Let’s get this out of the way; I’m not against using SEO to help you get where you want to be when it comes to your blog or your website. As a matter of fact, it’s still important to highlight your main topics or business just to have a chance to compete with others who are in your field of expertise. I’d even go so far as to say that exhibiting good SEO principles will put you ahead of everyone else who isn’t even trying to use it; absolutely 100%!
will this face drive traffic?
With that said… I almost hate to add this piece, but… the best SEO techniques aren’t close to being enough to get you the traffic or publicity you’re hoping for to reach your online goals. Nope, nada, never. I don’t care what Neil Patel, Brandon Gaille or anyone else has to say on this front; it’s not going to get you there, no matter what you’re trying to do. Continue reading →
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
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.
What I realized is that, even though I’ve been online for a whole lot of years, which includes hitting 10 years on my business blog and 7 years on this blog, overall I’m still an unknown entity. I’m not sure if it’s because my name, Mitch Mitchell, is the same as Jimi Hendrix’ drummer’s name, or whether my writing style isn’t enough to capture enough people’s attention, or maybe all those times that I’ve been out of town and haven’t commented on as many blogs as I used to in the past, has stripped me of any name recognition.
Either that or people just don’t like me anymore. 🙂
In any case, I knew that I had to find ways to get noticed a lot more than I’ve been noticed lately. So I decided to start what I felt like was a more aggressive online strategy of promotion. This post is going to talk about things I’ve done and how they’ve worked out.
Let’s start with Twitter. I’m pretty active on Twitter already, reading a lot of people’s links, commenting on those links, sharing those links, and often finding people to talk to, though pretty late at night. What I realized is that I didn’t share my own stuff enough. So what I started doing is posting links from this blog on Twitter at least five times a day. The way I was doing it initially was kind of problematic, because most of the links I posted were at night instead of during the daytime when there was a possibility that more people would see them.
I did that for about a month and took a look at my analytics and saw that Twitter was now the number two referrer to the blog. However, I didn’t really notice all that much of a difference in traffic to the blog. Still, I’ll take what I can get.
Then I watched a video by a young lady named Amy who has the channel she calls Savvy Sexy Social. She offers all types of marketing tips, especially online, and in this particular video ( I can’t remember which one now) she talked about scheduling tweets during the day. I had never thought about doing this before, but she mentioned that Tweetdeck allowed you to schedule tweets and showed how it works.
I thought that was pretty neat, so I decided to employ that as a strategy. Over the last 10 days I’ve been scheduling tweets to basically run throughout the day, in general covering the period between 9AM and midnight. I figured that anything else I post between the other period I would post live, since I tend to stay up late. I set up my tweets to go live between every 25 to 35 minutes throughout the day, with one exception I’ll mention later.
I also decided that I had to add some other things to the mix. So, I added links to my business blog, some links from a couple of other blogs, and actual quotations that I have made on my business blog over the years. It turns out that every one of us is actually quotable based on things we’ve written, and if we go back and look at that stuff we will find quotes that are pretty good.
I decided to start with my oldest blog posts and work forward, and at this point I’m through June 2008, so I have another 6 1/2 years worth of posts to look at. Whenever I post a quote I’ll pop it in within 13 to 17 minutes of the previous blog link, then I can post my next blog link a bit earlier, though sometimes I just start the period at another 30 minutes. Every once in a while I also add a video link.
In just 10 days the traffic to this blog has increased about 15%. I’m thinking that’s pretty good. My Alexa rank (which some people put down, but it’s not a bad thing to look at as a higher level thing) has gone from 378,000 to 308,000 in that period of time; nope, not mad at all. The traffic to my business blog has also increased, but that’s where things get slightly more complicated and I will tell you why.
Around the beginning of the month our buddy Beverly Mahone happened to mention to me that I should think about writing some articles on LinkedIn. At first I was hesitant but then decided what could it hurt. Instead of writing a brand new article, I took an article off my business blog that I had also used on my consultants group blog, made some modifications and put it up. I was amazed at the response it got. People I didn’t know saw it and liked it, a few people shared it to Twitter, some people commented on it, and some of those people started noticing that my business blog links showed up in my profile and they started reading them there and commenting there on them.
I figured that was pretty amazing, so I started writing more articles on that site. To date I’m up to 10 articles, including one I wrote last Friday. That has resulted in about 50 new people wanting to connect with me on LinkedIn, and I’ve had conversations with three people on the phone. It hasn’t generated any real business, but anytime you can make business connections on the phone and you didn’t have to reach out to someone first, it’s always a good thing. So I thank Bev for that recommendation, and I would recommend LinkedIn in a heartbeat.
