As you know, I am always experimenting with my blog, especially when it comes to traffic and traffic sources, and I always like to report back to y’all what I learn. One of the areas I wanted to focus on this year with my blogging was increasing my search traffic. At the start of the year, search traffic had accounted for roughly 14% of the traffic over the life of this blog, at the time. I wanted to see that percentage get up to at least 33%, preferrably 40% or higher.
So in January I took the advice of my friend Amy, and started posting more, to see what impact it would have on the volume of search traffic here. From January through July, I averaged 3-5 posts a week here, where before I was posting here once or twice a week. And not only did I post more often, I tried to focus more of my writing efforts on targeting specific search keywords and phrases, especially in post titles.
The results have been pretty successful. Up till Jan 1st of this year, search traffic accounted for 14% of total traffic here. So far this year, search has accounted for 30% of total traffic here, and is up to 35% for the lifetime of the blog. This is significant, because overall traffic has doubled this year, with the increase in content creation.
Here’s the monthly results for my search traffic for the lifetime of this blog, through November:
As you can see, up until the 1st red X on the graph, there is slow and steady growth in search traffic volume. That first red X was search traffic for January of this year, when I ramped up my posting schedule to start posting 3-5 times a week, on average. Note that immediately, the angle of the growth of search traffic volume increases. This suggests that more content but also content that was better optimized for search engines was increasing search traffic volume.
But notice the 2nd red X on the graph. That’s search traffic for June. I wanted to mark that, because starting in July, my posting frequency slipped a bit, from an average of 3-5 posts a week before, to 1-3 posts a week. For the last 4-5 months I’ve been traveling a lot more and have had to spend more time on client work, so I had to scale back my posting schedule a bit. But as you can tell from the graph, even though I was posting less, search traffic volume continues to grow. In fact, it seems to be growing at about the same rate now, as it did earlier this year when I was posting about twice as often.
Now look at this graph for the year’s monthly traffic:
The red X is June, and that’s the point at which I started posting less here. Note that from that point forward, overall traffic starts tapering off slightly each month. But now let’s do something really interesting: Let’s take this same graph, but add in referral traffic and search traffic. Here’s what we get:
This is overall monthly traffic here for 2011. The red X is June. The green bar is referral traffic, and note that it more or less mirrors overall traffic: When overall traffic goes up, it follows, same thing happens when overall traffic goes down.
But note the orange bar; That’s Search Traffic. Also note that in June, Search and Referral Traffic were almost the same, there was slightly more referral traffic. That’s when my posting frequency began to slip, and referral traffic from June through November, continued to fall. But search traffic continued to grow. Now if I start posting more often here, referral traffic will go back up, but that extra content will also increase my volume of search traffic as well.
So that’s what I did this year to increase my volume of search traffic by over 100%. The main thing is I posted more often, and I paid special attention to focusing on at least one keyword or phrase in every post, especially in the post title. Another thing I did with my posts was think about what someone would search for. A lot of times when we use search engines, we are looking for the answers to problems or questions. That’s why ‘How To’ posts work well. For example, I could see someone searching for ‘How to increase search traffic’ and finding this post (in fact I just greatly increased the chance that will happen by adding that exact phrase ;)).
Mika Lofton says
Great post Mack! Thanks for sharing.
Elaine Fogel says
Interesting results, Mack. Let me know if it starts attracting new leads. I’m curious. Thanks!
I loved this post; this type of information is really helpful to me.
I’d love to hear how you targeted your keywords. I’m using Google’s keyword generation tool but not finding good keywords with less competition.
I’m trying to take time to look over forum posts (in my niche) written by others to see if I can spot keywords that may not be so saturated in use. There’s got to be a better way!
I love the way you reported and displayed data to back up what you’re saying. I also agree that posting more frequently helps. I saw my Alexa rank go from over 2,000,000 to about 100,000 in about two months when I started posting daily. I haven’t seen that convert to increased traffic though and I know using the appropriate keywords is what’s killing me (at least I think I know 🙂 )
Mack Collier says
Mary and Jennifer, here’s a post I wrote several months ago where I targeted the term ‘Social Media Crisis Management’ in the title and post – http://mackcollier.com/how-twitter-impacts-seo/
I just did a google search for that term, and it’s showing up #5 on Google.
But it’s worth noting that Twitter really helped me push that post up because it got a lot of RTs, and it also helps that I had the exact term I was targeting at the FRONT of the post.
Jennifer Kent says
Thanks for another awesome post Mack! I have been thinking I need to put a bit more focus on my blog next year and you have given me some great ideas. I will be concentrating on keeping my posts really focused on specific keywords. I also need to make the time to post a little more regularly.
Great post, Mack. I’ve been trying to do the same thing, but 3-5 posts a week is my biggest challenge. It’s not finding the time, it’s the pressure I place on myself to write amazing content. Of course, I know better, but the perfectionist in me is really annoying!
Mack Collier says
Kevin I am the same way, I am constantly writing posts and then trashing them cause I don’t think they are good enough. I actually asked Chris Brogan about this a few years ago, how he can write almost every day. He said he just doesn’t have that ‘perfect’ filter, he just writes and publishes. I really wish I could do that more often!
Thanks for the link, Mack. I’ll check it out!
Kevin – you may know this tip, but hanging out in forums related to my niche has helped me write more posts. Every time I start to respond in a forum, I ask myself if this should be a post. Many times I find myself stopping and doing a CTRL-C to copy my remarks into a new draft post instead of pressing “Submit”! It’s also a great peek into what my potential readers are interested in (as I don’t have much traffic yet).
I may be wrong but I also think shorter posts are fine as long as they are well-written. Seth Godin seems to be a master at this.
Karen Swim says
Mack, thank you so much for opening the vault and sharing the secrets. It is immensely helpful to actually see real live results from someone you can trust. Like you, when it comes to my own writing I trash way more than I publish. I have got to regain my confidence in this area so that I can publish more often. You are helping me more than you know, thank you!
Nice post Mack. I am trying to figure out if that chart is saying you went from roughly 1,000 daily visitors to 3,000 daily visitors at the first red ex? How old was the blog to begin with at the first red x?
We have been growing visitors steadily starting at 100 daily to now between 500 and 1000 daily visitors but its taking well over 6 months and alot of content alomst daily.