I have a confession to make: up to very recently I was horribly disappointed with the pace at which I have (not) been able to increase the traffic here at BrightIdeas.co and in today’s post, I want to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned so far, plus a startling realization that has made a massive difference in the traffic to this website.
But first, some background is in order….
While I have never professed to be an SEO or traffic generation expert, I still had high hopes that the popularity of my podcast would translate into consistent increases in my website traffic.
Sadly, that hasn’t been the case.
Since launching BrightIdeas.co one year ago, traffic has been pretty much “stuck” at about 4,000 visitors per month; which is pretty damn anemic, in my opinion.
Its also been incredibly frustrating!
The reason that I didn’t let this frustration stop me, is that my list has grown steadily and the feedback that I have received via email and twitter has been nothing short of amazing.
Despite wonderful praise like this, and consistent increases in all other the key numbers that matter, try as I might, thus far, I have not been seeing the increases in website traffic that I’d hoped for.
How can I produce a podcast that gets such wonderful feedback and have a website whose traffic doesn’t grow? WTF?
As my podcast alone had thus far not produced an acceptable level of traffic growth, obviously, something needed to change.
The Pros of Podcasting
I am a huge fan of podcasting. I love doing the interviews, and, for me, it’s an incredibly easy way to create very high value content that my audience consistently tells me they love. (thanks to everyone who’s taken the time to tweet and write to me; it really helps!)
As a result of my podcast, I have had the opportunity to get a “free hour of consulting” from each of the 80+ successful entrepreneurs that have been on my show. With rare exception, I am very happy to report that I have learned at least one “bright idea” from every guest I’ve ever had.
Without my being the host of a podcast, there is no way that all these folks would have given a total stranger a full hour of their time. So why do they come on the show? They get exposure, plain and simple.
The #1 reason that I will never stop podcasting is that it has proven to be the very best networking tool that I have ever discovered. Without my show, I would definitely not have anywhere near the circle of influence that I currently enjoy.
If you have ever thought of doing your own podcast, stop thinking about it, and do it. The benefits FAR outweigh the investment of time and energy required.
The Limitations of Podcasting
With over 80 episodes in the can, I have come to realize that there is a downside of podcasting, and that is this: if you are only publishing a podcast and not doing much in the way of written text, you are going to have a difficult time attracting a new audience – unless you are pumping out an episode every single day like John Lee Dumas does.
In my case, I have too many other things that need my attention on a day to day basis to allow me to produce 7 episodes a week. I’m the co-founder of a software company (our product is still in development), as well as the founder of a marketing agency that is brand new and in need of plenty of attention, plus I run a mastermind group and am getting close to publishing my first book.
The reason that a podcast isn’t particularly good at attracting a new audience is because episodes take time to listen to and if someone has never seen any of my work, their desire to invest even 10 minutes to see if my show is worthwhile is limited. Plus, if they happen to find my show in the iTunes store, they don’t need to come to my website to listen to it.
What all of this boils down to is this: my podcast has been phenomenal for audience engagement, but it’s pretty much sucked at helping me to grow my audience; hence why my website’s traffic numbers have been relatively stagnant.
And Then I Met James Clear
Just over a month ago, I was introduced to James by a new friend here in Boise (who I’d also just been introduced to by another new friend). My friend here in Boise, Nathan Barry (who inspired the new design of my site) is a very successful entrepreneur and author of 3 books, and after listening to me gripe about my sucky traffic numbers, Nathan said, “You need to talk to James. He’s killing it.”
“Killing it?”, I asked. “How well is James doing?”
Back in January of 2012, James had a subscriber list of just 500 people and website traffic of 11,000. When I talked to him a month ago, he told me that his list had grown to over 20,000 and in the most recent month, traffic to his site had exceeded…wait for it….100,000 visitors!!
As soon as James told me this, I got out my notepad and proceeded to ask him to explain to me how he’d accomplished so much is such a short period of time.
Did paid traffic play a role? Nope.
Did he do a big product launch? Nope.