The other couple of sites I’m on?
Facebook turns out to be a disaster. It seems that they have determined that fewer than 10 people should be allowed to see anything I put on my business page there, even though I have close to 360 people that have subscribed. A couple of times I resorted to putting my link in other groups and on my personal page, where I saw that it got a couple more views generally, but Facebook is a different animal because the way it counts views doesn’t necessarily mean that someone clicked on it. Thus, I have shown no increase in traffic from Facebook, and am very disappointed in it.
Google Plus? Before I came home I was spending a lot of time on Google Plus, mainly sharing things other people put up and occasionally posting something I did. Whenever I do a video it automatically pops up there, but that doesn’t mean it gets all that many views. Those also don’t drive traffic to any of my sites, but possibly to YouTube, and when I checked those analytics I’m not seeing all that much happening either.
So, it means I have to recommend that if you’re going to put out things that you want people to see you should probably be using either Twitter or LinkedIn. Oh yeah, I should quickly mention that I have stepped up my blog commenting again, and as you know I always say that tends to help drive more traffic to your blog or website.
As I wrote last year, if you’re willing to put in the work you can get more traffic and get more people to know you. I figure this is only the beginning for me in some ways, but I’m willing to put in the work.
Lately I’m not happy with what I’m seeing. Except for one of my sites, my traffic is dropping across the board. And I don’t mean by a little bit either. In just a few weeks traffic has nosedived, and I’m at kind of a loss to explain it. All my blogs and websites are showing decreases. The one site that’s not showing a decrease is one where I’ve added new content when it hadn’t had anything new in almost 9 months, so it’s being paid attention to again.
The only connection I have to lower traffic, and it makes no sense, is the addition of CommentLuv Premium to the site. I decided to finally go ahead and bite the bullet because in the back of my mind I see the day when the free one won’t be supported anymore, along with the Growmap Antispybot plugin and some others, and as the reduced rate it seemed like the smart way to go.
CommentLuv usually helps promote traffic, especially if you have the dofollow attribute set, but for whatever reason my traffic has dropped on all my blogs, and it coincided with my adding it. Maybe my settings aren’t correct; maybe I’m blocking something that shouldn’t be blocked; I’m not sure.
On the flip side, comments have remained steady. If those had dropped as well I’d be worrying more than I am. And my Feedburner subscriptions haven’t fallen, so that’s a good deal as well.
I will continue monitoring traffic to see if it starts to improve any, but it’s possible that it’s the season that’s making it fall some. As it gets close to this particular holiday season, traffic often drops. When I looked at last year I saw that traffic dropped almost 20% in December when compared to November, and in 2010 it dropped 25% in the same time period.
So maybe the coincidence with CommentLuv is just that. Maybe it’s just historical precedence taking over. The same thing happens with people being admitted to the hospital by the way; more people get admitted during winter than they do in the summer. Just a little bit of trivia to make your day go well. 🙂
You know, many of us have been griping over the last six weeks about the Google algorithm changes that ended up killing our traffic. Some folks, like our buddy Carl have brought up what Google said the algorithm changes were based on and how they were trying to eliminate bad linking, bad SEO and the like. Some people even speculated that it had to do with bad grammar, something I totally disputed and shot out of the water here.
by Jonathan Assink via Flickr
People have kind of lost their minds. Goodness, I think I lost my mind for a short period there, and obviously I’ve talked about it more than I care to even think. But now I think there’s a new way of talking about this thing, and though I’m not totally sure I agree with everything that I’m going to mention in this post, I do think there’s something to some of it if we look at things with a more critical eye.
For me, this all started by reading a post by a guy named James Hussey, who writes a blog called The Average Genius. He wrote a post titled Why Google Penguin Mauled My Sites and What To DO About It, which I found fascinating and commented on. He wrote back and expressed his opinion on what I said, then he said this: “So stay tuned. The conversation gets really, really interesting.”
That looked good and intriguing, and it then lead to this post which is titled Does Google Really Reward Quality, Original Content? An Interview With AsktheBuilder Tim Carter. This is a seminal post, great post, and one to really make you think. It includes an audio file with a guy named Tim Carter, who has a website called Ask The Builder, which of course you saw above. I’m going to give you some highlights of the audio file, but I think you should both read the post and listen to the file, which is about an hour long, for more detail.
