Nurse Ratched has a fresh post based on a discussion that has been ongoing the last couple of days:

I think [the value of search engine hits] depends on the purpose of your blog. If you are primarily blogging on new technologies, or blog software tips and tricks, or how to get the most out of your computer, then search engine hits are every bit as good as any other visitor. But if you are trying to build a community of visitors, or if your blog is primarily for commentary on current events, or if it in any way is enhanced by there being a context, then search engine hits are less valuable. It doesn’t mean that the other visitors need to be bloggers, just that the experience is enhanced for reader and blogger through repeat visits.

As I noted in her comments, summarizing some discussions in my own comments section to several posts over the last few days: I think [her] distinction is the correct one. I’ve noticed, now that Bear is tracking blog traffic in addition to links, that many of the high traffic blogs get very little linkage and in some cases, vice versa. Many of the high traffic/low link blogs seem to be tech sites that don’t generate buzz but provide info. Really, they’re not even blogs in the conventional sense. Also, a few Howard Dean campaign sites seem to get a lot of traffic but little linkage.

The best way to get traffic is to get Glenn to link you. I had that happen three times in the span of a few days in March, and my traffic went through the roof, peaks upwards of 4000 visitors a day. It helped get me some exposure and some repeat customers, but the traffic otherwise disappears in a few days. On the other hand, getting blogrolled by a low traffic site will generate a link for the purpose of the TTLB Ecosystem and a few visits a day, but nothing like the traffic from being linked by a biggie. Indeed, even being blogrolled by a biggie doesn’t generate much traffic unless they use blogrolling and highlight recently updated blogs.

Joy talks about this, too.

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. I’ve not been linked by Glenn, but I have been linked by the Dean blog (for my “Field Guide to Democratic elites” post). The results were similar, though I never hit 4000 visitors in a day.

    It seems somewhat crass to rank blogs according to traffic and number of links, but better measurements (writing skill, freshness, originality, , frequency of updating) seem mostly to be harder to quantify, or at least harder to do through automatic tools (aside from frequency). Maybe someone ought to create a “fresh blog meat” site that ranks blogs by a combination of average update frequency and time since last update — or just average frequency, just most recently updated are vailable from

  2. jen says:

    I’m starting to care less and less about the numbers. I have a core group of visitors and linkers. Occasionally I’ll get linked by someone new, which is cool because then I discover a new blog too.

    Now, that’s not to say that I don’t check my stats, I do. But not so much for the quantity of visitors, but to see who’s visiting and how many times a day they click in.

    The real number I look for is how many comments a post generates. I like the interaction with my readers and when they comment it tells me that I sparked a thought from their end of the blogosphere. And some posts get more comments than others, which is a challenge sometimes. I think I’ve written something to start a conversation (or debate) and I’ll get no response. But I post about the most trivial thing in my life and I’ll get a dozen comments.

  3. O. F. Jay says:

    Yaknow, James, speaking of traffic, remember when you blogged me about Kassem Saleh? I have no idea if the guy who said he was under Saleh’s command is legit, but such a person left a comment on my site and I did trace the IP to a US military domain. That entry brought me five uniques, and far be it for me to ask to be blogrolled without dishing out good content, I’m glad you pointed to me. The Beltway-lanche was pretty big at the time, for the total amount of traffic that I get in a day.

    One other thing, James, and this I like a lot about your blog… You know you have that “There’s more” javascript window roller to hide content? You make very clever use of it, like in this entry. Especially for plugs.

    Have a good weekend, James.