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Pageviews are Good. Pagereads are Better.

This guest post is by Paula Pant of Afford-Anything and Greg McFarlane of Control Your Cash.

Have you noticed how so many blogs are just … terrible?

There’s no polite way to say it. The writing is garbage, the design inelegant, the content inane. A bird pecking at a worm-scented keyboard could craft more interesting thoughts.

We always thought the people responsible for these blogs are idiots. But lately we’ve wondered if we have it backwards, and they’re the shrewd ones.

Pick a business model. Optimize it.

We—Paula and Greg—run different blogs, but with a similar business model. We each work toward building a following of true fans who respect us as authorities within our niche, personal finance. We want our readers to buy our books, listen to our lectures, attend our workshops and tune into our radio shows. We want editors of respected publications to tap us for freelance assignments.

So we put our full names and our faces on our work. We obsess over wording, paragraph spacing, and dangling participles. We’re each building a platform that, if you’ll excuse the cliché, is the foundation of our “brand.”

Writing quality content is a pain. From our experience, it can take up to four hours to write a worthwhile post. The return on time expended, at least in the beginning, is almost negligible.

It’s a long-term strategy, but a risky one. It might lead to recognition and fortune, or it might never amount to anything.

Strategically mindless content

Some bloggers have a different business model. They want to sell text links. Period. They know companies are willing to shell out a few hundred dollars per link to get some SEO juice, and these bloggers are hungry to sell.

Quality content is unimportant under such a model. Having a base of loyal readers is meaningless. The only important measure is PageRank, so these bloggers concentrate on building backlinks. Higher PageRank leads to more money.

If you’re blogging for people, rather than for backlinks … well, having an ardent fan base can help your PageRank, if indirectly. Devoted readers might consciously link to a site they love. But if PageRank is all you care about, waiting for your readers to promote your blog (while you spend hundreds of hours writing quality posts) is an inefficient use of your time. The more direct way to improve PageRank is to spend a few minutes pumping out garbage, then devote the rest of your time to activities that directly build rank—such as commenting on do-follow blogs.

Yet another class of bloggers uses a business model that centers on advertising impressions. These entrepreneurs optimize their blogs around any activity that maximizes pageviews. The people behind these blogs don’t care about bounce rate; they just need a five-second click.

Neither compare nor despair

If you have a passion for conveying your findings to your readers in a compelling way, you can get frustrated if you measure yourself against bloggers who only care about eyeballs (irrespective of any brains they might be connected to.)

It’s almost misleading to refer to both the mercenaries and those who go to the trouble of crafting quality posts as “bloggers”. They’re selling different commodities to different clients. Ian Bostridge, Lil Wayne, and a guy who makes his living recording commercial jingles are all technically “singers”, but they have nothing else in common. Forget apples to oranges; we’re comparing apples to cats to unicorns.

If you take time to create worthwhile content and delight your readers, reasoning that the financial rewards will come later, do yourself a favor and stop comparing yourself to bloggers who would sell their mothers for an inbound link. It’ll drive you crazy. Sooner or later, preferably sooner, you have to ask yourself: Am I blogging to share my unique perspective and contributions with the world, or am I only after revenue? It’s not a rhetorical question.

It’s easy to forget that blogging is a nascent industry. Its rules are still being written, and most of them haven’t been finalized yet. PageRank will remain meaningful only as long as it continues to be considered the gold standard of link analysis algorithms. That doesn’t necessarily mean forever. The same goes for cost-per-impression vs. other pricing models: advertisers will eventually discover a surefire method of targeting 30,000 qualified prospects, as opposed to 100,000 drones who’ll never buy.

But until the day the robots achieve sentience, there will always be an audience for innovative content spawned from inquisitive human minds. And unlike link analysis or pageview counts, worthwhile content is impossible to engineer artificially.

That doesn’t mean readers will flock to a well-written but underpublicized site. The successful paint-by-numbers bloggers know this all too well, which is why they choose to value backlinks over content.

We’re betting against that strategy. In the long term, the bloggers who downplay content do so at their own peril, as they forgo the opportunity to build long-term connections with readers. These bloggers will never sell ancillary products nor other brand extensions. Their blogs resonate no more loudly than supermarket flyers do.

