When I launched my consumer-based niche site, I never set out to build much Google search traffic. I had no SEO plan whatsoever. I just cared about paid and social traffic because it was faster and easier.
However, when the site hit 5 to 6 months of age, it was getting 500+ daily visits. It didn’t take long after that to get more, much more Google search traffic.
It was at that point I decided I should at least do some on-site SEO and keyword research. Since then, I’ve not looked back.
My first post on organic search traffic set out what I did to get 125,000 Google search visits per month in the first 8 months for one of my niche sites (it’s not Fat Stacks).
Below is a screenshot showing organic Google search traffic for the last 30 days.
This post, while not nearly as lengthy, explains what I did to nearly double that organic search traffic in 7 months to 242,000 Google organic search visits for the last 30 days. I set out what I believe worked and what didn’t work.
Here it goes.
1. Increased Content Production
In February 2015 I ramped up content production from 8 posts per week to 15 posts per week. That’s 60 posts per month.
This isn’t cheap when all content is outsourced, but it’s definitely worth it given the growth in organic search traffic.
Here’s the kicker: Only about 1/4 of the posts I publish involve keyword research. In other words, 3/4 of posts I publish are not keyword based.
The posts not based on keyword research don’t get much organic search traffic. They serve a different purpose so they’re worth it. What this means is that approximately 1/4 of my content generates about 85% of the organic search traffic.
How many words/images do I include in my posts?
It varies. Some posts have only 400 words of text while others have 3,000. Some posts have 6 images while others have 80. I include what’s necessary to complete the topic/gallery.
What if you can’t publish this many posts per day?
Very few new publishers, unless well funded, can publish at this rate. I didn’t always publish 3 posts per day. When I launched I had 27 posts and then published 2 to 3 per week for several months. Then I ramped up to one post per day. Then 8 posts per week. Finally, I was able to publish 3 per day. I slowly built up my publishing capability.
Start small, earn revenue and invest in more and more content.
2. Increased Manual Internal Linking
In April 2015, after the site had 500 published posts, I decided it would be good to go back to older posts and add links to newer posts on the site where it makes sense. We also ramped up the number of internal links to related posts on newly published posts.
By “where it makes sense” I’m referring to linking to very related content on the site.
Why don’t I use internal linking software/plugins? I researched these options extensively, but concluded the lack of control with respect to where links go and the hyperlink text used wouldn’t be worth it.
It doesn’t take long to add internal links in a post with the use of the sitemap, so I decided it’s better to be safe than sorry. While I’m not an SEO expert, I’ve read a site can be over-optimized with internal links, especially if automated, so why take a chance.
Please note that I’m not an SEO expert in the sense of knowing for sure whether automated internal linking will hurt a site. I just figured doing it manually would be the safest route to take given it doesn’t take too much time.
How many links per page/post? I mix it up from 3 to 10 links per post. Longer posts get more.
3. Plenty of Long Tail Keyword Research
In January 2015 I hunkered down for about 2 days and put together a list of 200 long tail keyword phrases on which to base articles/posts. I used the software set out here.
While these phrases are long tail, they do get traffic. In fact, many of these types of posts get a lot of traffic that’s different than the phrases they target.
What about going after huge volume keywords?
I can’t argue with the strategy of working hard to rank #1 or #2 in Google for massive volume keywords (100,000 plus searches per month). After all, if you succeed, it’s an avalanche of traffic.
However, it’s not my strategy for one reason. I’m not really into building back links (with one exception, which I set out below). That doesn’t mean I don’t get backlinks. I actually have links from authority sites such as Oprah.com and similar such sites.
What I don’t wish to do is spend hours and hours working on getting quality links to one post in the hopes I’ll rank for one very competitive phrase or keyword.
Instead, what’s working for me is publishing engaging content targeting long tail keywords so that I can get both social media traffic and some organic search traffic. What has happened over time is that I am ranking for some higher volume keywords… but that was not by design.
Should you go for ranking high search volume keywords?
If you like the challenge of getting white hat, quality links from related sites, go for it. It’s a great strategy; it’s just not a strategy I enjoy. Remember, it’s important you enjoy the tasks you choose to do for your sites.
That does not mean I won’t adopt the high search volume keyword strategy down the road. I may hire someone who has experience with outreach for quality links (as long as they are white hat links).
