A reader recently asked me how he could repeat the traffic magnet power of a post he wrote a year ago featuring the logo of a local football team. He told me that he gets continuous traffic to that post daily, and he wants to repeat it, bringing even more daily traffic into his blog.
Traffic magnets can be fleeting or consistent over time. We aren’t talking about exclusive pictures of celebrities or the Digg-effect blog post that brings in thousands of visitors in one or two days, then traffic drifts off to nothing. Traffic magnets continue to be draws to your blog over the long haul – one, two, even four or five years after publishing.
While many believe that any traffic is good traffic, traffic magnets come in two very distinctive audience groups: one-shot deals or easy conversions.
One-Shot Web Traffic – Is It Worth It?
A one-shot deal is some content or image that attracts a lot of visitors over time, but when they arrive and find out you have nothing else they want because your blog isn’t all about that keyword or search term, they are gone. You can’t keep them. There is nothing you can do or say that will convert them into long term readers. Zero. You don’t have what they want.
Bloggers who have occasionally used sexual terms on their blogs know what a magnet those terms can be for search engine traffic. Liz Strauss loves telling people that “naked women” is her most popular search term, bringing in a lot of traffic to 300 Naked Women Feared Lost, an article on blog branding that cited a story with that title in The Onion, the unique local newspaper in Chicago. She doesn’t talk about naked women. There are no pictures of naked women, yet her stats tell her that people are arriving there every day looking for naked women.
An article I wrote, Horse Sex and What is Dictating Your Blog’s Content?, was about how to use your keyword, search terms, and most popular posts to determine which direction your content should go – or not. In 2005, Seattle Times’ editor Danny Westneat was faced with all the data from their new venture online and had to make an editorial decision about where the newspaper should go, online and off. According to the data, a news story on a man who died after having sex with a horse brought in so much traffic, he said:
So much so, a case can be made that the articles on horse sex are the most widely read material this paper has published in its 109-year history.
I don’t know whether to ignore this alarming factoid or to embrace it.
I thought his point very powerful. As more and more people jumped online to blog and were evaluating their stats to make their editorial decisions, we needed to decide whether or not to embrace the choices our readers make, or stick to our content path.
Two months later, and to date, that article is in my top ten blog posts for Lorelle on WordPress. I think, “Wow! People got my point. They love it. They are going to really think through how they choose their content wisely, using common sense over the lowest common denominator of traffic.” Was I wrong. The traffic went through the roof but not for the brilliant perspective on the subject. Just for having the right keywords.
What do Liz and I have with these two posts on our blog? What do we get out of them? A lot of traffic and nothing to show for it.
If someone arrives on my site looking for horse sex – there are no pictures, no graphic stories, nothing of interest. Want to know which post on my blog rates the highest as an exit page? Horse sex.
As a gateway post to my blog, I can stuff it with tons of links, incentives to click deeper into my blog – nothing will happen. They knocked at my door and a stranger answered. This isn’t the right house. Run for it!
I’ve been told time and time again to be thankful, at least it’s bringing in traffic. Excuse me? Sure, it’s bringing in traffic on a daily basis. It’s adding up bandwidth for people to come in and leave within seconds. I get no conversion to legitimate readers. It does nothing for me.
Okay, it gives me a good story to tell and it makes people laugh, but the post means nothing in the long run. Really, is the horse sex crowd my demographic?
Easy Conversion Traffic is Best
Traffic magnets that work best are the ones that bring readers to your blog because they want to learn from you. They want to sit at your bloggy knee and talk to you about life, the universe, and everything. They want to come back often because you make it safe for them to visit. They want to tell their friends about you and bring them to visit, sharing the fun and joy of your blog.
They arrive because you have what they need. These are the best visitors to get, and the easiest to convert. You speak the same language, and you give them what they want.
Some of the traffic magnets on my blog that keeps people coming in, and which are easy conversions to blog readers, are the posts that match my overall blog content and purpose. Here are some of my top blog posts consistently over time:
- HTML, CSS, PHP, and More Cheat Sheets
- WordPress Plugins for Images, Photographs, and Graphics
- Designing a WordPress Theme From Scratch
- Video, Music, Podcasts, Audio, and Multimedia WordPress Plugins
- Blogging Resources and Sources to Help You Blog
- Content Theft and WordPress
- Secret Out – How Google Ranks Websites
- Blogging Tips – Hundreds of Resources for Your Blog
- What Do You Do When Someone Steals Your Content
- Subscribe, Email Mailing List, Blog Update, Alerts, and Newsletter WordPress Plugins
- Free Photos for Your Blog
- Do-It-Yourself Search Engine Optimization
When a visitor comes to my site through these blog posts, they will learn a lot about what I blog about immediately. My message is clear.
- All of these blog titles match the keywords within the content.
- All match the keywords in the most recent posts in my sidebar list.
- All match the keywords in my post categories.
- All match the purpose of my blog listed in my sidebar.
- All match every element, from design to images and words, to the purpose of my blog.
Someone looking for information on WordPress Plugins for images would be interested in some for video naturally. Makes sense. If they are interested in SEO, then the do-it-yourself guide would help them, as would understanding Google PageRank. The interrelationship of these posts build upon each other as a body of work, easily inviting the visitor to click through here and there to find more related information.
It’s easy to convert the choir. It’s impossible to convert the one-shot lurkers.
We don’t have much time for all the things we want to do with our blogs and building our social network and online reputation and brand. Why would you want to put a lot of energy into traffic magnets that just will not convert? Improve your return on your investment and put your energy into building compatible content that creates a body of work. It’s so much easier to get those quality readers with good content.
The author of Lorelle on WordPress and the fast-selling book, Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging, as well as several other blogs, Lorelle VanFossen has been blogging for over 15 years, covering blogging, WordPress, travel, nature and travel photography, web design, web theory and development extensively as web technologies developed.