The Deets has been lucky enough to get linked to from MNSpeak quite a bit lately. In fact, it’s gotten to the point where a few commenters on MNSpeak have asked “WTF is up with The Deets getting linked all the time?”
Is it a conspiracy? Absolutely not. I have met Max a few times, but I haven’t slipped him a bottle of Pimm’s No. 1 in order to lubricate his linking.
Does MNSpeak Drive Traffic?
Before getting into the tricks, let’s address the question of whether it’s actually valuable to appear on MNSpeak. The answer to this question is most likely a resounding “Yes” for most Minnesota based bloggers. Why? Because the site drives a lot of traffic. And some of that traffic will likely turn into regular readers of your site if they like what they see.
How much traffic?
Generally, I see between 100-300 visitors per linked story from MNSpeak. Is this significant? It’s the most traffic from any one link to The Deets from a Minnesota based site. MNSpeak is #1, beating the StarTribune, Pioneer Press, MinnPost, DailyMole, other MN newspapers, magazines, and every TV station’s website.
MNSpeak has driven 1392 visitors to The Deets in the past 30 days.
In my experience, a number of factors come into play here. The most valuable traffic comes from being a featured story published earlier in the week and early in the day. Monday through Wednesday before noon is ideal. I believe that’s because people are more likely to be at work, bored, and in a clicking mood.
Another traffic factor is the comment count. Stories with higher comment counts seem to drive more click throughs to see what everyone’s arguing about. Getting linked to early in the day increases the chances that there will be an active conversation in the comments thread below your link, leading to more traffic to your site.
Linking Secrets Revealed
1. Get into the mind of Max. While anyone can submit a story to MNSpeak, Max is responsible for the majority of the linking. So think about what he’s looking for in a story.
2. Read the manual. It’s pretty clear what Max is looking for. Just read the submission tips. Posts about things you’ve done or plan to do in Minnesota or the Twin Cities are a MNSpeak fodder. I run a news aggregator at Walleye.mn that allows me to scan through 2000 blogs and news sites per day and let me tell you this: based on what I see, Max has to work pretty hard to find a handful of blogs to link to every day that meet the site’s criteria. Just look at the crap people submit. This is what people submit AFTER skimming over the instructions. How sad is that?
3. Be original. Write a review of a new restaurant. Do an expose on where you can find the best cornbread in town. Compare and contrast Eden Prairie’s TGI Friday’s with Maple Grove’s TGI Friday’s. Provide something of value, or fuel people’s desire to bitch about stuff.
4. Create an issue micro blog. Have a local cause that interests you? Create a specific blog just for that. Jucy Lucy Restaurants and Shoefiti were both linked to shortly after they launched just because they exist.
5. Avoid Politics. This is covered in the submission guidelines, but I can’t stress it enough. I write about politics from time to time on The Deets because it’s a subject that interests me, but I would never expect those posts to get linked on MNSpeak. Unless you write a political blog and do original reporting, there is little chance you’ll get linked to from the occasional political threads. Sports is a tricky subject as well. You’ll have better luck if you write a Minnesota perspective on an obscure sport than your personal take on last night’s Twolves game.
6. Take Pictures. A story with a picture has a much better chance of being linked to. In fact, a good picture by itself is enough to warrant a link.
7. Foster Media insider BS. The MNSpeak crowd tends to enjoy discussing the latest changes at local media sites. This could involve announcements about the launch of new media sites (MinnPost, DailyMole), commentary on the latest layoffs at the StarTribune, or fanboy/girl posts about your favorite TV personality (Derusha beat Sven in pool at the media gala afterparty WITH PICTURES!!!)
8. Stroke Rivalries. Think Blake is better than Breck? Think SPA is better than both? Write it down and explain it with some humor. Take a few jabs. That will get people talking.
9. Absurdity. Find something crazy that’s relevant to Minnesota on Ebay or Craigslist? Write about it.
10. Get Read. Before you can get linked, you need to get read. How do you get Max to read your blog? Beats me, but I think a safe assumption is to comment occasionally on MNSpeak with your blog linked from your profile. Max will pick it up and add it to his RSS reader, assuming he sees posts on your blog that seem like a potential good fit for the site.
That’s my take on things based on my own experience. The most important takeaway from my perspective is, “Tell me something I don’t already know.” That’s what I’m interested in reading about. I think that’s well aligned with what makes MNSpeak a popular site. People like to learn about new things and immediately start bitching about them.