Update, 1/5/2010: I just now replaced the old image of my yearly stats. As you’ll see from the rest of this post, it was written many months ago. I updated the image so you won’t think my previous visitor record was a flash in the pan.
Paper mache searches (and my visitor numbers) peak in May and October. However, my visitors keep coming every month of the year.
And now-back to the previously written blog post about improving your website traffic:
In April 2009 this site averaged 892 visitors a day, which is pretty darned good for a six-month old site. In this post I show you the exact tools and techniques I used to get this much traffic. You can use the information in this post to improve your website traffic if you have a site of your own.
I even show you the tools I used to create this site without spending any time at all on the design, using free tools and cheap web hosting.
Just up front I want to emphasize that this paper mache blog is just for fun. I built it only because I wanted to learn as much as possible about sculpting with my favorite media.
I don’t play around with paper mache all the time, of course. In “real life” I’m an online marketer, and I own over 50 websites.
Because my other sites are my only source of income, I’ve tried almost every trick in the book for getting traffic.I know what works for me (and what doesn’t).Â I’m not an expert by any means – but I do know how to get traffic to a website. When you read this post, you’ll know the exact tools and techniques I use to get over 800 visitors a day to UltimatePaperMache.com
All my traffic is free. I never pay for traffic, and almost every tool I show you in this post is also free. The only thing I pay for is information that allows me to continue learning my craft.
This site received an average of 52 visitors a day in it’s very first full month online (November 2008) and the visitor counts increased every month until it has now reached an average of 892 visitors a day. You can see my visitor stats below. For what is basically a brand-new site, I think my traffic stats are pretty impressive.
As a matter of fact, many expensive reports that are supposed to help you get more website traffic are written by people who receive fewer visitors every day to their own sites. Some of those reports cost $99.00 and more – and here I am giving all this info to you for free! (Artists have to stick together, after all…)
Some of these visitors come from Stumbleupon, over which I have no control. However, even those folks would not have found this site if I hadn’t used some traffic-building/link-building techniques that I learned for my online business.
The first decision I had to make was –
Gallery Site or Tutorial Site?
Choosing a goal for a website is important. Most internet marketers build sites to make money. In fact, that’s what most of my other sites are for. But people have many other reasons for wanting to communicate with the outside world besides making money. For instance, if you’re an artist you want as many people as possible to see your artwork. To get those eyeballs youÂ need to use the same techiques that Internet marketers use.
I knew that a gallery site that showcased photos of my paper mache sculptures would get some visitors, but not nearly as many as a tutorial site. However, that’s not the primary reason I decided to give how-to instructions. It was simply a personal decision. As I said before, my primary goal was to learn as much as possible about this medium.
You get more visitors with how-to articles because most people go online to learn how to do stuff. If you can add some how-to articles to your site, you’ll probably receive more visitors, who will then have an opportunity to look at your gallery. That doesn’t mean you have to add tutorials, just that it mayÂ help increase the number of people who find your site.
However, people also come online to buy stuff. If you have artwork to sell, and you use the keyword tools I show you later in this post, you may prefer fewer visitors, and choose instead to focus on the limited number of people who are actually interested in buying your work.
You’ll want to make this decision before you build your website.
I knew from experience that I can spend days designing a website, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Anyone with a creative urge can get totally lost in finding exactly the right colors, fiddling with the html, creating header graphics, etc.
Fortunately, you can now avoid that time trap by using a pre-made template and a WordPress blog. There are hundreds of free templates for WordPress (they’re called “themes.”) For my own site I decided to use a premium template fromÂ Elegant Themes. I like the way this theme uses customized images for the index page, and the way the theme shows the most recent comments and random posts in the drop-down box on the sidebar. I think it looks great – and I didn’t spend one minute designing it.
I use a web host that automatically installed the WordPress script, and it automatically updates the script whenever WordPress comes out with a new version, which they do often, (although I do have to poke a button in the control panel to update the site). My daughter and I have over 50 websites with Hostgator, and I pay less than $10 a month for all of them combined.
I don’t use free hosting, either with WordPress.org or Blogger.com, because I don’t like the idea of someone else controlling my websites. They can (and do) ban websites, and who wants to run that risk?
Plugins I Use:
WordPress is great right out of the box, but there are a few plugins that will help increase your traffic. I use the following for all of my blogs. The plugins are free:
All in One SEO Pack. “SEO” is short for Search Engine Optimization. Using this plugin will help the search engines know what your individual posts are about, and that will help you get more traffic for your specific keywords.
