Posted April 19, 2007 2:11 pm by with 14 comments

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Mixed blessings for SEM come from a Boston University study entitled Traffic Characteristics and Communication Patterns in the Blogosphere.

First, the good news: the majority of blog traffic comes from search engines. Search engines accounted for 43% of referral traffic in the blogosphere. Hurray for search engine marketers! Their diagram of referral traffic (below) does not include the 28% of blogosphere traffic without any referral data (probably bookmark or type-in traffic).

referral traffic to the blogosphere

Now for the bad news: “Despite the intimacy between traffic and search, however, optimizing a blog for search engine algorithms does not win the blogs retention or popularity,” as MarketingVOX put it. Yep, all the rankings in the world don’t make your blog well read, popular or sticky. You have to do that.

MarketingVOX does give some advice to bloggers struggling to retain search engine traffic:

This suggests that while high search rankings get traffic through the door, bloggers must still ensure the presence and accessibility of quality content relevant to what people are seeking. Involvement in a network of similar bloggers can also help a website flourish. Even in the blogosphere—perhaps especially—popularity remains a networking game.

Content and networking still rule the day.

Now for the disclaimer: this study was performed on a subset of the blogosphere located in Brazil, which granted the researchers access to their logfiles. Do you think the findings would hold true for the US?

  • This is an interesting piece of research; thanks for sharing the summary. I think the broad results will hold true anywhere. There is a fair amount of referral traffic between blogs, but the percentages may vary. Interactive style and the use of audio and video must be playing a key role in why a reader visits one blog multiple times and forgets another.

  • I would think the same would hold true for the US and for the blogisphere in general. I mean when was the last time you looked for a good blog on a search engine?

  • I think that the majority of visitors that bookmark or subscribe to a blog are not the visitors coming from the search engines and are coming via other blog links, news stories and such.

    I know that 90+% of the blogs I read were not found via the search engines. Most of them were recommended by the trusted authorities in the industry such as Andy (thanks for the link blog), Lee Odden, Danny Sullivan and others whose judgement I trust. No offense to the search engines but I think their rankings are easier to manipulate than actual people.

  • Sometimes I will find a blog from a search engine, but in those cases I am looking for specific information. I often won’t come back once I found what I need, unless they have something else to keep me around.

    Contests seem to be a lot better for getting readers. I subscribed to your blog when I heard about the Zune contest, but I just kept getting more and more involved in discussions. Now it’s one of the few places I comment to, and the place I comment the most often.

  • I frequently think about turning my front page into more of a squeeze page above the fold – it is interesting monitoring which traffic actually clicks through to the home page.
    StumbleUpon traffic can be so untargeted – from 300 SU views to my PRWeb article, I have had 5 click-throughs to the site giving out $200 press releases for free (Andy your wife should grab one)

    Most subscriptions seem to come from highly targeted links.

    One good thing, I am not sure whether it is the same with RSS as email, but Feedburner is meant to notify you of unsubscriptions email… and I have never had one.

  • Andy,

    Would an RSS feed be considered “Other Blog Services?” And in that case, do you consider a blog entry to be “traffic” if I absorb the information through an RSS feed versus actually going to the site?

    In theory, I’m sure all of us “visit” dozens of blogs each day through a feed. For example, I’ve read 4 MP entries this morning, but this was the only one that I actually visited the page. Your message was received, but is that in the equation?

    Just curious

  • The only thing that guarantees loyalty is excellent content, actual, visual and focussed. Look at this example and the affiliated websites and you know what I mean

  • I just now realized that Andy didn’t post this. I should pay more attention. As should others when commenting.

  • You and me both. Sorry, Jordan.

  • I’ll take it as a compliment that I hired someone that shares my style of writing. 🙂

    Hopefully Jordan won’t be offended. 😉

  • Jordan McCollum

    It’s okay, guys. I’m done crying now, so my feelings aren’t hurt anymore 😉

  • Maybe we can add our smiling faces to the posts, to make it more obvious.

  • Heh, I was actually going to suggest that yesterday, but don’t just add it to the top of the page, but also to near the comment area.

    I always thought Jordan was shy with no MBL avatar appearing.

  • Jordan McCollum

    I’m not shy… I actually have no idea why it doesn’t appear. I’d really like for it to, since people would (hopefully) be better able to tell that I’m not a man…