Monday, April 11, 2011

Reviews and Generating Traffic...Or Not.

I think every book review blogger has noticed this: it's "other" sorts of posts, not the book reviews, that generate traffic and comments. The memes like Waiting on Wednesday and In My Mailbox. The issue-of-the-week posts. The indulgent what-I-did-this-week-and-what-I-learned-from-it posts. The kitty picture posts. (Guilty. Unrepentant.)

The irony is, book reviewing is what we DO. It's our bread and butter. (I still call myself a book reviewer even though my content is evolving.) I read first Adele's Traffic Report post and Megan's Blogging Stats today, and the thing that struck me was how none of Adele's most popular posts and only two of Megan's were reviews. (It struck them too.) It kept striking me all evening and it's why I'm here thinking with my fingers instead of continuing with City of Bones which I'm kinda loving. I took a look at my stats, which I hadn't done before because I, uh...didn't know you could (I know right, can you say blind?) and there's only one review in my top ten, plus that gush I did about North and South, but that's not a book and not strictly a review.

What gives? Should we give up on reviewing? Are we just crap at it?

I was particularly surprised by my results as until now I've been tracking my traffic in Feedburner and there I have 4 reviews in my top ten posts. (Two are for Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking books--you guys have taste.)

Here's my top ten for Blogger:
  1. Waiting on Wednesday: Ness, Pike and Labyrinth
  2. Are you making fun of me Riz?
  3. Rapping at my Chamber Door: Edgar Allen Poe and MC Lars
  4. Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
  5. Kissing Day Blogfest!
  6. My new hobby, inspired by WIP research
  7. North and South: The BBC Adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's novel
  8. Literature in Songs: Romeo and Juliet, Dire Straits
  9. Coca-Cola, product placement and The Road
  10. Guest Post: Amy of Addicted to Books reviews The Handmaid's Tale
So what gives? I think it's this: Blogger Stats tracks unique visits to a post. All the popular ones contain incredibly searchable content. It's things that people out there on the interwebs are searching for all the time. The "Are you making fun of me Riz?" post had me stumped for a bit: Why does such a random collection of humorous bits and pieces have the second most number of hits? I looked at it again and realised it's because of that Edward Cullen Venn diagram I included. Never underestimate the lure of the sparklepire.

In contrast, Feedburner tracks the popularity of posts among people who have subscribed to my feed. Most of them, I imagine, are other book bloggers. They might not always comment (and I'm guilty as the next) but they're reading the content.

I like the contrast of the two sets of stats: my regulars like my reviews and memes, and the Dystopian Challenge posts. (Yay! Is great to see them in my Feedburner top ten.) These are the posts I love doing, that I plan and schedule and think of as defining the blog. And then there are the more random posts that happen serendipitously that often have highly searchable content and draw in "them out there". They probably don't stay for long, either. But it's nice to have them visit.

Oh, and so a few of them read this...EDWARD CULLEN VENN DIAGRAM.



  1. my most read posts are from random searches ~ not from my regular readers. one of my reviews has had over 13, 000 hits and I am pretty sure it is because I posted a picture of Henry Cavill along with my review as a visual for one of the characters. ("Henry Cavill" is also the top search term for my traffic, haha)

    I dont think my most read posts have much to do with my followers. it's just random people finding my blog for random things :)

    it is interesting though :D

  2. I'm loving these traffic/blog stat posts - I find it really interesting to see what kind of posts are getting the most traffic (and the search terms oh lordy!)

  3. Not that I'm really posting much these days, but in the past I've noticed this too. I guess people who aren't hardcore YA readers might find the non-review posts more interesting? I'm actually thinking of starting a new blog that includes book reviews but also the other stuff I'm interested in.

    However, I've frequently copied my reviews to Amazon and I like to think they get read more there.

  4. My most popular post by far is one titled "Selkie Attacks Surfer?" Go figure, right? I think it's because there's a picture of a leopard seal I got from wikipedia. People must find the pic in a Google Image Search and clicking over from there.

  5. I need to post my top 10. From what I remember, maybe one review is on it.

  6. lol
    And funny thing is, as savvy as I sometimes think I am, I wasn't aware of the Blogger Stats tab either...
    I use feedburner, and I've used Bloggrader and Google Analytics...and all the while, it's just RIGHT THERE.

    Jans Austen and zombies make up the bulk of my top 10. And I'd say that's fairly understandable. And deliciously quirky and me. :D
    The 1 outlier is a post on Haunted Houses that I did out of silliness around Halloween when I first started blogging. People love that effing post, apparently.

  7. @Nomes I just googled him as I didn't know the name. Yummo!

    @Miss Friday How funny are they!

    @Lauren Do! It would be great to see you come back to blogging.

    @Lynne I think that's where a lot of my traffic comes from too.

    @Misty LOL. Not just me then.

  8. Interesting analysis and I agree that people read the reviews, even if they are more likely to comment on the one-off posts. And the Edward Cullen bit at the end made me LOL. :)


  9. I haven't been out commenting in MONTHS, so I am one of the guilty lurkers. I do almost always click in when I see a new review, though - I totally trust your taste. BUT, yes, all of these weird trends! One of my most popular posts is a review, but I think it's a commonly assigned classroom read (and thus kids are looking for content to plagiarize... eek!).

  10. I'm going to be optimistic, and say that the reviews generate a baseline number of comments because it's what people expect when they come here, it's why they come here to start with, it's what keeps them coming here. But when you step outside that role, with a rant or a kitty picture, people sit up and take notice: they say "Whoa." And it intrigues them. If the entire blog were nothing but that, then that would become the status quo, but the occasional staccato punctuations that break form are welcome and unusual.