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%!
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.
Most everyone’s trying to get on the Google train since they’re still the big dog. This means that everyone’s trying to follow what others are saying while using Google as their main goal. In that vein, let’s look at some of the ways authorities have told us to use SEO tactics to get what we want and how it really works for most of us.
Everyone says writing titles that are specific to the article will get you massive traffic. The reality is you might not even get a decent placement on Google… even if it works on other search engines. Here’s a comparison of some of my most specific titles in 2018 and how they fared on DuckDuckGo (my main search engine, which is slowly gaining ground) and Google; just so you know, these aren’t encased in quotation marks:
24 Ways To Repurpose Your Content
How To Write A Pillar Post
Setting Your LinkedIn Privacy Preferences
9 Ways To Find Blog Topics To Write About
Google – not in top 300
Easy Ways To Create Tough Passwords
Marketing Vs. Promoting
Luckily I got two into the top 10, but almost no one who’s not a loyal follower is ever going to see those other articles. However, let’s look at the next recommendation and compare it to one of the articles shown about.
2. Keywords/keyword phrases
Let’s look at the article titled “9 Ways To Find Blog Topics To Write About”. It didn’t even make the top 300 (I stopped searching at that point); didn’t I do the SEO keyword thing properly?
Fed Ex Forum
The statistics show that I used the term “blog” 56 times in the article. That’s 4% of the entire article; the recommendation is at least 2%. Within that, I used these particular keyword phrases: blogging series; blogging/writing; other blogs; blog post/posts; blog topic; business blog; and local blog. I used the term “write” 22 times, which is only 1.5%, but added to blogging it should have done better than it did. Some of those phrases included: writer’s block; writers; write about; writ things; and write articles.
I will acknowledge that I didn’t write the article with specific keywords in mind, as that’s not quite my style. Still, there were obviously enough keywords in there to have the Duck rank me at #1; what’s the Big G’s issue?
3. Long form articles
Supposedly, studies have shown that longer articles do better these days and that the minimum should be around 850 words. That particular article above was 1,475 words. Thus, unintentionally I was 71% above the recommended “new” norm; that should have worked pretty well as an SEO standard.
4. Evergreen content
That article regarding Mailwasher above was a repurposed article from 2009. It’s still a valid and valuable product (at least it is for me), and I didn’t change the link from 2009, even if I slighted changed the title. The gurus will tell you that writing evergreen content will drive massive amounts of traffic to your blog or site. I’m hear to tell you… no it won’t.
5. Google rankings vs actual traffic
Last one to look at; traffic. I’m basing this on pageviews because I feel it’s the most important thing to track when you’re looking at your overall stats. It’s also intriguing to see how well your traffic numbers match up to your article rankings, especially on Google. Granted, I don’t get the kind of traffic I used to get, but you’d think my higher rated articles would have more traffic than the others, wouldn’t you? Let’s look at the numbers; you can match the keywords with the titles above:
marketing v promoting 602
blog topics 546
By the way, that’s traffic from the beginning of 2018, which means some articles had more time to grow than others. The figures I find significant are the ones for Mailwasher, my evergreen post, and the blog topics post, which is my 4th highest of the list above… and my 10th most viewed article of the year. For the two highest articles on Google, pillar posts was my 11th most viewed article and repurpose was 14th. My passwords article was #2 on the year, but it’s on Google’s 5th page.
So… if SEO isn’t the all powerful way of driving traffic to your site, what is? It’s not just one thing, and it’s going to take a lot of work that almost none of us have the time to do, but here are some suggestions.
1. Read the article I just linked to
I wrote that in 2014, and it gives tips on how to increase your traffic if you’re ready to do the work. I give 10 things to shoot for there but the most important are:
* Find 10 bloggers who you either respect, who are in your niche, or whose blogs are ranked high and comment on their blogs consistently.
* Find anywhere from 1 to 9 other people whose blogs you like, whether they’re in your niche or not, but make sure they’re popular.
* Post at least 3 of your blog posts 5 times a day on Twitter and Google Plus, and connect at least one of your blogs to LinkedIn
* Ask if you can write a guest post
Those are a good start for you, but read the article for more. Ignore all the Google Plus stuff since it’s going away soon. By the way, if you go the guest posting route, please, PLEASE be professional about it.
2. Promote, promote, promote
I’ve talked about the work that promotion takes as well as some of the things others have done to get noticed in the past. Well, it’s not only a challenge, but it can backfire on you if you get it wrong as well as work in your favor long term.
I have to admit that I promote more than the “normal” folks but less than the supposed big timers; I just don’t have my heart in it to post 10 times an hour every day. So, the bulk of my traffic comes through my blog’s home page, and the search engines are second, though way down the list. Even further are the social media sites where I promote my articles, but at least it’s in the top 3.
An email list might help but you still have to get people to your site to sign up for it. We come back to the “promote” thing; you have to get your name in front of others, and the best way to do it after all these years is taking time to comment on other people’s blogs; trust me on this one.
3. Find ways to get people to talk about you and link back to you
I’m not going to do it today because it’s way too easy, but I’ve spent time over the years posting links to other bloggers and some of their articles… without any of them asking me to do it. You shouldn’t go up to anyone you don’t know and on whose blogs you haven’t participated on and ask them to mention you or link to you; that wouldn’t work with me.
However, there are still ways to get it done properly. For instance, whenever I mention someone and link to them, I always share with them on Twitter and sometimes on LinkedIn if I post something there. At least half the time they’ll reshare those articles, and if their follower list is larger than mine (which isn’t hard to to) then they’ll come to see what you had to say about someone they’re following.
Actually, I’m about to break what I said above about not linking to anyone, but I have a specific reason for doing it. I was mentioned in an article written by
The thing is, I’ve never reached out to the gurus to specifically comment on their blogs. Maybe it’s pride; I don’t really know. Back in the day I used to comment on Problogger often when Darren was writing most of the content, as well as Basic Blog Tips & a site called The Sales Lion. These days Ileane’s site is mainly for guest posting and Sales Lion isn’t blogging anymore, but I get to say I knew both of them “way back when”. 🙂 Still, it’s not bad advice I gave above if you can find someone you truly like and comment there when you can… and of course write good comments.
I could go on forever, but the article has to end somewhere. The takeaway is that blogging isn’t easy, SEO isn’t the answer to everything, and to get what you want is going to take a lot of work, perseverance, integrity and, of course, good writing. Do you have it in you? Let me know!