Last week I came across a blog by Eric Siu of Search Engine Watch that really held my attention. He shared an interview he had done with Fraser Cain, publisher of Universe Today, a space and astronomy news website read by more than 3 million people each month. In the article, Cain walked Siu through the steps he took to bring his website to the point where it is now-generating over 100,000 unique visitors per day. Interestingly, Cain didn’t do anything extraordinarily brilliant (or underhanded) to achieve such lofty traffic levels. Rather, he essentially followed what are now considered solid content marketing best practices to create, optimize and promote his material.
Adapted straight from Cain’s playbook, here’s a three-step blogging approach that will drive website traffic to your brand.
CREATE CONTENT THAT IS RELEVENT TO YOUR AUDIENCE
The first thing I noticed about Cain’s approach is that he didn’t put the cart before the horse. Rather than obsessing with keyword rankings and complex link building strategies, he focused his efforts on increasing overall website traffic by producing loads of content that addressed the problems of his target audience. He wrote relevant content and optimized it with “organic” long-tail keywords that were more likely to reflect the phrases his audience was searching for anyway.
As Cain noted, “even brand new websites will bring in long tail search traffic from the search engines if they solve problems for people.”
When I mention loads of content production, I’m not joking. At present, he and his team of 10-15 freelance writers are pumping out 50-100 articles every week.
My (almost) one-a-day blog writing pace seems a bit lacking by comparison.
From the beginning, Cain employed sound content marketing fundamentals to slowly build his subscriber base, integrating a daily email newsletter into his posting schedule. By doing this, he attracted what would prove to be the core of his online audience, one subscriber at a time.
OPTIMIZE YOUR CONTENT WITH ORGANIC SEO
In order to further drive website traffic, Cain began building up a vast database of long-tail keywords that reflected the kinds of questions his target audience was asking on sites like Yahoo! Answers and Twitter. To date, he’s amassed an impressive collection of over 35,000 keywords.
His SEO process is not very complex. He does place great importance in the exact match search traffic of his long-tail keywords (because he wants to make sure he writes about topics that a lot of people are searching for). Other than that, though, Cain is really more concerned with whether he’s qualified to write on the subject than the vagaries of SEO.
In fact, he only started using SEO in his content process three years ago. Since doing so, his traffic has increased substantially. About the same time, he started producing more evergreen content, recognizing its longstanding SEO benefit. Cain also recognizes the importance of certain technical SEO practices such as making sure your content is registered with Google Webmaster Tools, and can thus be crawled by search engines.
Cain’s main focus is on creating content that reflects what his audience is searching for, knowing that he’ll pick up the long-tail search queries through the process.
PROMOTE YOUR CONTENT WITH SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
A while back, I wrote a post about how social media now rules online promotion. Cain himself admits that he relies heavily on social media marketing methods to drive traffic to his blog.
Interestingly, he’s a big proponent of Google +:
“I rely heavily on social marketing methods now, especially Google+… I’d say Google+ is the most important method in my mix now, both for the amazing community and the potential impact of author rank in the future. If I had one recommendation to any marketer: take Google+ very, very seriously.”
You don’t hear that very often.
He also recognizes the benefit of using social media in a cross-promotional manner. For example, if you’ve written a successful blog post, create a YouTube video to support it. You’ll get 2X the SEO benefit by doing so, as the video sends traffic to your blog and vice versa.
Thus a virtuous cycle is born: sharing content expands your social media reach; a greater social reach in turn drives more traffic to your web-based content, multiplying its reach, and so on.
So what’s the bottom line?
Content marketing works. Organic SEO works. Social media marketing works. Combine them all, and you’ve created a virtuous cycle that works wonders.