Google Sitemaps Generator. This plugin automatically creates a site map in the kind of code that Google’s robots can read. It helps Google find all your new posts and pages.
MaxBlogPress Ping Optimizer. I make a lot of changes to my posts, usually because I forget to use my spell-checker. Or I think of another way to say something. This plugin keeps WordPress from “pinging” the posts every time I save or update them. (I don’t actually know if this is still needed, but I use it anyway, just to be safe).
Robots Plugin. Search engines like to see a robots.txt page on your site. This plugin automatically creates one.
The term “indexed” means that the search engines, like Google and Yahoo, have found your site and have included them in their indexes. Your site won’t show up in any search engine results until your site is indexed.
Getting indexed is really easy – but it doesn’t mean that you’ll suddenly be getting tons of visitors. You can be “indexed” but only show up on page 85. It just means that you have the potential of getting visitors. New bloggers spend a lot of money on products that promise to get you indexed fast. Don’t spend your money – it isn’t necessary.
I do two things to get noticed by the search engines:
As soon as I have three or four posts on a new blog I go to my Yahoo account. I click on the MyYahoo link, and then on the Add Content link. I click on the Add RSS Feed button, and paste the URL of my blog’s RSS feed. You can find this URL by clicking on the Subscribe button on your blog. Look for the orange RSS image on your home page. This lets Yahoo know there’s a new blog.
The second thing I do is add a link to my new blog from one of my other sites. Google can’t find your site until it finds a link to it on another website. Don’t worry if you don’t have another website – you can accomplish the same thing with articles or the “Goobert” technique I’ll show you below.
Google likes sites with a lot of links. When you first start out, you won’t have many links, but without them you won’t get traffic.
By far the most important traffic techniques I use are article marketing and Goobert. Article marketing is free, while the Goobert report will cost a one-time fee to buy the report and instructions from Michael Campbell, the author.
You can get valuable links from high-ranking pages for free by writing articles and submitting them to sites like ezinearticles.com. I submitted only one article for this site. To date it has been read 2,565 times.
If you are trying to get ranked for difficult keywords and you want to use free article marketing as your only link-building technique, you’ll need to submit many more articles than I did. (For my money-making sites I’ve written 110 different articles, which have been read almost 100,000 times.)
Click on this link (PDF) to download one of the best reports I’ve ever read about article marketing. It’s free.
Article marketing works, but writing a 400 to 700 word article takes time, and you need to do a lot of them to be really successful with this method. That’s why I only wrote one article for this site, and why I’ve started using the Goobert approach for all of my sites, including this one, instead of article marketing. There’s only so much time in a day…
“Goobert” is a marketing approach that works great, in spite of the silly name. [Edit 11/10/2011 – Goobert is no longer available as a stand-alone product.]
This approach takes advantage of a free online tool that helps you find blogs that are related to your subject matter. To get started you set up an account and choose your keywords. Then the free service automatically sends you an email once a day with links to blogs that have posted articles about subjects related to your keywords. You go to the blogs, read the posts, and add relevant comments. (The system is a bit more complicated than that, of course, but not much).
Very few artists use this technique correctly, simply because most artists are not also Internet marketers. This is unfortunate, because in the same time it takes to add a comment to a blog you like you could also be building traffic to your own website.
If you go to my post on paper mache bluebirds, for instance, you’ll see that there are 22 comments at this time. Some of the names of commenters are live links you can click to take you to the commenter’s website. These links have the potential of adding to the “importance” of the websites the links point to, but only for the keywords used in the link.
If the commenters were using the Goobert technique, (and it’s obvious they’re not), they would use keywords for these links instead of their names. This would help Google know what their sites are about because Google places a lot of value on the words used in a link.
For instance, I just used a free tool (discussed below) to see how many people search for my own name. It turns out that 170 people a month look for me, (which is kind of surprising), probably because of my books on weight loss and other health issues. Notice that I’ve been online for 9 years, but only 170 people a month look for me online by name.
How many people will be searching for you if you’re just starting a new website? Probably none.
However, 246,000 searches are done every month for the term “paper mache.” Guess which words I use in the “name” field when I post comments on other people’s blogs?
The Goobert report isn’t free, but if you want people to see your artwork (and maybe even buy some), I can’t think of a better way to get traffic. I’ve only gone through the most basic ideas in the report because I can’t reprint the whole thing here.
