“I like learning from errors. In fact, I like that so much I am thinking about making some more.”
The SEO mistake you don’t want to make…
Making mistakes is awesome if you learn from them. If you follow my blog, you know that I’ve been working very hard on SEO, as I want to diversify the sources of acquisition in terms of readers, and SEO is a very solid way of doing that.
In early April, I set a few challenges for the second quarter. For a 1-year-old blog, I was doing very bad. My Page authority was 24 and my Domain Authority was only 10 (trust flow was 7 and my citation flow 17). This was because I only had 524 follow links – yes, only a little over 500 links after 1 year of blogging! This was less than 10% of all the links pointing to my blog. Or, in other words, 90% of the links pointing to my blog were nofollow links.
I started to do a few things that should help my SEO, including link building (mainly through guest posting) and keyword researching. I aimed at 42 guest posts in 3 months. In fact, I spent hours and hours doing keyword research, until…
I figured I was ranking well for the keyword “my stocks”, which has a volume of hundreds of thousands a month. If you’re new to SEO, that is A LOT and only the biggest sites will get these. If you manage to rank page 1 of Google to a keyword like that you’ll get tons of traffic from that keyword alone. I got excited and went for it… but I forgot the exceptions!
So, here’s the thing. I started working on boosting my page that ranked to that keyword. And in about 1 month, I brought my blog from page 3 to the beginning of page one. And in one week, I brought it to number 5. I thought “this is it, I’ve won”. I’ll sit down and enjoy the traffic boost. I was so wrong…
I was so wrong…
At first, I thought I made a mistake with the volume of the keyword – it would not be possible to have hundreds of thousands of searches on that keyword a month. I re-checked on different sources and I wasn’t wrong. Maybe some tools told me I ranked 5 but I was ranking something else?
When in doubt, check out Google Analytics. And that was what I did:
You can see that my impressions spiked from 560 impressions a day to 5,300 in early April (a 10x increase!!!), and eventually reached over 10,000, in early May!
This means that, without a doubt, my website was shown by Google to 5,300 a day. Therefore, I should have received way more clicks, right? Wrong!
Although I’ve been increasing the number of clicks I get on Google, they haven’t increased with the same proportion of the impressions. Have a look at this graph, where this is probably more clear:
Check out the number of impressions (dark blue) vs the number of clicks (light blue). Let us get to the bottom of this… How the heck can I rank for a high volume keyword so fast, 10x my impression count but having an ever lower click count?
Mistake 1 : don’t go after a shark if you are a small fish…
I am still a small fish when it comes to SEO. I managed to boost my authority over the last months (to 43 and 33 – page and domain authority, respectively) but these are still small fish numbers.
Going after a big keyword when you’re small can lead to terrible results and a huge waste of time!
First off, build your authority and see what you rank for – don’t try to rank for any keyword. Once you start to understand what keywords you can easily rank for and your authority is large enough target keywords…
Mistake 2 : check the semantics of the target keywords
In my case, it was not even an authority problem. Tthe first hit on Google for the keyword “my stocks” is an Android App, and that is the reason why everyone googles out that word. Therefore, even if you rank 2nd, you’ll get very little traffic from that keyword!
Keywords are not all the same. Some keywords have specific semantics and nobody will try to rank for them because even if they rank, the first hit will get 100% of the traffic, simply because it is not a topical keyword but a keyword with a specific semantic.
Let me give you another example: if you manage to rank 2nd for “Ben Davis From cents to retirement”, I bet I will still rank 1st and you’ll get almost 0 traffic from that keyword. Why? Because the people who google that keyword are actually interested in coming to the best blog ever, not yours 😉
I personally find myself googling “From cents to retirement XYZ” when I want to reach a post I wrote on XYZ. Yes, I could do that through my blog (in the search bar up there) but I find it more convenient to type this in the URL field of the browser – which ends up in a Google search in my case.
First off, build your authority before thinking about targeting keywords and see what you rank for naturally. Then, go after those keywords if you think they are worth it.
Secondly, I advise to check out the semantics of every keyword you target. Go after keywords that don’t pertain to a specific brand or don’t have a specific semantic. I know it may be easy to rank for those keywords, but that won’t generally translate into traffic.
Any comments? Let me know down below!