What Should Count as Meaningful Blog Traffic?

I found the thoughts of this blogger at Hog on Ice about blog traffic to be interesting and amusing:

Most blog traffic is trash. I’ve written about it before, and it’s not exactly news. Everyone knows it. If you look at your stats, you’ll learn that half of your traffic–or a lot more than half–comes from search engines. People type in things like “nipple schoolgirl goat priest molasses,” and they end up at your site for ten seconds, and they leave, hopefully disappointed. Those people aren’t “visitors,” no matter how much you like to think they are. They’re just lost. And they don’t click ads. Even worse, you may be getting traffic because big bloggers link to you. That doesn’t make you a success. It makes you a pet, living on table scraps. When the scraps stop coming–when you say the wrong thing and stop toadying–those tasty scraps can stop coming, instantly, and then you find out how much readers really care about you. . . .

[B]log advertising is WAY overpriced. Some big blogs probably have a high proportion of meaningful traffic. . . . But most blogs are buoyed up by garbage traffic.

It is certainly true that a lot of traffic comes from search engines and from links from the biggies. But is such traffic meaningless? I like to think that at least some of the search engine traffic consists of people doing meaningful research and finding a post on point. I also believe that the temporary one-time readers you get when a big blog links to you still count for something. True, they’re not regular readers, but they’ve at least read one of your posts. And if even just a few turn into regular readers after each link, one’s audience grows.

While we’re on the issue of blogs and traffic, the WSJ has an interesting piece about whether bloggers can make meaningful money from blogging. Jason Calacanis writes:

Today you can start a blog, build an audience, and give the advertising slots to AdBrite or Google AdSense. With three or four ad slots you’re gonna do a $3 to $10 RPM (revenue per 1,000 pages viewed) with these automated tools on average. So, if you can do 500,000 pages a month — which isn’t easy — you can make $1,500 to $5,000 a month. That’s today and without a sales person.

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4 Responses

  1. Mike says:

    I like to think that at least some of the search engine traffic consists of people doing meaningful research and finding a post on point.

    Like… the law relating to the Jennifer Aniston topless pics? 😉

  2. Let’s be clear: there’s no reason a blog with 30-50K visitors can’t do 500-1000$/month in ads. And AdBrite sucks for monetization 😉

  3. geoff manne says:

    For what it’s worth, we at TOTM get almost no hits from random web searches. The few hits we do get via Google and the like are always pretty targeted (e.g., “Truth on the Market,” or the title of a recent blog post). Maybe it’s time for a Pamela Anderson sex tape post!

  4. Harvard Law Student says:

    I, for one, became a regular reader of this site after linking to it from another blog (don’t remember which one).