Tag Archives: SEM

End of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge

For the first thirty days of August, I did a blogging challenge where I was going to aim for 1000 unique visitors by blogging two to three times a week plus using as many blog traffic generating ideas as I could. In the three areas of evaluation (sorry, I’m writing my class and the marketing professor side of me is very close to the surface) how did I do; namely results, effort and learning.

How did I do in terms of results? My intended results was generating enough blog traffic to raise my normal 30 to 50 unique visitors to 1000 visitors. I missed by goal. I did hit 745. That is an increase of around 20 times. I’m pretty pleased with a 2000% increase in one month. According to my Google Adwords dashboard, 600 of those visitors were from SEM (Search Engine Marketing) that I started about half way through. Because cents per click is so low in India and there are so many English speaking people in India, the majority of my SEM visitors came from India. In fact, 70% of my total traffic came from India.

I don’t know if many of my new Indian friends will become repeat readers. I hope they do. If anyone from India is reading this, leave a comment. I’d love to make a connection. I’m concerned that a lot of that traffic was one and done though. I say this because I also picked up around 30 followers over the month. In WordPress, I’m able to see who followed me and who liked my posts…….at least, I can see WordPress people who have done either of those. I did go visit their sites if they had one. Based on their names, pictures and content, I don’t think the fellow bloggers who followed my site were from India. There is one new follower from Ghana, which is great.

I think I may have recently been reevaluated by the spiders (programs that “crawl” around the internet, evaluating websites). I’ve read that it takes up to a month for a spider to visit or revisit your site. A week ago, I had one visitor that the WordPress stats said came from Search Engines. I’ve had 20 visitors from search engines today alone and 64 this week. Definitely something has changed. Assuming I’m correct, that will pay blog traffic dividends for a long time. As long as I don’t slack off with my posting again, I should be able to maintain a better page rank in SERP (Search Engine Page Rank).

I did earn 3 cents for my efforts. I had never turned on advertising on my blog. The blog really wasn’t about making money. About a week ago, I set up paypal, turned on advertising and boy the copper came rolling in…….three times. I did set up affiliate marketing for my blog as well and even posted once about a WordPress 20% off offer. It’s over now I think. Setting up both advertising and affiliate marketing (at least, setting up WordPress affiliate marketing within WordPress) was very easy. I made no efforts to work either of them. I was just evaluating the process.

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How did I do in terms of effort? My goal was 15 posts and I hit 14 during my 30 days. This post will make it 15……..that’s kind of cheating a little bit but I’m ok with it. Overall, the amount of effort to write a blog post every other day is not something sustainable for me……I think. There is something very therapeutic about writing, even though I’m not writing about anything personal. It does feel really good to get words on a “page” though, especially now that more people are actually reading those words.

I also spent time nearly every day trying to engage with other bloggers. I commented on their blogs. I liked their posts. I even tried sharing some of their posts. I definitely have something wrong with my set up of WordPress. When I tried sharing another person’s blog posts directly, it came up blank in my blog. Going forward, I can work around that simply by writing a very short post and encouraging people to go visit the other blog. Not a terrible work around and probably a little more intellectually honest. That effort isn’t sustainable for me. I do enjoy reading other blogs and I have learned a lot from them but, for me, continuing to engage with other bloggers will have to be more on a “as the content demands” basis. That is, I won’t go surfing for the sake of surfing. When I’m interested in learning about something, I’ll go find someone who’s been there already and has something to say.

One thing I did not do was to try to get other bloggers to backlink to me. Backlinking is simply having another blogger or website link to something on your blog or website. There are a number of tools out there that will help you evaluate another website’s authority and traffic. Your page rank goes up when higher authority sites link to you, driving more blog traffic through search engines. I don’t know. It felt kind of off to me for this project. I do plan on continuing with the blog now but I wasn’t sure about it even two weeks ago. If you are looking at your blog as an ongoing concern and want to truly drive traffic, do seek out backlinks. The process is pretty simple. Search for other websites, blogs in your area by simply searching your key words. Those that are near the top of SERP are the ones you want. Reach out the blogger or website administer, telling them how much you enjoyed their content and how your content is relevant to theirs. Ask for them to link to something specific on your site……..and repeat.

