Welcome to the bloggy home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Percolate and general internet tinkerer. This site is about media, culture, technology, and randomness. It's been around since 2004 (I'm pretty sure). Feel free to get in touch. Get in touch.

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Super Bowl Bound

Right now I’ve got one thing on my mind and it’s Da Bears. In case you missed it on Sunday, they beat up the Saints and set themselves a date with Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl. Needless to say, I’m pretty damn excited about it, but that’s not what this is all about. Instead I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about some of my learnings from running Da Bears Blog.

Just about a year and a half ago I started the site with a few friends. We didn’t really have a plan for it, just wanted a place to talk Bears football. Slowly the site began to develop a voice as Jeff became the main writer. Since then the site has taken off and while the traffic isn’t enough to pay my bills, it is a lot higher than NoahBrier.com.

Anyhow I thought a lot of the lessons would be applicable for building traffic on almost any website and especially blogs. So . . .

  1. Find a voice: Da Bears Blog is not a newspaper. That’s because people have newspapers already. It’s the voice of a serious football fan. It is also very well written.
  2. Post frequently (but not soooooo frequently): It’s been my opinion for a long time that blogs don’t need to post 5 times a day. Once a day will do just fine. Da Bears Blog is designed with that in mind: Only one story appears in its entirety on the homepage (just as on this site). People come back everyday to see what’s going on. They keep coming back to keep up with the comments (which often reach the 40s and have topped 100 on occasion).
  3. Think about SEO: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is your best friend when it’s comes to growth. A few changes in title tags can mean the difference between 1st place and 30th place on a search you’re really looking for. Da Bears Blog scores big on a couple key Bears searches and about 40% of the traffic ends up coming through that way.
  4. Consider SEM too: SEO isn’t enough. With Da Bears Blog I’ve also bought a fair amount of keywords, including a number of searches that the blog appears number one organically. I first heard about this strategy awhile ago and it seems to be paying off. While we do pay for some people who we might get for free, the traffic from these keywords is impossible to ignore.
  5. Encourage email subscriptions: I recently started doing this around here as well (you can subscribe here), but for a site where the majority of the audience is not geeky email subscriptions are hugely important. These people get an update every day and make it back to the site. In the offseason, when Bears football isn’t necessarily top of mind, this should allow the site to stay relevant. This has been a big push lately (subscription form on every page) and it seems to be paying off.

Now I know these aren’t necessarily revolutionary, but I think there are some interesting tips. The site gets the kind of commenting that most blogs dream of (30+ comment average). Of course it’s a passion topic, but shouldn’t everything be?

Anyhow, hope you’ll all be rooting for the Bears 13 days from now.

January 23, 2007

Comments

  • Michael Surtees says:

    I think all your points make sense, though I question the last one about email subscriptions. I wonder if you hurt yourself in the long run when people are always getting your posts through their inbox. There’s no motivation to visit the blog itself. And after a while people just start deleting the email before they read it. On the other hand, it’s a great way to build a database to know who’s reading your blog.

  • Noah Brier says:

    Michael, that’s an interesting and valid point. I do know some of the email subscribers do make it to the blog and comment, but many do not. In the end, though, I think having the database and the consistent contact is more important. I will give it some serious thought, though . . .

  • Andrew says:

    Too bad the pats blew it. We could have had a queer city-specific bet like the mayors/senators/etc do. Go Bears.

  • Noah Brier says:

    Like I’d have to eat clam chowder and you’d have to eat deep dish pizza? Sounds like a delicious bet. What do you say we go for it anyway?

  • Bonnie in Albuquerque says:

    I find that even though I get emails from blogs I am subscribed to, it actually makes me go and visit the blog via the quick and easy link on the page. I also like subscibing because I don’t waste time at work going to all the different blogs I like looking for new posts. I know that when I get an email that there is something to look at. There are blogs though like Dukecityfix.com that my friend runs that does not offer subscriptions but has a huge fan base here in Albuquerque.

  • Bonnie in Albuquerque says:

    I find that even though I get emails from blogs I am subscribed to, it actually makes me go and visit the blog via the quick and easy link on the page. I also like subscibing because I don’t waste time at work going to all the different blogs I like looking for new posts. I know that when I get an email that there is something to look at. There are blogs though like Dukecityfix.com that my friend runs that does not offer subscriptions but has a huge fan base here in Albuquerque.

  • vaspers the grate says:

    It depends, on email subscriptions. I prefer how Blog Business Summit sends out email notices that simply include the title, a link to it, and the first sentence of the post. Just enough to intrigue me, but not the entire post.

    This is the best way to do email subscription updates. You do want people to visit your blog, not just read posts in an email inbox or RSS/Atom feed reader. Especially if you have ads, sidebar enhancements, polls, etc. on your site.

  • Noah Brier says:

    Yeah, but on the same token I’m a strong believer in delivering value to people. If you want to read my site in your email, fine, feedreader, fine. Ultimately I’m pretty damn happy you’re reading it at all. I think this is the problem with advertising on blogs, actually: It takes your focus off pleasing your readers and instead puts it on making money off your ads. Ultimately it’s a better experience for me to read your blog wherever I want to . . . That’s just personal opinion, though.

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