When I dropped the use of tags and categories on here I effectively dropped a primary method of supplying content keywords to search engines. This kind of search-friendly metadata engineering is often referred to as Search Engine Optimisation. In theory, such information is beneficial to a post's position within search rankings, and so by not using them I will be reducing the number of search engine referrals that I receive. While I'm not writing here to be the most popular, widest-read and respected blogger on the planet, I do consider regular readership to be about the best available metric of success. At the end of the day if someone voluntarily comes back here to read another post then I consider that a win. Some of you keep coming back and that makes me feel pretty awesome.
So ditching a number of the tricks used to find readers was a choice about priorities and an exercise in letting go of social pressure. I decided that what mattered to me the most was providing the most pleasant and entertaining few minutes to anyone who cared to pay me so much attention - and that meant focusing on what I would consider to be 'the best reading experience' ('user experience' is such an overused term, but one that actually holds some meaning). Tags and categories, and any concept of optimised post titles were summarily defenestrated. I'm really pleased with the resultant aesthetic (even if you guys didn't even notice the change). I'm comfortable with the notion that I care about this a lot more than regular humans do.
So new readers are now a result, primarily, of discovery by social media. That's when you favourite, retweet or otherwise share things that I've written. Thanks for doing that by the way; It's not always clear exactly where a reader comes from but they're mostly down to you guys and I can't always thank you for it. The wealth of positive comments I've received recently has been incredible and I recognise that I'm pretty terrible at accepting a compliment; I do appreciate them and your feedback. This last month or so has been great, and I've enjoyed writing more in the last six weeks than the entirety of the preceding six months. It's amazing what a little motivation can lead to.