On 31st January 2007, Technorati (blog search engine), introduced a new feature in their website called “Where’s The Fire?“. This feature is akin to a social voting system like that found in Digg, Delicious, Reddit and StumbleUpon amongst other Social Media sites. The difference here is that the traffic you get will be highly targeted (reason explained later) and interested in your topic and will thus stay on your site much longer than compared to Digg traffic, and also probably sign up for your RSS feed.
For those unfamiliar with what Technorati is, very simply put its a Search Engine for blogs. They have something called Technorati Authority which is akin to Google PageRank, and they have introduced a voting system called Where’s The Fire. For those who are unfamiliar with Technorati, please read theWikipedia entry here.
Now, getting back to “Where’s The Fire?” – henceforth called WTF (do not confuse with you know what!).
What is WTF ?
Where’s The Fire is a system of short “blurbs” that are added by the Technorati member community and point site readers to the right blogs and specific blog posts based on what they are actually looking for topically. Users can then vote on these blurbs based on the their usefullness. A vote will raise the ranking of the specific blurb. These WTF blurbs are also ranked and listed based on popularity of the topic of the blurb. So, a blurb on a popular topic, such as “cars” – will probably show up higher up in the WTF section. The WTF system relies on blurbs posted by members that point readers to the right direction for more specific information based on their specific topic.
Creating a WTF Blurb
A WTF blurb can be created by any member of the Technorati comunity. Look for the WTF feature prominently placed on the Technorati homepage.
On clicking this link you will be taken to the WTF page which lists “Today’s Hottest Blurbs”. You will also see the following links – “Recent WTFs”, “WTF Topics”, “Write a New WTF” and “My WTF”. On clicking “Write a New WTF” you will be presented with a form and asked to define your WTF Topic – which should take the form of a person, place or thing. For example – Ray Charles, India or iPods.
Your next step is to create a short and catchy title. Successful blurbs have a title that draw the “browsing” user into the main article. Read my post on How to Write Effective Headlines – to get the help you need in writing good titles.
Once your headline is ready, uou will need to write the actual blurb within 2000 characters. The blurb you write must be informative and give the reader a jist of the topic – leading them to the actual blog post, which addresses the topic in detail. Make sure you have atleast one link that leads the user to the blog post!
Do not include spammy posts and links as the Technorati community will flag it and the moderators will remove it quickly – thereby wasting your effort. One important part ofthe WTF system is that you cannot edit a post once it is made. That means you cannot change the Headline or the main body once submitted. So, make sure to proof read your post in detail before submitting. For this, I recommend you type out the post in a word processor which has a spell check and then you cut and paste it into the form. This will save you a possible pitfall of seeing spelling errors once your post is submitted. If you do need to change/edit the post – you will need to delete the old post and re-create and re-submit a new one. All your original votes and visibility will be lost (if any).
Every Technorati member can now vote on your submitted blurb. The vote button appears on the left side below the vote count of each blurb. Users simply click on the widget button and it increases in count and turns into “voted” for that specific user. Users may see WTFs in four different ways – “Hottest WTF of the day””, “most recent WTFs”, “topically arranged WTFs” and through a search on the main Technorati page in the “Quick View” tab.
WTF has not been exploited by many people and so it remains as a relatively new and untapped way to get traffic to specific blog posts. Compared to StumbleUpon – where users come to your site by chance and to Digg where users who may not be interested in your topic of discussion and hence stay on your site for a fleeting moment – WTF users are much more targetted and interested in your blog post and topic and spend more time on your site.
How much traffic can you expect?
Expect about a 100 extremely targetted quality visitors a day, for over a period of a few days for a mid-range popular topic. Do note, that it is difficult to measure the popularity of WTF topics. A good WTF blurb will send you average amount of recurring traffic (around 100 visitors daily) over a longer period of time, than Digg would. The goal with WTF blurbs is to generate long-term traffic … think – “quality not quantity“. Sometimes, a well written WTF post can land up getting some amazing amounts of coverage and traffic through backlinks from other blogs.
Tips while making the blurb
- Are there other blurbs on the same topic? Run a search and find out. Posting a blurb on a popular topic has advantages. Your post may not land up in a top spot – but you will be listed in the Technorati search results more.
- Posting a new topic will also give you good visibility in the search result pages. If you have a topic that has high probabilty to be searched – go ahead and blurb it!
- Pick a catchy headline, that is specific and not general! Tell them what your post is about in the catchy title. Don’t say “Technorati Tip” … rather say “A Rare Technoratic Traffic Tip”. Also, don’t make your headline too long.
- In your main body story – give the reader what the post is about. Give them the meat of the story right away – and go into specifics later on or in the actual blog post… dont worry – people want this before they head out to the actual post!
- Start by making only one blurb post andfocus to get it high visibility. Play around with it first and ensure it stays higher up for a long period of time. Then, once you are comfortable and familiar with the tricks and techniques – branch out into other blurbs and try to have alteast 5 to 10 of them at a time…perhaps more, if you can handle it.
- Keep reading and voting on other people’s WTF blurbs. This will keep you informed as to what is working well in the system.
Spreading the Word for your Blurb
As mentioned, the ranking of blurbs is done based on the number of votes it has received. One obvious and simple way to get votes, is to send an email out to your friends and ask them to come vote for your blurb. One good thing about WTF blurbs is that you do not need a large number of votes (as in Digg) to get in the high visibility pages for good exposure. And, since anyone can vote for your blurb and the sign up process is pretty simple requiring no confirmation email checks – getting your friends to vote for you – should be easy.
Getting on the front page of WTF sections is not hard, but to stay there you need atleast 2 to 3 votes per day. This is the only critieria, and Technorati will not hold any blurbs that don’t get this daily quota of votes.
One way to keep getting WTF blurb votes is to use the same tactic of vote swapping, as suggested here for Digg and here for StumbleUpon. Put simply, you basically swap votes with other community members who have their blurbs listed on WTF. You vote for their blurb, and then send them a message to vote for yours. Its that simple. This is a win-win for both. To make things easier, you can subscribe to other power WTF user’s RSS feeds and ask them to subscribe to your WTF RSS feed. This way, you will be notified as soon as they put up a new blurb.
Things to keep in mind in your “Where’s The Fire?” Strategy
- The WTF system was made by Technorati to help people sort through data and find what they are looking for that has meaningful content.
- WTF is mostly read and used by bloggers – which is a great thing for you, as these are potentially sticky users
- WTF blurbs are ranked by votes and the freshness of the post also has weightage.
- Its not sufficient to just write a WTF blurb – you need to promote it too, so it gets the votes needed to gain visibility.
- As always, Content is King! Which means, WTF blurbs that are written well (informative), will get the maximum attention and click throughs… your WTF needs to stand out!
- Aim to become an expert in writing WTFs! you can do this by reading other WTFs posted and seeing which ones are succeeding, and studying what making them succeed. Then, adopt a strategy based on your observations and making your blurbs come on top will be easy!
- Aim for quality traffic and not quantity traffic. Don’t be discouraged if the traffic numbers are low – as they will be sticky and returning visitors. Aim to generate a consistent flo, rather than a burst and short lived spike.
- Focus on getting a decent number of votes and then maintaining a few daily votes will be eas. You will also notice that once you are high up in the ranks, it wont be too hard to stay there.
- build your WTF blurbs one by one. Do not rush in and submit 5 or 10 WTFs. Take it easy and build Rome one day at a time.
- Remember that you cannot edit WTF blurbs… so take time in spell checking, proof reading and optimizing your title to be catchy and make it stand out, and also make sure your body and content of the post is informative.