we won’t be “petting” traffic. By using keyword density, we could increase the speed of our traffic. By learning SEO (search engine optimization), we may “break the speed limit”. Add all of that to leaving comments on other blogs, and we could break the speed of sound.

To blog (write) is easy. To find topics to blog about, can be harder. But to optimize your content and get noticed…now, takes some homework.

Are you ready for a speeding ticket?

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  1. Ian DennyNo Gravatar says:

    It’s a hard balance to get. Being a “recent entrant to the blogging world” (not a “newbie” any more), I started a blog and looked at many others.

    The traffic rose spectacularly. Then I got distracted by things like banks wanting to take my house and other dull stuff like that.

    And the traffic went down.

    It begs the question though about why we want traffic. In an awful lot of cases it’s for financial or commercial reasons. Right?

    Very likely. But is that just an excuse for the real reason most people start a blog?

    They want to be listened to. I did. I had something to say and admitedly didn’t know at first that anyone would hear. And not knowing anything about blogs, I just thought nobody would really listen and it could be a diary that maybe one day people would find.

    I suppose it we are completely honest with ourselves, alot of it is to do with stroking our own egos.

    We want to be listened to. We want other people to validate our thoughts – and comment.

    We are all perhaps seeking conversation. A new medium through which we can converse with people anywhere. People who share the same interests.

    And to improve that ego stroking and quality of conversation, we need people to converse with.

    So, yes, the quality of our content is important if we are to get that conversation.

    Back to the commercial aspects. I suspect that can get in the way of the conversation. Strangely, I think anyone who needs traffic should stick to the conversation and don’t let it lose it;s thread completely by the commercial aspects.

    That said, I have done nothing beyond two affiliate links and AdSense on my blog. And anything I have done has been an afterthought to the conversation.

    But I am enjoying it! So far the quality of the conversation is being achieved. I am really grateful that I have a few regular visitors who have really contributed an awful lot to that chat.

    But like everyone, I do have to tick that other box at some point and do something financial.

    If for nothing else but to find more justification to improve the conversation!

    I do feel as though sites like John Chow etc. have lost the conversation. But they attract so many visitors, because the talk is all about visitors, SEO, and stunts etc which get the numbers going up.

    But is it the numbers that really motivate us or is the conversation?

    I enjoy the quality more than the quantity. But I suppose you need to increase the numbers while retaining the quantity to tick your financial box.

    Food for thought!

  2. BarbaraNo Gravatar says:

    Wow, Ian,

    Now, that’s what I call a well thought out comment. I think you have hit the nail on the head.

    When I started blogging, I did so, for two reasons, One, was to share what I have learned, with others. After raising children, who sometimes wouldn’t listen, I hoped others could benefit from what I had learned over the years. (BTW. the kids don’t read this blog at all, but do sometimes drop into my other one. )

    My second reason was financial. I had read a few blogs of how the authors had quit their day job and were blogging full time. My thought was to make a decent income, and that would allow my husband to retire from our business. (No “profit sharing” for the self employed).

    But, a funny thing happened when I started blogging. Like you said, I wanted to know if anyone was reading what I wrote. My traffic numbers told me “yes”. But, when I started getting loyal commenters (is that a word?), it raised me to a new level. My readers were validating that they heard me. What a rush.

    Now, to me, traffic means I am being read. That makes me happy. I feel, even if my visitors don’t leave a comment, they were maybe helped by what I wrote.

    Am I getting rich…..heck no. The financial aspect of blogging, is now pretty far down the list.

    Do I want more traffic. Most certainly. I want to “introduce” new “blogging buddies, to my old “blogging buddies”. I want to expand this circle of cyberspace friends, and hopefully leave my mark on this medium, we call the world wide web. If I make a few more dimes by doing so, that’s good too.

    As for the John Chow’s blog. I visited it once…just to see what the buzz was all about.

  3. Ian DennyNo Gravatar says:

    I do prefer real substance in a blog. When it’s too glitzy or obviously soliciting clicks, I find it hard to focus on the content, and I’m always looking for the angle.

    When it’s something interesting, I’m far more inclined to come back.

    Good to hear I’m not alone in admitting alot of blogging is about being heard!

  4. AsakoNo Gravatar says:

    You definitely are heard, Barbara.