Was he using black hat techniques? Nope.
James told me that he focused on 3 key things to achieve such amazing results.
Thing #1: Know Your Audience
I’ve actually already written a full post on this topic already…but in case you haven’t read my blog before, I’m going to give you the very quick summary: if you haven’t yet selected a specific audience and don’t fully understand exactly what keeps them awake at night, you will probably completely suck at thing #2.
Thing #2: Write EPIC Content
For me, the key word in thing #2 is “write“.
Like I said above, for me, podcasting alone has been a weak strategy for attracting a new audience because they have no reason to come to my site to consume the content.
When you write content (like I’m doing now), first time visitors can quickly scan the article’s headlines (you are using headlines, aren’t you?) to see if your content is something that they actually want to spend 5 to 10 minutes to consume.
With a podcast, this is impossible to do….unless, of course, you are creating extensive show notes for each episode like they do over at the Social Media Examiner whenever they publish a new podcast episode.
Thing #3: Promote the F*** Out Of Your Content
This is where the magic happens.
Without promotion, based upon my recent results, I would say that there is almost no point in even creating the content in the first place.
Why do I say this?
Well…consider this: if you write an epic post and only publish that post on your site, how many people are going to see it?
In my case, not nearly enough. And, even if that post was the greatest thing ever, how many times can that piece of content be tweeted or shared on social networks?
To answer that, lets do some really basic math….
Ok…screw that. Forget the math. Let’s just jump right to the answer: NOT ENOUGH TIMES.
Unless you already have a high traffic blog, then the likelihood of your content “going viral” is about as big as the particle of dust that is somewhere on my keyboard.
Social shares is merely a percentage of total views. The better your content, the higher percentage of people that will share it (duh), but, unless you get a LOT of people to read it, the total number of shares just won’t be as much as they could be if you got more exposure for the piece of content to begin with.
Ok…so…with all that said, what was James doing that was working so well?
James Clear’s Content Promotion Strategy
Here’s what James does to promote his blog. Besides publishing his content on his blog, James republishes all of his content on several other sites. These sites include medium.com, quora.com, The Huffington Post, Lifehacker, and Google+.
Even if the sites where James republishes aren’t the best ones for your target audience, focus instead on his successful strategy and leverage your content as much as you can. His results speak for themselves.
Once James was published on the Huffington Post for the first time, he repeatedly asked for blogger log-in credentials for the site. Eventually the team at HuffPost provided James with these credentials, which makes it much easier for him to continually distribute his content there.
When James explained his strategy to me, I asked whether his blog had suffered any penalties for having duplicate content. He told me that he had not.
James doesn’t profess to be an expert in SEO, but he felt that Google was smart enough to figure out where his content was originally published. He underscored the point by saying that every major Internet news site does pretty much the same thing as he does.
He added that his traffic from SEO had not decreased as a result of this strategy.
What About Duplicate Content Penalties?
Despite the fact that James had told me that he had not experienced any penalties for duplicating his content, I wanted to investigate further.
CMI is a powerhouse in the area of content marketing and Joe is a very bright guy, so I was sure that I’d probably find some more bright ideas for content promotion by giving Joe’s work a closer look.
Turns out, I was right.
Content Marketing Institute’s Content Promotion Strategy
According to Joe, there are plenty of sites out there looking for “epic” content in virtually every industry. Whenever you find sites like these, there may be opportunity to syndicate your original content on their site. It turns out that CMI syndicates its content with business2community.com.
Business2Community gets roughly 500,000 visitors each month, many of whom are looking to learn more about content marketing. That’s the audience that Joe’s Content Marketing Institute (CMI) wants to reach, and here’s how they do it:
- About two weeks after CMI publishes a piece of original content on their own site, they allow Business2Community to “republish” the content (the delay lets Google know for sure that CMI was the original publisher).
- Inside their content, CMI includes informative links back to relevant blog posts on the CMI website, as well as receiving an all-important “author’s link” at the bottom of the page (James Clear emphasizes the importance of the author’s link as well).
