I had a couple of people ask for an immediate results report on my Google Adwords spend. Here is it. Keep in mind that I’m only targeting $150 a month in spend, so $5 a day. According to Google’s estimate, this $5 dollars a day should have given me about 1000 impressions and, with a 0.5% click through rate, approximately five unique visitors a day…..who’s to say what they would have done once they clicked through. Maybe bounced out….maybe hung out and read a while.
One thing I apparently misunderstood. I swore that Adwords gave me an estimate of an hour before the ad was placed. It was more like 10 hours…….with me clicking update page every five minutes. The ad, my ad, didn’t get placed until Thursday evening. It has been active for about 12 hours at this point……although over the middle of a Thursday night….and has given 9 impressions and zero clicks. On the positive side, it hasn’t generated any cost for me yet either. You only pay once someone clicks on your ad.
I should note that different subject matters will affect what time of day is most productive. Having your blog about great lunch places posted around 11 AM with your ad running from 11 AM to 2 PM probably makes a lot of sense. The number of people googling lunch places at 2 AM is probably rather small……I’m assuming here.
I was hoping that 10 PM wouldn’t be such an odd time for amateur bloggers to be out there looking for tips. I’ll let the ad run over the weekend and potentially Monday before I make any adjustments to it. There is always a risk of adjusting your marketing efforts too quickly.
I’ll be back in a few days with more of an update.
Update: Day 15 and Post 5 of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge. I’m averaging a post every 3 days. My original goal was every other day…..I’ll have to up the effort a bit. That is especially important considering how blog traffic generation is tied to the days I post. See here:
Those unique visitor traffic spikes on August 3rd, 5th, 9th and 13th are the days that I posted on my blog. Those days with one to three unique visitors are the days that I didn’t generate a blog post. Two things come to mind looking at this. First, I need to post more regularly to generate traffic. Every other day isn’t sustainable during the school year as I go into professor mode but I can sustain that for the rest of August. Second, my blog traffic is coming from very short term sources. My blog is linked into my LinkedIn account and Facebook. The majority of my blog traffic is being generated from these sites. WordPress reader is a distant third. Notice how my blog traffic isn’t being generated by search terms…..yet? My traffic is coming largely from my network with a few supporting shares from readers…..(thank you and please continue to like and share.) Getting traction on search engines take time. Coral Ouellette suggests it takes three to six months before search engines will notice all the hard work you have done on your blog. This suggests that the work I’m doing now will really start to pay off in the fourth quarter in terms of generating blog traffic. Therefore, since my challenge is generating unique visitors in August, I need to take other actions……i.e. Google Adwords.
Paid search, in my opinion, works best for websites and blogs that earn their income directly. That is, instead of relying on blog traffic generating ad income, the website is selling something – whether or product or a service. Figure each unique visitor will cost you in the neighborhood of $2 to $3 each. Unless you are converting people with a sale in excess of that, the ROI just isn’t there. In the long run, search engines is the best source of new traffic…..of course, you need to stay on top of your current readership and provide content and communication so that they continue to come back. I just don’t have 3 to 6 months to wait in a 30 day challenge to generate traffic.
My blog is on wordpress. WordPress offers business and premium subscribers a $125 Google adwords credit when you chip in $25 of your own. I’m taking advantage of that. Setting up an adwords ad is really rather easy. Once you put in your website, the tool starts making recommendations. I didn’t go with very many of them….I’m just that kind of guy…but it was nice to have a starting point. It took about five minutes and I don’t think it looks too bad. What do you think?
If you tried to click the picture above……the ad text is motivating enough but you don’t need to click the add because you are already here. Since this month is all about the blogging challenge, I focused my ad on that. Google helped suggest words to use. They are all around blogging and generating traffic and I’ve directed the traffic to all go to my main page.
The ad should kick off within the hour. The spend of $150 over a month is really only expected to get me 2 to 3 incremental visitors a day. If I was going to try and pick up 900 unique visitors over the course of the rest of the challenge, I would need to spend something like $120 a day. Yeah. I’m not doing that. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. Check back often and, of course, like, share and follow please.
30 Day Challenge Update: Day 13 and Post 5. Five unique visitors came to my blog in the last three days……No. That is not a daily number. Just for giggles, I did the math. For the month so far, we’ve averaged about five unique visitors a day and we need around 55 unique visitors a day for the rest of the month to reach our 1000 person goal. Generating blog traffic has not been a huge success so far. This is not looking good for our hero…….that’s me, I’m the hero in this story in case you weren’t sure.
