A Sheer Torment of Links. Riccardo Mori:
In other words, people don’t seem to stay or at least willing to explore more when they arrive on a blog they probably never saw before. I’m surprised, and not because I’m so vain to think I’m that charismatic as to retain 90% of new visitors, but by the general lack of curiosity. I can understand that not all the people who followed MacStories’ link to my site had to like it or agree with me. What I don’t understand is the behaviour of who liked what they saw. Why not return, why not decide to keep an eye on my site?
I’ve thought a lot about this sort of thing basically the whole time I’ve been running Speed Of Light (just over four years now, FYI) and although I don’t consider myself to be any kind of great writer, I’ve always been a little surprised by the lack of traffic the site gets, even after some articles getting linked from major publications.
On any given day, a typical reader of my site will probably see a ton of links from Twitter, Facebook, an RSS feed, or a link site they read. Even if the content on any of those websites is amazing, a reader probably isn’t going to spend too much time hanging around, because there are forty or fifty other links for them to see today.
This is why nobody sticks around. This is why readers bounce. It’s why we have shorter, more superficial articles instead of deep essays. It’s why we have tl;dr. The torrent of links becomes a torment of links because we won’t and can’t stay on one thing for too long.
And it also poses moral issues for writers (or for me, at least). I know there’s a deluge, and every single thing I publish on this website contributes to that. But the catch is the way to get more avid readers these days is to publish copiously. The more you publish, the more people read, the more links you get, the more people become subscribers. What are we to do?
I don’t have a huge number of readers, but those who do read the site I respect tremendously. I’d rather have fewer, but more thoughtful readers who really care about what I write, than more readers who visit because I post frequent-but-lower-quality articles. I’d rather write long form, well-researched, thoughtful essays than entertaining posts. I know most won’t sit through more than three paragraphs but those aren’t the readers I’m after, anyway.