In essence, Tim was the perfect Google guy. He started his site before Google came around, and he’s made tons of money online. When Google came around he added Adsense and made a lot of money off that as well. He’s not a guy who ever got into any of the SEO stuff that many other people did, including me to a certain extent. He was held up as the poster boy for how to do things right by Google. They wrote reports using him as an example. They invited him to seminars to talk about his success in working with them. He even went to Congress on their behalf once, talking about how things worked with him and the fairness of it all.
What happened to the poster boy? Panda and Penguin went through and he lost 70% of his traffic. Bad linking? Nope. Bad content? Nope. Pretty much overnight his website, which means his business, took a major hit. Well now, how does one reconcile that based on what Matt Cutts and company said the update was there to do? How do you crush your poster boy, who never did any of the stuff you said you were going after, in such a convincing fashion?
Now, I had to think about this for a bit, and I want to address a couple of points before I go forward. I wrote a post on April 30th wondering where my web traffic went. I indicated that this blog lost traffic and my business blog lost traffic as well. I mentioned that my finance blog stayed the same and that my SEO blog went up barely.
Well, those aren’t the total truths. Yes, this blog’s traffic suffered, and my business blog’s traffic suffered, which also took down my main business website. But within a couple of weeks traffic on my finance blog started jumping, and my SEO blog traffic almost doubled. My local blog stayed the same, and I hadn’t mentioned that one before.
Here’s the thing. I do the same thing on all the blogs. I do my internal linking, I link to the words that seem to make sense to link to, and I do it on all the blogs. I also link to external sources and, when appropriate, use keywords. Yet out of 4 blogs only 2 suffered; what’s that about?
My theory was actually addressed by Tim in the interview. I thought that there was some kind of adjustment against older websites. Indeed, my business blog has been around since 2002, but then again this blog started in 2007, my SEO website didn’t come around until 2007, and my finance site in 2008. This was and still in my top ranking site, but my business site was actually doing really well at one point. I had talked about my medical billing site, which has only been around since 2009, and traffic there jumped as well; my Adsense money on that site has started to increase since the updates went through.
So, was it age? That’s what I thought, which Tim touched upon, but obviously it doesn’t work across the board. But Tim also touched upon something else, that being that Google has made some changes that aren’t necessarily algorithm changes, yet after the algorithm changes helps to enhance what they’d done.
One, they added the G+, which in their way makes websites where your friends, or at least people you know, that have G+’d something takes higher priority than other links used to. Two, they’ve gone out of their way to make local companies and websites come up more than websites that aren’t from the area for many things.
Tim found that many topics he used to be number one for on Google were gone, and often he wasn’t found on the first 5 to 10 pages of a Google search. He also found that some pages that were suddenly ranking higher than him were actually using his content in some fashion; wasn’t that supposed to be something Google was protecting us all from, that someone would rank higher for content we produced first?
If you know what this is you’ll understand the metaphor of why it’s here now
In essence, the “reality” we were given doesn’t seem to real anymore. What some of us were doing for SEO is just fine; it has nothing to do with how we linked, or broken links, or good or bad content. It has to do with supporting some things Google’s been working on in the background. One last thing Tim mentions in the interview is how suddenly more large companies, those that are actually paying Google, are ranking higher than those of us providing pretty good content. I can’t prove this one, as I tested some search terms and didn’t see that.
Anyway, Tim is irked to say the least, and he’s got some other conspiracy theories he talks about. He’s also getting ready to go postal in his own way, as he’s going on a big congressional campaign to get an investigation going into Google. Seems he’s not alone, as James also advocates this on his blog post. Not that there isn’t already someone in Congress that wants to look into this but these guys are serious.
What’s my stand on all of this?
One, I stick by my premise in another post that some companies like Google are getting too big for our own good.
Two, I think there was a different goal in mind that penalizing people for “bad SEO”, which is actually the type of SEO Google themselves told us to do years ago. I believe this as much as I believe Pacquaio beat Bradley Saturday night. By the way, in case you were wondering about the image above, that’s people playing Dodgeball, which I relate to this because I think Google dodged the truth.
Three, I think losing your mind and deciding to write to Congress is a major waste of time for the majority of us. Then again, if I’d lost as much money as Tim I might have a different mindset on this one.
Four, I still think you should read James’ post and listen to the interview he did with Tim because it will get you thinking and maybe you’ll come up with something else.
And five, I think this is proof that we all just need to continue doing what we were doing, especially in producing the best content we can, because in the long run we’re going to still attract traffic and visitors, whether it comes from Google, Bing, Yahoo, or our own efforts in driving traffic to our sites, and it’s imminently more important to spend time producing that worrying about the why’s and how’s of it all.