Check this insanity out.
Below are Ahrefs screenshots of a site with over 1,000 referring domains (all naturally acquired) but the site gets a paltry 13,000 monthly SEARCH visitors.
The lion’s share of those searches are for the website’s name and the blogger’s name. It ranks for pretty much ZERO keywords.
Referring domains (Ahrefs):
Organic search traffic (Ahrefs):
Here’s another example.
Referring domains (incredible number):
Organic search traffic (practically nothing for the inbound link profile)
How can that be?
These websites, while insanely popular, do not target keywords.
Okay, they might rank for a few long tails but that’s by accident.
Given the age, DA, links, etc. these sites should be hauling in hundreds of thousands of monthly search visits courtesy of the big G.
But they don’t because for some reason the publishers don’t care.
I guess nor should they because both sites get tons of direct traffic (loyal readers). Each gets over 1 million visits per month. For finance sites, that’s epic.
They’re both a wild success despite no search traffic.
While I applaud them (plus I read the sites every day), I can’t help but think of all the additional traffic these sites could get.
These sites teach two BIG lessons:
No matter how great your content is, if no one’s searching for it, you lose.
In other words, if you don’t optimize your content to target a keyword, regardless of how obscure that keyword, you won’t get search traffic.
Google can only deliver traffic for terms and phrases and topics that people search for.
The titles on those sites target nothing.
Hence no search traffic.
If you publish an awesome website, you can get a ton of direct traffic.
I have no website that pulls in direct traffic like these sites. I sure wish I did… but even if I did, I’d optimize some content for search.
These sites are truly epic. They both have a huge following (including me). There are no email newsletters. One isn’t mobile responsive (the first one). No categories. No navigation. They’re blogs in the purist form.
Hundreds of thousands visit regularly.
Comments often number into the hundreds (very rare these days).
They’re both a runaway success.
But the point remains.
If you want search traffic, target terms that people search.
There’s a HUGE difference between NO and LOW search volume.
I go after low competition KWs which are often not searched much, BUT they are searched for.
That distinction makes all the difference in the world.
Are you targeting keywords?
If not, unless you can write and harness a loyal following like Garth Turner at Greaterfool.com (the first site profiled above) or the guy behind Wolfstreet.com (the second site profiled above) you’ll end up with no traffic.
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.