There’s something I’ve come to realize about most of my fellow bloggers – you guys and girls are not great at marketing.
Don’t take offense, marketing is not something that comes naturally and most people enter the blogging world as writers or hobbyists, not business people.
Some look at marketing as advertising and their current perception of advertising is akin to lying. With that attitude in place, no self respecting blogger wants to learn how to lie in order to promote their blog. This may be an inaccurate assumption about marketing, but let’s face facts, most people don’t know what marketing is and their world view of the advertising industry is framed on their experience with television commercials, magazine advertisements and billboards.
Some might say I’m a good marketer, but I want to be honest with you – if I had a choice, I’d rather sit down and just write to my blog and not worry about how I’m going to “get my message out there”. I’m lucky because I have some momentum here at my blog, so in a lot of ways I can just publish content and my traffic will grow, but chances are for you, if you build it, readers won’t just show up and read your blog because it’s there.
…or will they?
The Long Road To Blog Traffic
You’ve possibly read the varying arguments about targeting the Long Tail for traffic as a blogger. Some argue that you can’t leverage the long tail for traffic in the same way that a business like Amazon does for profit selling goods.
This is true, in some respects. Amazon, iTunes and companies and services like them, have massive scale and can reach the entire long tail of a product catalog and thus truly leverage the full breadth of the tail.
Bloggers cannot realistically do this since it would mean writing content to hit every single topic and keyword phrase in a niche – effectively millions of articles.
Any blogger who has managed to stick to writing regular content for at least three months – and it really kicks in after about six to eight months – knows about the gift you receive from Google. If you check your traffic statistics regularly, the traffic coming from Google and in lessor respects from the other search engines, will increase if you stick to regular content production long enough.
Thanks to search engines, bloggers who specialize in writing voluminous amounts of content but with poor marketing skills or a lack of motivation to do much more than put creative thought out on their blog, can still succeed – it’s just a bit slower this way.
One Visitor At A Time
Blogs are great for attracting search traffic. We know this. Any person who has looked into the world of search engine optimization and dug a little deeper will understand that blogs are not a “magic button” for search engines, yet even bloggers who spend little time building links (again, they don’t want to market their blog), still manage to attract readers from Google.
How can this be? Why do blogs organically attract traffic from search engines so easily?
At the heart of the justification is the ease of publication of content. Before blogs, people who were prolific content producers faced technical challenges distributing their work online using clunky content management systems or plain old HTML. Today, with WordPress installed our budding writer can publish content at will and thus, Google rewards them.
Even if you are not great at building links, you don’t “get” social marketing and no A-list blogger has ever linked to you, it’s still possible to create a traffic asset based on your ability to write.
So how can you build traffic without marketing? By attracting one visitor at a time…
Let me first state a fact – this is not the quick way to build traffic, but it does work, and for those of you who enjoy writing but not marketing, this is your salvation.
The key is to focus on producing content – and lots of it. Quality helps, as does working your keywords to target the right phases, but even if you don’t know your keywords from your house keys and your writing quality is closer to the back of the cereal box, provided you put original thought out on your blog and do so VERY regularly, you can build traffic.
The reason why this works is sort of like the long tail, but not nearly as comprehensive. Look at each article you produce as a hook to bring in just one visitor per day.
Google Loves Content
If you publish a blog and the Google search bot finds it (submitting a sitemap should do it) and it indexes your content and comes back again tomorrow to find more content, the bots will continue to return to your blog day after day.
Search bots monitor websites to see how often they update. If you publish new content daily or even multiple times a day, the bot will learn to expect this from you and return daily to index your words. The result is very quick indexing of your articles, usually within 24 hours or less.
That of course does not guarantee a first page position for popular search terms, but it does mean your content is in Google. To gain top rankings for popular search terms you need incoming links from authority sites, this is SEO 101 stuff (see The Top 8 Search Engine Optimization Techniques) and for this to happen you need to market your blog, and well – that’s not what this article is about.
However, with your content in Google that means your articles will rank for something. You will even get first page results but they will be very very specific keyword phrases that only a handful of people search for (i.e. not popular phrases). To put it simply, Google won’t send you hundreds of visitors to just the one article, but you might get one or two visitors coming through from very targeted or very random searches.
If every article you produce brings in one search visitor, if you publish 1,000 articles you should have 1,000 new visitors coming to your site per day right? Well not quite, it’s never as linear as that, but the principle is there – if you rank for thousands of unpopular phrases the trickles of traffic can add up to a river.
The nature of search is very complex and very random. What people search for changes constantly so you can’t expect a consistent or predictable outcome, but, if you have enough content out there then simply because of the breadth of your blog you can bring in consistent traffic.
Consider The Competition
Competition in your industry plays a big part. If you publish 1,000 articles but so do another 1,000 bloggers, then it is harder to capture the traffic.
Google has access to whatever exists on websites. If your industry is made up of a lot of prolific content publishers then it’s harder to compete – Google has a lot of options in terms of where to send traffic to. However, for a lot niches, there just isn’t a prolific blogger or content producer, or at least not many.
Consider your own industry – how many bloggers do you know of that have published more than 500 articles? It’s just not common, most people don’t have the commitment or the ability to write frequently for a long time.
On the flipside, you also need to consider the overall audience size. For this to work there has to be people conducting searches. There’s no point publishing 1,000 articles if there are only 100 people who actually care about the topic.
The Writers Way
In general, as long as you have picked a topic area with a reasonable following, content will attract traffic regardless of how good a marketer you are. Just remember this is a path for those who love to write and have ample patience. It might take months or even years, but if you put enough content of at least some value to a few people, Google can handle the rest.
If you are in a hurry and words like “leverage” and “exponential growth” are more your style, marketing is the only way to get you there. The best combine both worlds, ample content and clever marketing, but it’s nice to know you can still be “just a writer” and succeed…for now.
Bear in mind it will get harder and harder to work the volume model over time because of all the other people publishing, creating competition for search traffic. In the end, if you do want true long term stability and market dominance, authority through content production and marketing is the only path.
Today, in our blogosphere, opportunities abound for those who are intelligent, experienced and knowledgeable, and prepared to translate those qualities into content for others. If you put in the hard work now, you can be sitting pretty in a few years enjoying the lionshare of traffic and sitting in a position that is difficult for others to supplant.