End of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge

For the first thirty days of August, I did a blogging challenge where I was going to aim for 1000 unique visitors by blogging two to three times a week plus using as many blog traffic generating ideas as I could. In the three areas of evaluation (sorry, I’m writing my class and the marketing professor side of me is very close to the surface) how did I do; namely results, effort and learning.

How did I do in terms of results? My intended results was generating enough blog traffic to raise my normal 30 to 50 unique visitors to 1000 visitors. I missed by goal. I did hit 745. That is an increase of around 20 times. I’m pretty pleased with a 2000% increase in one month. According to my Google Adwords dashboard, 600 of those visitors were from SEM (Search Engine Marketing) that I started about half way through. Because cents per click is so low in India and there are so many English speaking people in India, the majority of my SEM visitors came from India. In fact, 70% of my total traffic came from India.

I don’t know if many of my new Indian friends will become repeat readers. I hope they do. If anyone from India is reading this, leave a comment. I’d love to make a connection. I’m concerned that a lot of that traffic was one and done though. I say this because I also picked up around 30 followers over the month. In WordPress, I’m able to see who followed me and who liked my posts…….at least, I can see WordPress people who have done either of those. I did go visit their sites if they had one. Based on their names, pictures and content, I don’t think the fellow bloggers who followed my site were from India. There is one new follower from Ghana, which is great.

I think I may have recently been reevaluated by the spiders (programs that “crawl” around the internet, evaluating websites). I’ve read that it takes up to a month for a spider to visit or revisit your site. A week ago, I had one visitor that the WordPress stats said came from Search Engines. I’ve had 20 visitors from search engines today alone and 64 this week. Definitely something has changed. Assuming I’m correct, that will pay blog traffic dividends for a long time. As long as I don’t slack off with my posting again, I should be able to maintain a better page rank in SERP (Search Engine Page Rank).

I did earn 3 cents for my efforts. I had never turned on advertising on my blog. The blog really wasn’t about making money. About a week ago, I set up paypal, turned on advertising and boy the copper came rolling in…….three times. I did set up affiliate marketing for my blog as well and even posted once about a WordPress 20% off offer. It’s over now I think. Setting up both advertising and affiliate marketing (at least, setting up WordPress affiliate marketing within WordPress) was very easy. I made no efforts to work either of them. I was just evaluating the process.


How did I do in terms of effort? My goal was 15 posts and I hit 14 during my 30 days. This post will make it 15……..that’s kind of cheating a little bit but I’m ok with it. Overall, the amount of effort to write a blog post every other day is not something sustainable for me……I think. There is something very therapeutic about writing, even though I’m not writing about anything personal. It does feel really good to get words on a “page” though, especially now that more people are actually reading those words.

I also spent time nearly every day trying to engage with other bloggers. I commented on their blogs. I liked their posts. I even tried sharing some of their posts. I definitely have something wrong with my set up of WordPress. When I tried sharing another person’s blog posts directly, it came up blank in my blog. Going forward, I can work around that simply by writing a very short post and encouraging people to go visit the other blog. Not a terrible work around and probably a little more intellectually honest. That effort isn’t sustainable for me. I do enjoy reading other blogs and I have learned a lot from them but, for me, continuing to engage with other bloggers will have to be more on a “as the content demands” basis. That is, I won’t go surfing for the sake of surfing. When I’m interested in learning about something, I’ll go find someone who’s been there already and has something to say.

One thing I did not do was to try to get other bloggers to backlink to me. Backlinking is simply having another blogger or website link to something on your blog or website. There are a number of tools out there that will help you evaluate another website’s authority and traffic. Your page rank goes up when higher authority sites link to you, driving more blog traffic through search engines. I don’t know. It felt kind of off to me for this project. I do plan on continuing with the blog now but I wasn’t sure about it even two weeks ago. If you are looking at your blog as an ongoing concern and want to truly drive traffic, do seek out backlinks. The process is pretty simple. Search for other websites, blogs in your area by simply searching your key words. Those that are near the top of SERP are the ones you want. Reach out the blogger or website administer, telling them how much you enjoyed their content and how your content is relevant to theirs. Ask for them to link to something specific on your site……..and repeat.

How did I do in terms of learning? Here I can say that this challenge was an unqualified success. I learned a lot of very useful SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tactics that are easy to use. For example, the way I think is to start with the category and then clarify with more detail. Therefore, my blog posts were in the form of “30 Day Blogging Challenge – Three Things I Learned About SEM”. That format doesn’t do anything for most readers or for the internet spiders. Now, my blog post titles are in the form of “Three Things I Learned About SEM – 30 Day Blogging Challenge.” Both human and bot prefer that layout.

I also have modified my writing a bit. It is very natural for me to speak in a little bit of a short hand. For example, when once I state in the blog post that this post is about generating blog traffic, I then simply say “traffic” for most of the rest of the post. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work very well for SEO. Now, I work very hard to cut out a lot of pronouns and to be more precise in my writing. If I am talking about generating blog traffic, I’m going to say generating blog traffic……not just traffic or even generating traffic. It is a good idea to mix up those terms a bit, so I can say generating traffic for a blog or blogging to generate traffic, but you want to use all the key words as frequently as you can without making it a boring read.

