How do you make a deliberately vague and anonymous website findable?
March 23, 2012 9:27 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for ways to improve my (non-commercial and very new) anonymous online presence-- to make it easy for potential readers to find my personal blog and Twitter account. If this were any other sort of site I would know (or be able to figure out) what to do, but because it's anonymous (and by definition/subject matter a bit vague) I'm not sure where to start.

In an effort to make a new set of internet friends and to have some much-needed contact with what is kind of the outside world for me (long story), I've put together an anonymous blog and related Twitter account (both just a few weeks old). I'd like to increase my readership for three reasons: 1) So that I'm not writing (speaking) into a void, 2) To get some feedback on whether people are interested in the content, what they might like to hear more about, and if they even like my writing style, and 3) To have the aforementioned contact with new people. If it doesn't go without saying, I'm not at all looking to profit financially from any of this.

I'm going for Anonymity Level 2: Difficult for parents and neighbors to find, and not googleable in a way that identifies me or my specific location. I want to be able to write freely and not have to have a conversation with my family about every post, and a big part of the blog is that i want to talk in general terms about where I live, albeit carefully (and with the worst-case-scenario-assumption that somebody, somewhere will eventually figure out who and where I am). I know that readership and Twitter friends will likely come with time and regular updates and tweets, but I'd like to do what I can now to make it happen faster, or better, or whatever. Looking to actively (but not necessarily aggressively) make improvements.

These are my specific questions:

I've built six commercial Wordpress sites and my SEO skills are passable for niche product- and service-related sites, but in the case of this anonymous blog I haven't the slightest clue what sort of keywords/title tags/natural content I should focus on, since I'm being deliberately vague in the content. Are there examples of successful anonymous "here's-my-kinda-sorta-weird-living-situation" blogs that I can look at (and view the source code of) for inspiration? Where should I start looking for other blogs to link back to me (and vice-versa)-- should they have a similar theme? What else can I be doing -- both in terms of SEO and exposure?

Since I'm intentionally excluding my existing set of friends and have my Twitter account set up to correspond with my blog name (for anonymity), I don't have a built-in group of friends to follow (and who follow back) as a jumping-off point. I've added a lot of MeFites but would like to branch out and find additional interesting people (not celebrities) to follow, and who might be interested in following me back. Idea is to increase random daily small interactions with people, which can totally make my day, and also maybe introduce some new people to the blog. Thoughts on how to do this with an anonymous account? I think this is easier than the blog part but I could use some casual strategies. I have been linking (selectively) to my new blog posts on Twitter but with 9 followers on a 10-day old account it's obviously not yet impacting traffic in a huge way.

There's no way that I'm the first person to do this and it has to be possible, but I could definitely use some advice and expertise.
posted by sockless to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I would guess that given what you want is people to talk with, the way to go would be to get out there and find people who write about the things that interest you, and which you also write about, and go interact with them.

If the goal is "make a new set of internet friends", it doesn't even matter much whether the conversations are happening on your blog or theirs.

I also suspect that people that arrive from search engines, even if you can find a way to get search traffic, aren't going to talk with you much anyway.
posted by philipy at 10:04 AM on March 23, 2012

Best answer: I also have a pseudonymous blog that I started a couple months ago. I get a couple comments on most of my posts; I have a couple hundred subscribers (it's hard to tell, because people might follow me in more than one may; I have less than a hundred on each subscription method - RSS, Bloglovin', Google Friend Connect, HelloCotton - by the way, you should make it really easy for people to follow your blog in their preferred format).

The very best way to get people to check out your blog and comment on it is to find similar blogs and comment on them. If you find newer, low-traffic blogs, they'll be more likely to check out your blog than super-high-traffic popular blogs. Never leave your blog URL in the text of a comment; put it in the appropriate field and leave a relevant, thoughtful comment. It's okay to email people asking them to check out your (relevant) blog though.
posted by insectosaurus at 10:26 AM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: What insectosaurus says about making thoughtful comments on other blogs also works with Twitter. Follow people you find interesting and make thoughtful @replies to them when it seems appropriate. Not thinking so much of the 'hi! you're cool!" kind of thing, but actual conversational replies to questions or thoughts from others.
posted by agentmitten at 10:50 AM on March 23, 2012

Also - be aware that a "couple of comments a post" is doing fairly well these days for a personal, non-commercial blog. I did a post on my long terms stats recently. From a peak of 20,000 unique visitors in March 2006, I'm down to about 1000 a month. Most of my blogging friends report a similar decline. A lot of the conversations that used to happen on blogs now happen on Facebook.
posted by COD at 11:02 AM on March 23, 2012

Best answer: People linked to some good "here's my daily life" general blogs when I asked this question. I believe there was another similar AskMe on blogs recently. You could also look at, for instance, the Bill Lane Center of the American West as a starting point for finding others who write about rural and small town living.
posted by salvia at 11:54 AM on March 23, 2012

Best answer: You need to produce content that is of value to your audience, and you also have to interact with your chosen community. You do this by commenting on blogs, profiling people on your blogs (and letting them know!) and resharing tweets. Basically, showing a little love goes a long way.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:06 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Let it grow incrementally. I've done similar projects, and if you just start surfing around other blogs and following those you find interesting, you'll get some follow-backs and comments. Agreed that FB seems to make this kind of thing a bit harder, because FB is filling that role for a lot of people.
posted by randomkeystrike at 12:22 PM on March 23, 2012

It might be helpful to have a sense of what kind of blog this will be. Is it on a specific topic, or is it a "this is my life and thoughts on random things" blog?

I write the first kind of blog anonymously on a niche topic that is at the intersection of two broader-interest topics. I started writing it for similar reasons - I had things I wanted to say, and I wanted to connect with people who had a similar perspective to me. Because my blog is so specific about its niche, I wasn't sure how much of an audience I would get, but I was pleasantly surprised.

A few things that helped me:

1. Getting linked by higher-profile blogs. Two relatively high-profile blogs in the smaller of my two interest-areas linked to my blog within the first month, and that helped drive a lot of traffic. One of them happened because I asked him to put my blog in his blogroll (his was already in mine); the other happened because the blogger noticed I'd linked to a post by him, liked what I wrote, and responded to it on his blog. I still get at least 10-20 referrals/day from those two blogs.

2. I'm one of the few blogs in this particular intersection - so even though it's fairly niche, if someone is searching for my topic, they will find my blog. This wasn't on purpose, but it's a nice surprise!

3. I participated pretty actively in the comments sections of related blogs I liked. Again, not on purpose, but it helped.

4. In terms of making friends, a lot of this just came from me emailing similar bloggers and telling them how much I liked what they wrote. Some people have emailed me as well. I think this worked well for making friends because my topic is very personal, so it sort of lends itself to friend-making.

5. I wrote one post on an up-and-coming celebrity that is relevant to my niche. In the 6 months since I wrote that post, he's become a lot more famous. At least half of my new visitors come from google searches for that particular celebrity - although I do wonder how many of them stay to read other posts.
posted by the essence of class and fanciness at 12:31 PM on March 23, 2012

Response by poster: This is all really quite helpful. I marked the above as best answers so far because they have some concrete ideas about actions I can take, but I also appreciate the frames of reference so that I can manage my expectations.
posted by sockless at 12:42 PM on March 23, 2012

Oh, and this might seem kind of obvious, but pay attention to writing well on interesting topics. Yes, there are a gazillion blogs out there, but most are not written very well. I think one of the things that has helped my blog get an audience is that I put a decent amount of effort into making sure my content is grammatically correct and interesting. People will come back to blogs they enjoy reading.
posted by the essence of class and fanciness at 12:52 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

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