In November, word spread quickly from Google’s blog that Google Friend Connect will be discontinued on March 1, 2012, on all non-Blogger content management systems. Panic ensued.
In the light of this change, I’m here to tell you why GFC numbers don’t mean exactly what you think they mean and how your blog can still prosper without it.
Google Friend Connect is Not Your Friend
Well, it’s not really that GFC is at fault in any of this – it’s just a tool designed for Blogger that makes following blogs easier. The problem arises when bloggers use this tool to measure their followers. Because Google Friend Connect numbers don’t mean what you think they do.
For example: Have you ever entered to win a book on a blog that required you to follow it using Google Friend Connect in order to enter? Have you done this and then never visited the blog again?
Or have you seen blogs literally double their followers after a huge giveaway and wonder how they gained so many devoted fans so quickly?
Or have you participated in memes designed with the sole aim of getting people to follow your blog to “gain followers?”
Do you see where I’m going with this? Many bloggers’ GFC numbers are inflated and don’t accurately represent their true fan base. Plus, it’s a way to compare your blog with someone else’s and potentially feel 1. discouraged 2. envious and 3. anxious to gain more followers yourself. (Don’t feel bad about that last one, I’ve been there too).
Why Pageviews and Comments Matter More
So if Google Friend Connect numbers can be bloated, then what’s the real measure of a blog’s stats? It’s pageviews and comments.
Using the Google Analytics tool will give you an realistic number of how many people visit your blog over time. It can help you track the number of blogs linking to your site (the blog community) and the number of people finding your blog via search engines (non-blog community).
Pageviews and blog comments matter more because they directly impact your blog and they carry just as much weight (if not more) than Google Friend Connect.
Grow Your Blog Without Google Friend Connect
As a new blogger, I was advised by those in book blogging forums to add the GFC widget to my blog immediately or else no one would know how to follow my blog. This is a huge misconception. A ton of book bloggers use Blogger, however a whole host of other websites use other content management systems.
For exaple, 69 million websites use WordPress as their CMS. All of these sites will not magically lose their followers when Google Friend Connect is retired, and neither will you.
Before GFC is canned, instruct your readers to:
- Follow your blog in Google Reader
- Subscribe via email (super convenient)
- “Plus 1” your blog posts (you can even add a Plus 1 button in your sidebar)
- Like your blog’s Facebook fan page
- Follow you on Twitter
As a blogger, continue to:
- Participate in community memes like Top Ten Tuesday and In My Mailbox
- Comment on blogs in your niche like YA, fantasy, paranormal, etc.
- Post quality content original to your blog
- Be passionate about blogging – it always shines through
Plus, you can generate more traffic to your blog by applying Search Engine Optimization techniques, which are ways to increase how often your blog posts appear in Google searches.
Not sure how to do that? Read Google’s free SEO Starter’s Guide. This will help non-bloggers find your pages when searching for books and reviews.
I don’t know everything there is to know about blogging, analytics or SEO, but I hope I provided some insight into why GFC isn’t the end-all-be-all of blogging tools and especially that your blog can survive with out it.
How important do you think GFC is? Has Google Friend Connect affected how you blog or how you perceive other blogs?