Do you want more engagement OR more traffic to your blog?

by Mack Collier

I’ve been going over the responses to the #Blogchat survey that y’all are helping me with (If you haven’t taken the survey yet PLEASE do, it really takes less than 60 seconds, click here to take it), and paying attention to the answers to the last question.  That’s where I asked what topics you’d like to see covered in #blogchat.

The two most popular answers are how to build engagement on your blogs, and how to grow traffic to your blog.

Probably the most important point to realize is that you can do one or the other, but probably not both.  What I mean is that many bloggers want more engagement AND more traffic.  But in general it takes a different approach to grow traffic than it does to grow engagement.

For example, let’s look at Mashable.  A hugely popular blog/website that was originally focused on social media, but now they’ve branched out to cover tech, entertainment and other popular topics as well.  As of this writing, the last 10 posts they’ve published in the social media category have a total of 95 comments, or 10 comments per post.

The last 10 posts I’ve written here have a total of 87 comments, or 9 comments per post.

So that means that this blog has almost as much engagement (if we go by strictly number of comments) as the most popular ‘social media’ blog on the planet.

But there’s an important caveat to these numbers:  I am blogging more for engagement, and Mashable is blogging more for traffic.  A big clue here is the fact that Mashable’s last 10 posts all come within the last 24 hours, while my last 10 posts all come within the last month.  If Mashable was more concerned with building engagement, then their writers would probably publish fewer posts, because they would be spending more time responding to comments from readers and interacting with them.  So comments per post might double or triple, but Mashable’s overall traffic would probably go down, because their writers would write fewer posts.

Likewise, if I started writing two posts a day, my traffic here would go through the roof.  But overall engagement would fall off a cliff, I would probably go from 9 comments a post, to 2 or 3.

So before you say that you want more engagement and/or traffic, you need to think about WHY you want either.  Ah yes, it always goes back to planning, doesn’t it? ;)  And it also doesn’t hurt to TEST each approach.  For example, if you think you want more traffic, then for the next two weeks, commit to doubling your post output.  If you normally write 1 post a week, write two.  If you normally write two posts a week, write four.  Then pay attention to WHICH NEEDLES MOVE.  Traffic will likely go up, but what else happens?  Do email subscribers increase?  Does search traffic?  Comments?  Emails?

Then test the approach of trying to build engagement.  Write as many posts for the next two weeks as you normally do, but go out of your way to get as much engagement as possible.  Encourage readers to comment, to interact with you.  Do this for every post for 2 weeks, then see what your results are.  Again, WHICH NEEDLES MOVED?  Did time spent on the blog increase?  Did pageviews?  Did comments?

Then after you’ve tried both approaches, look and see which needles moved that tie into YOUR GOALS FOR YOUR BLOG.

But at the end of the day, you need to realize that there’s usually a tradeoff involved in trying to build traffic, versus trying to build engagement.  It’s not impossible to do both at the same time, but it’s difficult.  You need to think about which or either is more important in helping you reach your blogging goals.

And speaking of goals, one of mine is to hit 500 responses for my #blogchat survey.  Can you help me get there? ;)


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