I’m still torn about length of posts. I think my natural writing and reading style prefers posts under a 1000 words. 90% of what I read suggests that word counts over 2000 words is more friendly for SEO. I’m trying. I think we are at around 1300 words right now. We’ll hit, maybe, 1500 words before I’m done. My issue is that if I have to hit 2000 to 3000 words every post, I’m likely to post less. I’m concerned that maintaining a higher frequency is also important. Therefore, I make an effort to expand my posts without making them annoying to write or unpleasant to read. Hey, if you are still reading 1300 words in, leave a comment. Let me know.

The point of this entire challenge wasn’t to generate blog traffic……that was just a numerical goal to aim towards. The point was to understand if this was a good assignment for my students. I think it is……just not over 30 days. As an assignment over the course of a semester, I think it would be a good learning exercise. I can work in a lot of traditional marketing topics as well as digital marketing. I’m not going to assign it for this fall though. Maybe in the spring.

One Day Left and I Have Learned So Much – 30 Day Blogging Challenge

I started this blog challenge with the stated goal of generating blog traffic of 1000 unique visitors in 30 days. That would be a 30 fold increase over the several months prior. The real goal, however, was to try out blogging as a valid homework assignment for my upcoming class of Foundation of Marketing…..as a semester long project. It doesn’t look like I’m going to hit the thousand unique visitor goal but I this has been an incredible experiment. I didn’t hit the numerical goal but I definitely hit the learning goal.

Let’s talk numbers first. My blog had been averaging 30 or so unique visitors a month……which is actually impressive since I only posted once this year. Right now, August’s traffic is at 666 unique visitors…….yeah really but with your visit, I’m at least up to 667. I went from 1 blog post in the prior seven months to 13 in August. Honestly, I don’t think that is a rate that I can maintain. Good for a scrum activity to build content but I simply don’t have that much to say. Going forward, I think I’ll maintain a one to two post a week cadence.

Where did all of these visitors come from? Well the majority came from search engine marketing, also known as SEM, also known (in this case) as Google Adwords. There are a lot of ways to do SEM, Google Adwords is probably one of the easiest for a newbie blogger. Many blog hosting platforms are already set up to work seamlessly with Google Adwords. Several even offer credit for your first ad. WordPress, my platform for example, offered $125 free advertising with a minimum spend of $25. That beats a BOGO offer……by a lot. I wasn’t expecting much out of SEM, to be honest. My experience has been that you pay around $2 a click…..$150 total spend (my money plus Googles) at $2 a click…..I figured SEM would generate around 75 visitors to the blog. Oh man, was I wrong? I didn’t realize that the cost per click in India was so low…..around $0.07 a click. As of last night, SEM generated blog traffic just below 600 visitors in about a week with a spend of only $40. Most of my visitors are from India but they are engaging in the blog as well as visitors from other sources and countries….at least as measured in page visits per visitor. The visitors from India don’t seem to be too willing to click like or hit share or even comment. Hey, if you are from India, you are welcome to break the trend and leave a comment. Let me know you’ve been here.

So 90% of the traffic generated was from SEM. That’s great on one level. It well exceeded my expectations and will help my SERP rankings a bit, as long as I keep advertising. I don’t have any expectation that I’ll keep advertising though, since I don’t have any way of making money on my blog other than advertising……which isn’t very lucrative. (I’ve spent $40 in SEM and I earned $0.03 in advertising fees. I do have one affiliate marketing post where I signed up for affiliate marketing for WordPress and put up an offer of 20% off this month. That was the only reference to affiliate marketing BTW and no takers.

Where did the other 60 or so visitors come from? The next three sources of blog traffic were from LinkedIn, WordPress reading area and Facebook. I don’t really use Facebook but I have a lot of connections on LinkedIn. I’m not really a Linked In Open Networker (Lion) but I’m pretty free with gathering links. This blog has also been around so I do have a few followers. I think, though, that the traffic that came in through WordPress was probably more due to the interactions I had with other bloggers. I’ve read more blogs in the last month than I have in the last year…..probably longer. Whenever I read a blog, if I had anything that even remotely contributed to their post, I added it in the comments. Leaving comments behind does leave a link behind but I believe that the biggest lift I got was from the bloggers themselves checking me out. That is not a scalable activity though. Sure, I spent an hour or so a day interacting with other bloggers which got me dozens of visits but there is no way I could have invested the time to turn that dozens into thousands. There is simply not enough hours in the day.

Anyway, my blog’s “day” ends at 9 PM eastern time……..at least it does according to where the traffic stats are assigned……I have no idea why. So just over a full day left and I’m over 300 visitors away. Unless you go on a massive sharing, liking, commenting binge on my blog and blog posts, I’m not making it. I might report in one more time tomorrow but I’ll give a full reporting on Saturday.

