There’s Traffic, and Then There’s Traffic

17 Nov ’07

This blog has always had pretty meagre expectations about traffic. And happily, I’ve generally lived down to those expectations. Writing for real takes commitment and time, and I spend those on other things. But every once in a while, something here attracts the attention of the Web at large, and the traffic results are always interesting. This time, it was my recent post on Leopard woes, which got slammed (by my standards, anyway) after mentions by Fake Steve Jobs and MacSurfer. Half of the traffic that day came from Fake Steve Jobs. About a third came from Macsurfer. Mercifully, Digg didn’t latch onto the post (more on that below).

Here’s how the numbers worked out. During the period Nov 13 – Nov 16 I had 2,741 visitors according to Google Analytics. 1,261 of them came from Fake Steve Jobs, 885 from Macsurfer. The FSJ readers spent on average of 47 seconds on the site, reading only that post. MacSurfers spent even less time – 32 secs. About 97% of these folks were new visitors. The bounce rate on them was 90%, which means they left my site immediately after those few seconds. Which means they will likely never be back, thank God. (There was also appreciable traffic from a trackback on a Scoble post and a mention at my friend Mathew’s site, but I’ll bet a very different kind of visitor.)

I’ve been through this before, with this post. In that case Digg did discover me. In that case I had approx 17,000 visitors over about the same period, and fewer comments (though there were many comments left on Digg). So, the Digg traffic was, if anything, even worse – not only were they here today and gone tomorrow, but they didn’t even really contribute to a discussion while here – they left all of that on Digg. While that was a blessing at the time, it’s an interesting contrast.

So, what’s the value of that traffic to a site like this (and while it’s not fair to lump it all together, it’s not that unfair)? Not much, to my mind. While the herd did include some folks familiar with the ordinary rules of civil society, far too many of the comments were of the neener-neener variety. And I’ll bet all the money in my pockets that this crowd almost never looks at or clicks on ads. So, no enduring relationship with, and no real revenue opportunity for, the content provider. Apart from the question of whether that demographic is of any interest to any particular site, it seems to me to be pointless traffic. I actually think that a smart content strategy might involve actively avoiding that traffic – because of the time involved in addressing and moderating comments, and the generally corrosive character of the comments it leaves behind on topics of any controversy – and focusing time and energy on developing content that suits a more enduring relationship with the audience. Focusing on the Digg-ers is like chasing a pinball.

Oh, and what’s happened to the Mac? Well, I got the LaCie drive I ordered, and 5 minutes after plugging it in it stopped working. I switched from Firewire to USB, and it started working again. I’ve tried it on my other Mac (which also has Leopard installed) with the same result. Leopard issue or drive issue? I don’t know yet, and it’s not wonderful to have to spend time now to try to figure that out. But in the meantime I’ve wiped the Mac and have completed and full erase and install of Leopard. So I’ll see soon whether the Leopard issues I was having are in fact Leopard issues or happened because of an initial install that was doomed from the outset.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Branedy November 18, 2007 at 07:57

Tech writers for years have known when you post disparaging messages about the Mac and Apple you can increase the traffic to your site by 10 or even 100 fold. Some do it just to increase traffic, others are trolls.

I’m sorry you had trouble with Leopard, it’s not perfect I’m sure, but being an old IT guy, I have never bought or recommended a level one release of anything. As in Chess, that is why the Pawns go first. (why is it that pawns sounds like Beta). I hope that the new 10.5.1 release relieves your issues. Cheers.

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