Any moron can go through the mechanical steps of commenting on do-follow blogs and submitting to link exchange directories. But if you’re willing to develop a voice that readers will instantly recognize as yours, you’ll set yourself apart from the bloggers with neither the aptitude nor the desire to do so.

Paula Pant has traveled to 27 countries, purchased a 99-year-old Victorian home near central Atlanta’s most beautiful park, and has never — ever — had a penny in debt. Her blog, Afford Anything, is based on one radical idea: money can fuel your wildest dreams.

 

Greg McFarlane is an advertising copywriter who lives in Las Vegas. He recently wrote Control Your Cash: Making Money Make Sense, a financial primer for people in their 20s and 30s who know nothing about money. You can buy the book here (physical) or here (Kindle) and reach Greg at [email protected].

 

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Comments

  1. Sara Dobson says:

    I appreciate your quality content

  2. Jamie C. says:

    Excellent post. Your statement, “Forget apples to oranges; we’re comparing apples to cats to unicorns” had me chuckling aloud at my desk as I read it. Very true, and humorous, as an added bonus.

  3. Obinna says:

    Am afraid i am still after the page views. Blog is still new, we will get to page reads later.

    • In my opinion, having readers who genuinely love your work, and who organically share it with others, can be a great and encouraging feeling (regardless of whether you have 5 readers or 500 readers or 5,000 readers or 5 million readers).

  4. Kari Scare says:

    Boy, I sure needed to hear this today! Just spent a frustrating afternoon trying to figure out how to utilize advertising on my blog with no real progress. I’m so glad I read this before I wasted another couple of hours. I’m still going to pursue some monetizing, but I am not going to give it the focus that I originally had thought and I’m not going to pursue it with as much vigor. Maybe I’ll just let it fall into place naturaly somehow. Why did I have that focus? Because it seemed like what so many other bloggers were doing. Shame on me for following the crowd, which is something I try so very hard NOT to do. Thank you for setting me straight and helping me to refocus on what’s important, taking time to “create worthwhile content and delight your readers.”

  5. Dwayne says:

    My blog is fairly new and I think this post will make it much more successful in the long run. I’ve been focusing on quality insted of quantity and I feel this is what will make me a success. Thanks, Paula.

  6. Kacie says:

    The links to the guest poster’s blogs are not working

  7. Mike says:

    I think it depends on your personal goals. For some, they want better engagement. For others, they want a decent traffic following to be able to sell more of those links that they have in their blogs. It just depends on the person.

  8. krafty says:

    One of the best lines ever written on Problogger: “A bird pecking at a worm-scented keyboard could craft more interesting thoughts.”

    You have a way with words…. :)

    • LOL — thank you! We considered “cat walking across a keyboard” before deciding to use the “bird pecking at a worm-scented keyboard” analogy. I have to give all the credit to Greg for that one — he’s great at creating humorous analogies. :-)

  9. Actually, for a beginner (blogger), I see the page view as an encouragement because if the person is to put readers into consideration, he might be discouraged.Thanks this is a really good article

  10. Mi IP says:

    Hi, although I agree with your posts, I think it’s OK to have paid posts (for SEO or whatever) as long as you don’t compromise your Bloggers independence. For instance, in one of my Blogs I’ve accepted paid reviews, but I always clarify this is a paid post. In others where I have to add a context link, I first analyze if the link is related to the topics I deal with. If I can fit in a natural way and adding value to my readers, I do it.

    Thanks for the post!

  11. Hi Greg,

    This one’s a big wake up call for many.

    I learned numbers are nice. I learned converts are even nicer. If someone views your blog, doesn’t mean much. If someone reads one post, it means a little more. If someone reads your post and takes your call to action, it means more, and of course, if someone takes your call, joins your list, and becomes a customer or team member, you’re on to something.

    Another bonus: if someone reads a post and sticks around to read more posts, and you find more people doing this, your blog is on point. You are attracting targeted, hungry traffic who wants what you have to offer.

    This is why I expanded my widgets a bit on both of my blogs recently. I include 1 call to action geared toward growing my list, social networking connecting icons and 10 of my top posts. By sharing more of my popular work it keeps interested folks on my website.