    Traffic is a funny thing, and Google makes it really difficult. I worked on SEO last weekend, and the search terms were working very well, until today. Today, I saw a huge drop. So I checked a number of the search terms and somehow my blog does not come up anymore on any of these search terms that were working throughout the week. I am wondering why. Only change I made was that I finally added RSS Feed yesterday. Would that impact on the way Google judges my blog? I am puzzled.

    Do you have any insight?

  5. BarbaraNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Asako,

    First of all, I’m glad to hear you added an RSS feed, and are learning and using SEO. I think that will get your great blog discovered, and read on a regular basis.

    As for as Google……I don’t know the answer.

    Can any of my other readers answer this for Asako?

    We appreciate your help.

  6. AsakoNo Gravatar says:

    ….I am sorry, I just took RSS Feed away from my blog again. I am trying to figure out what really happened… It may not be RSS Feed, so once I figure it out, I will put it back in.

    Yes, please help me, all other readers here!

  7. AsakoNo Gravatar says:

    I think I figured it out. I set the URL structure with the title of articles, but one area of my home page was listing articles with the URL structure using article #s. It seems Google got confused because there were two titles to one same article. So all these article got penalized….

    Now after fixing it, the Google ranking is slowing recovering…. although damage as been already done.

    Good learning!

  8. BarbaraNo Gravatar says:

    Asako,

    Glad to hear you got it figured out ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Hi Barbara – I had not heard of petting traffic before. And I’ll be the first to admit – I learned a bit of SEO for my site, but I just can’t get the hang of wordpress at all.

    You are so right about content. But, if you check your stats too much it can make you paranoid. If my traffic went down for a day, I used to panic and wonder what I’d written to scare people away.

  10. BarbaraNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Catherine,

    WordPress is just one of many blogging platforms. I say, just find a blogging program that works for you, and just stick with that.

    Stat checking could drive a person nuts. Obsession of stats, can also take away from your creativity.

    Just post, post, post……(good content), and in time, your readership will increase.

    I’m in the process of writing more posts on stats and visitors…stay tuned. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. AsakoNo Gravatar says:

    Hello Barbara,

    I do believe there’s something tricky about the blog SEO. For example, I have a feeling that Google does penalize old posts more than Google does on the static website pages down in the structure.

    I have been still testing many different things on my pilot site, and I have to say I am surprised to see the immediate impact of 1) slowing down posting, 2) changing topics, and 3) creating links to other sites.

    Let’s all of us figure that out together (and I am sure that will drive a huge traffic to this site!)

    Checking statistics all the time is definitely not very healthy. But because I am in the early phase of building my site, I do learn a lot about how traffic is built and what is effective. That is probably different for each blog.

  12. KekoaNo Gravatar says:

    Great story, Barbara, but I wish you would have gone into some detail as to how we can optimize keywords. I hear about this all the time, but seldom do people elaborate on their sacred methods.

    But you’re cool, so I think you’d be willing to share how you optimize your keywords and SEO. How about helping the rest of us out? ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m ready for a speeding ticket.

  13. BarbaraNo Gravatar says:

    Kekoa,

    Thanks for dropping in.

    Optimizing keywords and keyword phrases is a subject I will be blogging about at a later date. There’s really no secret to it, but I won’t go into that now.

    I’m happy to hear you’re ready for blog growth. Keep posting good content, and get your site crawled, as often as possible.

    Don’t forget to visit other blogs, and leave comments. Check out my new blogging buddies. They all have great sites, and are sharing lots of valuable information.

  14. BarbaraNo Gravatar says:

    Asako,

    Thanks for answering me via email on what you are finding. In response to what you found:

    1) Posting frequently, is important to get your blog pinged and crawled on a regular basis.
    2) Keyword density and keyword phrases matter-that leads to indexing
    3) Linking to similar sites? This I’m not sure about, but it makes sense. However, I have read that incoming links from sites that have a high Google page rank, help. But, for now, I think links of any kind, will help. Several months ago, I wrote a post which expresses my opinions on Google page rank and linking. You can read it here Google Page Rank – Chasing That Elusive Dream
    4) Creating internal links to your tops posts. This makes sense. If you are getting search engine traffic based on keywords, etc…, this should give the linked post, a “shot in the arm”.

