Is Google Analytics The Only Viable Traffic Entity?

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I was doing an experiment on one of my other blogs by writing a blog post a day for a month. Tomorrow ends that month and, though it’s been harder than any other challenge I’ve ever given myself, I’ll close out the month by accomplishing that feat; yay for me! lol

alex logo 1
Creative Commons License brar_j via Compfight

Yet, something happened that I thought was really strange. Usually having a lot of content helps your traffic ranking go up; at least via Alexa, which is the only easily visible tool I have to go by. Instead, every day my ranking went down until, with a week to go, I was suddenly unranked. What the hey?

Last year I wrote an article talking about how writing a blog post a day didn’t work for one of my other blogs for December 2015. However, I figured that one out, realizing it had more to do with mobile speed than anything regarding the actual content. Yet, even then my ranking didn’t drop, but pretty much stayed the same.

This time though… well, I was a bit dismayed by what I was seeing. I figured it was time to do take a look at my traffic via Google Analytics, which is always recommended, as the first step towards a traffic audit.

You can imagine my surprise when I saw that, instead of my traffic falling, it had actually increased over 300% from the previous 30 days. A couple of the posts actually got some pretty nice traffic, which is rare for that blog since most of the content is about local stuff. So then… if my traffic actually increased, why did Alexa drop me into the void?

I don’t have anything definitive; truthfully, I’ve always seen Alexa as kind of a global barometer of website health and nothing overly specific. I’ve never added the toolbar because the way I saw it, I’d be ranking myself against only other sites that used it instead of everyone. It sounded good on paper.

I decided to do what I do; research it. I came across this post titled Alexa Rank Dropping Fast in April 2016 – [Case Study], which looked at a lot of very popular and large sites and tracked how their traffic had decreased drastically… at least via Alexa. One of the funny stats is that Alexa’s own site lost ground as well.

The article alluded to a blog post by Alexa themselves talking about an increase in the size of Alexa’s Global Traffic Panel… whatever that is. Supposedly by doing this particular thing, more websites would see their rankings increase; nope didn’t happen. Actually, it was intriguing to find out that Alexa even had a blog.

After that… there were very few articles about it that were recent. Most of the discussion traffic was on forums… and that was fruitless, with most of the responders saying “why are you concerned with Alexa anyway?” A couple stated something about it being related to something in our .htaccess files. I did notice that a couple months after changing those on all my sites when I was working on my mobile speed that Alexa stopped showing my traffic growing and all of them started going in the other direction. The timing was close but a bit imprecise so that doesn’t seem like a viable conclusion in my case.

I get that. I’ve heard that one for years, and while I’ve always taken a slightly different view about it’s importance, I also recognized that those same traffic numbers didn’t quite match what I was seeing in my Analytics panel, let alone matching up to what I was seeing on other blogs whose traffic I knew was less than my own. At the same time, I was usually only doing month by month comparisons, almost never looking at 90-day totals, which Alexa is based on.

Regardless, after all these years I’ve finally come to the conclusion that Alexa isn’t getting the job done any longer. At this juncture, the only site I know that’s giving me accurate traffic numbers… even if I don’t always like them. I’ve removed the app I’ve always used to track Alexa and I’m not replacing it with anything. I realize it’s time to track my traffic using Google and nothing else for the moment… unless one of you responds and tells me of something else that’s worth taking a look at to compare with other sites.

Traffic numbers are important because all of us hopes to get as many people as possible to look at what we’re doing on our blogs, whether we’re trying to make money from it or not. Looking at your traffic and how people are finding you is pretty important stuff. Most of it probably has to do with how you decide to market yourself but content is, in my opinion, as important as the marketing piece. As long as you’re using a credible tool, at least you’ll have an idea of what you might need to do to change things.

Alexa, unfortunately, isn’t it…
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2017 Mitch Mitchell

Does More Blog Content Work Anymore? Research Results…

I have long been someone who’s believed that the more one writes on their blog, the more traffic they’ll get, the higher their blogs will rank, and the better opportunity they’ll have to be more popular across the board. That certainly used to be true; back in the days where I was writing more than 300 posts a year on this blog it was very highly ranked. Once I slowed down, my ranking dropped, which has happened to all my long time blogging friends who have reduced how much they put out.

it´s not the style ...
ifranz via Compfight

What I didn’t know was whether this was still true. I’ve certainly said it was, the last time being in July when I said that “the more you write the more traffic you’ll get and the higher you’ll rank…“. I didn’t have any information telling me that wasn’t true.

