Rambling thoughts on my stats

In looking at my stats, it appears that I’m getting a huge amount of my traffic from search engines. So…does this mean that my site is either:

* Excellently positioned to gain reasonable-to-high rankings on a wide variety of keywords, or…

* Valuless, in that visitors from search engines are only interested in one thing and will click past me once they realize I don’t have it?

So that second one brings me to a thought: which type of visitor has more value, the one who comes in from pure search results or the one who follows a link from another site? At first instinct I’d say the latter, by a wide margin, but why? Aren’t those who click thru to me from a blog following a topic-based path, just as those from search engines?

Watch this trend: Service blogs and feeds

I’ve been following some “Service” blogs and RSS feeds of late (my definition for a “service” blog or feed is one that provides some time of factual info, such as movie releases, weather forecast, dvd releases, etc).

Recently, two new sites along these lines launched, and both look to be quite interesting:

* Chicago Crime: Built in part by Adrian Holovaty (one of the people who inspired me to pursue standards-compliant design), Chicago Crime is a thorough and thoroughly usable datbase of crime in Chicago, organized by neighborhood, time of day, and many other factors.

The site has two key features: Outstanding Google Maps integration, and a wide selection of RSS feeds. If I lived there, using this site would probably make me too paranoid to subsribe to- but it would be great to know it’s there if I need it.

* The second new “Service” site is StormTrack, built in part by Jordan Golson of the Cheese and Crackers blog. StormTrack is pretty self-explanatory- using weather data, the site will track and report on various summer-season hurricaines and other weather patterns. Since the site isn’t automated, it’s value will depend on how frequently (and consistently) the authors can keep it updated. Pending updates, it should be a useful tool, whether you live in the south or not.

While Chicago Crime is a combination service/hyperlocal site, it is also one whose readership value should remain fairly constant. On the other hand, it’s interesting to note that StormTrack, besides being a service-oriented site, is also capitalizing on the niche element that made many highly-targeted political blogs (like one of my own) highly successful for short bursts, depending on how much and how often their subject matter made the news.

Professional ad blogger: frequency, professional design matter

B.L. Ochman (one of the many fine folks I had the pleasure of meeting in Nashville last weekend) has begun an interview series on her blog, whatsnext. First up is Adrants Steve Hall, who says, among other things, that frequency matters when blogging professionally:

Hall posts 12 to 15 times a day. He doesn’t have a hard and fast rule, but “If something is going on in industry I will write about it. Because Adrants is a news source, I can’t give a broad enough picture in a day with just a couple of posts.”

Later on, in my favorite segment of the interview, Hall shares his belief that a professionally-designed blog is an important aspect of professional blogging:

Hall did Adrants’ first four designs himself. When he got serious about running advertising he needed the site to have a more professional look. And he wanted more strength on the back end. He switched to Moveable Type [sic] and hired a designer who knew how to make it work smoothly. “You get to a point and you say ‘let’s do this right.’ I have advertisers paying me money. The site has to work properly.”

Amen, Steve. As a web developer, blogger, and web developer of blogs, I am greatful to read Steve’s thoughts on this issue. Quite a few professional bloggers should listen to Steve’s words and seriously consider them.

Of course, the refrain heard most often from “professional” bloggers (quotes because that line is incredibly blurry) is that they don’t have the financial resources for a professional design. But like an advertising guru will tell you, “good advertising makes you money”…and it’s been my experience that the same goes for a professionally-designed site.

People who should be blogging, volume 1

An unfinished list of people who I wish would start blogging* (because they’d be good, fun, and/or interesting doing it):

* I had a certain Food Network host here, but I had to remove her because I was bombarded with Google image searches for her. Sorry, RR!

*Cousin Sal, that fat, annoying idiot from Jimmy Kimmel Live (how does he not have his headshot on IMDB?)

* Somebody from the Red Sox (preferrably Arroyo)

*Of course, everybody should be blogging, and anybody could be good at it…this is just a post where I think up a few celebrities and others who I think would have a natural knack for it.

Thank you, Mark!

Mark Glaser, one of the best writers out there covering the web/blogging beat, has posted a great wrap-up of BlogNashville over at OJR.

Glaser summarizes the key points coming out of the conference by offering up a list of “Seven big ideas (and one pet peeve)”…and lo and behold, the list includes one item created by me!

5. BlogNashville site aggregates blog posts and photos from conference. OK, it’s the ultimate self-referential move, but that doesn’t mean it’s not helpful. The conference’s Web site includes a page called “Discussion,” that’s not really a discussion but actually an aggregation of all the BlogNashville blog posts via Technorati, photos via Flickr and Web links via del.icio.us. Not only is it a great running tally of the post-convention commentary, but you can also subscribe to RSS feeds to get the latest in your newsreader. This is the type of page that should be a requirement for all conventions in the future.

Thanks for the kind words about the BlogNashville Discussion page, Mark.

Final thoughts on BlogNashville

Blogdex screenshot

Now that BlogNashville is in the rear-view mirror, I have two final thoughts.

My first comment is a big yee haw! If you click the fuzzy picture up top here, you’ll see a full-size screenshot of Blogdex, a service that essentially takes a snapshot of the most popular links around the blogosphere on a given day. Since I first stumbled across Blogdex a couple of years ago, it’s been a secret dream of mine to have a site I built appear on the Blogdex front page. So I was pretty happy to see BlogNashville- a site I was fortunate enough to build for my good friend, Media Bloggers Association prez and BlogNashville organizer Bob Cox – appear on Blogdex on Sunday.

That leads me to my second point. I owe a big public thanks to Bob for continually (and curiously) allowing me a front-row seat to some of the coolest happenings, projects, and people in blogosphere over the past few months. Those of you who are lucky enough to know Bob know exactly what I mean when I say that he is both a pleasure and a blast to work with.