Where Blog Traffic Comes From

I’ve been blogging for almost 15 months now and one of the things I’ve been thinking about is where is my traffic/audience is coming from.

My partner Brad and I were talking about this today in the context of RSS and its role in the world of content/media. Although RSS is important, its not by any means the only source of my traffic.

If I am representative, and I sure hope I am since my blog is one big petri dish, then here are the primary sources of blog traffic.

1) Google and the other search engines (Yahoo!, MSN, etc). In particular, if someone types in a search term that has multiple search terms (ie "The Clash" + "email" or "Modest Mouse" + "Bit Torrent"), a blog (my blog!) will be at the top or near the top of the results page. That generates a lot of traffic. I estimate that at least 20% and possibly as much as 30% of my traffic results from these search engines.

2) Subscriptions – RSS and email generate a lot of traffic to my weblog. I have about 500 to 600 RSS subscribers and about 400 email subscribers (via Bloglet). This is the most reliable source of traffic to my blog. I am sure I get at least 1/3 of my traffic this way.

3) Links – Blogging is about links. I linlk to other bloggers and they link to me. When someone big (Jarvis, Scoble, etc) link to me, I get a boatload of traffic. And some of this traffic is repeatable. They subscribe via RSS or Bloglet.

Between these three sources, I get about 80+% of my traffic. The rest is bookmarks, browsing, word of mouth etc.

So RSS is important, but its by no means the majority of my traffic and I suspect that the same is true of most weblogs.