However, what I did have was a lot of evidence that maybe there were other ways of getting higher rankings and better traffic. This is post #1,673 on this blog, which shows you that I have a lot of articles here. One would think all those articles would help this blog be ranked higher than it is; certainly higher than a blog that has fewer than 100 articles.

That’s not the case anymore. I’m not going to specifically point out any blogs here, but there are a lot of them ranked higher than me with a lot less content. Even if some of them are writing extremely long posts, one would think sheer volume might mean something.

Yet, I know someone else who’s been writing for a long time, and almost every day. Jack Steiner, who write the blog The Jack B, has been writing his blog for 12 years, sometimes pretty lengthy articles, yet his Alexa ranking (don’t start with me on that one lol) is still in the 2 million range. His blog is very entertaining, so one would think his ranking and traffic would be off the roof; what gives?

I decided to do a research project to test my long standing belief, which was hanging by a thread. For 31 straight days, I had a new blog post on my 3 Bad Management Processes and it went live, on a Thursday… and that was that. For the rest of the month only one day beat that one in traffic, and that one had dropped a bunch from what I’d had going on. It was also the shortest post to that point, just over 500 words, but it was on point, about leadership, which is the main topic on that blog. It should have been an easy read after all the other articles I’ve been sharing… but it wasn’t.

After that… dud city. My Star Trek article got a lot of shares on Twitter but it didn’t generate in a lot more visits overall; that says something that in its own way supports what I’d wondered about Twitter sharing and traffic to one’s blog. I thought about attributing some of the drop-off to the holiday season and could get behind that theory except the issue started a week before Christmas; freaky.

It leaves me with an unsatisfied conclusion, that being… the research study is inconclusive. If it was working then suddenly stops, does that mean it does or doesn’t work? That traffic has started going back up, slowly though, mean anything? Inconclusive; sigh…

A recommendation… write; just write. That’s the best I’ve got at this point. I’ll add promote, which I’ve talked about as it concerns Twitter, where it seems to work better than in other social media spaces. I’ll continue researching and testing things from time to time and then writing about them it’s what I do after all. 🙂
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2016 Mitch Mitchell

How Important Is SEO In Your Blogging Content?

I hear a lot of excuses from people when it comes to why they don’t blog all that often. Although I tend to believe that people have more to say than they think they do, I can understand how someone might think they’ll run out of things to say.

How to seo a website
Creative Commons License SEOPlanter via Compfight

What I also hear is that people have no idea how to write for search engines, or the all-important SEO. I thought it was time to address the question of just how important SEO is to your blogging content.

Is SEO important? Yes, it’s absolutely important. How important it is in one’s blogging content is a different question entirely.

There are times when making sure that certain keywords are prominent in a blog post. One of the benefits of blogging is the fact that you’re actually building up prominence for your topics, or keywords that you want to be known for, by having a lot of content rather than having to keep drilling down on specific keywords or keyword phrases. So you shouldn’t have to go out of your way to create those keywords or keyword phrases if you know what you’re talking about.

For instance, even though I’m using the term SEO often in this particular post, if I decided to only use it once in any other post and linked that one time to something else on either my blog or my website, it would have as much power for my website as mentioning it in one post multiple times. The fact is that I have written on the topic multiple times on this blog throughout the years, so I should be covered, especially if someone’s wondering how it might relate to blogging.

In other words, the SEO properties of a blog don’t have to occur all in one post. One can spread out the process via multiple posts. That also means that your content can read naturally for both your visitors and the search engines, which is what everyone wants to see anyway.

Of course you will probably go somewhere else and read where someone has said how important it is to make sure that every single post you write is perfectly optimized. I’ve read lots of blog posts where they’ll tell you how many times you need to use certain phrases, that you need to add H1, H2, H-etc tags, and a whole lot of other tricks. Go find some of the big time blogs and check to see how often they’re employing these tricks within the articles; almost never!

I’m here to tell you that it’s much more important having consistent content than worrying about how you’re writing something. As long issue make it readable for your visitors, make it compelling, and have a style worth reading, your content and your search engine optimization processes will take care of themselves.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015 Mitch Mitchell

Marketing When Your SEO Seems To Be Failing You

Back last April Google put through a couple of corrections in their search engine protocols that seemed to hurt a lot of websites in some fashion. Their intention was to clean up their algorithms so that their search results were not only more accurate, but to penalize those websites that they somehow deemed as having a lot of keywords or spam-like characteristics. They also took a look at links back to websites and started taking away some authority from websites based on the quality of who was linking in to them.

tres claves para un buen SEO
Carlos García Torrado via Compfight

Whenever something like this happens, the crowd goes on a lemming rampage and starts decrying SEO tactics as something that won’t work anymore and some people even start saying that people who say they do SEO services are taking advantage of everyone else.