Oh, BTW, I’ve decided to NOT assign this to my incoming fall class. I’m going to blog at a weekly rate (or twice a week) over the course of the fall semester. I’m sure I’ll learn a whole lot more over the next four months. Assuming that I’ll teach again in the spring semester, I might assign the blog to them.

Oh India! – 30 Day Blogger Challenge

My blog traffic has shot through the roof and it is almost all from India. Two days ago, I noticed that I started getting decent (or, at least, generating blog traffic I thought was decent) coming out of Ghana. I don’t know for sure but I felt like the growth in my Ghanaian traffic was linked to starting adwords advertising last week. Looking at where my readers were coming from, geographically speaking, I realized my blog could be interesting to English speaking people anywhere and I expanded my adwords campaign to include more countries with English speakers, including India.

Oh man, I thought I broke something.

Look at my blog traffic for the last three days. The last bar in the chart is today which has a few more hours left in it. 90% of the traffic is from India. I got nervous at first and admittedly second because prior to expanding the ad’s geographic target, I was paying more than a dollar per click. That upward surge looked like it would cost me three to four hundred dollars.

Fortunately, the clicks in India cost mere pennies each instead of the dollar or two clicks in the US and Canada were costing. It made driving blog traffic significantly more affordable.

I checked to see if this new blog traffic had any value by comparing the number of page views per unique visitors. It has remained fairly constant for the last month at around 1.3 page views per unique visitors.

Definitely consider adding India to your ads if you blog is not geographically relevant. You may not get the same number of clicks in India if your blog is all about restaurants in Chicago, for example.

Please give a like and/or share and follow the blog if you’d like to read more in the upcoming weeks. Leave a comment if you are from India. I’d love to hear from you.

Blatant Mercantile Post – 30 Day Blogging Challenge

Why do people blog? Well, there are a lot of reasons. To connect. To create. To express……..TO MAKE MONEY. I have no idea how many people are into blogging purely, or even largely, to make money but let’s not ignore that motivation. It would be unfair to my class to ignore this aspect of the blogging world. It isn’t all about driving traffic……..well, even the money makers need traffic to make money.

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I did try to google how many bloggers make money, because I can’t believe it is very many of them……ah……us. There are just too many of us blogging and too many of us are not consistent. And since income from blogging is frequently related to generating blogging traffic, I have a hard time believing inconsistent blogs are generating traffic. Additionally, I am a student of human motivation. If you were making money by blogging, and I mean making a reasonably large amount of money blogging then you are more likely to be a consistent blogger. At least, that makes sense to me.

I couldn’t find any believable statistics on bloggers making money from blogging. I suspect is it a lot like MLM, i.e. Multi-Level Marketing……i.e. Avon, Sentsy and PartyLite…where there are a few who make a lot of many and then there are the many to make nothing or just above nothing.

During this 30 Blogging Challenge, I have moved up a rung in the money making from a blog ladder. I have official moved up from being one of the (I suspect) many bloggers who have made nothing from either blog to a blogger who has made just above nothing from their blog.

That’s a whole one penny made from blogging. It is my first and very special to me. I never had advertising turned on……well, I thought I did but I didn’t actually set it up correctly. I never cared because the blog wasn’t about making money and I didn’t do much to generate blog traffic. I do have to admit that it feels really nice.

My traffic yesterday was from a huge boost in SEM traffic. I had increased my daily budget, as well as expanded my geographic reach to include India. I went from 2 unique visitors on Friday to over 50 on Saturday based, almost entirely, on adwords results. How much did it cost me to bring in those 50+ people? $3.42. So to generate enough blog traffic to earn $0.01, it cost me $3.42!!!! That isn’t a formula for success that I can scale…….at least, not without taking a second mortgage.

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Earning income from blogging comes from several different sources and advertising isn’t one of the most profitable. It is really easy though. At least to make $0.01, it is easy. It probably isn’t as easy to make $10,000 a month from advertising though. I believe that most of the blogging income comes from either selling access or selling information. A lot of the profitable blogs earn the majority of income by selling eBooks or training…….ironically a lot of them are about how to make money blogging. Yup, just like MLM.

Another major way for earning an income from blogging, i.e. turning the blog traffic you generated into blogging income is through affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is basically becoming a referral service. You refer your blogging traffic from your blog to another blog or website that is selling something. WordPress makes it very easy. Once you have a blog, just sign up from your dashboard. They will post available affiliate marketing links. Run a post……or a lot of posts about whatever they are selling. Include a special link that they provide to you that will allow them to track back any purchases to your blog. Then you get money for every purchase. Keep in mind that you normally only get paid if someone actually clicks on your link and then BUYS something. You don’t get paid just for traffic.

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This is my first affiliate blog post. Note that I’m not doing most of I would be doing if my goal was actually to make money on the affiliate program with this post. For example, I’ve buried the offer deep within the post and I’m only posting about it once. I’m not specifically making any effort to promote this specific post either. So, what am I (actually wordpress) offering?

20% off a WordPress plan by using promo code DISCOUNT20 when you click here. Oh, by the way, this discount is only good through August 31st. And that is affiliate marketing. I’ll let you know how it works. By the way, WordPress sent me an email alerting me to the discount. There are other available affiliate programs available but they don’t currently have a discount……I figured everyone loves a sale.

