Tonight on twitter I caught the buzz about someone losing their google pagerank, due to having had normal links (ie not no follow) in sponsored posts. Hard on the heels of that discussion there was a groundswell of questions. What is pagerank? Why does it matter? What’s a nofollow link anyway*? And so on. And I went on to have an interesting chat about where traffic for blogs come from anyway.
You see, I’m not that convinced that Google and its pagerank are all that important for blogs. Sure, if you want to sell advertising, most companies are probably going to check what your pagerank is, but if you aren’t, why would you be bothered?
Would you be worried about losing your google derived traffic? Does it deliver you good, interested, dedicated blog followers?
It’s my suspicion that most traffic to blogs from search engines falls into two categories. There are the ppl who arrive at a single clearly targeted post – such as for example my camping list. For a while that ranked top of google’s search for a camping list, I think it’s still on the first page. And I’m sure for most ppl it’s quite a useful resource. However, if they are looking for camping resources I doubt the rest of the somewhat eclectic ramblings here interest them, and I assume they are in the portion of traffic which bounces away again.
The rest of the search related traffic is probably slightly surprised at where they find themselves. For whatever reason a post here is thrown up as a good match for what they are looking for, when it manifestly isn’t, and they probably bounce immediately.
Bounce rate is another thing we’re told to worry about. But actually, for a blog, a high bounce rate isn’t so bad. After all, you hope most ppl are passing by regularly, so there should only be one new post for them to read, they read it and then bounce away. You’re looking for a reasonable percentage of recurring visitors, and ppl who’ve arrived from a search engine probably aren’t going to join in with them.
If you’re looking at your stats, there are all sorts of interesting things in there. You can find out what percentage of visitors are new, or which come back. You can find out how long they tend to stay on site, where they come from (around the world), where they came from (referring site). My top referring site is twitter – measure of how much time I spend on there I suspect. But I also get a good number of visitors from posts I write on other sites, such as Emma’s Diary blog. (What, you haven’t read it? But I’m scintillating on there. Rivetting. Pop over and check 🙂 )
And there are other useful places to pick up traffic. Stumbleupon. Pinterest. Facebook. Social networks with user generated links, entirely possibly delivering better quality traffic thaqn search engines? Ever wondered why google is putting so much effort into g+? It’s because they suspect social is the future of the web, and in that world, how is pagerank going to be relevant at all?
*It’s a link that has rel=”nofollow” in it, telling search engines they shouldn’t give weighting to it.