Fitzroyalty

Hyperlocal news about Melbourne's first suburb: Fitzroy 3065

State of the blogosphere in Australia

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Fitzroyalty is indexed in Technorati, and earlier this year I participated in their 2008 survey of bloggers about blogging – State of the blogosphere. I was one of 1079 randomly selected (or at least who bothered to complete the survey – you can read more about the methodology). Only 3% were from Australia, so that makes me one of about 30 Australian bloggers included in the survey. If you want to read further there’s a good analysis of the 2008 survey and an index of old reports.

A significant part of the survey was about advertising on blogs. Technorati needed to do this survey to establish the extent of the potential clients for their advertising network, which was set up earlier this year. This is something I have explored but so far refused to implement. I have rules I won’t compromise on: I will only advertise local businesses, products or services that are relevant to the Fitzroy audience, I will determine who advertises, and I retain the freedom to refuse advertising from a business I consider unethical or inappropriate. As no advertising platform can meet these standards, I don’t accept advertising.

It’s all part of what I see as a peculiar (American) obsession with making money and with making money being the purpose of blogging, publishing and life in general. Enhancing the utility of information is in contrast an esoteric distraction of concern only to a tiny minority of overeducated and underemployed people who see the internet as a tool that can improve people’s quality of life. We make decisions based on the information available to us. Making information ubiquitous could (in theory) allow for better decision making and thus better living. You can read more of my comments in my blogger profile in the report.

social issues media internet hyperlocal geoweb fitzroyalty customer service business

Screen image of my blogger profile in the Technorati report.

Because Fitzroyalty is a hyperlocal blog, my focus is on a real geographical area. There wasn’t much space to explain this in the survey. The concept is still barely understood, although thankfully it is included in Margaret Simon’s recent taxonomy of blogs.

Online communities based on ideas or activities, such as music, are a great thing and have evolved to allow people to share their interests regardless of distance. However, as long as people live in physical space in biological bodies we need information about the spaces we live in and travel through in order to live well. Hyperlocal information may not always entertain but it should inform. I try to ensure that Fitzroyalty does both.

The recent CCI digital futures report The internet in Australia makes interesting reading. It tells us that a majority of Australian internet users look online for local community news (57.1%). Over a third do so at least weekly (35.1%) with 16.2% looking on a daily basis (p24). For the most part, they are searching more than finding. Local content is difficult to find, partly because not much exists and partly because it is poorly indexed. That’s why I’m tagging Fitzroy content in del.icio.us and aggregating the resulting RSS feeds here (see the pages listed at the bottom of the left column).

The 2006 federal census says the population of Fitzroy is 8814, and 16% of this is about 1400. I’m certainly not getting 1400 visitors to Fitzroyalty a day; most days it’s more like 80. The good thing is Google analytics tells me that about 65% of my site readers are from the Melbourne metropolitan area, so at least Fitzroyalty is being read primarily by its target audience.

Despite all my SEO efforts (including improving metadata and header tags, building a sitemap, optimising everything according to Google’s Webmaster Tools guidelines and removing most external links from the home and post pages so Fitzroyalty doesn’t look like a link farm), Google is not prominently listing my posts on easily identifiable topics, such as the Little Creatures Dining Hall. I published the first review of any website, yet this post is invisible in Google search results (see the results of web and blog searches).

My 10 most popular posts (all written this year) have each been viewed more than 10,000 times via RSS. Most readers are getting my content from aggregators and through their feed readers. The problem is I don’t know where they are. If most are local, like site visitors, then almost everyone who is online in Fitzroy must have viewed some Fitzroyalty content. I doubt that this is the case, but I would like it to be.

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