Blaugust Day 11: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Traffic and Love the Comments

Ysharros over at Stylish Corpse has been wondering about Blaugust’s impact on everybody’s blog traffic.

It seems the general consensus is that there has been an uptick in traffic from Blaugust, if only from posting every day and getting those daily views as a result.

As usual, our well-loved blogosphere contrarian Bhagpuss pops in with the diametrically opposite finding that his traffic has taken a hit the moment Blaugust started (whereupon we can surmise that he’s been hogging the eyes for most of the rest of the year. Yarrr. Do share. Kidding.)

It seems therefore fitting that I should turn up with the absolutely bland, neutral, middle-of-the-road conclusion that Blaugust has had very little effect on my traffic as a whole.

I am a fairly visual person, so I need to post supporting diagrams and such.

Since I don’t want to make anyone, especially during Blaugust, feel inadequate (or conversely, feel extra bolstered in ego at my expense 🙂 ), I have excised the numbers and only want to deal with trends and patterns.

(I post actual numbers only once a year, when WordPress provides their handy yearly summary, if anyone is curious on that front.)

Here’s the recent weekly graph:

weeklystats

If anything, the most startling thing is the fact that my pageviews have remained fairly constant, even through my dead silence in July.

Well, ok, you can see a dip there and a stable plateau, which suggests my actual regulars haven’t checked in when I stopped writing.

On the whole, regardless of if I write daily or every few days or sporadically or not at all, I’ve been getting a constant stream of traffic from elsewhere, that pretty much drowns out any day to day trends.

Honestly, I think three quarters of them are probably bots.

The last quarter are probably some poor souls who typed in a phrase into Google, and saw one of my clickbait headings look interesting and click through, to either read that page only, or have their eyes glaze over with the wall of text and just as hastily leave. (I’ll count it as a win.)

The good news is that I don’t feel compelled to do anything, one way or the other. I’ll write what I want to write, when I want to write it, and let the stats fall as they may. (They’re probably still all bots anyway.)

Well, no, there’s one type of reader that I’m fairly confident are human, and come in very high quantities. The guide-seeker. The walkthrough hunter. The “Let Your Fingers and Google Do the Gaming For You” subset.

stats2015

Here’s my current 2015 blog stats, and the top ten most popular “posts.”

I apologize for those that hate algebra, but this was the best way to mask actual numbers and still show trends and popularity that I could think of, bright and early in the morning.

Let X be some number. You can pretend X = 10, or X = 100, or X = 500, whatever. (It’s not as high as 500. For sure.)

Posts about the GW2 jumping puzzle in the Silverwastes, getting better at WvW, Heart of Thorns beta screenshots and a random humorous Don’t Starve list scored about the same amount of views.

A post about my sinister necromancer build experiments and early days in Dry Top getting to Tier 4 scored 1.5X views, which suggests that people have been googling for sinister necromancer builds and dry top tiers (and probably getting rather disappointed when they hit my rambling musings, rather than a clear cut guide.)

Minecraft: Agrarian Skies – The Fires of Industry is also somewhat popular – I suspect that the release of Agrarian Skies 2 probably contributed to a sudden spate of Googling for tips. Admittedly, the post goes into quite some detail about all the simple machines I was building, so -maybe- it was a little helpful.

For guaranteed evergreen success though, I would advise blogging about how MMOs are dead.

Super duper popular topic. There’s TONS of people convinced the demise of the genre has already happened / is happening right now / will happen any day now and looking for echo chamber posts to support their point of view. Really, I don’t have to write a thing for the next year, and I think they will still come in droves to this post.

And yes, despite its slightly outdated nature (and the nagging voice in the back of my head that says I need to update it… someday), views are coming in, landing on, and hopefully staying on my magnum opus – a guide that took me ages to write, but felt had to be done. If only it helped just one person enjoy and appreciate GW2’s combat a little more, it would have been successful.

Admittedly, there was some calculated ulterior motive at work when I kept it as one gigantic page, instead of breaking it up into separate page subsections. Besides making it easier for people to save and read offline, I kinda wanted to encourage repeated visits and the channeling of all interested pageviews into this one guide page so that I would have an idea of total visitors, and accumulate pageview score into this one massive clunker of a post.

Working as intended.

The last interesting fact about 2015 is that very little of the popular posts were actually -written- in 2015. (The orange bar next to it indicates a post written in the year.)

I’ve been resting on my laurels and doing whatever the hell I want, really.

statsyearly

It is therefore entirely possible that my annual stats may not match last year’s peak, and I’m perfectly ok with that.

