The Myth Of Blogging Buddies

by Jason Falls |

Just exactly how much impact do various channels of social media have on your blog? Or even your corporate website? While your traction may vary and some precipitating factors probably skew my results here at Social Media Explorer, I thought my traffic referrals might make for interesting conversation.

Since Social Media Explorer launched in September 2007, almost one million unique visitors have been here. More specifically, as of end-of-day Saturday, there have been 942,021 unique visitors to SME according to Google Analytics. Of those, 35.6 percent are from organic search results. Think about that! Over one-third of my visits have been from people searching for something and finding a potential answer on SME. That’s pretty strong considering this is a blog, has never had a formal SEO strategy, nor has it ever had any back-end SEO work other than my little piddling with URL structures a month or so ago.

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Image by Jason Falls via Flickr

Another 206,110 have come from “direct” traffic. This is typically people who type in your URL directly, or they click a link from a non-browser email program (like Outlook) that populates the URL field with the link, then visits. Another 64,457 have clicked through from my RSS feed. It’s important to note, however, that I published my whole feed, so there’s no reason to click through unless you want more content from the source. The last time I looked (two weeks ago) my RSS feed was served up to around 15,000 people per day.

The next big referrers to Social Media Explorer are Twitter (47K), StumbleUpon (24K), Referrals (22K, and which I take to mean Google news or directory listings or clicks from my public profile, but am not certain of), then Facebook (14K).

Here’s where the referral traffic gets interesting. Being a blog of some history and repute, you would think that other blogs would be driving traffic to my site. Not really. Yahoo and AdAge fall in there (AdAge mostly because I’m listed on their Power150 marketing blogs list), then Delicious, Twitterfeed, ArgyleSocial, Yahoo, HootSuite, and Bing.

When you look for blogs as referrals to this site for web traffic, you have to dig. When you finally get there, you get this:

  1. Social Media Examiner – 5,837
  2. Interactive Insights Group – 3,214
  3. Social Media Today – 2,108
  4. Chris Brogan – 1,615
  5. ReadWriteWeb – 1,591
  6. HubSpot Blog – 1,565
  7. InspiredMag – 1,428
  8. Mashable – 1,348
  9. Altitude Branding/Brass Tack Thinking – 1,126
  10. Social Median – 1,105

While one certainly can’t look gift horses in the mouth and I’m more than appreciative these and the others over the years have linked and loved SME enough to send people my way, think about this metric:

The number on referring blog to this website accounts for only six-tenths of one percent of its traffic.

Add all of the top 10 blog referrers up and you barely get past two percent of the total traffic in the three-and-a-half year history of the site.


Certainly, the last two years have seen a steep evolution in how social media users share content. Twitter alone accounts for the one place many of us share and thus see traffic. The longer a site is alive, the more organic search results it will get (provided there’s regular content) but even if you look back to the first year of SME’s existence, the top blog (then Geoff Livingston’s, now CRT Tanaka’s The Buzz Bin) brought in a mere 203 people (three-tenths of one percent of SME’s total traffic in year one).

For a bunch of like-minded folks, we certainly have a big gap in generosity from that (admitted limited) angle.

Let’s Be Reasonable

I share links and presumably drive traffic to a number of websites every day. But I don’t do it from SME. I typically do it via Argyle Social which distributes my links via Twitter and Facebook.

While I do link to other blogs frequently, there’s seldom a direct call-to-action to go visit the blog like there were in the days when link sharing was how the web was mapped (pre-search engine). If I liked something Nichole Kelly wrote about measurement and linked to it in a post recently, it just appeared there as a link. I didn’t say, “Go see what Nichole Kelly wrote on her blog.” The lack of explicit direction lessens the conversion.

But unless you are driving people to buy or download or do something specific, in blogging links are there for context, not CTAs.

The numbers represent the reality because the way we write and read blogs does not lend itself to surfing around to others. The way we consume Twitter or Facebook or even LinkedIn recommendations from friends does.

What This Tells Us

Granted, you need to look at your own metrics. But what it tells me is that my bread is buttered with winning search results, getting links and retweets on Twitter, submissions on StumbleUpon and by people sharing my content on Facebook. Mix all that in with a little email marketing and branding (to account for the direct traffic) and I can focus my energy where my blog’s energy comes from.

Does this mean I’m going to stop linking to other blogs? Certainly not. Am I going to stop talking to Michael Stelzner because Examiner doesn’t move my needles? Not on your life.

But it puts website traffic into a perspective I never saw before.

Check your analytics. What do you see? Do blogs drive traffic for you? Who does it? How do they do it?

The comments are yours.

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About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).