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The Bottom Line About TechMeme – Cherish Every Visitor
So much buzz about TechMeme since the Leaderboard launched 10 days ago. First bits of buzz were around egos, now it’s about traffic. Let me lay the smack down to all of you jabronies. TechMeme is about three things: finding who is talking about what, and adding your view to that discussion, and directly linking back to those you found.
Dave Winer started this latest discussion about "driven traffic" yesterday with a piece that seems to be an attack on Arrington more than TechMeme (which he earlier called a cesspool). Dave is right, a link from TechCrunch drives very little traffic – however, there is an ABSOLUTE difference between a link to another blog and to a service. When a service is linked to from TC, the traffic is much higher (not sure exactly but it is higher, though most report not as high as it once was). Why are the blogger referrals low? Simple, two reasons: a. many reading arrington believe his view is the only one that counts and b. the visitor wants to get to the service, not another’s view of the service. In addition, Dave might not have realized that the story was removed in the early afternoon.
Next up was Bobbie Johnson from the Guardian who suggests we overestimate TechMeme’s influence using pure direct hits to the Guardian Web site as his basis. He notes that he is ranked #57 on the Leaderboard (CN is currently #36). Well, certainly you won’t see a ton of traffic – look at what either 57 or 36 get you? For easy math, let’s use Techdirt which currently has a 1% rating – this means for the last 30 days, TD had 1% of all of the headlines, and Guardian had half of that. How can he expect TM to drive a ton of traffic when barely any of his stories make it to the top? And when a story does reach the top, we don’t know how long it stays there, does it get pushed out by a higher ranking site (this happens a lot it seems), do other more important stories push it out as well? Even Arrington, the TechMeme golden key holder only holds 5% of all of the lead stories over the past 30 days.
Here is why I love TechMeme. It let’s me see who is talking about what and then I can decide to add my own voice into the mix. And one very important part that Bobbie and so many others forget – how many other sites are linking to you BECAUSE of TechMeme? I find that when I hit the lead on a story, I generate additional inbounds. Many of the bigger bloggers and other news sites use TechMeme sources for their articles. Sometimes I get on Digg because someone found my article through TechMeme.
If I think of highschool math it’s: a > b, b > c, therefore a > c. Not a perfect analogy but you get the point whereby A = your site, B = techmeme and C = all the new sites that linked to you because of TM.
Let me just say that one additional visitor from a source is excellent in my eyes. An old cartoon had a man with a voice bubble that said, "boy i wish i could lose 10lbs" – the 1 pound weight sitting next to the weight machines thought "if he only lost me, he would get there" – everyone wants 50k traffic from digg/slashdot – take every single visitor you get and cherish it.
Mr. Ingram brings the thunder with his commentary (which I agree with). He notes, "I’ve had Digg-storms and Reddit pile-ons and the traffic that they bring is usually fleeting. I’ll take a few thousand Techmeme readers over that any day." TechMeme traffic converts better in my opinion than Digg/Reddit.
Are there things that bug me about TechMeme? Sure, the biggest one being the "juice" ratings that Gabe gives each site. This is why the Top 5 will remain the Top 5 for the coming year (unless the juice changes). No way anyone will be able to kick off Techcrunch or Engadget. Everyone should have an equal opportunity and unfortunately they don’t.
And lastly, fellas and ladies, if you don’t like TechMeme for whatever reason, then block the service and be done with it.
But don’t come crying to me when you don’t make it on to the other top sites (blogs, newspapers, etc.) that I have mentioned above. And that’s the bottom line… because CN says so. Now let’s all get back to writing real content about real stories.