Case Study: How to Increase Your Search Engine Traffic by 500%
My favorite advice from SEO theorist Michael Martinez was that when no other search engine strategy works, adding content always works. Here's a case study.
I have a site that's been live since September 2009, and it only had 4 page on it. And of those pages, only two were content pages--the other two pages were the homepage and a single article. The content on the homepage consisted of a single sentence along with a link to a single news article.
Honestly, I was hoping to make some money from this site just based on this "exact match domain bonus" that people were talking about so much at the time.
From February 18, 2012 to March 17, 2012, the site received exactly 1 visitor referred by a search engine.
On March 18, 2012, I added 10 pages of content, and I expanded the amount of content on the homepage of the site. It's robust content, but it's not earth-shatteringly brilliant, either. After all, I did write all of it myself in a single day. The pages are between 500 and 1500 words long each.
From March 18, 2012 to April 16, 2012, which is just shy of one month, I've received 6 referrals from search engines.
What can you take away from this case study?
- It's easy to increase your search referrals by a huge percentage if you're not getting a lot of visitors in the first place.
- Adding content will almost certainly increase the amount of traffic coming to your site.
- Even with small projects like this one, it can be helpful to measure and track your results and changes.
I built up several thousand visitors a month to my Middle-earth at Xenite Website last year just by publishing content on it. Yes, I published some link bait (interviews with Tolkien scholars) but the site grew organically. J.R.R. Tolkien and Middle-earth are very niche topics right now, as the "Hobbit" movies have not stirred up a huge online fandom movement (and they may NOT stir one up like the "Lord of the Rings" movies did 11 years ago). To get several thousand visitors a month in that niche is a pretty decent accomplishment. Most of the fans are now heavily invested in social media, especially Facebook. And, of course, TheOneRing.net.
George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, and Game of Thrones is the hot fantasy property right now, and I think it's got at least a decade of life left in it. Maybe more, since the books haven't been finished yet.
I think Stephen King's Dark Tower series might see a similar rise in interest, too, if the movie/miniseries project actually comes together and gets made.
And outside of science fiction and fantasy we can still point to successful projects that have built up search traffic by publishing good content. I submit that Pinterest is a great case study, even though it's a platform publishing user-supplied content. Pinterest came on so quickly some marketers argue it's competing with Google as a traffic driver.
There are mommy bloggers who make a pretty good income just by sharing their thoughts on Blogger.
There are niche specialists on Wordpress.com who have built up loyal followings by publishing steady content, if not at a prodigious rate.
Certainly there are a few science and math-related blogs where the target audiences are relatively small -- and yet I find them in complicated search results competing with the likes of Wikipedia and Science.com. If I am seeing them in these queries, I am confident other people are, too. And as I click through to those blogs on occasion, I am sure other people do as well.
I've never in my life been a fan of this stuff, but have started watching Game of Thrones and seen every episode.
Will have to get the books - on Kindle?
I suppose if you're going to chase science fiction and fantasy in search, you could do far worse than go after "Game of Thrones".
I set up a pretty cheesy Harry Potter section a few years ago. It was always my intention to beef it up but I never got around to it. In the months leading up to the release of the last Harry Potter movie that section received several thousand visitors a month. It could have been tens of thousands of visitors had I devoted the time and energy to the project that it deserved.
Timing is everything in scifi SEO -- but the problem is you make so little money at it that it's not really worth the time and energy.
Nick- The books are good enough that they're worth buying the hardcovers, if you can afford it. I'd stay away from the mass market paperback versions though, unless you're looking for a convenient doorstop.
Hey Randy - I only buy on Kindle now as I move across the world and tend to leave books everywhere because it's a hassle.
Think I left about a dozen in the Philippines :P