When it comes to blogs (or any website for that matter), at least with my cursory glance at my own analytics, answers are king. If you are building traffic — you can do one of three things — be incredibly funny, be incredibly opinionated (especially if you discuss exorbitantly controversial or vacuous topics), or answer questions that people really have. They’ll ask their question in the google search box, and hopefully you’ve written a bunch of things up that will answer questions, and have answered questions, and people will link to your answers. And… lather rinse repeat.
You could also be a spammer, or someone trying to seriously pimp their “SEO” Or own the niche market
I don’t really try to do any of the above. I just write things that I care about that day — and it’s usually rambly enough that people consume it, but don’t really link to it. I’m only marginally funny, and while I’m pretty opinionated, I don’t opine on too many controversial subjects, and sadly I don’t spend as much time as I could or should writing up informative posts that might answer questions. I’d rather post funny faces from pups
My single most popular article ever was the one I wrote about my decision to vote for the President — which happened to catch the twitter eye of Tim Bray — and drove traffic on it through the roof. That was nice, not so much for the traffic, but because I respect Tim Bray a great deal.
But that post was just for a moment, a small period of time where it was relevant, and quickly becomes lost in everything else that was just for a moment, which is a lot when it comes to politics, it’s nary seen a single hit since.
Nope, the most popular articles I have are one about the direct positive preset in Lightroom (Lightroom 1.x) and creating your own gem server — both of which go about answering questions (well, the lightroom one is more illustrative than much of an answer) that people ask in search.
Thus far, you might think this post is mistitled — it should have been “Why answers matter”
Nope, because occasionally — you can get away with just asking more questions, those reflective posts, where you don’t really answer anything. I once rhetorically asked a series of questions about my own industry’s responsibilities in building IT systems — that has landed me on the front page of a Google Search for “IT Responsibilities” And I guess that job hunters, or position writers, or HR departments are finding that post in their search for lists of responsibilities to include in resumes and position descriptions. I doubt very many read it, it’s long and rambly and just poorly written in general and on top of that its introspectively difficult for people in my field to deal with, particularly “business IT”.
But if just one person reads that while applying for jobs, or one person reads it when hiring “eye-tee” — well, that makes everything I do worthwhile.
Asking questions of ourselves matters even more.