I’m here to tell you that’s not true across the board. In reality, some people are either always sneaky or always honest; the only middle ground is being somewhat incompetent, recommending things that search engines don’t even look at anymore as major SEO components.

Here’s some truths.

First, the basic principles of SEO will always be valid. I’m not mentioning them again because the tips are in the article I linked to.

Second, if you purchased links you knew whether they were good or not, so that’s on you. If you didn’t purchase links that’s a different story. I know that my main business website has more than 8,500 links from sources that I never submitted that site to, and a lot of them are questionable. However, I don’t have the time to reach out to that many sites, so if Google decides they’re lousy sites, there’s really not much I can do about it.

Third, if you’ve written your content well, and you’ve made sure that you haven’t overused your keywords and keyword phrases on all pages, then you should be fine. However, if you have, and you’ll know if you have, then you need to put some corrections through to fix that.

Fourth, and this is an interesting one. If your website or blog has a lot of links, you might have to perform some maintenance and check for broken links. Turns out that a lot of blogs got hit badly because of that one.

The rest of your marketing, if it’s solid stuff, will still do you well. I look at my main website and even though traffic has dropped to the blog after the updates, I’m still ranked highly for the keywords on the site that I’ve worked hard to get there. Other keyword phrases have fallen, but as long as the main ones still work, it shows that my marketing campaign for them was legitimate.

Unless your traffic drops in half, don’t panic. Just put some time into looking at your sites, maybe fix a few things, add a little bit of new content if you can, and you’ll be heading in the right direction in no times.

By the way, last Wednesday I interviewed a friend of mine, my oldest friend, Chuck Price of Measurable SEO on many topics, the biggest two being entrepreneurship and SEO; how timely. Here’s that video; you should check it out:

 


 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015 Mitch Mitchell

Having Guest Posts On Other Blogs As A Traffic Strategy

Guest posting is a strategy that you might have read about on some blogs or in other online spaces as a way to drive traffic to your website or blog. It can be, but I’m not one of those people who thinks it’s as good as having great content on your own site. Still, with the right type of guest post on the right blog in front of the right audience, it might not be a bad idea across the board.

Wind farm and greenhouse gas farm, together
Kevin
Dooley
via Compfight

To guest post, you have to be willing to follow the rules of the site owner. I used to allow guest posts on my finance blog, Top Finance Blog, and when I did I had some rules. Unfortunately, so many people weren’t following the rules and I didn’t have time to keep up with what I was seeing that I had to stop taking them.

Anyway, here were the main rules: one, if someone requests a guest post, they had to put my name in the email so I know they saw the guest posting policy; two, the topic had to be financial; three, the post couldn’t be blatant advertising; four, I got to decide if the post would be free or had to be paid for based on my criteria; five, all guest posters must respond to comments within 2 weeks, otherwise any links in their posts would be deleted.

My rules were tough, but that blog made money for me and I set the standards for its use. I think every person allowing guest posts needs to have standards; otherwise, you end up with a lot of junk and a blog no one ever wants to visit.

You need to be ready to really give your all. A guest post isn’t a reason to write a throwaway post that you’d never put on your site If you’re hoping to drive people back to your site it needs to be top quality.

If you have someone else writing for you, that’s fine as long as you look at what they’re submitting in your name. If you trust your writer it’s all good. What I see happening most of the time is the person reaching out to a site to submit a guest post isn’t actually the writer but a marketer for a content company of some sort. They almost never read the posts either; if they did I’d never have to edit anything. Those guest posts are a reflection on your business so be careful.

If your website isn’t up to snuff, or your blog’s content is weak, then you’re just wasting your time linking back to it. I’ve seen some horrid sites that people want to link back to and sometimes I just said no without even allowing someone to send me an article.

If you have some standards, don’t accept anything you don’t agree with, even if the other party is willing to pay you. I disagree with the concept of payday loans, so anytime I received a pitch with that as the topic and it wasn’t a negative piece about the subject, I turned it down. I would also turn it down if the subject is fine and the article was well written but it linked back to one of those sites.

Guest posting to drive traffic isn’t a bad strategy but it comes with its own issues. If you have problems writing your own blog or web content, do you really want to spend the time boosting up someone else’s traffic with the hope of getting some residual traffic back? Pick your spots and it can work out; get it wrong and you’ll just be spinning your wheels.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015 Mitch Mitchell