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.