Some of the biggest blog traffic killers are free

This is a “been there – done that – bought the t-shirt” kind of post about the dangers of “free” when it comes to the world of WordPress.

Some of the biggest blog traffic killers are free

There are plenty of things you can do to kill traffic to your blog – but this post is about some of the “freebies” you can install which will undo all the “right” things you’ve done over the past few years!

WordPress is built on the power of “free”.  This blog is running on WordPress which is free software which you can install on your own hosting account to run your own self  hosted blog.

WordPress is by far the best option for your self hosted blog and is a great way to get killer blog traffic for your blog – so using WordPress is one exception to the “free may kill your blog traffic” rule.

Running WordPress may not require an investment of money – but it certainly requires an investment of time and energy.  See, WordPress is constantly updating their core code.  Some of those updates are to unveil great new features in the software – while others are released to “close” security holes in the code.  Those security “holes” can range from minor annoyances to allowing a spammer use your email account to send spam.  So it’s important to keep your WordPress installation up to date.

However, there are other ways for bandits and bad guys to gain access to your blog.  One path is through the various plugins.  Plugins are bits of code which allow WordPress to do more than the core code allows it to do.  This feature allows each installation of WordPress to be customized to provide the functions needed by the site owner.  Just as the core code is frequently updated, so are the bits of code contained in various plugins – which need to be updated as well.

Another path bandits and bad guys can use to access your blog is through the distribution of malicious code via free themes.  While the themes distributed via the site are carefully screened to malicious code – there are plenty of sites offering “free” themes – and those free themes can sometimes bring unwelcome code to the WordPress party.

I had that happen with another blog I run.  I had installed a free “Adsense” theme but decided not to use it after I activated it.  Like an idiot, I didn’t uninstall the damned thing when I decided not to use it.  BIG MISTAKE!  I was having major resource usage issues on my VPS – and saw that one blog – the one which had the free theme installed but not activated – was the source of my woe.  The site wasn’t getting impressive traffic- but the resource usage problem was eliminated when I deleted the free theme from my installation.


Today – traffic is improving on that particular blog so the removal of that free theme did help with building traffic to that blog.

This blog runs on Thesis which is not free.  As a matter of fact, Thesis is rather pricey – but well worth the investment.  Thesis provides flexibility and its clean code means you don’t have to run plugins to “optimize” your SEO.

Thesis is great – but the basic theme is rather plain and customizing the theme takes time and a level of creativity that personally I don’t possess.  So when I discovered Thesis skins – I was excited.  I purchased one – applied it here – and then worried about the effect that the skin would have on my site’s “SEO”.  That skin required the installation of a “theme installer” on the site – and I wondered how that would work with the SEO.

So – I foolishly tried another skin – one that simply required that you upload an already coded custom folder.  I decided to test this site’s offering by trying one that was FREE.

Another UGH moment!

For the next few weeks, every time I went into my analytics account – I was faced with the fact that something was terribly wrong on this blog.  But I was busy with other projects and didn’t want to deal with the issue so I ignored it.  I ignored it until my site traffic was down to a trickle.

Now I had to face the hard facts that something was amiss – and I suddenly realized that the plummet in traffic began shortly after installing the new thesis skin.

I’ve removed the skin – and now time will tell whether the “damage” done by that particular “freebie” was permanent.

Some of the biggest blog traffic killers are free – but in the long run those freebies can cost a fortune!

Blog Traffic Boost Tip: Find a Mortal Enemy

It’s a weird one, but it’s true.  Boost your blog traffic by finding a mortal enemy- preferably one with a blog a LOT more popular than yours.  If you can become a target of a more successful blogger, you can find yourself the “lucky” recipient of some GREAT free PR for your blog.

In the blog post Someone Hates You Online. Try Not To Be Offended, the editors of the Deadspin blog detail their rise to popularity… at the hands of an online mortal enemy.  From their blog:

So when we finally launched Deadspin, we sent an announcement email blast — as you all know, it’s scary trying to launch a new site; you never know if anyone will be reading — and CSTB was one of the many sites to give us some much-needed links. Though his was decidedly less positive; it included the tag “Will Leitch Sucks.”

We emailed him, in our signature plucky Midwestern way, to say hello, and he then posted the email and mocked us. And then we were off. Over the next year, he’d pretty much hammer us every day — including, in our favorite touches, post our phone number and encourage homeless people to masturbate to pictures of our girlfriend. (We’re having trouble locating that post right now.) He slowed down in recent years, but you can read the whole “Will Leitch Sucks” tag right here.

They’re not the only ones to get traffic thanks to a hate tirade on a popular blog.  I found Caroline Middlebrook’s blog because of a BLAST from a popular blog which I stumbled upon who was lambasting her in a video post.  What’s odd is I don’t remember the guy who was unleashing his hatred upon Caroline as much as I remembered Caroline’s blog.  (I subscribed to her RSS feed and not his.)

So as odd as it may seem, an enemy or two is probably a GOOD thing for your blog.  After all, what would Superman be without Lex Luther… or Batman without the Joker.  They’d be guys in tights defending their sexuality… THAT’S what they’d be without their mortal enemies!