How did I do in terms of learning? Here I can say that this challenge was an unqualified success. I learned a lot of very useful SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tactics that are easy to use. For example, the way I think is to start with the category and then clarify with more detail. Therefore, my blog posts were in the form of “30 Day Blogging Challenge – Three Things I Learned About SEM”. That format doesn’t do anything for most readers or for the internet spiders. Now, my blog post titles are in the form of “Three Things I Learned About SEM – 30 Day Blogging Challenge.” Both human and bot prefer that layout.

I also have modified my writing a bit. It is very natural for me to speak in a little bit of a short hand. For example, when once I state in the blog post that this post is about generating blog traffic, I then simply say “traffic” for most of the rest of the post. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work very well for SEO. Now, I work very hard to cut out a lot of pronouns and to be more precise in my writing. If I am talking about generating blog traffic, I’m going to say generating blog traffic……not just traffic or even generating traffic. It is a good idea to mix up those terms a bit, so I can say generating traffic for a blog or blogging to generate traffic, but you want to use all the key words as frequently as you can without making it a boring read.

I’m still torn about length of posts. I think my natural writing and reading style prefers posts under a 1000 words. 90% of what I read suggests that word counts over 2000 words is more friendly for SEO. I’m trying. I think we are at around 1300 words right now. We’ll hit, maybe, 1500 words before I’m done. My issue is that if I have to hit 2000 to 3000 words every post, I’m likely to post less. I’m concerned that maintaining a higher frequency is also important. Therefore, I make an effort to expand my posts without making them annoying to write or unpleasant to read. Hey, if you are still reading 1300 words in, leave a comment. Let me know.

The point of this entire challenge wasn’t to generate blog traffic……that was just a numerical goal to aim towards. The point was to understand if this was a good assignment for my students. I think it is……just not over 30 days. As an assignment over the course of a semester, I think it would be a good learning exercise. I can work in a lot of traditional marketing topics as well as digital marketing. I’m not going to assign it for this fall though. Maybe in the spring.

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One Day Left and I Have Learned So Much – 30 Day Blogging Challenge

I started this blog challenge with the stated goal of generating blog traffic of 1000 unique visitors in 30 days. That would be a 30 fold increase over the several months prior. The real goal, however, was to try out blogging as a valid homework assignment for my upcoming class of Foundation of Marketing…..as a semester long project. It doesn’t look like I’m going to hit the thousand unique visitor goal but I this has been an incredible experiment. I didn’t hit the numerical goal but I definitely hit the learning goal.

Let’s talk numbers first. My blog had been averaging 30 or so unique visitors a month……which is actually impressive since I only posted once this year. Right now, August’s traffic is at 666 unique visitors…….yeah really but with your visit, I’m at least up to 667. I went from 1 blog post in the prior seven months to 13 in August. Honestly, I don’t think that is a rate that I can maintain. Good for a scrum activity to build content but I simply don’t have that much to say. Going forward, I think I’ll maintain a one to two post a week cadence.

Where did all of these visitors come from? Well the majority came from search engine marketing, also known as SEM, also known (in this case) as Google Adwords. There are a lot of ways to do SEM, Google Adwords is probably one of the easiest for a newbie blogger. Many blog hosting platforms are already set up to work seamlessly with Google Adwords. Several even offer credit for your first ad. WordPress, my platform for example, offered $125 free advertising with a minimum spend of $25. That beats a BOGO offer……by a lot. I wasn’t expecting much out of SEM, to be honest. My experience has been that you pay around $2 a click…..$150 total spend (my money plus Googles) at $2 a click…..I figured SEM would generate around 75 visitors to the blog. Oh man, was I wrong? I didn’t realize that the cost per click in India was so low…..around $0.07 a click. As of last night, SEM generated blog traffic just below 600 visitors in about a week with a spend of only $40. Most of my visitors are from India but they are engaging in the blog as well as visitors from other sources and countries….at least as measured in page visits per visitor. The visitors from India don’t seem to be too willing to click like or hit share or even comment. Hey, if you are from India, you are welcome to break the trend and leave a comment. Let me know you’ve been here.