Over the past few years, I’ve gathered that most of my popular posts coincide with GW2’s Living Story updates (which we’ve been rather short of, in the year 2015, *coughs*) or updates in some other game that I happened to write about, and are usually guide posts of some sort.

That, or first impressions and opinions on (presumably fairly niche) games that I somehow managed to beat game journalism sites to the punch with (hurrah, timezones?), thus showing up in Google faster.

stats2014

If I get a sudden surge of unexpected traffic, it’s because someone somewhere popular Tweeted or Facebooked or somehow shared my post, and it contained a controversial opinion or a clickbait-style title, resulting in a sudden surge of Internet people burning with the desire to share just how I got it wrong. 🙂

(This usually results in me cackling to myself all the way to the stats bank instead.)

I also learned that the absolute best way for me to explode my usual pageviews is to write a useful ‘guide’ post and then shamelessly self-promote it to the GW2 Reddit.

stats2013

See? Nearly all ‘how to’ guides, with a few tongue-in-cheek or bitchy opinion posts or “accidentally stumbled on a Google search keyword without meaning to” ones.

Truth is, though, many of these accidentally popular posts are not the posts that have the most meaning to me, the ones that I’m proudest of.

(Well, a few I am happy with, if they fulfill their function and my intent as I was writing them.)

If I spent all my days catering to the whims of my traffic, my site would look and sound very very different. More impersonal. More ‘third-party’ guide information. And it wouldn’t at all make me happy.

I gain nothing with traffic and increasing pageviews anyway. This is a free WordPress blog. I pay zero cents. I get zero cents in return.

The possibly weird ads you may sometimes see at the bottom of each post are WordPress busy recouping their bandwidth lost through hits on my posts. I do not give one damn if you click them or block them or just put me in an RSS reader so that you never have to see them.

I find it a fair exchange for not having to worry about DDoS or hacking attempts or server upkeep and maintenance. WordPress can handle all that and just give me the space and tools to be creative and express myself.

-That- makes me happy.

I’m happiest sharing my screenshots of virtual places I find lovely: GW2’s Orr, Labyrinthine Cliffs, zone-defining screenshots, City of Heroes lookback, some from TSW, etc.

I’m proud of the verse and prose I sometimes find the occasion to write: “Love” Song for Tequatl, GW1’s Ozymandias, Missing the Magic of MMOs (and shamelessly stealing words from somebody else and rearranging them… kinda a good metaphor for MMO clones, come to think of it), Asura urban noir vignette, and the longest charr short story ever.

I’m content with the day-to-day rambling posts that fill the gaps in between the ‘masterpieces’ (intentional or otherwise) because waiting for inspiration to strike is a sure recipe for utter dead silence and a blank page.

And I’m cheered up when human readers to decide to leave a comment to let me know that they read and appreciated what I wrote.

Traffic? Pageviews?

Pshaw. They’re probably all bots anyway.

This post was brought to you by the letters B for Belghast and Blaugust, Y for Ysharros and Yet-Again-I-Forget-To-Add-This-Line-Till-Later, and the number 11.

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12 thoughts on “Blaugust Day 11: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Traffic and Love the Comments

  1. It seems this year has been slower but then, it’s also an individual thing and question of whether your blog has peaked already in the past or not. I think after a certain point you cannot generate much more traffic on your own without moving on to bigger sites or cooperative blogs, networks etc. – which I think many are happy not to do. It’s complete okay to rest on your laurels. 😉

    And yes, guides are the top source of hits always. Even more so, wow-related guides rofl! Although when I was still on blogger, it was a Skyrim clothes guide that generated around 150k hits in a year for me (or more, I stopped looking) on its own, which was pretty eye-opening.
    We can spend hours on some poetic journey through gaming and in the end, a 30mins guide -.- Alas hehe….I have always advocated that comments are where it’s at! 🙂

    And I do miss your screenshot poetry. It’s why I found you ^^

    • Jeromai says:

      Hurrah, a not-bot has spoken!

      Some day I’ll get around to another poem… Kinda need actually -new- screenshot scenery for inspiration though. *stares pointedly at Heart of Thorns… * “This year,” they say…

  2. bhagpuss says:

    The really obvious reason why I’ve lost traffic while others have gained it is that although I’m shadowing Blaugust, trying to do a post per day and being supportive and encouraging as and when I can, I’m not actually signed up to it. I just couldn’t be doing with all the form-filling to join Anook etc. Therefore I’m not going to be showing up on anyone’s Blaugust click-list as far as I know.