As proof that it works, go back to the top of the post and look at the stats for this site. I submitted only one article, and I used the Goobert approach for only about 45 days. I have done no marketing for this site for at least three months, yet I average over 800 visitors a day.
The blog posts I wrote were only a few sentences long (much easier and faster than a 500-word article), and they helped me connect with other people around the world who are interested in paper mache. It’s worth doing even if it didn’t help me improve my website traffic…
If you want traffic, get Goobert. ‘Nuff said…
This section should probably go at the beginning of this post, but I’m hoping you read it before you get carried away with marketing your site.
Choosing the right keywords is really the first thing you should do – before buying a domain name, before setting up your blog, and before writing your first post.
The reason is simple – people don’t “browse” the web the way they do in a bookstore. After your blog becomes somewhat popular you may end up on sites like Stumbleupon, which does allow people to find sites they never could have found on their own. I get tons of traffic from Stumbleupon, because people seem to like my paper mache projects – another reason why I recommend adding tutorials to your blog. (In fact, it would be really cool if you would Stumble this page for me…)
However, in the beginning you get traffic because people are searching for specific keywords. It really helps if you have a domain name that includes a high-traffic keyword, (instead of yourÂ name – see above), and if your posts include keywords that people are really looking for.
There are ways to find out how many times people search for specific words, how easy the words are to rank for in the search engines, and whether or not the people searching for those words are in the mood to buy something. The good news is that all the tools you need are free.
Google Keyword Tool
Every new blog or website should begin at the Google Keyword Tool. You type in your subject (“oil painting” for instance) and the tool will find all the other related words that people are searching for, along with the numbers of searches performed each month.
The main keyword “oil painting” gets 450,000 searches a month. That’s a lot of searches.
However, this still isn’t enough information to build a site around.
Keyword Difficulty Tool
Your next stop should be the Keyword Difficulty Tool. Paste the keywords that seem to best represent your subject matter into the text box and it will show you how hard it will be to rank for that word.
If you build your site around keywords that are very difficult to rank for in the search engines, you will need to spend a lot of time and effort to get links to your site.
That means putting in the effort to write as many articles as you can, in addition to following the blog-commenting approach outlined in the Goobert report. And even after you’ve spent hundreds of hours on this effort, youÂ may still never show up on the first page of Google.
I try to write posts about subjects that fall under 40 on the keyword difficulty tool. Using our example keyword “oil painting,” it has a keyword difficulty score of 57. It would be really hard to get on page one of Google for this term. However, a related term, “wildlife oil painting), has a difficulty score off 33 – much easier.
Commercial Intention Tool
When I built this paper mache site I didn’t bother using the Commercial Intention tool because I don’t have anything to sell on this website. However, this is one of those times when you should “do as I say and not as I do.”
The term “paper mache” has a Non-Commercial Intent score of .96. That means that people searching for this term are looking for information, not something to buy. That’s why I only make about 47 cents a day from the Adsense ads on this site, even though they appear on every page and the blog receives over 800 visitors a day. It’s really a good thing I’m only doing this site for fun…
However, I definitely check for commercial intent when I build a site that I hope toÂ make money from. Even if you just want to make a little extra cash from Adsense ads on your blog, you’ll want to use this tool. It gives you an educated guess about whether or not people searching for your keyword are in the market to buy something.
I just checked the tool, and the term “oil painting” has a Commercial Intent score of .89 – very good – but we’ve already seen that this term is too difficult to get into the top results at Google. However, the term “wildlife oil painting” has a good difficulty score (33), and the Commercial Intent score is .91, which is fantastic.
If you’re an artist building a blog to showcase your artwork it makes sense to check all three of these tools and then create posts related to the more specific terms – the ones that have low difficulty scores and high commercial intent scores. They may have fewer searches each month, but you’re more likely to reach those people with less work.
You’ll use the keywords in your post title, at least once in your post, and perhaps in your tags. (Don’t forget to use them in the title and description blocks of the SEO plugin, too). You will also use these keywords if you submit articles with links pointing to your website, and you definitely use these keywords when you use the Goobert link-building technique. These keywords (and links) are the key to your success.
So there you have it – the tools and techniques I used to average over 800 visits a day in only six months. I don’t guarantee that you’ll get the same results, of course – but who knows? On the Internet, anything is possible…
If you try any of these ideas, be sure to let us know in the comments below.