30 Day Blogging Challenge Update: We are up to 342 unique visitors this month as of this moment. That is up from around 30 unique visitors that I would have had on this blog without the challenge. This weekend, I changed my SEM (my adwords account) to include UK, Greenland and India and increased my daily budget. The impact was immediate and huge.

Literally within 15 minutes of making those changes, my blog traffic shot through the roof. Where I was struggling to get 20 people a day, in 15 minutes, I had over 50 people from India. Namaste. I actually turned my daily amount down again in the budget tool, which killed my traffic for the rest of the day. I was concerned that I was going to blow through my budget in a few minutes. I turned up the budget again this morning and I had 80 people from India come visit. Since my blog has nothing to do with geographic relevance, it doesn’t matter to me if they are from Ghana, India or Toledo.

Hey, at this rate, maybe I’ll make $0.02 today.

Please give a like and share this post if you like the material, want to see where this challenge goes or just simply want to support the cause. Don’t forget to follow the blog.

Apparently I’m huge in Ghana – 30 Day Blogging Challenge

Ghana is a land of 30 million people on the ivory coast in Africa. They have a growing blended digital and industrial based economy. They’ve launched a satellite in 2017 and apparently they are huge fans of my blog. Here’s a shout out to my Ghanaian readers…….OK, I had to lookup “Ghanaian.” At least, that’s what happened after I started using Adwords in an attempt to drive blog traffic.

I’ve been watching the region my traffic has been coming from. Last year, the majority of my traffic came from the US and Canada. Makes sense. I’m in the US, writing in English and most of my contacts are either US or Canadian. When I assigned myself this challenge to generate more blog traffic, I started seeing a spike in traffic from India. OK, I thought. I have my blogged linked directly with my Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. I have friends and associates from India. Huge population. Lots of English speakers…..ok, maybe I was picking up readers from their contacts. If so, welcome. Happy to have you. Everyone, whether you are from Ghana or India or U.S.A. or anywhere else, leave a comment with your country name. It would be very interesting to see whether your comments match with the blog statistics.

I started using Adwords to drive traffic, suddenly Ghana became a top source of traffic for me. On my ad, I did specifically include U.S. and Canada as my target regions. Unfortunately, I only have the “premium” WordPress account and can’t install Google Analytics. Therefore, I can’t tell specifically if my Ghanaian traffic is coming from the ad or not but the coincidence is pretty significant. Now that I’m putting my words down in the blog, I’m not sure why I limited advertising to just US and Canada. If there is an English speaker in the middle of Asia who wants to read my blog, please do.

Just to see what happens to my blog traffic, I just went into Adwords and added United Kingdom, Australia and India. Just in case the U.S. does buy it, I added Greenland too. Having your country sold out from under you can be a bit disconcerting, so I want to be especially welcoming to any Greenlanders reading.

I’ll report back in a few days to if any insights. Oh, I almost forgot. My adwords budgets was only $5 a day for a month. I’ve increased that to $20 a day. I figure I’ll leave it there for a few days. I’m still trying to get as many unique visitors within my 30 day challenge, although at this point to hit my 1000 visitor target, I’m going to need 700 people to suddenly find me on the last day. Hey, please help out, if you can. Hit the like and share buttons. Who knows, maybe you know someone in Ghana who has not yet discovered my blog.

30 Day blogging Challenge Update: This has been a great experience already and I still have a week to go. I’ve had over 200 unique visitors this month already…..not bad considering that I only averaged 50 or so a month for the last year. Admittedly, I think I only posted two or three times this calendar year before I started the challenge. Actually, I just checked. I only posted once this year. It was a nice little post that got a little spike in traffic and a lot (for me) of likes. Please check it out if you are interested. It has been a lot of effort, just for an additional 150 people but I do think it will have a lasting impact, should I choose to continue posting.

At this point, I think once the challenge is over, I’ll keep posting around one post a week. My new niche, as wide as it is, will be posting about the content I’m presenting to my Foundations of Marketing class. I have to prepare for them each week anyway, so I can put together a few hundred words about the topic of the week pretty easily.

I’ve read a lot about SEO this month and I’m still unsure. Is it better to post frequently with smaller posts or to post less frequently but with longer posts? For example, if you are going to write 2000 words a week, then are you better off writing once a week a 2000 word post or writing four times a week with 500 word posts? I’ve read that the SEO spiders like the longer posts better and you can get a better SERP page ranking for your post with a post of, at least, 2000 words. On the other hand, the smaller posts are quick reads. Easier to maintain a regular schedule and each post has a chance to connect with your followers. If you already have a 1000 followers, pinging them every other day with an enjoyable quick read might be just the thing to keep them coming back. I guess the biggest factor is what will you actually do. If writing something, anything, every other day is daunting, then try to make a longer post weekly. If the idea of a massive post scares the heck out of you, then focus on smaller posts but more frequently. For the record, including this sentence, this post is right about 900 words. It is not going to dominate any SERP positions I guess but I feel like it is long enough. Trying to double my word count here seems like it would be a very long read. Hopefully, you enjoyed it and will give a like and a share and even leave a comment, even if it is just telling me where you are from.

