JD Salinger, Blog Stickiness and How to Disappear from an Active Site

JD Salinger, Blog Stickiness and How to Disappear from an Active Site

And there I go again, writing what I want to call an SEO blog and then putting a title on this post that guarantees nothing. But I am currently a self-supporting SEO (i.e not looking for clients) so who gives a shit if my posts here rank for anything. So I can disappear like J. D. Salinger for periods of time and really not care too much about it. There are just other things to do and I write this blog for shits and grins now. I just linked to fricken Wikipedia, for crying out loud. That’s because I am lazy and don’t want to explain shit. And, damn it, I like cutesy titles and mixing unrelated topics together and seeing what comes out on the other end. It’s called analogy. So I figured I could at least be nice enough to define things a bit. I can do SEO on the other sites that make money and just shoot the shit here.

Calling it bragging rights. And then there was the phase about a year ago where I really didn’t have much to brag about, so I stopped writing and went back to building things so I actually start claiming again that I made good money online. This blog and let’s call it social media mania were responsible for at least a part of the loss of income. I was having too much fun and not doing enough work. WOOT, traffic to a blog that now has a PageRank of 5 to get me freelance jobs I really don’t want to do. So I slowed down a bit on both and just watch myself. I guess is like alcohol or gambling.

Blog Stickiness

But you know what, the traffic at this site never really dipped much. It has been very slowly but steadily growing. And the feature that did this has been built in almost since the day I started this blog. These lists here get the majority of traffic on my site. The people that use them stick around a long time because they are long lists. Most are from India, but what can you do.

You will notice that those lists are on pages. That’s because posts can drop out of Google quicker especially when you are posting a lot. Yes, posting often is a two edged sword. You can get more traffic by posting often and filling your blog with content. But you can also go through periods of crap posts. I know all about crap posts. And after about ten of those in a row, your search engine traffic bearing posts are buried. Chances are your highest ranking page is your home page. It is generously boosting the last ten posts of your blog and whatever links you have in the sidebar. And if those posts are bad, then you better hope your good posts got some generous links from other bloggers, because you are helping those posts by writing bad posts on a tight schedule.

But not every type of content should go on a page. You learn to notice the difference between pages and posts after a while. You can say that posts are timely content, but there are plenty examples of posts that stand the test of time and are current for years. But they don’t quite fit the “page” type content slot. So how to you help these buried timeless posts.

I simply use a blogroll category here. At the time I was hunting for a featured posts plugin years ago, I couldn’t find one that worked like I wanted it to. Plus by just adding these posts to my Wordpress links, I could control the anchor text and mold it however I wanted. Knowing that I would add to this list from time to time, I add the php_exec plugin and wrote code to pull a random 7 posts. That way I could keep the widget under control and satisfy my need to check if semi-sitewide links pack more punch than sitewide ones. Reload the page and the featured links change.

This also helps keep people on my site. I put what I consider to define what my blog is about despite my random walks down random topics. But how do you find yours?

J. D. Salinger wrote “Catcher In The Rye” and that’s about all he had to do to have people wondering where the hell he went for decades. You and I probably don’t have the next Great American Novel in us. We have our stats, we have our comments, we have social responses and we have our pets. I know I have my pets. Those posts I write and am just jittery about. Where I know I said exactly what I wanted to say or I wrote something that I never knew was in me just by starting to type. And I am going to feature them whether you like it or not.

Use Google Analytics to find out which posts get the most hits from outside of your site. Make those posts your “Featured Posts”. There are some “SEO” Wordpress plugins out there you can purchase that will do this for you automatically. But you will have to do a bit of editorial work and make sure you want those posts to rank. I had a post here that used to rank for “girls with nuts”. Google took two words from the title, smashed them together and bam I beat the porn seos.

