Monday, November 29, 2004


Let’s talk a little bit about Blog Explosion, shall we?

Many of us have been sucked in to this not-so-new-anymore Ponzoid scheme that promises to “explode” our blog traffic. The premise is simple: surf a random assortment of blogs that have signed up for BlogEx, and have a proportionate amount of traffic directed toward your blog. Currently, for every two blogs you surf, you receive one visitor in return.

And wait...there’s more!

If you build up enough credits - either by surfing other blogs or by winning random “mystery credits” - you can use them in exchange for banner ad impressions. With (presumably) an enticing enough banner ad, yet more people will discover your blog.

This becomes an exercise in practical mathematics. For banner advertising to be worth the investment in credits, you have to pull in a reasonable percentage of “click-throughs” - people who see your banner and actually click on it to visit your blog. As of this writing, BlogEx gives you 23 impressions for one credit, so if your click-through rate is 4.35% or more, banners are a reasonable use of credits. But if you have an ugly, sucky banner that only gets, say 1.5%, better to use your credits for other purposes - directory ads, f’rinstance.

OK, so this post reads (so far) like an ad for Blog Explosion. But it’s not.

Jay, the guy who runs The Zero Boss, wrote a well-reasoned critique of the BlogEx concept a month or so ago. His key points, with which I agree wholeheartedly, are:

1. BlogEx is time-intensive, especially in view of the number of uninteresting / crappy blogs that you have to wade through in order to discover the occasional gem. To an extent, the BlogEx folks have addressed this issue by allowing you to create a “do not view” list that keeps blogs you hate / have no interest in from popping up and chewing up your obligatory 30 seconds of surf-time.

2. Traffic per se is not what most bloggers want. We want readers - people who will actually read what we write, and who perhaps will interact with us by leaving comments. Simply jacking up the hit counter does not accomplish this, although a tiny percentage of random surfers may end up as regulars. The way to build traffic is by providing good content, linking to good blogs whose interests match yours, and by commenting. Links are powerful - they’re what distinguish blogging and the Internet from print media. Use ’em! Most of the blogs on my blogroll got there because they were on the blogrolls of blogs I like.

BlogEx still needs a way to allow surfers to narrow down the categories of sites that pop up during surfing, so that it’s not completely random. Right now, it’s a total crapshoot - and there’s a lot of crap out there. As Jay put it so eloquently,
BE is not targeted. In order to get traffic yourself, you have to browse other people's blogs. A fair trade - except that, in a typical BE session, the author of a parenting blog may end up visiting only one other parenting blog, while the rest of the blogs he visits are devoted to politics, economics, chemistry, direct marketing, product reviews, RFID technology, programming on Unix, or what have you.

These are the bloggers who BE will turn around to visit your site once you've built up enough credit. While it's conceivable that someone blogging about Tarot and Astrology will love your blog about European football, appealing specifically to that group is not the smartest way to market yourself. It's as if BE wrote down all of the advice about how to do targeted marketing on the internet, then used it to wipe its ass.

Supposedly, the “targeted surfing” enhancement is already in the pipeline - but it ain’t here yet.

Anyway, if you got here by way of BlogEx and you’ve managed to work your way all the way to the bottom of this post, hooray! You’ve pissed away more than your allotted thirty seconds, and I thank you. Feel free to stick around, read more, comment, whatever. Hey, there might just be something here you like!

Or go ahead and click that surfbar. That “personal musings of a twenty-something stay-at-home biker chick astrologer-web entrepreneur who spells ‘definitely’ ‘definately’” blog is up next, and it’s just waiting for you.

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