When Should I Post – AKA 9:34 AM – 30 Day Blogging Challenge

Hey, quick intentional tangent. Are my pictures showing up with a pink hue over them? Everything looks fine in draft mode but wanted to check something on my blog and went to the actual version. Most of the pictures, especially the feature picture, were all pinked out. Could someone comment please and let me know if you see the same thing. Better yet, if you see the same thing, do you have any ideas on how to fix that?

We’ve talked a little about frequency of posting. To summarize, your blog posting frequency should be in line with the expectations of your target reader, i.e. your intended reader. A political blog or what’s in the news type blog could easily be updated daily or even multiple times a day. A reader who is expecting you to bring them the news or, at least, offer your unique perspective on the news, will not feel like they are being spammed with frequent posts. You can talk about Moscow Mitch in the morning and Sleepy Joe Biden in the afternoon…….I took a swipe at both sides, so don’t get excited. This isn’t a political blog and I’m not taking sides……..here. On the other hand, if you are blogging about top things to do in your town of 3000 people…….you probably need a little gap time in between posts.

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But the question comes up of what is the best time to post on your blog or what is the best time to post on social media. To a certain degree, you need to understand your target customer a bit and the niche that you are trying to fill. Posting about how service X can really save your business money on the weekend, probably won’t get the traction is would than if you posted it during business hours. On the other hand, if the businesses you are trying to reach our more typically side gig type business (MLM, Uber driver, etc.), you may do better posting on the weekend. A hangover cure post is more interesting on a Sunday than on a Wednesday……for those of us no longer in our twenties.

Generally speaking, most blogs get better traction when they are posted on a Tuesday or a Wednesday. Usually, Monday is reserved for catching up on personal emails, work emails, hearing about co-worker’s weekends etc. Something posted on a Thursday or Friday may get a few early readers but then people tend to get caught up in their weekend. By the time they are back to reading blogs, your blog has fallen down in priority as other people are posting as well.

The best time of day is between 9:30 AM and 11:30 AM east coast time. I know I follow the habit of getting up in the morning, checking my emails and doing what I must get down. Then a bit later in the morning, I will check out if there is anything interesting posted. I may not check again that day. That, multiplied by a few hundred million, tends to make that mid-morning post more successful than a post posted later in the day. Keep in mind too that 9:30 AM on the east coast is 6:30 AM on the west coast. This range to times does try to target the best time on average across the nation. Local blogs may want to adjust accordingly.

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Many blogging platforms have a tool that allows you to schedule a post. You can schedule, not only time of day, but also days or weeks ahead. This is a great feature if you aren’t going to be able to dedicate time for your blog and you know it in advance. You can write a number of posts and schedule them to launch at the appropriate times. Say, you want to maximize your blog traffic using the rules of thumb above, then you can write a number of posts and schedule them to launch on Wednesday and Thursday at 9:34 AM for weeks in advance. I’m just about done with this post but it is only 8:10 AM eastern……I just scheduled it for 9:34!

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Now, I have my blog set up to automatically feed into my Facebook page and my LinkedIn page when I post. That may not be the best scenario for generating blog traffic though. Sproutsocial, Elizabeth Arens wrote a great summary on best time to post on social media. I’ll summarize her post here but if you are interested in this topic, you may want to go give it a read. I won’t be offended.

In sum, each social media platform tends to draw a different population of people and, even if someone is on two different social media platforms – as many of us are – we engage in the platforms differently. Additionally, content ages differently on different platforms. For example, I’m connected to 800 or 900 people on LinkedIn. Even so, people post or engage with posts on LinkedIn as such a slow rate that new post could stay near the top of my page for a day. I don’t really use Facebook much but many people do……and when they do, they tend to engage with a lot of posts all at once. If you have something pop up on Facebook for me, if I don’t see it within the hour, it will likely be a few pages down already.

Therefore, to maximize blog traffic drawn to your site through social media, you may want to disconnect the automated post to social media and time each one differently. For example, Facebook Engagement is highest between 9 AM and 3 PM. But look at how that changes from day to day. Post any time during mid-day on Wednesday and you are good. If you are posting on Friday though, do it before lunch or forget about it.

Facebook global engagement

LinkedIn, because it is (almost) entirely work focused, has a different pattern. It is still skewed towards the morning but you can still be pretty impactful by aiming for the after lunch crowd.

times to post for linkedin

I think the subject matter of your post also will affect engagement here too. For example, a lot of the morning traffic are sales people checking out their targets for the day while the after lunch and the 7 PM crowd may be more people looking for a new job. Nothing says “get me out of here” than meeting an old friend for lunch who is happy with their job, except maybe going out with work friends and realizing that they are all looking to leave.

