SHARKBLOG: The Existential Quandary

It’s the end of the year, which means it’s time to jerk my head out of the sand and face the analytics.

Thanks to Sharkblog’s SEO experiments, I’m much more experienced than I was at the beginning of the year. And my site has much better search placement than it would have had without the Sharkblogging experiment. Unfortunately, good search placement on certain random keywords doesn’t guarantee lots of high-quality traffic. My site traffic is pretty pathetic, and looking at the entire existence of the website from early February to late December, it’s obvious that there has been very little growth when it comes to visitors.

And I have to let that be okay. I have had no tangible goals, and so any growth in traffic would be a victory for vanity only. I have no product to sell, and thus no immediate need for growth. I have future plans to leverage site traffic, but “future plans to leverage site traffic” is no kind of reason to visit a website. It’s literally been SEO for SEO’s sake.

Also, I’ve spent all year NOT doing very specific things that I know I would have to do in order to produce an increase in quality traffic. I specifically didn’t create a Facebook page for Sharkblog (or any other part of my website), nor for Google+ or any other social outlet. I have not actively encouraged sharing links to my website, I have not incentivized sharing links or participating in any way, I have not reached out to the online community directly, and I have not engaged in dialogue with total strangers. All these things can help grow traffic, and I have been hesitating for many reasons, but mostly the time committment.

Furthermore: content is king, and let’s face it, my content could be better. It could always be better.

To be fair, I’ve had a hell of a year OUTSIDE of Sharkblog, so I’ll cut myself some slack.

And frankly, some of my numbers are, in fact, pretty darn good. Look at that graphic. It’s not all sour grapes. New visitors to returning visitors is nearly 60/40, which is great.

Right?

Right. You bet.

But now, on the verge of 2012, I find myself at a tipping point. Do I relaunch Sharkblog with a renewed vigor, or do I retire Sharkblog in favor of a newer, bolder endeavor? Do I leave Sharkblog behind and take with me the knowledge gained from the experiment, creating something even more personal and more focused on the content itself than on the analytics? I’ll admit, there is something I’ve been meaning to get to for longer than this website has been around. And honestly, the only point in continuing Sharkblog would be to test out in 2012 the things I never tested out in 2011.

That’s not to say I don’t love Sharkblog. It’s been kind of a blast. But moving forward, it’s either pointless or else it’s a bigger time investment. Can’t have both, can’t have neither.

It’s a pretty tough decision. I can’t make that call right now, but I ought to make the call before January 1st.

Check back in the new year, I’ll have an answer for us all by then.

Final message for this, the final post of 2011:

Thank you all. If you’re reading this, thank you, thank you, thank you. You are the high-quality traffic. You’re part of the grand experiment, and you’re more valuable to me than you’ll ever know. Thank you times infinity.

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