I think it’s time for me to admit that I don’t really understand blogging. Obviously, I know how to write (I think). But blogging is not writing. Running a blog takes a lot more than than a relative command of the written word. It requires marketing expertise such as knowledge of SEO, social media, and email marketing to get more subscribers. I’d say that I really only have a penchant for the first of these (it being my job), and I’ve largely built my blog on the basis of search traffic as of late. However, blog search traffic, like any other marketing channel, is a finicky way to build a blog.
You might be able to dominate a keyword for a little bit, but eventually, you may fall in the rankings. In my case, I was ranking highly for a post about getting hell’s itch in Thailand After about a month, it started getting a ton of traffic and was ranked 2nd for the keyword ‘hell’s itch.’ In fact, in June alone, it got over 5k hits just from search . The post, however, doesn’t really answer the intent of the searcher in when they are searching for ‘hell’s itch’
Seeing that this keyword was obviously generating a ton of traffic, three sites with higher authority wrote similar posts. My blog is 18 DA, which is not bad for a personal blog, but these sites were all beyond personal blogs in terms of overall site authority. More importantly, these three other sites wrote posts that better corresponded with the user intent of the search and were more informational in nature since July. One of these was on a personal blog, but the other two were on more authoritative publications. I’m not going to link to them, but let’s just say that their blog search traffic increased in proportion to my massive downturn.
These posts are now obviously ranking all above mine, and I’m toward the bottom of the page, so the traffic is now about 300 a month vs 5000 a month on this post. Obviously, a searcher looking at ‘hell’s itch’ is looking for information about it, not a personal account, so it makes sense that other sites capitalized on this and Google recognized it within weeks of their posts being published.
I totally recognize why this happened, but it still sucks. It’s not really a failure though, as much as a chance to reevaluate. I’ve still been steadily building links to my blog, of course. But a setback like this makes me think that blog search traffic is ephemeral, that is unless your content is just that good from a search perspective.
I’d like to think my writing on here is pretty good, but in general its not super tailored toward search. I’ve tried my best to market my blog, but I think that aspect of blogging isn’t really for me. I’ve already turned this into more of a hobby recently, and it seems I’ll continue to go in that direction with it. There’s a reason that 91% of content online gets no love from Google anyway, as Google search queries are geared toward the informational and not the personal.
The irony is that I regularly drive traffic and improve search rankings through link building for clients at my day job. Some of these are huge brands, and it’s crazy to think that I’m largely responsible for thousands of people clicking on webpages everyday. But for me, that isn’t as inherently as satisfying as writing. Instead of focusing on blog search traffic, I’m trying more and more to just look at this blog as a collection of my writing. It’s not even necessarily my best writing, but it’s writing that is communicating creatively and consistently. For someone, even a handful of people, to read your work, is immensely gratifying.
And if that’s what the blog will be, then I’d say that’s successful by that standard. At the very least, gauging blog search traffic is just one way to look at a blog. Now, I’m choosing to look at it differently.