So 90% of the traffic generated was from SEM. That’s great on one level. It well exceeded my expectations and will help my SERP rankings a bit, as long as I keep advertising. I don’t have any expectation that I’ll keep advertising though, since I don’t have any way of making money on my blog other than advertising……which isn’t very lucrative. (I’ve spent $40 in SEM and I earned $0.03 in advertising fees. I do have one affiliate marketing post where I signed up for affiliate marketing for WordPress and put up an offer of 20% off this month. That was the only reference to affiliate marketing BTW and no takers.

Where did the other 60 or so visitors come from? The next three sources of blog traffic were from LinkedIn, WordPress reading area and Facebook. I don’t really use Facebook but I have a lot of connections on LinkedIn. I’m not really a Linked In Open Networker (Lion) but I’m pretty free with gathering links. This blog has also been around so I do have a few followers. I think, though, that the traffic that came in through WordPress was probably more due to the interactions I had with other bloggers. I’ve read more blogs in the last month than I have in the last year…..probably longer. Whenever I read a blog, if I had anything that even remotely contributed to their post, I added it in the comments. Leaving comments behind does leave a link behind but I believe that the biggest lift I got was from the bloggers themselves checking me out. That is not a scalable activity though. Sure, I spent an hour or so a day interacting with other bloggers which got me dozens of visits but there is no way I could have invested the time to turn that dozens into thousands. There is simply not enough hours in the day.

Anyway, my blog’s “day” ends at 9 PM eastern time……..at least it does according to where the traffic stats are assigned……I have no idea why. So just over a full day left and I’m over 300 visitors away. Unless you go on a massive sharing, liking, commenting binge on my blog and blog posts, I’m not making it. I might report in one more time tomorrow but I’ll give a full reporting on Saturday.

Oh, BTW, I’ve decided to NOT assign this to my incoming fall class. I’m going to blog at a weekly rate (or twice a week) over the course of the fall semester. I’m sure I’ll learn a whole lot more over the next four months. Assuming that I’ll teach again in the spring semester, I might assign the blog to them.

Oh India! – 30 Day Blogger Challenge

My blog traffic has shot through the roof and it is almost all from India. Two days ago, I noticed that I started getting decent (or, at least, generating blog traffic I thought was decent) coming out of Ghana. I don’t know for sure but I felt like the growth in my Ghanaian traffic was linked to starting adwords advertising last week. Looking at where my readers were coming from, geographically speaking, I realized my blog could be interesting to English speaking people anywhere and I expanded my adwords campaign to include more countries with English speakers, including India.

Oh man, I thought I broke something.

Look at my blog traffic for the last three days. The last bar in the chart is today which has a few more hours left in it. 90% of the traffic is from India. I got nervous at first and admittedly second because prior to expanding the ad’s geographic target, I was paying more than a dollar per click. That upward surge looked like it would cost me three to four hundred dollars.

Fortunately, the clicks in India cost mere pennies each instead of the dollar or two clicks in the US and Canada were costing. It made driving blog traffic significantly more affordable.

I checked to see if this new blog traffic had any value by comparing the number of page views per unique visitors. It has remained fairly constant for the last month at around 1.3 page views per unique visitors.

Definitely consider adding India to your ads if you blog is not geographically relevant. You may not get the same number of clicks in India if your blog is all about restaurants in Chicago, for example.

Please give a like and/or share and follow the blog if you’d like to read more in the upcoming weeks. Leave a comment if you are from India. I’d love to hear from you.

3 Things I’ve learned in a Weekend with Adwords – SEM

I’m trying to dramatically grow my blog traffic this month. As part of that effort, I launched my first adwords campaign on my personal blog Thursday morning. It is now Monday. My overall impression, admittedly early, is mixed. I am only targeting a spend of around $5 a day, so my expectations are measured appropriately. I do think that level of spend is realistic for a small, new online business. That’s nearly 2 grand in search engine marketing over a year, just using this one tool. So? What did I learn?

First, things take a while. I’m sure my original giddiness of…..ok, I’m placing the ad….was probably typical of a lot of new bloggers. I swear that somewhere in the ad creation process, google said ads typically go active in about an hour. Mine took ten hours. That’s ten hours of me checking the ad campaign for new impressions and clicks and then checking my stats for new blog traffic and then back to the ad campaign again. I grew impatient with Google. My wife grew impatient with me. When I saw that first impression go live, it was a huge relief…..and then nothing.

