Tag Archives: traffic

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Blog mythbusting: is less more?

Someone gave me some advice about my blog yesterday – its advice you hear so often that its simply assumed to be true – I was told that I’d probably get more readers if I wrote shorter posts. Now, I think this person is an occasional reader, rather than regular reader, so I suspect his view on my typical content strategy is slightly skewed by the posts he’s read, and we’ll get to how that is relevant in a moment…

I’ve given this advice myself before. It seems sound. People digest information in relatively small chunks, and scan the internet relatively quickly. There are some stats that support this from my all time visit figures…

The average visit length here is just under 90 seconds. 78% of visitors “bounce” – they land on the page they come to, and click no further.

I wonder if this “myth” ultimately comes down to metrics – I think there’s probably something to it if you’re after comments and discussion – if you leave some things unsaid, people feel the need to say them for you – and that’s certainly been true of the discussions I’ve entered elsewhere. So engagement might be higher on short posts…

But if you’re interested in people reading what you have to say, and sharing it, then in my experience – it’s the longer posts where I’m attempting to provide something of value, or articulating something I think – usually on a timely issue – that traffic and sharing go through the roof…

Here’s my all time visitation in a graph… we’ll drill down in a sec…

Screen Shot 2012-10-13 at 12.22.26 PM

There are a couple of noticeable spikes there, one, around the 29th of September 2009, was a real outlier – I was Pharyngulated – visited by some of the internet’s angriest atheists after I wrote this post. That was a list. It got more traffic, and more comments than anything else I’ve written – except, now, for my guide to making Sizzler’s cheese toast. These two posts, together, account for a significant chunk of my all time traffic, 5% and 4.7%, respectively. Other popular posts have been tied to getting near the top of Google’s search rankings for planking, a fake Martin Luther King quote, a Thom Yorke shirt, Ehud, Things to do in Townsville, and Instagram web profiles.

Interestingly, thanks to the comments, the atheist post became a long form post – and people spend, on average, 5 minutes trawling through the comments. In fact, there’s an interesting trend in my top 30 posts, where people spend 3 minutes or longer on site, on average.

What gets more interesting is if we just look at 2012, so far…

Screen Shot 2012-10-13 at 12.35.12 PM

Something interesting happens around the 29th of February, the 22nd of March, the 11th of April, the 18th of April, the 16th of May, the 7th of June, the 8th of August, the 19th of August, the 1st, 5th, and 11th, and 27th of September and the 12th of October – those are the sustained 2-3 day spikes you see in the graph.

But why? Did I post a particularly funny youtube video? Share a pithy observation? A series of observations in the form of a controversial list? A fantastically popular “how to” guide?

No.

On the 29th of February I posted a couple of things – one, a video of two jumping Eric Cantona lookalikes who couldn’t sing or keep time, two, a lengthy piece on abortion and a controversial ethics paper that advocated after birth abortions – the first was shared five times on Facebook, which is significantly better than the average number of shares, the second, was shared 54 times on Facebook.

The first was 21 words long, the second, a staggering 2,881 words long.

What about the other days?

It seems from this data that there’s a fairly direct correlation (and, based on a more in depth look at my analytics – direct causation), between long posts offering some sort of substantial content, and increased sharing and traffic. Which are, I think, the best metric for my blog. Here’s the top 15 posts, by visits, from this year – this doesn’t include page views of the home page, it’s people who’ve clicked through to particular posts…

Screen Shot 2012-10-13 at 7.03.10 PM

I don’t really go out of my way to cultivate comments or foster discussion (though I enjoy it), I’m more interested in contributing to a conversation with a more “finished” product.

By this metric, longer is better.

This isn’t true for all cases – I don’t think every long post I’ve written has been worth reading, but I think most of the stuff I’ve written that has been worth reading has been in long form. Some posts have been worth writing, and are now in the resources tabs in the menu above, though they weren’t particularly widely shared at the time… I don’t think this post is as substantial as some of the posts it links to… but the conventional wisdom doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny.

Looking at the posts that have been shared widely there’s also a bit of a common theme – which is certainly something for me to think about as a content strategy… they’re generally substantial posts about a public Christianity/PR/ethics kind of issue.

I’ve got a plugin currently crunching some numbers to tell me what the average word count of my posts is, but I’d suggest it’s somewhere around the 100-200 word mark. I’ll update this paragraph when the count finishes. If it does. – turns out, at this point, I’ve published 1.52 million words in 5,639 posts for an average of 270 words per post…

The number one rule, I’d say, is to produce content that people want to read, word limits are arbitrary. Some of the posts above were, in my opinion, longer than they needed to be, but hitting the right content, at the right time, while saying the right thing, will always trump saying something in half the words but four days too late.

I’d say the myth is busted, but there’s also a good reason I don’t only post long posts, or only post about the same thing – I’d get bored, as would the readers who’ve been here for the long term, and I do think there’s something to be said about sustaining the discipline of blogging regularly – there’s a reason I’m still going after almost six years, while most of the blogs in my blog roll (except for a few, like Simone’s, Ben’s, Anna’s, Findo’s, Andrew’s, and Arthur and Tamie’s have been either sporadic, or died).

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2010 on St. Eutychus

I missed my end of year wrap up yesterday because I was reading a book. Sorry. But here are some facts, figures and highlights from the year that was.