After learning how CMI republishes their content on Business2Community, I visited the site and quickly found a link to apply to become a contributor. At the time of this writing, we’ve been syndicating our content to this site and the results have been nothing short of amazing (see results section below).
I strongly suggest you do the same.
Here’s what to remember:
- You want to publish your content on high-traffic sites whose visitors and subscribers match your audience. That’s very important.
- As you research sites, it’s essential that they allow you to categorize your content with some kind of tag. Doing so makes it that much easier for your target audience to find your content on these high-traffic sites.
- Some sites like medium.com, quora.com, and Google+ allow you to self-publish your content without the need to gain anyone’s approval.
- Other sites, such as the Huffington Post and Life Hacker, require that you submit your content for approval. Just Google around a bit and you’ll figure out how to do this.
Since discovering all these bright ideas for content promotion, we have kicked our content promotion into high gear. Below is a summary of the actions that we’ve taken thus far:
- Produce more text-based content
- Ensuring that we interlink all our posts to other posts (increases engagement)
- Syndicate our content to Business2Community, Medium, Quora, and Google+
In addition to the above, we have just started using Hootsuite to pre-schedule our social shares a week in advance (tweet every hour + 4 shares on FB and LinkedIn/day). While we have been using Hootsuite up to now, we have only been using it on a limited basis due to a lack of making repeatedly sharing our content a top priority.
If you are thinking this sounds like it would take a lot of time, you’d be right. That is why we’ve hired a full-time VA for $500/month to handle it all.
The reality today is that we live in a world where the key to driving growth is to get eyeballs on your content, and as such, I consider the $500/month that we are going to be spending to be worth every penny – especially given how fast the results have come in.
The Results Are In!
Take a look at the numbers below. All numbers are for the most recent 30 days compared to the prior 30 days.
After months of flat lining, visits are up a whopping 68.57%, page views are up 97.5% and average time on site is up 33.20%.
(picture me dancing for joy around my office)
At this point, I suspect these numbers aren’t sustainable long-term, however, they don’t need to be. If I could grow my traffic by just 21% per month over the next year, I will have hit 100,000 visits in a single month.
I can hardly imagine the benefits of 100,000 visits in just one month, but I’m sure it’s going to be pretty awesome.
Only time will tell if what we are doing will continue to work; however, as the basic logic is unlikely to change (more exposure = more traffic), at this point, I cannot see why our traffic won’t continue to increase.
Take a look at the volume of social sharing for my most recently published article on Business2Community.
There are 98 tweets, 15 shares on Facebook, 16 shares on LinkedIn, 6 shares on Google+ and 14 people have added it to their buffer.
In the words of Borat…thatsa nice!
I have never seen that much social heat for just one article in such a short period of time. (the article has only been on their site for a few days).
How did this happen? Did I write a better article? Well, maybe I did…but why do I only have 7 tweets on my blog vs 98 of Business2Community?
The reasons is simple; they are getting about 500,000 visitors a month, which is about 100 times more than I’m currently getting.
Getting your content on high traffic sites is naturally going to lead to your receiving more exposure.
So why didn’t I guest blog then? Why did I syndicate?
In my (limited) guest blogging experience, the sites that are going to post your article want exclusive rights to publish that article. That means that I have to write more articles for other sites than I do for my own.
That blows. If I’m going to write epic content, you can bet it’s going on MY blog.
With syndication, I get the best of both worlds. My epic content get published to my own blog, PLUS, I get to republish the exact same content on many other sites.
In my books, this is a win-win. (FYI…it’s also what the Huffington Post and a gazillion other news sites do.)
From now on, my team will be putting as much effort into promoting my content as I do into writing it. The results that we have achieved are just too compelling to ignore.
If you’d like to discover even more content marketing and content promotion strategies, then you will definitely want to sign up and become a VIP for my new book. When you do, you are going to get access to a free sample chapter, and, as you might guess, that sample chapter is all about content promotion. As a VIP, you will also get 25% of the price of the book on the day that we launch it. Click here to become a VIP today.