So you launched your website, complete with a spanky new blog. On the first day your main worry was that the servers would stay online to cope with the insane levels of traffic that were about to descend.
By the second day, your Google Analytics are back to showing a looped image of a field of crickets. Chirping.
The real time stats show one person on your blog, and a quick glance shows that it’s you with a tab open. Not even your Mum came back.
This shit is hard.
We have been cracking at our blog for about 10 months now, and have just passed the milestone of 300 published articles. Consistency of effort is important. There are a number of things we do to generate traffic, and most of our strategies ignore Google. We prefer to focus on creating awesome content.
But there comes a time when everyone starts to think abut SEO, and ranking for a chosen set of keywords. So here then, is the quickest, dirtiest hack I know for generating targeted traffic from Google on a consistent and sustainable basis.
Why does the hack work?
The idea for this came from a blog post I read a few years back, but it has since been taken offline so I cannot give attribution.
The hack is based upon three key criteria. If any of these cease to be true, the hack would stop working.
- Google gives a positive weighting to titles that have an EXACT MATCH to the search term used
- When people search, they regularly use grammatically incorrect phrasing
- Google ignores punctuation when analysing your title
Because most people use grammatically correct titles for their articles, there are a lot of search phrases used that DO NOT have exact title matches. This is your opportunity to grab some cheap but targeted traffic.
How does the hack work?
Your first task is to open up a new Google search box and take advantage of the auto suggest feature. If your blog is about web development, you might type the phrase:
Web Design how to get
Then you wait and see what Google suggests to complete the phrase (which in theory is derived from what people actually type when they search). You have specifically chosen the words “how to”, as this is an incredibly powerful search term.
Google gives us the following suggestions:
Lets pick one that looks promising. All web designers want more customers right?
But the phrasing is horrible, and we can’t possibly use that as a title. Let’s insert some punctuation (which Google ignores) and see if we can fix it up.
We can transform “Web design how to get clients” into a much more impressive:
“Web Design: How to get clients (6 powerful methods)”
Look at that colon sitting there all strong and proud. Makes all the difference.
What we have now is:
- An exact phrase that our target customers use to search
- An article title that is an exact match for the phrase, but still makes grammatical sense
- The high probability that no-one else on the web is going to have the exact same title as us
Sounds good right? Lets see how it goes.
Prove to me that it works
The example above is not a hypothetical. It is an actual experiment we ran in September last year, with this article here:
We wrote the article and published it on our blog, promoting it with a single tweet and a Facebook post. Here are the page views over time.
So after a slow start, it picked up after three months and began to head up and to the right. By April, that one article is driving 1,000 page views a month and climbing.
No promotion. No backlinks. Just a quick and dirty search hack.
What search or content hacks do you know that would help new startups drive traffic? Let us know in the comments.