I did have a very brief conversation with Tony Hymes who “helps brands capitalize on digital opportunities.” Basically, I wanted an opinion from someone who does digital work for a living on whether trying to generate blog traffic and grow that blog’s traffic was a reasonable semester assignment for college students (we can’t forget this is all about the kids…..ok, occasionally I have forgotten that, focusing on generating blog traffic but I keep reminding myself about it…..that counts for something…right?)
Grading the students on generating blog traffic is probably not fair. I might not feel that way had I generated more blog traffic I was hoping for…..so I guess that is a positive outcome of this experience. Tony suggested, and I think it is a good suggestion, if I do assign this exercise to make the grading based around having a plan, utilizing good SEO technique, etc.
Anyway, let’s use that as a good jumping off point to get to generating blog traffic through SEO.
First, what is SEO and why is SEO important. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Basically, it is crafting your website or blog in a way that will get you a higher rank on Search Engine Results Pages – also known as SERP. It is important because 90% of clicks are going to go to the first ten results. We can talk about paid search and interacting with other blogs and forums and etc., etc. and etc. to generate blog traffic in later posts. The majority of blog traffic generated, especially traffic that comes from outside your immediate circle of friends, will come from searches. There are two main ways to get searches to work for you, i.e. helping generate more blog traffic. First, is showing up higher in search results and, second, is making sure that you are competing on more focused searches.
What do I mean by more focused searches? “Food” vs. “Sandwich”. I just googled both food and sandwich. Food has 11.4 billion results and sandwich only has 1.1 billion results……that means in the food search, you have 11.4 billion competitors for traffic and in sandwich, you only have 1.1 billion competitors. Fewer competitors are better than more competitors. Think of it this way, you are all trying to generate blog traffic but nothing you do can actually increase the amount of a specific search term. You are just trying to direct of those searches towards your blog. If you can narrow your search terms down more, say to “Reuben,” then you have merely 38 million competitors. Of course, if your blog is about food in general, then you don’t want to limit yourself to just “Reuben,” as nice of a sandwich as it is. On the other hand, if your blog is all about love and appreciate for the sandwich called a Reuben, then you want to concentrate your search efforts on Reuben more than on food. I am a big fan of not walking away from “food” but just focus more on “Reuben.”
Second, how do you improve your SERP (Search Engine Result Page) placement by using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to generate blog traffic. You start by first understanding your blog and your possible search terms. Moz is one of my new favorite websites. Check out the results of their search terms below for “blogging traffic.”
Check out the keyword suggestions. “Blogging traffic” gets less than 10,000 searches a month but “How to increase blog traffic wordpress” gets between 11,000 and 50,000. Or simply “generating blog traffic” gets between 51,000 and 100,000 searches a month. What do you do with that information? Well, what I did was to pick a key term (in my case “generating blog traffic” and then reread the post while still in draft mode. I rewrote sections to include “generating blog traffic” or similar terms throughout the post, especially in the title. A lot of that rewriting was just making sure that I avoided using pronouns. I’ve bolded them to show each time where I rewrote a sentence or two to include generating blog traffic…..I’ll stop bolding now…..because it was getting irritating. I also made sure to name my images to have something to do with generating blog traffic. I only picked the one term but had this been an ongoing challenge, I would have picked the top several terms and worked them into the blog. Keep in mind that the post text is not your only opportunity to include the key search terms. For example, include your key terms in your titles, as names of your pictures and in your “about” section. If you blog is focused, then you can really help your ranking by sprinkling your top three search terms in the majority of your blog posts. If it is a new blog you are creating, using key word search terms in your blog’s title and website name will really be helpful.
One word of caution though. Don’t just pack your post with the search term a thousand times. Had I simply wrote: generating blog traffic, generating blog traffic, generating blog traffic over and over, the search engines would figure out that I’m spamming them and knock me lower in the SERP – Search Engine Result’s Page – countering what I was looking to accomplish.
Now look at the SERP Analysis from the Moz results. Two of them offer a list of 7 or 25 strategies to generate blog traffic (ok, I snuck one more in there). People love lists. Generally speaking odd numbers work better than even numbers, except ten. “3 ways to generate blog traffic” (see how easy it is to work your key search terms into the article?) works better than “4 ways to generate blog traffic” (one more time!). The third top site title has a 5 step plan. Yes. People love lists, especially lists with odd numbers. For example:
For giggles, I ran Reuben through Moz’s Key Word Explorer:
Wow. 100,000 searches are reuben sandwich. Make sure your title includes the word “recipe” as well.