    I also placed a strong emphasis on SEO the past week. Seeing immediate benefits. 4 keywords in a 400 word post. 1 in the first and last sentence, 2 in the body, in h1 and h2 tags. I reached first page in bing and yahoo with this strategy for a hyper competitive keyword in 24 hours. It works, and works darn well if you remain strict and applying the proper SEO techniques with every single blog post.

    Really, you are writing to attract a specific type of reader. Using keywords is the quickest and easiest way to do this. You take chance and guesswork out of the equation when your posts are based on keywords that people from your target market are looking for. More perfect matches, better business for both parties. You prosper, and your target market prospers from your good or service.

    Thanks for sharing your insight Greg.

    Ryan

    • Paula’s the insightful one, but thank you.

      Yeah, I (and Paula too, I’m sure, although I didn’t specifically ask her) want to have my readers clamoring for every new post. It’s like how I feel about the bloggers (and non-blogging writers) whom I enjoy: I anticipate each new piece, I know their posting schedules, and I want to submerge myself in those writers’ entire oeuvres. “Hungry”, as you put it, is apt.

      Best of luck with your blog.

  12. if ever they come, i will always prefer pagereads to pageviews. You need to know what content your readers and liking.

  13. Okto says:

    I agree with Mike at this points. It will depend on the person. I have run 2 blogs, first I care more on pageviews because I search more revenue through ads and the second I care more on pagereads (this one is harder to maintain)

  14. Page views are all well and good, but nothing makes me happier to see that someone has commented or interacted with the post

    • Bougie Girl says:

      Exactly. Most of my readers comment on my blogs via sending me a direct email or on my Facebook page. I am encouraging them to leave comments but, so far it has been an uphill battle. Great post.

  15. Mark Jenkins says:

    Good article, page reads are better if there is something of quality to actually read?

  16. Taline says:

    Content is very important and too many put the pressure on themselves to publish 5-7 articles a week that I think that quality of their content goes down. I think you can blog for revenue and content. You have to add value and build a following.

    Backlinks unfortunately are very important because as you stated if you don’t develop your site and build some sort of rank, you can have the greatest articles but you will only have a handful of visitors.

  17. Rajnish says:

    I work hard Write Conent for my readers and Search but no luck, My reader leave site after the homepage. Can’t Understand whats the problem, And thats why I get very less Pageviews compared to visits.

    Any Help will be appriciated from Problogger’s Readers.

  18. Drew Murray says:

    Thank you for this post. I have been wanting to blog professionally for years, but never knew exactly how to do so. This past Christmas, my (parents age) aunt mentioned that she recently added AdSense to her blog and she made $700 her first month, and then $1200 the following month (December). I asked her for more details. Im thinking to myself. This is something Ive wanted to do for a long time, and my Aunt who is a grandmother is doing it very successfully – if she can, of course I can! Obviously age is just a number, but my family is still just now discovering facebook.

    Well, $300 investment later, lots of endless reading, wordpress/blogger trial and error, and much more, I am so exhausted that I have scrapped everything several times and still dont know what Im doing! I feel so lost. I would love to make money doing this, but moreso interested in providing quality content than anything else. I realize this is one of those things like the lottery, you cant win if you dont play. If you give up, then you will never win, you have to keep playing to eventually win – but that may never happen.

    Anyway, Im struggling with the whole “brand” idea. I know what my brand is, and I already had a sizable following of people who like to read my thoughts/opinions. However, my struggle is that my brand is so broad, I dont know how to collapse it into one topic. From personal finance to responsible political thought, urban planning/sustainability to dating… I feel like it would be difficult to collapse my passions into one blog. So i tried to do several blogs, but that is turning into a disaster of scattered focus.

    Anyway, i didnt mean to rant, but enjoyed reading your articulate post. I definitely needed to hear that today. Quality over Quantity. Also, Paula, I think we are probably neighbors – unless your park is more beautiful than Piedmont :)

  19. Okto says:

    @drew murray : I little bit disagree if you say ‘like a lottery’. At make a living from blogging you are the key player so its like 99% efforts and 1% luck. So you hold the future of yourown blog

  20. Great post. I spread myself too think over many blogs and found that I lost PR on my main market leadership site-Ouch!- now I am more focused on what I love to write about and building authority once again.