4. Lazy Approach to Email Outreach for Backlinks
This is the one exception to “not doing any backlinking” I’ve adopted because it’s a lazy form of it that I’ve outsourced and it’s pretty white hat (at least I think it is).
Basically, I simply ask the people who have published on my site if they would like to link to their article(s) from their site under a “As Seen On” type of concept. We email them when their feature goes live so it takes no extra time to suggest they link to the post.
5. Email Newsletter & Ramped Up Social Media Efforts
I’m a believer that traffic to a website helps rankings. I can’t prove it. However, I believe it’s a factor, especially if bounce rate is reasonable and time on site is reasonable.
Think about it. The Google search algorithm notices consistent traffic to an article in addition to search traffic. It makes sense this sends a signal to the search algorithm that this is content people like and visit and so that traffic enjoys a lift in the SERPs.
And that’s what having an email newsletter and popular social media sites do (in addition to generating a TON of revenue from the traffic).
My email newsletter is a huge set of automated newsletters, each newsletter sending people back to the site to different blog posts. What that does is send a steady stream of visitors to hundreds of blog posts daily.
Same thing with my social media channels (Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+ and Twitter). We post and post and post sending traffic to dozens of URLs in any given week.
7. What About My SSL Certificate?
In my post about the possible benefits of SSL certificates I shared that I placed an SSL certificate on my niche site after Google announced sites with an SSL certificate would benefit in the search engines.
In that same post I shared that it was not an easy job and that it cost me a lot of lost revenue.
In January 2015 I decided to dump the SSL certificate because it was a hassle and it cost me a lot of revenue. It wasn’t worth it.
Moreover, dumping it hasn’t slowed organic search growth. Obviously I can’t conclude that an SSL certificate doesn’t help organic traffic… it may very well be a benefit. However, for my site, the lost revenue simply wasn’t worth it.
8. Website is Mobile Responsive
We all know that Google search gives preference to mobile responsive sites for searches on mobile devices. That was the recent Mobilegeddon update.
Yes, my niche site is mobile responsive. It was from launch. That’s all that needs be said about this.
9. The Site is Older
As a site ages, all else being equal, the site will grow in authority and organic search traffic will grow. This can be great as your site grows, but it’s a drag when starting a new site.
Basically, my niche site is 15 months old, which is 7 months older than when it had 125,000 organic search visits per month. I suspect aging helped a little.
10. What About Bounce Rate and Time on Site?
Bounce rate and time on site figures have remained about the same for the last 12 months. The fact is I optimize for ad revenue so time on site could definitely be increased if I optimized more for user experience.
- my bounce rate is about 75 to 80%,
- time on site is 1 to 1.5 minutes, and
- average page views per visit is 1.4 to 1.6.
These aren’t the best figures, but they aren’t terrible given I optimize for ad revenue. I think they’re good enough that they don’t hurt organic search rankings (although I’ll never know because I don’t plan to veer from display ad optimization).
How much money does 242,000 Google search visitors generate per month?
For my niche site, approximately $10,000 CAD ($8,000 USD) is generated each month from the organic search traffic alone. The revenue sources include Adsense, other display ad networks and affiliate commissions (Amazon Associates, CJ.com, ShareASale and some in-house promotions). The revenue from organic search traffic amounts to a decent portion of my niche site’s net income at this time.
The plus side with organic search traffic, is it’s all profit (i.e. no ad expense tied to it). The down side is I can’t crank up the traffic dial with a click of the mouse like I can with paid traffic.
The key is traffic diversification
Google search traffic makes up about 15% of my traffic. Yet, it generates decent revenue. If I couldn’t buy traffic any more, the site still earns. If my social media channels died, I’d still have traffic. On the flip side if Google penalized my site in the search engines for whatever reason, I’d still have plenty of paid traffic and social traffic.
Of course I don’t want to lose any source of traffic… but being diversified is good.
10 MILLION good reasons to build up organic search traffic is…
Organic search traffic is very good if you wish to sell your website. Buyers love organic search traffic, especially if it’s not based on any black hat methods.
For example, TheRichest.com sold for $10 million with a $205,000 annual profit based on 3 million monthly uniques. Now that is one killer net income multiple. As far as I know, most of that traffic was organic search. Now that’s inspiring!
=> Learn more: Get my entire course that teaches you how I built a $50K per month profit niche site from scratch.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes.
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.