There is a lot of blogging about blogging, including ways to increase your Google and Technorati rankings, get more traffic to your site and increase the pool of readers who subscribe to your RSS feed. Certain notables such as Guy Kawasaki have written about it, as he very publicly set out his intentions to crack into the Technorati Top 10. He says:
"I love this Technorati ranking thing. I know it probably doesn’t mean much, but it’s fun. I’ll never play in the NHL, and I’ll never start a billion-dollar company, but I could get into the Technorati top ten. Everybody has to have goals, and this is one of mine…"
He got some flack about it since some felt that he was trying to manipulate what should be a natural, open system. In the comment section of his recent conversation with Seth Godin, Guy shared with a reader (Little Purple Cow) that he may change his position:
"Hurray for Seth on his lack of interest in the Technorati rankings. Guy take note. Links do not make the blog. Content is king and you’re both members of the royal court.
Little Purple Cow,
You know, I’m coming around to Seth’s and your point of view on Technorati rankings. The reason why I’m fading is because links more than 180 days old don’t count anymore, so if people blogrolled me when I first blogged, it doesn’t count anymore.
Maybe I’ll take down the counter. Am I secure enough to do this? Hmm…will my readers still love me?
I am with Little Purple Cow that Guy really shouldn’t worry about ranking. He has a very interesting perspective that is helpful to creative working types and aspiring entrepreneurs. Nature will take its course, and if he worries too much about numbers, he will waste his valuable energy.
Matthew Stibbe of the excellent blog Bad Language also makes mention of his interest in Technorati rankings in a recent post. He is another example of someone who really shouldn’t worry about his stats, as long as he keeps writing useful, smart and pithy posts. As a fan of his work, I don’t care whether he is 10,000 or 100,000 on Technorati since I visit his blog regularly to learn something, chuckle or improve my writing.
We can get so caught up with rankings and statistics that we miss the fact that the small but powerful audience that reads our blog is the perfect demographic for our products or services. You don’t have to build a relationship with everyone in the world with your blog, just those that I fondly call "your people."
The paradox is that by only focusing on what is useful to your audience and writing well, your stats and links will improve like the venerable Kathy Sierra or Joel Spolsky. I can’t imagine they spend hours each day trying to improve their Technorati rankings, rather they sweat over what will help the users of their blog "kick ass" (one of Kathy’s favorite terms).
I am not advocating totally ignoring statistics of your blog since they can give you a very useful picture of who is linking to you and which topics that you write about garner the most interest. But if you want to create a long-term, sustainable relationship with your readers, focus on these questions:
What, really, is the purpose of your blog? Who are your writing for?
If you, like me, are writing about things related to your work and business, the purpose should be to write useful, interesting, thoughtful pieces on issues your audience thinks are really important.
Here are some guidelines I use to keep me connected with the audience I care most about on this blog: people who feel stuck in their corporate job and desperately want to get out and try entrepreneurship:
- What problems do they face?
- What really scares them?
- What is not being said on this subject on other news sources or blogs?
- What can I share that will make their life easier?
- How can I make them feel more supported and confident?
- Who can I put them in contact with (via links or references) that will give them good information and advice?
- What will be fun and interesting to write about? (This is a selfish point, I know, but I must enjoy what I am doing in order to maintain energy for the hours I spend writing my blog)
You know you have hit a bad patch when you choose subjects for the sole purpose of increasing your link popularity and incoming hits. This will cause you to lose your way and disconnect from your true, authentic voice, the one that your hard-won audience came to you to hear in the first place.
I am not saying that I am a big enough person to stop checking my Technorati ranking altogether (ok, ok, it is 4,768 at 3:33pm Pacific on Aug. 14 if you really have to know). I have already publicly confessed that blogging is a power over which I have no control on the very funny Bloggers Anonymous.
What I do know is that the thing I adore about blogging is connecting with my people. I feel more clear about how my clients feel, what they need and what I can provide for them than I have in years. Their comments and emails give me so much motivation to keep learning and growing in my field so that I can contribute something that has meaning and that truly makes a difference.
If you find yourself stat or ranking obsessed, sit down, take a deep breath and focus on your audience. They will tell you what to write about.