I started tripwire magazine in January 2009 because I had worked with web design and development years back and really liked it. My career had developed in a direction that did not directly involve these areas and I felt like I had to do something to keep track of the development and trends in my free time. I admit that I was inspired by existing top blogs and wanted to create one myself where I could share my own ideas and inspiration. I believe it is OK and quite essential for anyone starting up a new blog to allow themselves to be inspired from the authorities in the niche they decide to write for. Top blogs in a niche typically have spent years on working out what works well and attracts readers like crazy. While you should not directly copy their content and look and feel it can save you many month of hard work non rewarding work to analyze systematically what they do. Looking others over the shoulder worked for me and tripwire magazine picked up traffic faster than I expected and I learned that even in a well established niche there is room for new blogs.
I’m going to look back and share with you what I did and is doing to maintain and constantly improve traffic on tripwire magazine. I have learned to be creative and try out new ideas all the time. It is fun and part of being a blogger I guess.
Traffic in the beginning
When I started tripwire magazine I really didn’t know anything about what blogging was and what tools to use. In fact I found it seriously difficult to get started even though I had a web developer background. Basically I think I spent too many hours learning how to deal with Feedburner/RSS, track-backs, permalink structure, themes, comments and everything that is required for setting up a decent blog. The consequence was that I didn’t spend as much time writing as I wanted. However I was surprised how fast tripwire magazine started to pick up traffic. As you can see below the first month wasn’t impressive, but still I thought that 2.740 visits was a great start. As you can see I had very little search engine traffic and this is of course expected. I recall that the peaks you see where generated by a few links I was lucky to get onto posts on authority blogs.
End of February something happened. I didn’t spend so much time on tech. stuff and had more focus on writing. At the same time I started to submit my articles to other blogs as I later described here. I did not focus on SEO at all at this point and still Google ended up sending 14.100 visitors. I’m quite sure I got lucky because I decided to use a SEO optimized premium WordPress theme from Woothemes called Freshnews. I also started to bookmark my articles on sites like delicious.com and stumbleupon.com and it paid off.
While 80.821 visits in the 3rd month blew me away I struggled with a high bounce rate – meaning that most people only viewed one or two pages before leaving again. Generally blogs have higher bounce rates than most other types of web sites for several reasons. First of all regular readers typically come from RSS feeds and read the latest article and then they are off again. People looking for some kind of solution typically trust Google to find what they are looking for and go back fast if the post the landed on isn’t right.
This also shows in the pages per visit measure being at 1.62 and the average time spent on the site which where just below 2 minutes. Getting a better bounce rate can seriously improve the traffic. If every visitor double the number of pages they request the traffic measured in page views is doubled.
Traffic current state
The explosive traffic acceleration have not stopped, but it has slowed down a bit. The number of visits vary every month, but the screenshot below is typical month.
Google is the top traffic source I have as you can see. Typically Google send traffic to older articles (+2 months) that I spend a lot of time writing – also known as pillar content. As an example I can tell you that this article accounted for 3.49% of all traffic in Jan. 2011 by receiving 12.990 page views. The reason for this is top placements on Google for the keyword: photoshop text effects, photoshop text, text effects in photoshop. List style articles work very well and seams to attract a lot of visitors. I found that creating the largest lists online have been a good strategy to take to traffic from others, but also tiny lists perform very will. The important part is adding great content and using the right keywords in the article title, image tags, links etc.
I know SEO rules and best practice very well now and I apply this knowledge as much as my time allows me to. I prioritize the following “on page SEO” steps for most articles.
- Create relevant and short headlines with keywords
- Have H1 and H2 with keywords in your posts. Also makes the post easier to read
- Make sure to have links in you post to both pages on your blog and on external sites. Add keywords in anchor text
- Use permalinks and url structure with relevant keywords. Check out this WordPress SEO article for instructions.
- Add an meta descriptions text with a summery of the post. It should not be more than 160 characters
I have build my own SEO Page Analyzer to quickly spot SEO problems and it allows me to spend more time writing good content. The Tool is currently available for tripwire magazine readers here. Hurry if you would like to try it out – I only provide it for free in a limited period. You need to sign up for my free Blog Income Membership to get access. See how it works in the video below taken from the membership area.
I have also been testing what is typically called “off page SEO” such as link building and I believe it works quite well. In fact the way Google rank content it is essential to have back links with keywords in the anchor text. One of my favorite tools that you can also see in action in the video above is Market Samurai. I use to improve off page SEO factors by analyzing competition, doing keyword research etc.. It offers tons of feature but in particular I find the SEO competition tab to be excellent. The ability to learn what hi PR back links the competitors have is critical as this can be used to get same links.
I also spend a few minutes after publishing my articles to submit them to:
- su.pr (stumble Upon url shortener and review)
- Facebook fan page (please follow me here)
Previously I submitted to many more sites but it takes a lot of time and while it was critical to start up the blog I’m not sure the effect is worth the effort now. Unless of course you decide to outsource the task and still maintain your focus on writing and building your readership.
Areas of improvement
Unfortunately I have not managed to improve the bounce rate (haven’t really done anything to be honest) and it is one of my key focus areas for 2011. There is a lot of way to address this and I need to try some of them out. I may need to see if I can improve navigation and if it works to have a featured post area. Also I consider to test tools like crazyegg.com to learn about my blogs usability and visitor behavior. Another possibility is to add popular posts in the sidebar, at the bottom of posts etc.
The percentage of new visits is above 70% and it is too high I think. It could mean of course that I’m really good at attracting new visitors, but it could also indicate that too few come back as regular readers. Of course this is something I need to figure out and do something about. If you have ideas I would love to receive a comment from you! What are you doing to increase the amount of traffic to your site or blog. Let’s discuss our ideas and experience!
I have been experimenting with outsourcing to Philippines to get help and more power in the content writing and SEO space. It works really well and it is a topic I will cover soon in a article like this.
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