I added the Entrecard widget to my site over a month ago. Time to have a look at how it performs and what I think about the service. If you don't have heard about Entrecard yet, check out my previous post about it.
Long post ahead…
In about a month, Entrecard brought 855 visits to my site. About 80% were new visitors. That is not as huge as when you get digged or submitted to StumbleUpon but it's still quite nice. For the given time frame it was my third biggest direct (non search engine) traffic source.
But is it good traffic? That's the question that is currently discussed a lot. Some argue the traffic is worth nothing because much of it comes from “chain droppers”. Those are people who just visit your site to drop their card and then leave to the next site for dropping their card there. This explains the 90% bounce rate. Obviously those people will not read your content or click your ads. So whatever your blogging goal is, chain droppers won't help.
However you may still benefit from chain droppers for the following reasons:
- You get a credit for each card dropped at your blog. This can be used to buy ads on high profile blogs.
- Your Entrecard popularity rank increases which gives you more visibility inside their community. More on that later.
- Your Traffic increases. This may affect your Alexa rank which might help you with getting better advertising deals.
- A chain dropper might catch the glimpse of an interesting article and stay, becoming a genuine reader.
But why do chain droppers exist in the first place? Because the system rewards card dropping. For every drop you not only earn a credit. The owner of the blog will see your card in his Entrecard inbox, too. Bloggers are curious people and will most probably visit your site to check who visited them. When they do, they may also leave their card at your blog. This gives you another credit. So for every drop you do, you might get a second credit for the “back drop”.
Remember what I said about the benefiting of chain droppers? The same goes for them. Each received drop increases their popularity. Popularity is equal to the price (in credits) you have to pay to advertise on a blog at Entrecard.
Have a look at the image on the left. Those are the 6 most popular blogs on Entrecard. I added their Alexa1) rank in blue - the lower the better. Notice something? Right, all those 100k+ blogs are ranking in the same league as the A-List problogger.
The system does not reward the best or most read blogs but those which are owned by people with too much time on their hands2). Unfortunately this makes it very hard and time consuming to find worthwhile blogs to read and/or advertise on. And with more and more blogs joining the service this becomes a bigger problem everyday. John Cow was annoyed enough to give up on Entrecard.
Beyond Chain Dropping
You thought the whole chain dropping is bad? Michael Klier made me aware of another one. Some people created sites with lists of Entrecard blog URLs to make card dropping even more faster. They just open a whole bunch of URLs in multiple Firefox tabs then click them through.
What is good for the chain droppers might prove to be really bad for all Entrecard members. These site are basically Link Farms and Google could even penalize your site for being listed there . The same goes for “link love” posts, where well meaning bloggers just post the Entrecards of all(?) members. These are not only link farms and (some argue) unauthorized use of copyrighted material but are a pain to load, too.
Quality = Bad?
And there is another problem. I reject about 34% of all advertising requests. I do this for various reasons. Some of the blogs are plain crap. Others are in a niche I can't see anymore and don't want to annoy my readers with3). And sometimes the Entrecard is just too ugly or is adverting something completely different than what the blog itself is about. I also consider Entrecard contests as not too useful to my readers4).
I would say that this rigid control on what appears at my blog is good for you – the readers. You can always safely click on the Entrecard shown at splitbrain.org and can be sure to find some worthwhile content to see.
Unfortunately this means I'm in danger of having no advertisers for my Entrecard spot. When there is no advertiser, the spot will display my own Entrecard which isn't very useful and a waste of space IMHO. There are a lot of smaller blogs with great content, but many of them can't afford to advertise at my site which currently costs about 70 credits.
An easy solution to this problem would be to lower the advertising price. Unfortunately this is not possible. Maybe Entrecard could add the advertiser demand into the price calculation. It might even solve some of the other problems mentioned above as well.
So it really sucks then?
No. It has it's flaws but it's still worth to keep. Of the 87 comments I received since the widget is at my site, I got 20 comments by 16 Entrecard members. That's 23% more comments than I would have had without Entrecard.
I also learned about a lot of new and interesting blogs while browsing through their advertiser catalog. This is a value you can't measure in numbers. So for now it's here to stay.
So, what are your thoughts on Entrecard? Does it work for you? Do the benefits still outweigh the hazzle?