I started writing for this website because I had the writing itch. All through my education and early working life, I was trained to produce content at a steady rate, although I hated it at the time, it keeps me sane. I never thought I would discover the science behind website writing and how intricate and addictive it can be. In this writing piece let’s look at some tips and mistakes that I have found on my studies.
The first thing people want when they blog is for people to read their work. Thankfully with the many platforms available today such as wordpress, it is easier than ever to get your musings into the public domain. You can lead a horse to water, making them drink is another matter. In the world of the websites, traffic is the drug of choice. Whether you have noble ambitions or you want advertising revenue, traffic and the various ways you analyse it will be your new ruler. My first advice, however is to not lose sight of the reason you write.
Reason for writing
As I said, I write to keep me sane. Putting my thoughts into words on a page or screen clears my head, so I can function on a daily basis. I am a consumer of all media and ever since University taught me to look at things more objectively, the thoughts that start bouncing around in my head need to go somewhere. The internet seems to be the right place, here people might want to look deeply into a specific subject, rather than get an overview. That is my reason for writing, but everyone will have their own. The most important thing to do is always keep true to this reason, if you chase the lure of traffic, your site content will ultimately suffer and with it any hopes of sustainable traffic.
One way to keep the quality of you content up and gain traffic, is to create a facebook page for your site. Creating the page will help with your organic S.E.O or search engine optimisation. It’s a fancy term for getting your site further up the search engine pecking order. I will look at SEO in a moment. The facebook page serves as another very important tool. It keeps you grounded as a writer. By inviting a few close friends, whose opinion you value to like the page, you are in effect writing for them. Sometimes when I want to dig deep into the inner workings of Wrestling and write 5000 words on it, the facebook page makes me write as if all of them are reading it, I leave out some weird references or explain them in layman’s terms. By writing for humans and not for search engines, your content will continue to be relevant and generate traffic long into the future, rather than a quick hit that disappears without trace. Over time you can invite more and more friends to the page so that it grows and adds to you traffic. Try to start small as the last thing you want is 100 people ready to read you wok and a site with one article on it.
Twitter, is a less personal experience than facebook. Think of twitter as a town crier shouting about your latest article when standing among a crowd of other criers. You should also set up a twitter for your website. Personally I don’t feel it is as effective as facebook unless you use your personal account and followers. Using a programme like hootsuite means you can schedule tweets about you previous articles and have them running throughout the day. Don’t repeat you tweets, word these differently so that you get people who are just browsing twitter. As with inviting friends on facebook it is good to have a few articles before putting yourself out there on twitter.
Here’s where it gets interesting, or if you prefer sad and geeky. By making a google+ account for your website you are fast-tracking it to google search. You should sign up for google analytics and webmaster tools as well, so that you can begin to dig deeply into who is coming to you site and at what time. For me this is where the addiction begins, I try to write three times a week, those days are taken up with the writing and conception of the piece, the rest of the week is spent analysing what the site is doing on days when no new post appears. I say addiction, in reality it is more of a hobby. There is no way to predict what way a post will perform honestly. Sometimes I put an old google + link out to an old article and it gets 20 views, other days I look at my 2000 word dissection of a film and it has no views, despite being published that day. Don’t let any so-called expert tell you they have the answer, in reality most of it is luck. If you do the basics, the rest is patience.
A science and a myth at the same time. The practices above are all the SEO I do on my site. I have studied the process for over a year and in the end, there is no right answer. The science of SEO is in the coding of your site. If the site is coded to be friendly to search engines, then that is all you need. The content will get the views if it is good enough. Put an unguarded email address on your site and within days you will have everyone emailing it telling you they are an SEO expert and will rise you up the ranks. They probably are, but if you look into it yourself you can be as well. Just keep your site clean and fast, don’t spam backlinks from other sites and remember to write for real people not machines. SEO only happens overnight when someone pays to advertise. It is a constantly evolving subject, so just try to follow best practice and don’t worry about it.
Commenting and being in a community
This is the best thing about looking into a personal website. People will tell you that links from other sites drive traffic to yours. It’s true, but why would you want a spammy comment about videogames in the comments of a foodblog? It’s rude, it makes you look desperate and can ruin you reputation online. The only reason you should comment on another blog is because you have a genuine interest in the article. Say you liked it. Say you didn’t. Ask questions and answer ones that a good blogger should leave at the end of their piece. Before long your insightful comments should, get replies, followers. subscribers and traffic. Be courteous and people will be the same to you.
Traffic and timing
Finally let’s address traffic. My website is quite young, despite no doing this for traffic, there is a palpable rush when something you have written gets fifty views in a day. Immediately you think you’ve cracked it. From now on your site will bring you respect and riches. The next day, 1 view, which you aren’t sure wasn’t you. Despair, depression and more emotions follow. You ignore everything for a few days then check back. 100 views. Elation again. This is a normal week, don’t get too carried away by success and don’t get too down at failures. Timing is everything in life. My best week happened by chance. I got a copy of an obscure videogame early. I had enough time to play and review the game before it was released in America. Suddenly people were searching for opinions on this game and mine was one of the few out there.
Chance events like this will allow you to have good weeks and months, the trick is keeping it all going. You will have days where no-one looks despite you best efforts. If you stick at it and write good quality content the good days should outnumber the bad. Just try to take advantage of any relevant ideas or instances that allow you to write something topical. Don’t add your thoughts just for the sake of it, remember why you began this journey in the first place and you should achieve the aims you set out with.
Does everyone else agree? Are you obsessed with traffic or are you still the purist who started off writing? Let me know in the comments.