    That could work in reverse too. If you have a popular post, that’s getting a lot of views, update it by adding a link to a post that you want “highlighted”. (Make sure they compliment each other though)

    Thanks for sharing your research Asako.

  15. AsakoNo Gravatar says:

    Hello Barbara,

    I am still researching, so I could not share all the hypothesis I have at that time.

    Since then, I also found that adding a site map helps. Since Google found a problem on my site URL structure one week ago, I could not figure out how to get a traffic back. Last few days, I added a site map to tell Google where to crawl, and my site started appearing on the search terms.

    I am definitely finding totally different behaviors among two sites I have. So I am still having a “hypothesis” that WordPress is penalized by Google. And my hypothesis is that Google seems not considering each article on WordPress as a separate page. Google seems to mash all articles as a huge mega page and judge based on what is on top (the most recent article). So the good content in your old posts may get forgotten by Google, unless you keep links to them on the home page. On Expression Engine, it seems Google is considering each article as a distinct page.

    But this is really my hypothesis. When you do google search on the popular WordPress blog, they come up on the first page. I have been looking into every SEO articles, but no one talks about this. I may be 100% wrong, that’s why I did not want to mention it last time.

    I still can not figure it out. This is all my guts feeling, and many cases , my intuition is wrong….

  16. BarbaraNo Gravatar says:

    Asako,

    Based on what I think you are saying, I don’t necessarily find this as true. If I duplicate the same search terms, my readers have used, it takes me to the post…not the home page.

    However, speaking of site maps, I recently added the Google sitemap (from Google.com) to my OM blog. It states to add the meta code before the first . I didn’t have a on my main index page (I don’t have a single post page), so I added it to my header. When I did that, it caused the problem you are speaking of on the three posts I published after adding the Google sitemap.

    I have since deactivated the Google sitemap, as I am already using a site map plugin. Update: That wasn’t it, so I reactivated the Google sitemap.

    I’m in the process of trying to create an offbeat post, to test this theory. I’ll let you know if that is what caused my problem. Update: my pages are indexing correctly, so it may have just been a “time” issue with Google.

    Keep me posted on your research findings.

  17. AsakoNo Gravatar says:

    Hmmm, maybe, we just have to forget the page ranking on Google, as you said in the recent post.

    If we go back the history, blog was a log of personal matters to organize the information for the person. It was re-invented as a money making engine in the last few years, and everyone started talking about how to build a traffic. Maybe, that was a bubble.

    If there is 10M blogs, I guess it is really difficult to be on top of everyone in the Google ranking.

    Good advice. I should re-think my blog site strategy.

  18. BarbaraNo Gravatar says:

    Hello Asako,

    I would doubt that anyone has every page of theirs ranked high with any of the search engines. Most of the time, a handful of good posts is what draws readers to a site…….they become loyal readers, as they want to read more.

    I just checked Technorati, and they are now tracking 108.3 million blogs. Getting your blog found, becomes more competitive by the day (or maybe by the hour).

    Is making money from a blog, a bubble that has burst? I don’t think the bubble has burst, but it may be less inflated, as readers become blind to ads.

    However, with the being said, even though more blogs are born everyday, so are new readers/visitors….readers/visitors who haven’t yet developed ad “blindness”.

  19. Hmmm..this post makes me feel pressure. I don’t know why, but I don’t know what SEO or page ranking is, I don’t even know what my stats indicate about my readers. Not sure if this is good or bad. I do know what my subscriber number is, but I look at that maybe once a week. I guess I’m scared to look at the numbers because I will then try to be all things to all people if I lose a few or gain a few. Everyone can’t be pleased. I have more readers or subscribers than I ever thought I would…. It’s a lot less stressful for me to just be myself and stay away from competing, but I do submit my posts to digg and stumble because I like sharing, having reader and I like when they comment.

    You are correct with this statement: But to optimize your content and get noticedโ€ฆnow, takes some homework. It takes hardwork!

    Are you ready for a speeding ticket? I don’t like speeding tickets. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thanks Barbara. Great post, I love your blog.

    Natural Woman’s last blog post..Free Stuff!

  20. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Natural,

    You know, sometimes I thinks it’s better not to know your stats, page rank and/or number of feed readers, as you can get hung up on the numbers, which in turn could stifle your creativity.

    It all takes time, and lots of it. And, like you say, hard work.