Comments are a good indication of popular posts and topics. Only a small percentage of your visitors will comment. And it seems I can finally say this now. The Noise/Signal Ratio in comments increases with your traffic and/or rank in the blogoshere. So this takes some editorial work also. And there is probably a Wordpress plugin out there to rank your posts by comment count too. There are so many now, it’s hard to take the time and do the research on them for a post. For anything your want your Wordpress blog to do, there are probably 5 or 6 free plugins that will do it and you can search for and install them from inside your Wordpress installation. A post about Wordpress plugins is almost stupid any more. The Wordpress plugin search in your admin is almost Google. Just type what you want and it appears.

Putting links to your best and most popular content on every page will not only be a great housesitter for your blog while your away, but also keep those visitors around longer, finding more posts they can’t help but read.

But I Haven't Been Sitting on My Ass

Yes, you may think it ironic that my last post about using Windows Live Writer was about 40 days ago. But I have been writing posts. Wordpress 3 has really helped me explore my interests. I am currently running 3 Wordpress Multisite Installations each on it’s own Virtual Server. In fact this blog, StephanMiller.com is squatting on top of this blog and the shortest domain I own.  And the two links before the last two also go to blogs on this server, one where I write about server issues as I deal with them and the other is waiting for me to write about this whole blog network deal. And I also have this blog about Android phones because I love mine. I thought mobile, smobile before I got it and now I am “fuck, I got to catch up”.

The idea with these blogs is content that people come back to, refer others to, bookmark in case they need it again. The server blog got traffic the third day, as well as the android blog. No pressure on posts except usefulness. Usefulness over prolificness. And the tight topics almost guarantee that Google as well as users will like them. I wrote about writing while learning a long time ago. It is one of the best times to blog. It is one of the only times you will be able to talk like the newbies your blog will appeal to. And almost any time forum results show on the first page of Google for a query, a blog can eventually kick it’s ass. Just saying.

That post was 3 years ago and that’s about how things go. There are so many things you can do to make money online that some projects can wait for a bit until the tools fall into your lap like Wordpress 3’s multisite capabilities. There was Wordpress MU before that but it was a different animal and to use plugins from regular Wordpress you had to modify them. But in the meantime I learned more about VPS’s on the job and learned how to wildcard and park domains in Virtualmin. Once all the parts came together, I can now create a new blog in about one minute. Of course it takes a bit longer than that to set up but every theme and plugin I used on every blog in the network is already there. I don’t have to hunt them down and install them for the new blog. Perculation is good and good ideas rise back to the top when they are ready. There is a way to monetize any content.

So if you can write it easily, do so, and come back later to see what happens. If you get mounds of traffic great, if not, the act of writing helped make you learn more fully what you were going to learn anyway. Either Win/Win or just Win. But both ways, worth it.

I also have been writing software. The Google Scraper software I wrote is pretty popular for the limited market I thought it would have. So I am reading the second edition of Code Complete because I need some help. I know a lot of progrming languages. That is not the problem. I was at one time trying to limit this. That was because of a bad experience of using just two languages. I always confused the two. But after learning three programming languages, it seemed to get easier and easier to learn in another by diving into writing real life software in a brand new language with a browser open for searching functions. This year I added IronPython, Flash/Actionscript, PyQt and C# on top of Mono .

I just know at times I am sloppy and there has to be faster and more efficient ways of doing things than jumping right into the code. I still look at ERD or any one of those three letter diagrams and understand them but don’t get it quite right when I try to take my idea and put it in that form. But I’m trying. Automation and software have made it possible for some of my disappearing acts. 4 Hour Work Week my ass but I’m working towards that direction. And I am starting to think I am on the wrong side of this affiliate equation right now. Picks and shovels or selling the right products through affiliates or both.

Don’t get me wrong. I still have a part-time day job. I do make decent money affiliate marketing. These together provide for my whole family and it’s the affiliate marketing that makes it possible for me to dick off writing these posts and maybe squeeze out some time to write some software. Multistreams of Internet Income and seriously, that was actually the book that got me started in all of this.

Stephan Miller

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Kansas City Software Engineer and Author

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