It’s easy to get stressed out when nobody comes to visit bar web crawlers.
There is probably not a website in the world that doesn’t obsess about their traffic numbers; from WordPress’ “Manhattan Stats” and Google Analytics, to page rank and domain authority there are plenty of ways of checking how you are progressing, but if you’re like us there have probably been occasions where you thought you had cracked it with a particular post or trending topic, only to see your traffic flatten out again a few days / weeks / months later.
Here are 5 things you can do as a matter of course to make sure that in Google’s eyes, at least, you are doing everything you can to please the web crawlers, your audience and ultimately, yourself and your business.
1/ Post consistently – there is a lot be said for the “mega-post”, like this one, a super comprehensive SEO audit guide that has found its way to the top of the rankings at least partly thanks to its sheer scale.
But these kinds of posts take months to write and as much as they might succeed, they might just as easily prove to be a wasted effort. So, try to post consistently, and don’t go long form unless you really have something “big” you want to get off your chest. 500 words should usually suffice. Google loves consistency – it shows you are committed, up-to-date and interesting.
2/ Stay on topic – harder than it sounds – wandering fingers on a keyboard can take you to all sorts of places you don’t really want to be going – we’ve all done it – you start writing about one subject, but hey this could be relevant too, and what about this tangent here…stop it! Don’t let your mind wander when you compose posts – set yourself a time limit, and stick to it. Believe it or not, you’ll produce your best work when you place yourself under time (and length) pressure.
3/ Share, share, share – just because your posts aren’t being liked or re-tweeted, or your Facebook page isn’t as popular as a Shoreditch burger-van outside a Gary Vaynerchuck convention, doesn’t mean you should abandon them. Tools like Jetpack for WordPress, Hootsuite and Buffer make it easy to schedule tweets, posts, updates and pics, so for a couple of hours work a week (or use Jetpack to publish your posts across all your social media channels instantaneously as you publish) you are significantly increasing your chances of being found.
Remember that some posts may not prove too popular, but as long as they are well-written and thoughtful they will boost your traffic stealthily, simply by being out there in cyberspace. You can’t always write pieces that tap straight into the zeitgeist and “go viral”, but keep trying – none of it is wasted effort.
4/ Check what’s trending – Google makes this easy for you to do – so do it! You shouldn’t wander off topic, but you can almost certainly relate what your business does to a topic that is trending online.
Try to avoid truly tenuous hooks; “Merkel visited Trump last week – and that’s why you should try our speed-dating app!” but the internet throws up all kinds of opportunities to show your wit, worldliness, and eventually, wares.
A fresh take on a trending subject will usually be welcomed, but you are walking something of a tightrope here – so many people will have had their say, if you are not producing great content on a popular topic, you risk looking mundane or unoriginal – so tread carefully
5 / Hire a copywriter / SEO agency – two very different things, but let’s lump them together before our “listicle” gets too long! In fact, there’s a reason we have lumped them together because it’s kind of an either / or situation. Some writers are brilliant, original, funny, left-field, and never get read. Others are dull, repetitive, quasi-plagiarists who get millions of views because they know exactly what those crawler bots are looking for!
You’ll need to make a decision depending on the kind of company you run. If you want clicks and you don’t care how you get them, there are SEO experts out there who can make a big difference – but make sure you interview them (preferably face-to-face) and make sure what they tell you makes sense to you before you make the hire. Garbage in, garbage out.
If you are looking to wow certain niche clients, you’ll need to hire a “name” perhaps, a successful journalist turned freelancer, for example, who can really make people think – this is perfect if you are selling high value products, for example, and you want to show your customers you are all about quality and going the extra mile.
So there you have it – don’t give up, do it yourself to begin with so at least you have some experience of how the process works, don’t expect miracles every time, and be very aware of what’s going on in the world.
Here’s Google’s Matt Cutts on writing online – essential, essential viewing!