Here is question 3 from Colleen: “Catherine’s response at Dig Girl has provided this week’s question. She writes, “A final downside to the short form is the appearance of dialog. Noting this virtual round table and other blogs (like MS) as exceptions, most archaeological blogs that I read have very little in the way of dialog through comments. Often on this blog, I feel like I am talking to myself, which in a way is catharsis, but if an archaeology blogger writes and no one reacts, are we really changing opinions or moving the field forward?” I would add to this, how do you attract readership? Without too much in the way of SEO chatter, who is your audience and how to you interact with this audience? What do you want out of interactivity by means of blogging about archaeology?”
I primarily started the blog for a selfish reason and that was basically to “promote” my “neorealistic/ neomaterialistic” archaeology. This “brand” is for sure not everyone’s cup of tea and few “mainstream” archaeologists (everyone else IMHO) have made any comments on it. Those few comments I have received are from similar minded people in other disciplines (such as philosophy and science studies). I do not follow that many archaeological blogs myself. There are many more Object Oriented/Speculative turn related blogs in my reader than there are archaeological ones. I find them more inspiring than most archaeological blogs (and these other blogs do get plenty of feedback from their readers).
I used to be more active commenting on other people’s blogs before but now I seldom have time to do so (maybe I make five-ten comments per week). I do not mind that my blog does not get more than roughly one or two comments per day. I could not have the time to manage hundreds of comments everyday anyway (a luxury and unrealistic problem for my blog). My blog is now fairly self-going and attracts a descent amount of traffic and a few comments even if I do not write any posts for a week. Most of the comments that I do get tend to be on old posts on some 2012 related topic. If there is a negative part of the kind of comments I’ll get it is the fact that most of them are related to my “side-project” on 2012. I am a bit tired of dealing with fringe theorists that gets me nowhere myself (apart from a couple of articles in preparation).
Some Mayanists have commented on my Maya stuff and these comments I value the most since Mayanists unfortunately are lazy when it comes to blogging (compared to my colleagues in Scandinavian archaeology that I try to follow). Maya archaeology gets its public attention anyway so that may be a reason why Mayanists lack interest in blogging and commenting.
So how do I attract readers now that I do not comment that much on other people’s blogs? I joined facebook only to attract people to my blog but perhaps only 5-10 hits per day comes from there (of roughly 250-350 that I get in a normal day). I am not going to become friends of hundreds of unknown people on facebook just to attract people to my blog like others have done. Facebook has probably reached its limits for me in terms of attracting people to the blog.
I suspect that one needs to get a high Google ranking to attract plenty of readers (and hopefully a few comments along with them). But it is seldom from the posts that attract most traffic that you’ll get most comments. This is because these posts attract a too varied set of people with no special interest in the specifics you write about. Most comments come to a post that attracts a limited but specialized category of people. For example, a little more than a week ago I decided to make a test and I wrote a post to see how much interest people have in the 2012 phenomenon even when there is no relation between the ancient Maya Long Count calendar and a current event with global media coverage. On the same day as the tsunami hit Japan I quickly wrote a short post about the fact that people on 2012 forums had begun to relate the tsunami with the 2012 date. Just by adding Japan, tsunami and 2012 in the header and as tags, the post attracted hundreds of hits the first day and a week afterwards it has attracted 1500 hits. Only one comment though.
You can also make use of various statistic tools to see what kind of audience you attract and also when and from where they come (and from that information decide when it is best to post your stuff). 49% of my readers are from the US, followed by the UK (roughly 7%), Sweden (6.5%), Canada (6.5%), Australia (2.3%) and only on sixth place comes Mexico (2.3%). Hence, it is a English speaking dominance of the readers that visit my blog which is written in Swenglish. The dominance from North America (USA, Canada, and Mexico) is also obvious when I look at when people visit my site. Most people visit it during the daylight hours and early evening “over there”. During morning and midday here in Sweden I have least traffic (hence now when I write this post). Saturday, today that is, is also the day when the blog has least traffic since people have other things to do than read up on neomaterialistic archaeology. Hence, this blog post would have attracted more readers if I had written and posted it on Thursday afternoon. People are also less likely to comment on the weekends. Prove me wrong please!