My name is Ana Hoffman, and if I learned anything after many years of building an online empire, it’s this: the online business industry is a scary place. A place where many a mighty business owner has fallen.
That’s right, I’ve had some online business flops in the past, until one day I realized that my business was only as good as the number of eyes that saw it on a daily basis.
That’s why I started the Traffic Generation Cafe blog, focusing on various free traffic generation methods like search engine traffic, social media traffic, networking, as well as how to convert that traffic into subscribers and buyers.
In six quick months, my blog grew to be an authority on traffic generation. My blog’s traffic (I was ranked under 15K on Alexa), reader engagement, and sales showed me that I was on the right track.
This might all seem foreign to you.
Stick with me and it will soon become second nature.
Now let’s get down to business.
Content is the main driving force behind any blog’s success.
That’s it? That’s the premise for my post?
And if all of us already know that and are putting it into practice back on your blogs, then why are so many blogs still failing? Why are so many blogs not generating even measly amounts of traffic? Why are you here looking for answers or pearls of wisdom to take back to your business?
Your content is the single most important driving force that will determine whether your readers stay, share, and convert into buyers or subscribers, period.
But that’s not the only thing that matters.
Your readers are the ones to determine if your content is up to par, but the search engines, Google in particular, are the ones to decide if your content is good enough to bring you those readers to begin with.
So you see, our goal as bloggers should clearly be to always serve two masters: Google and our readers.
I can already hear the objections coming in.
Isn’t it an oxymoron, you say? Writing personable content that attracts human interest, brings about discussions, connects with the reader on a deep personal level and keyword-stuffed metric-based content that would rank highly on Google?
I agree this used to be the case.
However, in the new post-Panda world Google tells us louder and more clear than ever: it wants to serve its searchers the kind of content the searchers want to read – unique, beneficial, and productive.
When Google sends you organic search engine traffic, it wants to make sure that the search engine visitors are happy with what they find on your blog and don’t come back to Google searching for the same query.
Thus, you do your job of delivering superb content right and satisfy the searchers looking for answers, and Google will happily send you even more traffic.
Turns out that serving two masters in this particular case goes hand in hand. Killing two birds with one stone – how much more efficient can it get?
So let’s take a look at what specifically we, the bloggers, need to pay attention to when writing that new killer post of ours.
I am basing my conclusions on this SEOmoz report on search engine ranking factors. If it isn’t the holy grail of search engine rankings and how to draw the most traffic from it, then it’s as close as we can ever get to it.
Uniqueness Of Content
This might’ve not been as strong of a factor in pre-Panda times. (If you need more information on what on earth I refer to as “Panda Update“, here’s the most coherent resource on the subject: Finding more high-quality sites in search – and it’d better be since it comes from the official Google blog).
According to the above-mentioned SEOmoz report, the collective opinion of 132 SEO experts polled assign the uniqueness of content across the whole site 89 points out of 100.
Unique content was the most original marketing tool back in the 1990s and it’s, once again, taking its well-deserved place as one of the most significant positive indicators of the quality of the entire site.
While many bloggers continued to stand firm on the principle of consistently producing unique content, many took the easier way of jumping on the bandwagon of flavor-of-the-month promotion techniques, thus diluting the core principle that goes to the heart of blogging “Thou shall not produce the kind of content thou wouldn’t want to read yourself“.
What would one refer to as “unique content“? What might be the characteristics both your readers and the search engines are looking to find on your site?
- In the broadest terms, it’s the kind of content not found on the multitude of other sites. If I see another post on “15 Ways to Get Facebook Fans” or “How to Guest Post“, I am going to scream.
- I am not saying you have to invent something new every time you write a post, but a new angle on the old tired topic is in order at the very least.
- Onsite Duplicate Content: When Google crawls your site and sees that two out of three pages are duplicates of the first one, they will drop those two pages from rankings and will assume your site has a lot less unique content to offer than it actually does. Read Duplicate Content Phantom: Don’t Be Duped, Be Informed for more information and fix whatever issues you might have on your blog.
- Advertising: Yes, the amount of advertising on your site does matter – both to Google and your readers. The larger your Adsense and other advertisement blocks are, the less space you devote to your content = the less unique content you’ll appear to have. That’s precisely why some sites suffered in Panda update – not because they didn’t have unique content, but because their content to advertising ratio was too low.
Freshness Of Content
Freshness of content on the site got 75 points out of 100 – the second most significant signal among non-keyword related on-page factors.
This signal also happens to have a direct affect on how much traffic your website gets.
Want to see your blog traffic double? Double the number of your posts. (Disclosure: don’t hold me to the exact number.)
That’s exactly what I did at my Traffic Generation Cafe blog back in October and I saw for myself what wonders it did for my traffic generation. I, since then, decided to take a little summer break and cut down to posting only three – four times a week and watched my traffic take a hit.
It makes sense, right?
The more fresh posts you have, the more reason your readers will have to come back on a regular, even daily basis - provided that you are meeting the threshold of unique content on your site.
So if you are currently posting two times per week, try to post at least four times; if you are posting four times, try to publish everyday.
It might sound like a lot, but remember: your brain is a muscle and, with due practice, it’ll be spitting out the needed amount of posts in no time.
Length Of Content
Aha – here comes a surprising factor.
It appears that the majority of the 132 SEO experts think that the longer your posts are, the better chance they have to rank higher, thus bringing you more search engine traffic.
Length of content on the page got 57 out of 100.
Once again, it makes perfect sense. The longer the post is, the more potential value it will deliver to the readers.
So what to do if your primary methods of communication with your readers include videos, audios, cartoons, infographs, etc.?
Try to beef it up by including scripts, captions, and explanations.
And no, it’s not a concession to Google and other search engines – you’ll be providing a valuable alternative to those readers who still prefer to… well, read. I know, I am one of them, and I always appreciate it when a video is followed by a script.
I hate cliches, and I am sure I am not alone on this one, but in this particular case I have to resort to the old and true “Content is (still) king” motto.
Yes, we all know it, but now we also have reasons to actually do it.
And in the end, wouldn’t it be a win-win situation for everybody?
Stay tuned for my future posts where we will be discussing why your content is the cornerstone of social media sharing and link building, and how to improve it to get more of both.