Update for blogging challenge: Day 21 and blog post 8. So I haven’t been successful at driving the blog traffic I had hoped. I’ve only been able to generate less than 200 unique visitors so far this month. At my current rate, I’m going to end up with around 250 to 300 visitors this month. My blog traffic is averaging around 15 a day but a significant portion of that is from SEM (Search Engine Marketing), i.e. my Google Adwords spend. Yesterday, for example, I did only get 11 unique visitors and 9 of them were from Adwords. Somehow they don’t feel the same to me. It is like I didn’t earn them. I also didn’t get as many likes or shares as I’m averaging on days without the Adwords. Were I intending this to be a money making blog, I probably would continue with advertising for a while……longer if I could prove the people the ad brought in were buying/subscribing/etc.

Overall, I’m pleased. I think I’ll work more on the website over this semester and, assuming that I am teaching the same course in the spring, I’ll launch this as a semester long project in the spring. What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know.

3 Things I’ve learned in a Weekend with Adwords – SEM

I’m trying to dramatically grow my blog traffic this month. As part of that effort, I launched my first adwords campaign on my personal blog Thursday morning. It is now Monday. My overall impression, admittedly early, is mixed. I am only targeting a spend of around $5 a day, so my expectations are measured appropriately. I do think that level of spend is realistic for a small, new online business. That’s nearly 2 grand in search engine marketing over a year, just using this one tool. So? What did I learn?

First, things take a while. I’m sure my original giddiness of…..ok, I’m placing the ad….was probably typical of a lot of new bloggers. I swear that somewhere in the ad creation process, google said ads typically go active in about an hour. Mine took ten hours. That’s ten hours of me checking the ad campaign for new impressions and clicks and then checking my stats for new blog traffic and then back to the ad campaign again. I grew impatient with Google. My wife grew impatient with me. When I saw that first impression go live, it was a huge relief…..and then nothing.

It is very different doing this on a personal level than at work. At work, I email the digital team and asked them to place a couple of ads around my product. I’d give them a campaign brief and forget about it. Then reports/results would start to show up in my in box weekly. Beautiful. This experience was not that.

My take away from this learning? Once you hit “approve,” walk away. Or, at least, move on to another project. Leave it alone. Let the ad happen and your blog traffic grow unattended for a few days.

Second, be sure to spend time with your key words before you launch the ad. Google does look at what you are linking your ad to and suggests key words. That is a good place to start. It can also be a little eye opening. If Google comes back with a lot of words that you don’t think really capture your blog…….you have some thinking to do about your content because that is what the search engine is seeing. You may have intended something else but your writing style is going to attract a certain type of blog traffic…..maybe it isn’t the type of traffic you intended.

After the first full day of results, I only 32 impressions and one click. I know I was only spending $5 a day but somehow I was expecting more.

In Adwords, you select the key words that you want your ad to be associated with. Then the tool gives you an estimate of potential audience size, see below.

My original key word list only had around 500,000 estimated audience size. In addition to my small spend, having a small audience definitely wasn’t going to lead to a high growth in blog traffic. I played around with a few different key words, each time looking at the change in potential audience size. Eventually, I added key words related to website design. Those, along with a couple of other changes, increased the potential audience size to over two million. Just for giggles, I checked Reuben and it had nearly a million people a month all by itself…….that’s a popular sandwich.

Adwords does show you which words are giving you the most impressions and clicks. The late key word additions of Website Designer and Website Design are giving my half my clicks. Traffic on your website is getting a lot of impressions but, so far, no clicks.

In terms of getting clicks, website design is doing well, although I question the quality of those clicks. In my blog, especially this month, I’m talking about growing blog traffic which could be related to growing website traffic but it has nothing to do with website design. I have noticed that over the weekend, while I did have the blog traffic from the SEM the number of page views per visitor went down. I also didn’t get any likes or shares. I’ve found that I typically get 1 like for every three visitors. This weekend, nothing. By the way, now would be a good time for you to take a moment and hit like or share on this blog post.

Are website design giving me lower quality traffic? Perhaps. Think in terms of the sales funnel. They might be giving me more blog traffic at the top end but then the visitors are abandoning the site faster, making for a wider top to my funnel.

I will let the key words ride for a few days before I decide to change them up. The problem with a wide funnel with quick drop outs is that I’m paying to bring them in. If these visitors are not finding my blog relevant, then their traffic isn’t going to do me much good in the long term. I’d rather fewer people who are going to stick with me for a while than a lot of people who I will never see again.

Third, search engine marketing can drive blog traffic but be careful how you spend it. Given my comments in the above paragraph, think about how expensive it can be to drive the “wrong” traffic to your blog. I’m paying a little less than $2 per click. If I bring in people who are not my target audience, then that money is largely waisted. Not only should we be sure our key words are appropriate and relevant to your blog, craft the ad to be crystal clear about what you are offering. An ad about a Reuben sandwich might bring visitors to my blog but they would be the wrong people. They would be hungry people, just not necessarily hungry for my content. Also consider where you are linking the ad to. I linked to my home page, which seems to make sense. I don’t have a lot of pages and my topics are all related. If your blog has a lot of different content and your ad is just focused one piece of it, link directly to that piece. Don’t make your traffic work for it. Each time you ask a person to click to get to content relevant to them, is an opportunity for them to leave.