It is very different doing this on a personal level than at work. At work, I email the digital team and asked them to place a couple of ads around my product. I’d give them a campaign brief and forget about it. Then reports/results would start to show up in my in box weekly. Beautiful. This experience was not that.

My take away from this learning? Once you hit “approve,” walk away. Or, at least, move on to another project. Leave it alone. Let the ad happen and your blog traffic grow unattended for a few days.

Second, be sure to spend time with your key words before you launch the ad. Google does look at what you are linking your ad to and suggests key words. That is a good place to start. It can also be a little eye opening. If Google comes back with a lot of words that you don’t think really capture your blog…….you have some thinking to do about your content because that is what the search engine is seeing. You may have intended something else but your writing style is going to attract a certain type of blog traffic…..maybe it isn’t the type of traffic you intended.

After the first full day of results, I only 32 impressions and one click. I know I was only spending $5 a day but somehow I was expecting more.

In Adwords, you select the key words that you want your ad to be associated with. Then the tool gives you an estimate of potential audience size, see below.

My original key word list only had around 500,000 estimated audience size. In addition to my small spend, having a small audience definitely wasn’t going to lead to a high growth in blog traffic. I played around with a few different key words, each time looking at the change in potential audience size. Eventually, I added key words related to website design. Those, along with a couple of other changes, increased the potential audience size to over two million. Just for giggles, I checked Reuben and it had nearly a million people a month all by itself…….that’s a popular sandwich.

Adwords does show you which words are giving you the most impressions and clicks. The late key word additions of Website Designer and Website Design are giving my half my clicks. Traffic on your website is getting a lot of impressions but, so far, no clicks.

In terms of getting clicks, website design is doing well, although I question the quality of those clicks. In my blog, especially this month, I’m talking about growing blog traffic which could be related to growing website traffic but it has nothing to do with website design. I have noticed that over the weekend, while I did have the blog traffic from the SEM the number of page views per visitor went down. I also didn’t get any likes or shares. I’ve found that I typically get 1 like for every three visitors. This weekend, nothing. By the way, now would be a good time for you to take a moment and hit like or share on this blog post.

Are website design giving me lower quality traffic? Perhaps. Think in terms of the sales funnel. They might be giving me more blog traffic at the top end but then the visitors are abandoning the site faster, making for a wider top to my funnel.

I will let the key words ride for a few days before I decide to change them up. The problem with a wide funnel with quick drop outs is that I’m paying to bring them in. If these visitors are not finding my blog relevant, then their traffic isn’t going to do me much good in the long term. I’d rather fewer people who are going to stick with me for a while than a lot of people who I will never see again.

Third, search engine marketing can drive blog traffic but be careful how you spend it. Given my comments in the above paragraph, think about how expensive it can be to drive the “wrong” traffic to your blog. I’m paying a little less than $2 per click. If I bring in people who are not my target audience, then that money is largely waisted. Not only should we be sure our key words are appropriate and relevant to your blog, craft the ad to be crystal clear about what you are offering. An ad about a Reuben sandwich might bring visitors to my blog but they would be the wrong people. They would be hungry people, just not necessarily hungry for my content. Also consider where you are linking the ad to. I linked to my home page, which seems to make sense. I don’t have a lot of pages and my topics are all related. If your blog has a lot of different content and your ad is just focused one piece of it, link directly to that piece. Don’t make your traffic work for it. Each time you ask a person to click to get to content relevant to them, is an opportunity for them to leave.

30 Day Blogging Challenge Update: I averaged over a dozen unique visitors a day over the weekend. For a blog that had an average traffic of one to two people per day, that is a pretty good increase. I’m “happy” about it. So why the quote marks around happy? This challenge was to grow my blog traffic to a 1000 over the month of August……so a little over 30 visitors a day. I’m at 8. Because I have under performed the first half of the month, I’m going to have to hit 70 a day for the rest of the month……..70 is more than a dozen…….a lot more. The happy part though, is that the real goal of this challenge was to see if I should assign this as a semester long project for my class. I think it is a good project but right now I don’t think I should assign it this semester. I need to sit on it a bit.