Stats

In 2009, 31,705 Absolute Unique Visitors made 48,733 Visits, making 82,916 Pageviews
In 2010, 31,869 Absolute Unique Visitors made 52,965 Visits, making 83,668 Pageviews.

At the time of writing I have 78 Facebook fans (become a fan – I’m now sharing links to stuff I don’t blog, or that is in my queue, to Facebook fans ahead of time), and 22 Google Connections.

So small increases across the board – but more importantly. No decreases. Hooray.

In 2009 I posted 1,106 posts here on St. Eutychus. In 2010 I managed 1,434. A 29% increase. And some people said being a college student would slow down my blogging. As it was – I used college as an opportunity to create more content.

My favourite college related series and posts from the year.

1. Some language resources (some for Mac, some for typing on a Mac)
2. Reflections on the “Disciplines of a Godly theological student”
3. My guide to First Year Greek
4. The things I love about College
5. The things I’d change about College
6. My Wisdom Literature Essay (part two, three, four, five, six) – my favourite essay of the year.
7. Pre-exam prep: New Testament 101, New Testament 102, Old Testament 101, Old Testament 102, Church History 101, Hebrew 102
8. Greece and Turkey Report(s).
9. Liveblogging Ben Witherington.
10. Liveblogging Gary Millar (one, two, three, four, five)

My favourite useful posts from this year

1. How to write a Media Release to promote your church event
2. How to talk to Atheists about Christianity
3. Awareness Raising is Overrated, (and the prequel – The Facebook Booby Trap, and the sequel about Movember, and a follow up about Social Media)
4. How to not raise bitter ministry children
5. Social Media Strategies for Churches (and a follow up on Venn Theology)
6. How not to be very good at Facebook
7. My election posts – Julia Gillard’s atheism, my Christian values election scorecard, why I won’t vote for Family First, wrap up.
8. Coffee and ministry.
9. Five cheap ways to exegete your suburb.
10. My Five Steps to Better Coffee series

Many of these are the type of thing I hope to post at Venn Theology this year (2011).

My favourite coffee posts this year

1. Seven Deadly Coffee Sins
2. From Cherry to the Cup – a look at processing and roasting coffee: part one, two, three, four, five
3. Brisbane cafe reviews: Dandelion and Driftwood, Cup, BlackStar
4. The sin of Instant Coffee.
5. Coffee and Ministry
6. A coffee gift guide.
7. Science says “don’t freeze your coffee”
8. How to make Greek Coffee.
9. A beautiful guide to coffee drinks
10. My “Five Steps to Better Coffee” Series

My favourite frivolity
But it wasn’t all serious. Here are some of my favourite posts/series from this year.

1. Ten steps to planting a mega church (with a follow-up “how to name your megachurch“)
2. 23 Bacon products that will take your breath away.
3. Mark Driscoll Ruined Facebook.
4. The Devil Wants you Fat (series – that I probably should finish now I have a scanner).
5. Backwards Masking Unmasked (The Jacob Aranza Series)
6. Mad Skillz Week
7. Liveblogging Chuck Norris’ Invasion USA (part 2, part 3, part 4, Robyn’s report).
8. The Make Me A Mexican Challenge
9. About “Hot Wives”
10. About Church Slogans (a bad example).
11. A Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse (part one b, part two, part three)
12. The definitive and authoritative guide to the six basic plot lines
13. A look at “Objective Ministries” crazy Christian conspiracy to take over the moon
14. Reverse engineering the perfect chip
15. The Art of Improvised weaponry
16. K-Strass the Yo-Yo guy

Most popular posts in 2010
Here are the most popular posts (mostly because google loves them) by visits this year. A couple of these were written last year and continue to attract a steady stream of traffic.

1. How to make Sizzler’s Cheese Toast (2009), the 2010 follow up was equally popular
2. Five things that would make atheists seem nicer: this accounted for about a quarter of 2009’s traffic. By itself. Not so much in 2010, but still enough to rank second.
3. Mark Driscoll Ruined Facebook: This one had a bit of a spike in traffic around publication, but continues to get about 10 hits a day.
4. Ten steps to planting a megachurch: This was one of my favourites, so I’m glad it did well.
5. Chuck Norris Jeans: The little engine that could. Google loves this post.
6. How to get the Facebook Like Button working on WordPress: Certainly my geekiest post of the year.
7. Bible Stories for Boys: Ehud the Left Handed
8. Eight things I’ve learned from arguing with atheists online (and why I’ve mostly given up).
9. Let’s not fly Jetstar: a 2009 post about a Jetstar nightmare.
10. Facebook Login Fail: a little post about a funny story about people googling “facebook login” and landing in the wrong place.

Most popular posts from 2010
A slightly different list – because it does away with a couple of “long tail” posts from last year.

1. Mark Driscoll Ruined Facebook
2. Ten steps to planting a megachurch
3. Chuck Norris Jeans
4. How to get the Facebook Like Button working on WordPress
5. Bible Stories for Boys: Ehud the Left Handed
6. Eight things I’ve learned from arguing with atheists online (and why I’ve mostly given up).
7. Facebook Login Fail: a little post about a funny story about people googling “facebook login” and landing in the wrong place.
8. Some Greek and Hebrew Resources
9. How to make Sizzler’s Cheese Toast How to Make Sizzler’s Cheese Toast: The 2010 follow up was equally popular
10. Typographic Moustaches

Thanks for reading.