About six months ago I published a post here called Search Engine Traffic and New Blogs, which basically laid out my approach for building organic search traffic at Vandelay Design. At that time the blog was roughly a year old (although only “active” for about 8 months) and it had just drawn 17,000 search visitors in one month, which was by far a record month for the site. Since then the amount of search traffic has continued to rise steadily and it’s helped me to observe some things about blogging along the way.
Search engine visitors are probably more coveted by bloggers than any other type of traffic. Sure, social media gets plenty of attention (including in my own articles) but most website owners and bloggers would strongly prefer search engine traffic if they had the choice. The problem is that many bloggers don’t feel that search traffic is realistic, because it takes time to develop, and patience is a difficult thing when you’re trying to build a blog.
We’ve probably all read our fair share about the Google sandbox effect or how it takes time before your blog will start seeing significant search engine traffic. I was aware of that too, but seeing the results of sticking with a blog on a consistent basis has been a rewarding experience.
My opinion after about a year and a half of blogging is that most bloggers give up, or at least lose consistency, before any real benefits can be earned through search engine traffic. With so many bloggers desiring elusive search engine visitors, many get discouraged and give up, when if they had been more patient and kept working it could have happened with time.
While my blog still gets a considerable percentage of its visitors from social media, organic Google search traffic is now the number one source most months (unless there is a big rush from StumbleUpon). During the month of September the site received over 62,000 search visitors, mostly from Google. Considering just six months earlier the best month was 17,000, that’s a pretty substantial increase.
The graph below shows search visitors from July 2007 (when I started actively posting) to the end of September 2008.
My opinion is that this is probably not unusual for any blogger that maintains consistent posting and focus on providing content that will attract links. I have a few minor changes that I’d like to make to the site to increase search traffic some more, but for the most part this is just an example of what can result from some persistance.
I know there are other bloggers with far more significant numbers, but in most cases the graph will follow a similar trend, with search traffic steadily increasing over time (the slight decrease that you may have noticed in the graph at the end of 2007 was a result of changing hosts and having some duplicate content because of going from www URLs to non-www URLs. Once that was cleaned up things got back to where they had been). Over the summer Darren Rowse posted a similar graph of his search traffic.
Drawing search engine traffic is not easy, but it’s very achievable with some effort. My approach to drawing search engine traffic has been pretty consistent from the start. While I’m not an SEO expert, I do understand the importance of building a search engine-friendly website/blog, and that is a necessary foundation. I don’t dedicate much time to things like keyword research and on page optimization once the site has been built. Those things I’m sure could help, but most of my time with the blog is spent developing content, some of which is intended to draw links and boost search engine rankings. Social media has of course been a critical factor in this as well.
If you’re a new blogger that’s frustrated with a lack of search engine traffic, I hope the graph of my search engine traffic trends (and Darren’s graph) can serve as some motivation to keep working.