With millions of blogs out there, you can find as many reasons for blogging as there are bloggers. Some of us blog in pursuit of a higher calling to bring awareness to a cause or to have an outlet to vent some of our frustrations and connect with other like-minded individuals. Other bloggers are in it for the money – ha! No, it’s true; apparently there’s money to be had in blogging somewhere down the line, its just a matter of finding it.
I respect both sides of the coin and I find myself a bit on both sides as well. I wish I was in a better place to share more about my personal experiences, but unfortunately I am not – at least not yet. Blogging started out as therapeutic for me but I also have found the benefits of having this site can be many. I’ve formed a few relationships (with people and with brands) that I am very thankful for and I’m convinced never would have happened had I not started writing. I even wrote my own book on dating and relationships because of this blog and can now call myself a published author.
A few months ago I witnessed a few blogging practices that I wasn’t very happy about and it’s taken me some time to come around and write about them. I was in pursuit of traffic – the stats. I love stats and I love more readers visiting my site (but who doesn’t)? I was cranking out heartfelt post after heartfelt post and yet, my traffic was still relatively flat-lined. I saw another blogger talking about what she called a ‘linky’ or something like that and I was intrigued.
What I came to find was a whole other world of blogging I was completely unaware of – the world of stats padding and traffic manipulation.
Why would anyone want to pad their blog’s stats? It sounds silly but it can be serious business. Consider for a moment the difference between a website that receives 1,000 unique visits per month and one that receives 10,000. That’s a fairly significant difference.
The problem with Internet traffic is that the have’s often remain the have’s and the have-not’s often stay the same as well. The sites that receive all the traffic guard their traffic like an elf guards his gold. How does an up-and-coming blogger crack into the traffic pot of gold? Many would argue that content is the way to go. I agree – write (or produce) something that people want to read and you will see an increase in visitors. But others resort to less scrupulous tactics like padding their stats. These padded stats are presumably to attract the attention of brands and sponsorships or advertisement dollars to increase revenue from their sites. Stats-padding can be done in a number of ways, either through manual manipulation or through automated tools.
Automation on a computer is nothing new. Heck, I remember writing simple macros back in the day to automate simple tasks that needed to be done but were a constant drain on my free time. Well, it appears some websites have taken to employing automation tools to improve their site’s traffic as well. At the simplest of levels, think of a automation tool as a recording device. You record an action by performing it on your computer. The automation tool records what you do and then allows you to play back what you’ve done. You can control timing, frequency and other factors of the playback. More advanced uses also include automating from different computers, different IP addresses and other tactics to trick traffic sites into believing the automated traffic isn’t just coming from the same computer.
Quite possibly the most common and also most shocking method of bloggers improving their traffic stats is by joining and participating in what I call a “click ring”. A click ring is formed by other bloggers that are looking to trade another site for a visit. I agree to visit your site, click around, and spend some time and you agree to do the same. Click ring rules often go so far as to mention a minimum number of pages to open and a minimum duration to keep the pages open. This, of course, is so that your bounce rate doesn’t take a hit from all that fake traffic.
Bloggers, let’s be honest shall we? The old (and quite over-used) saying that “content is king” just doesn’t hold water in today’s blogging world, does it? Generally speaking, good content is more likely to generate a few more readers, a little bit more traffic and maybe a handful of opportunities but not always. Sometimes blogging is just the luck of the draw. Apparently, some of us aren’t willing to accept this notion so they take matters into their own hands. Are the days of viral content just happening gone? Well, no. But the likelihood of the stars are aligning and Oprah visiting your site (since we can’t sit on her couch any more) don’t seem all that likely either.
If you’re a blogger I’d love for you to weigh in with your thoughts in the comments. What do you think about traffic scores, “click rings”, automation tools and other tactics bloggers employ to get an edge? Have you ever partaken in any of these practices? Did it work for you?