Photo by vramak.
After lots of experimentation over the last couple of months, I’ve found a very easy way to kick-start a topic based blog with an immediate influx of search traffic.
This strategy will be useful for anyone starting a blog from scratch, whether you’re creating a blog as a passive sales funnel, or if you eventually want to build up a big following.
The main requirement is that your blog has to cover specific topics, preferably from a how to/advice perspective.
This strategy is almost purely content based and does not rely on inbound links. I don’t enjoy link building and article marketing much, so the extent of my link building for the test blog was to participate in a forum on the topic of the blog and put a link in my signature.
I’ve participated in 2 forums in this way, left a few comments here and there with the blog linked via my username (no links in comments), and that’s it for inbound links I’ve created.
Yet, I was extremely happy with the blog’s first week of traffic, and more than 80% of it was from search:
654 visits and 1,175 page views. A month after that, the traffic increased to 1,303 visits in one week, 87% from search. This strategy is an excellent way to kick-start new blogs, especially in niches where guest-posting is difficult.
In this post I’ll show you exactly how to use this strategy for your own blogs.
When working to create a blog that gains traffic passively, you need to set up an automatic stream of traffic. Search is the obvious answer, yet I didn’t want to spend hours and hours on directory submissions, forum posts, commenting and article marketing.
I thought that if I could create enough content that targeted long tail search terms within a particular topic, the dribs and drabs of search traffic for each long-tail phrase would snowball into something bigger.
Most of the time when I search for a long-tail search term myself (like ‘is convolvulus poisonous to cats’) I end up on some kind of Q&A site. I often use Google like some kind of oracle, asking questions like ‘how do I’ and ‘where is’ and ‘what is’ and searching for answers.
Based on the huge amounts of traffic these Q&A sites get, I’m confident in saying that I’m not the only person who uses Google like this!
I decided to seed the blog with Q&A style content. I’d target keyword phrases people were using to find answers, and then give them the answer they were looking for.
But how do you know the questions people are asking?
Google Auto Suggest
As you’re typing a search term into the Google search bar, you’re met with a bunch of suggestions for what other people searched for – people who started their query the same way as you’ve done.
Here’s an example of how Auto Suggest looks for a search about kayaking, and then starting to type a word beginning with W:
I realized that by starting a search term about my topic in the same way someone is likely to begin asking a question, I could get dozens of ideas for content.
Let’s run with the Kayaking example. You could type in:
- Kayaking how
- Kayaking why
- Kayaking when
- Kayaking where
- Kayaking what
Here’s what Auto Suggest gave me when I started typing ‘kayaking how’:
Immediately, I have 10 ideas for articles I could write. To make sure the article is good quality, all I need to do is thoroughly and carefully answer the question asked, or provide the information the searcher is looking for.
This doesn’t mean the article needs to be lengthy, just so long as it provides what the searcher is looking for.
Searchers regularly use this form of search query: ‘topic’ + ‘phrase to search within that topic’. For example, ‘Kayaking how to get in’ really translates to “Within the topic ‘Kayaking’, show me articles about how to get in.”
While this is a very sensible way to search and likely to return a more varied range of potentially relevant results than the phrase ‘how to get into a kayak’, it’s not the way people speak.
If I wanted to know how to get in to a kayak, I would never approach an expert and ask:
“Kayaking how to get in?”
And for this reason, it’s very tough to find content with exact match titles for these terms, even though searchers are using them in droves.
Yet it’s perfectly reasonable to create content with an exact match title for these kinds of searches, which will help your site punch above its weight in search results.
In this case, all you’d do is use the following title format:
Kayaking: How to Get In
From Google’s perspective this is no different to ‘kayaking how to get in’ as it ignores punctuation, but to the reader this sounds like a perfectly reasonable title.
Using this method it’s easy to publish posts that are exact matches for hundreds of long-tail search terms, many of which may have no prior exact match results. This makes it easy for you to rank highly in search results without hundreds of inbound links.
If you need more topics from Google Auto Suggest, try typing in the name of your topic, a space, and then a letter from the alphabet. You can get topics from all 26 letters.
This method is frighteningly simple, yet it’s also a very powerful way to seed a new blog with a constant stream of valuable search traffic.
By using Auto Suggest you can create dozens of exact match articles for long-tail search terms. If 30 articles bring in 5 visits a day, that’s 150 visits a day on autopilot.
And, as your site ages and gets more backlinks, your articles will climb in the search results. Soon that number will be 300, 600, 900…
Now my test site for this method has been around for a bit over two months. During this time, I’ve been adding more and more brief articles that are exact matches for long-tail search terms.
Here’s what traffic looks like over the last week:
4,508 visits and 6,713 page views in the last week, 86% from search. The only link building I’ve ever done is a few forum posts and blog comments, probably taking up 1 – 2 hours in the entire lifetime of the site. The site succeeds because I’m providing quality content where Google believes there is none.
This strategy is likely to be of extreme interest to people who start niche blogs for passive income, but it’s also a smart way to kick-start a new blog in a tough niche.
Once you seed the site with Q&A style content and are happy with your initial traffic levels, you can move the Q&A content off your main page by changing date stamps, allowing you to switch over to more traditional styles of blog content.
A final tip: When using an exact match title for a question search term, i.e. ‘Kayaking how do I get in’, you may want to tweak your post title a little bit so it’s clear that your content offers an answer, rather than someone asking the question. You can do so like this: Kayaking: How Do I Get In? [Answer].