Please like and share if you found any of this interesting, useful or if you just support the cause.
I’m planning my class for Marketing Foundations at Bryant University. One of my thoughts was to assign the students a semester long challenge to creating a blog and building a sustainable amount of daily traffic. In planning out what the actual objective would be and, therefore, what the assignments would be, I realized that I never built a high traffic blog. Now, I have maintained this blog for a number of years but I really only did it as a side interest, almost a hobby. Even though I’ve only posted here a couple of times in the last year, I still get a residual traffic of a few people a day. When I was more of a regular poster, I did maintain traffic closer to a hundred people a day. Nothing impressive but since it was never my objective to increase blog traffic, I was always ok with it. I spoke to my wife about this potential assignment, who is vastly wiser than I am, and she suggested that I attempt to build a consistent traffic for this blog as a challenge before I assign it to anyone else. The effort to do so would really teach the teacher as to whether this is a good homework assignment or not.
Now, I am cheating a little bit since I’m not starting with a new blog. I don’t believe that will make too much of a difference in the challenge. My goal will be to take the current traffic, which is less than 50 people a month to a 1000 unique visitors in August.
The assignment is to search for advice on how to build traffic on the web. Yes, I am planning on providing suggestions as well but anything I teach will be outdated by the time they graduate. I’m less interested in teaching students what is best practice today and more interested in teaching students to figure out current best practices. Google is your friend in that.
One of the first suggestions is to post frequently. Well that is pretty obvious. My assignment to the students is making a weekly post. Over a semester, that would be approximately 15 posts. Therefore, I’ll try to make 15 posts over August.
The second suggestion I found is to write posts that are 4000 to 8000 words long. The logic is that the more you write, the more likely you will leave a trail of key words that will help you rank higher in google search results. This is important since 90% of people click on the results from the first page only.
I’m not a fan of 4000 word posts. I don’t believe I ever read one……I’ve started reading several of them but never finished one. I believe by focusing on what you want to say, you can include a significant number of key words that will help rank your blog higher in the search results. One of way of doing this is to realize that it will be very difficult getting on the first page with generic terms. For example, “blog” and “blog traffic” are probably written in hundreds of posts every day. “Growing blog traffic for school” is a search term that is much less likely to be used but it is also much less likely to show up in competitive blogs.
One way of finding these more specific terms is to google your more generic term and look for related searches recommended at the bottom of the page. For example, at the bottom of a search of “growing blog traffic” shows:
To have a higher ranking blog, work these terms into the regular blog post. I’m going to close this post and will be back in a couple of days after researching a few more recommendations. There are a lot of other ways to grow traffic and I’ll report on as many as makes sense to me.
In High school English, our teacher had us read dozens of Indian Animal Parables. You have probably heard the one about the blind men and the elephant. That’s a classic. There is another one I’ve always remembered that was more meaningful to me. It goes:
A man was walking in the wilderness and realized he was being stalked by a tiger. He was near a cliff with a vine hanging down to the ground, so he starting climbing down the vine, knowing the tiger could not follow. He was about halfway down with the tiger staring at him hungrily when a lion at the bottom of the cliff noticed him. The man was trapped dangling on the vine, a lion below and a tiger above. Two mice, one black and one white, started to crew through the vine above him. There was nothing else for him to hang onto. It was then that he noticed a strawberry plant growing on the cliff with one ripe strawberry on it. The man picked it and ate it and it was sweet.
Yes. That is the end of the parable. We leave the man hanging from a cliff over a lion with strawberry juice dripping down his chin. I always assumed he died shortly after the story ends but that isn’t the point of the parable. The man, even in the midst of a calamity not of his own making took the time to stop and enjoy that which was sweet. The strawberry was probably even sweeter to him knowing the doom that awaited him. While we may not find ourselves dangling from a vine with two predatory cats looking to make a meal out of us, at least not twice, we all find ourselves obligated to times and places we don’t want to be and doing things we don’t want to do. We should pull as much joy, learning and growth from those situations as we can.
I told this parable to my class the other day. My course (marketing foundations) is a required course and the majority of students aren’t marketing majors. If it were up to them, they wouldn’t take ANY marketing classes. Unfortunately for them, it is required. While I try to make it as interesting and valuable for them, I encourage them to taste the strawberry while they are there.