30 Day Blogging Challenge Update: I averaged over a dozen unique visitors a day over the weekend. For a blog that had an average traffic of one to two people per day, that is a pretty good increase. I’m “happy” about it. So why the quote marks around happy? This challenge was to grow my blog traffic to a 1000 over the month of August……so a little over 30 visitors a day. I’m at 8. Because I have under performed the first half of the month, I’m going to have to hit 70 a day for the rest of the month……..70 is more than a dozen…….a lot more. The happy part though, is that the real goal of this challenge was to see if I should assign this as a semester long project for my class. I think it is a good project but right now I don’t think I should assign it this semester. I need to sit on it a bit.

Google Adwords Spend Super Quick Update -30 Day Blogging Challenge

I had a couple of people ask for an immediate results report on my Google Adwords spend. Here is it. Keep in mind that I’m only targeting $150 a month in spend, so $5 a day. According to Google’s estimate, this $5 dollars a day should have given me about 1000 impressions and, with a 0.5% click through rate, approximately five unique visitors a day…..who’s to say what they would have done once they clicked through. Maybe bounced out….maybe hung out and read a while.

One thing I apparently misunderstood. I swore that Adwords gave me an estimate of an hour before the ad was placed. It was more like 10 hours…….with me clicking update page every five minutes. The ad, my ad, didn’t get placed until Thursday evening. It has been active for about 12 hours at this point……although over the middle of a Thursday night….and has given 9 impressions and zero clicks. On the positive side, it hasn’t generated any cost for me yet either. You only pay once someone clicks on your ad.

I should note that different subject matters will affect what time of day is most productive. Having your blog about great lunch places posted around 11 AM with your ad running from 11 AM to 2 PM probably makes a lot of sense. The number of people googling lunch places at 2 AM is probably rather small……I’m assuming here.

I was hoping that 10 PM wouldn’t be such an odd time for amateur bloggers to be out there looking for tips. I’ll let the ad run over the weekend and potentially Monday before I make any adjustments to it. There is always a risk of adjusting your marketing efforts too quickly.

I’ll be back in a few days with more of an update.

Generating Blog Traffic With Adwords – 30 Day Blogging Challenge

Update: Day 15 and Post 5 of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge. I’m averaging a post every 3 days. My original goal was every other day…..I’ll have to up the effort a bit. That is especially important considering how blog traffic generation is tied to the days I post. See here:

Those unique visitor traffic spikes on August 3rd, 5th, 9th and 13th are the days that I posted on my blog. Those days with one to three unique visitors are the days that I didn’t generate a blog post. Two things come to mind looking at this. First, I need to post more regularly to generate traffic. Every other day isn’t sustainable during the school year as I go into professor mode but I can sustain that for the rest of August. Second, my blog traffic is coming from very short term sources. My blog is linked into my LinkedIn account and Facebook. The majority of my blog traffic is being generated from these sites. WordPress reader is a distant third. Notice how my blog traffic isn’t being generated by search terms…..yet? My traffic is coming largely from my network with a few supporting shares from readers…..(thank you and please continue to like and share.) Getting traction on search engines take time. Coral Ouellette suggests it takes three to six months before search engines will notice all the hard work you have done on your blog. This suggests that the work I’m doing now will really start to pay off in the fourth quarter in terms of generating blog traffic. Therefore, since my challenge is generating unique visitors in August, I need to take other actions……i.e. Google Adwords.

Paid search, in my opinion, works best for websites and blogs that earn their income directly. That is, instead of relying on blog traffic generating ad income, the website is selling something – whether or product or a service. Figure each unique visitor will cost you in the neighborhood of $2 to $3 each. Unless you are converting people with a sale in excess of that, the ROI just isn’t there. In the long run, search engines is the best source of new traffic…..of course, you need to stay on top of your current readership and provide content and communication so that they continue to come back. I just don’t have 3 to 6 months to wait in a 30 day challenge to generate traffic.

My blog is on wordpress. WordPress offers business and premium subscribers a $125 Google adwords credit when you chip in $25 of your own. I’m taking advantage of that. Setting up an adwords ad is really rather easy. Once you put in your website, the tool starts making recommendations. I didn’t go with very many of them….I’m just that kind of guy…but it was nice to have a starting point. It took about five minutes and I don’t think it looks too bad. What do you think?

If you tried to click the picture above……the ad text is motivating enough but you don’t need to click the add because you are already here. Since this month is all about the blogging challenge, I focused my ad on that. Google helped suggest words to use. They are all around blogging and generating traffic and I’ve directed the traffic to all go to my main page.

The ad should kick off within the hour. The spend of $150 over a month is really only expected to get me 2 to 3 incremental visitors a day. If I was going to try and pick up 900 unique visitors over the course of the rest of the challenge, I would need to spend something like $120 a day. Yeah. I’m not doing that. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. Check back often and, of course, like, share and follow please.

