Blog Traffic from Mainstream Media
John Hawkins notes a curious phenomenon that I’ve noticed myself: mentions of a blog in a major newspaper or opinion column almost invariably send far less traffic to a blog than a mention in even a semi-prominent blog. This past February, I was featured prominently in a story in the Washington Post. I noticed no significant spike in traffic. Ditto appearances on national radio shows or articles published at Tech Central Station. A mention from, say, Dean Esmay or Bill at INDC Journal, though, will send hundreds of visitors my way.
John hypothesizes that this has to do with the level of engagement of readers:
Could it be possible that more people actually read Glenn Reynolds over at Instapundit each day than read Howard Kurtz? Does Charles Johnson over at Little Green Footballs actually have more people laying eyeballs on what he writes each day than say any one column at MSNBC?
While this is indeed possible, my guess is it has to do with the nature of the readers rather than the number. People reading blogs expect there to be links to back up assertions and the culture of the blogosphere demands that we link to our sources, including other blogs. Many blogs are mainly links with a couple of snappy comments. Blog readers, therefore, are accustomed to following links. By contrast, most mentions of a website in the online version of a newspaper story don’t even contain a link to the site in question. Newspaper readers are accustomed to taking the reporters’ word for it and to a self-contained experience.
I’m sure Howard Kurtz–and certainly, Tom Friedman–have more readers than I do. Ego-wise, there’s not much question that being mentioned by Friedman or Kurtz would be more gratifying. From a sheer traffic standpoint, though, you’d rather have a link from OTB than a mention from one of them.