    Traffic is utterly weird. I find it fascinating in exactly the way I found EQ’s hidden mechanics fascinating all those years. For example, in the four years I’ve been blogging (is that all? it seems a lot longer…) my most-viewed post is a short first impressions piece on Neverwinter. What’s more, it didn’t pick up those views at the time, when NWO was hot, oh no. It steadily accrued views week after week, month after month until it climbed the ladder to the top. And it’s still doing it. Why? No idea.

    Then there are the Russians. I get a lot of page views from Russia. I thought it was bots but then I managed to trace one spike back to a Russian MMO site where someone was linking blogs in the way J3w3l does and Spinks and Tipa used to. Whoever it is links to me quite often.

    By far the most annoying thing are the HUGE spikes from referers. I had one that spiked at 3000 hits in one go last month. Those completely skew the numbers. Any month I don’t get one looks like a bad month even when it might actually be a month when real traffic increased.

    So, no, you really can’t trust the numbers but they are fun to explore. The two benchmarks that really tell you whether anyone’s reading you are comments and other bloggers linking or quoting you. And strangely one topic guaranteed to provoke both is blogging about blogging – case in point!

    • The Russians! I’ve had those for months (now they’re gone). To be honest, I just assumed they were bots because I never could find out where the traffic was coming from other than Russian search engines, but now I wonder whether it’s the same thing. Maybe it had to do with GW2 (which, I think, is the most overlapping theme on our blogs) and they have dropped down now because I’ve been slacking with posting about it. Ah well.

      Anyway, sorry for hijacking your topic like that, Jeromai. I did really enjoy this post and I’m pretty much the same: ultimately what cracks me up on a post is if it’s getting a reaction (a comment or pingback). Sure, it’s fun when the Reddit drones drop by, but they just read that one post and then go back where they came from.

  3. Ari Carr says:

    I’ve noticed a spike in stats, but I’m expecting it to drop again when the month is over.

  4. Pasduil says:

    Unlike most WP.com blogs you don’t seem to have a “Like” button! That is my way of showing my appreciation of post when I don’t have any particular thoughts that are worthy of chiming in with via commenting.

    I don’t know about other people but my traffic comes from two sources, people searching for info that end up on posts like my “LOTRO Quest Pack Recommendations” and online friends who read a large proportion of everything that I write. Usually only the latter type of person comments.

    Both kinds make me feel good about my posts I must say, though having actual enjoyable conversations with people is the best.

    • Jeromai says:

      The missing Like button is intentional, as I discovered early on that it led to a lot of strange, unrecognizable names clicking it and zero comments, feeding my bot paranoia. 🙂

      Being more of an introvert, I’m much happier with a smaller community of commenters who take the trouble to type a few sentences now and then, and silence otherwise.

      • Pasduil says:

        My likes are about 50% people I know and 50% people that probably came across the post because they follow a WP tag or such. Not sure any are outright bots, but I suspect like with anything some few people are doing it as a way of promoting themselves more than out of genuine appreciation.

        • Ysharros says:

          Yeah, a few of the likes I get are people who seem to want reciprocation and have no interest in the post, the blog or its content. It’s like Twitter – now that I’ve unprotected my tweets, I remember why I protected them in the first place. Random people selling random stuff (usually themselves) wanting exposure… /shudder

          (By which I clearly do not mean any of the real #Blaugust or otherwise people who have followed me and usually been followed in the last couple of weeks 😀 )

      • Ysharros says:

        @Jeromai — I was too for a long time, but oddly enough in the Sims community it’s a very affirming thing to ‘like’ a person’s post. I’m very very peripheral to that community but I read a few legacy blogs and it’s quite a different community. So now I have them on and I pretty much don’t look at them anymore — but if folks like clicking them who am I to deny them?

  5. Ysharros says:

    The Russians gave up on me a couple of years ago 😀

    Isn’t it weird how one’s most popular posts end up not being AT ALL what you thought? My EQ2 crafting guide still tends to get quite a few views. And, to some extent, my views are ‘skewed’ away from the MMO crowd by the Sims4 Legacy Challenge posts I did last year. That brought some folks over who I don’t think play much other than the Sims 4, rather than my usual eclectic lot.

  6. […] I saw Jeromai post about WordPress stats, so I got curious and went to look at my own. They seemed pretty good to me overall, except I […]

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