Monday, September 9, 2013

The number ones

This post is intended for other bloggers. 

Tag line:  How to run a noncommercial blog which successfully reaches its target audience.

Answer:  Check your premises, the very first one being, how do you define success?   Prevailing internet wisdom will tell you that success and clicks are positively correlated, but that's a strictly commercial paradigm.  You don't want to maximize total number of clicks - anyone can do that, but it's a mirage because most of the clicks landing on any given website don't mean very much (they just look like they do because they're so easy to measure).  What you really want to achieve is the best possible ratio of high-quality clicks which, depending on your application, might actually mean driving traffic away from your website rather than toward it.  Kinda counterintuitive, eh?   Like swimming upstream against a surging torrent of bytefish. 

Number ones are a proxy measurement of click quality.   If you can hit a number one topic ranking anywhere in Googlespace, you know you're getting somewhere meaningful. 

In my case, because this blog was developed as a noncommercial tool to help people with many of life's more mundane challenges, some of my number ones are pretty dull, as content goes.  But again, one has to re-think the definition of success.  I'd rather reach one person who genuinely needs pay-it-forward guidance on some daily homeowner irritation than reach a hundred people who really don't need anything but are just messing around with internet surfing because they like looking at pretty pictures. 

Of the sixty thousand pagehits this blog has received so far, about 98% of them appear to have fallen into the former category.  Every once in a while, there is a minor blip in comment spam (which is the internet version of graffiti) or bot traffic, incidents which are thus far manageable using embedded tools such as those supplied by fight-back groups including Project Honeypot.  But almost all of those 60,000 hits to date are real enough to result in very high Google rankings.  For grins, here is a subset of this blog's number ones to date:
Yes, absolutely - attic cords are pretty darned dull, as topics go.  But you'd be surprised at how many people are seeking input on what to do with them. 
I am by no means the only homeowner whose carbon monoxide alarm was triggered unexpectedly by carpet cleaning. 
Gardening posts remain popular...
...with the expected strong regional correlation. 
Don'tcha hate it when that happens?!  Me, too!!
And ain't it curious when that happens?!
It's easy to be number one on the topic of stacked stone landscaping in Houston, because nobody does stacked stone landscaping in Houston.  Not yet, anyway.  Except us, of course. 
Reaching a #1 status for a topic like this is really quite cool, because unlike attic cords, this is not an obscure issue.  Many, many homeowners have electrical transformers or utility boxes in their yards that they wish to disguise.  If you were to calculate the amount of money devoted annually in America to the concealment of exterior utility boxes, it would probably equal the GDP of a few small nations on earth. 
Also cool for this topic because, again, it's a subject that a greater number of people are interested in.  And a lot of vendors attempt to attach content to the selling of their floor tile, so having a non-profit, non-traffic-enhanced (read: non-pay-per-view) piece of content snag that ranking honor is not an automatic process. 
And of course, the posting piece de resistance where ranking is concerned.  This isn't just a Google number one - I think it basically dominates the entire known universe on this particular subject, Cherenkov or no Cherenkov
By far the biggest change I've seen in the past three years of blogging is the breathtakingly-rapid migration to mobile devices.  That stuff you read about the perilous decline of MSFT's market share?  In my experience, it's true.  People are not sitting at desktop computers any more - they're accessing almost everything they read on phones and tablets (which is why you'll now see me use the word "tap" instead of "click").  I'm to the point of inferring that up to 95% some of my post access is via mobile devices.  This change has been so rapid that those of us who are restricted to blogging freespace are losing our ability to track traffic because technology hasn't kept up (e.g., StatCounter either can't or won't compile details on mobile sources).  So I'm enjoying my ability to identify my own number ones while I can, which may not be for much longer. 

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