SEO – Generating blog traffic -30 Day Blogging Challenge

30 Day Challenge Update: Day 13 and Post 5. Five unique visitors came to my blog in the last three days……No. That is not a daily number. Just for giggles, I did the math. For the month so far, we’ve averaged about five unique visitors a day and we need around 55 unique visitors a day for the rest of the month to reach our 1000 person goal. Generating blog traffic has not been a huge success so far. This is not looking good for our hero…….that’s me, I’m the hero in this story in case you weren’t sure.

I did have a very brief conversation with Tony Hymes who “helps brands capitalize on digital opportunities.” Basically, I wanted an opinion from someone who does digital work for a living on whether trying to generate blog traffic and grow that blog’s traffic was a reasonable semester assignment for college students (we can’t forget this is all about the kids…..ok, occasionally I have forgotten that, focusing on generating blog traffic but I keep reminding myself about it…..that counts for something…right?)

Grading the students on generating blog traffic is probably not fair. I might not feel that way had I generated more blog traffic I was hoping for…..so I guess that is a positive outcome of this experience. Tony suggested, and I think it is a good suggestion, if I do assign this exercise to make the grading based around having a plan, utilizing good SEO technique, etc.

Anyway, let’s use that as a good jumping off point to get to generating blog traffic through SEO.

First, what is SEO and why is SEO important. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Basically, it is crafting your website or blog in a way that will get you a higher rank on Search Engine Results Pages – also known as SERP. It is important because 90% of clicks are going to go to the first ten results. We can talk about paid search and interacting with other blogs and forums and etc., etc. and etc. to generate blog traffic in later posts. The majority of blog traffic generated, especially traffic that comes from outside your immediate circle of friends, will come from searches. There are two main ways to get searches to work for you, i.e. helping generate more blog traffic. First, is showing up higher in search results and, second, is making sure that you are competing on more focused searches.

What do I mean by more focused searches? “Food” vs. “Sandwich”. I just googled both food and sandwich. Food has 11.4 billion results and sandwich only has 1.1 billion results……that means in the food search, you have 11.4 billion competitors for traffic and in sandwich, you only have 1.1 billion competitors. Fewer competitors are better than more competitors. Think of it this way, you are all trying to generate blog traffic but nothing you do can actually increase the amount of a specific search term. You are just trying to direct of those searches towards your blog. If you can narrow your search terms down more, say to “Reuben,” then you have merely 38 million competitors. Of course, if your blog is about food in general, then you don’t want to limit yourself to just “Reuben,” as nice of a sandwich as it is. On the other hand, if your blog is all about love and appreciate for the sandwich called a Reuben, then you want to concentrate your search efforts on Reuben more than on food. I am a big fan of not walking away from “food” but just focus more on “Reuben.”

Second, how do you improve your SERP (Search Engine Result Page) placement by using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to generate blog traffic. You start by first understanding your blog and your possible search terms. Moz is one of my new favorite websites. Check out the results of their search terms below for “blogging traffic.”

Check out the keyword suggestions. “Blogging traffic” gets less than 10,000 searches a month but “How to increase blog traffic wordpress” gets between 11,000 and 50,000. Or simply “generating blog traffic” gets between 51,000 and 100,000 searches a month. What do you do with that information? Well, what I did was to pick a key term (in my case “generating blog traffic” and then reread the post while still in draft mode. I rewrote sections to include “generating blog traffic” or similar terms throughout the post, especially in the title. A lot of that rewriting was just making sure that I avoided using pronouns. I’ve bolded them to show each time where I rewrote a sentence or two to include generating blog traffic…..I’ll stop bolding now…..because it was getting irritating. I also made sure to name my images to have something to do with generating blog traffic. I only picked the one term but had this been an ongoing challenge, I would have picked the top several terms and worked them into the blog. Keep in mind that the post text is not your only opportunity to include the key search terms. For example, include your key terms in your titles, as names of your pictures and in your “about” section. If you blog is focused, then you can really help your ranking by sprinkling your top three search terms in the majority of your blog posts. If it is a new blog you are creating, using key word search terms in your blog’s title and website name will really be helpful.

One word of caution though. Don’t just pack your post with the search term a thousand times. Had I simply wrote: generating blog traffic, generating blog traffic, generating blog traffic over and over, the search engines would figure out that I’m spamming them and knock me lower in the SERP – Search Engine Result’s Page – countering what I was looking to accomplish.

Now look at the SERP Analysis from the Moz results. Two of them offer a list of 7 or 25 strategies to generate blog traffic (ok, I snuck one more in there). People love lists. Generally speaking odd numbers work better than even numbers, except ten. “3 ways to generate blog traffic” (see how easy it is to work your key search terms into the article?) works better than “4 ways to generate blog traffic” (one more time!). The third top site title has a 5 step plan. Yes. People love lists, especially lists with odd numbers. For example:

For giggles, I ran Reuben through Moz’s Key Word Explorer:

Wow. 100,000 searches are reuben sandwich. Make sure your title includes the word “recipe” as well.

Please like and share if you found any of this interesting, useful or if you just support the cause.