Leon followed up my recent video post where I talked about anticipating what people will be searching for as a technique for growing your blog’s readership with a question:
“How do you anticipate searches without sacrificing the quality of your posts?”
Good question Leon – I’ve seen a number of bloggers recently who I think this could be relevant for.
Recap – In my video post I spoke about how I discovered the power of anticipating what people are searching for by accident one day when I wrote a post titled ‘Australian Idol Winner?’ on a personal blog that I was writing at the time. Of course in the days before Australian Idol announced it’s winner this post attracted quite a bit of search traffic.
Stay Relevant to Your Blog’s Niche
The key with this type of strategy is really to keep things as relevant to your blog and as useful to your reader as possible.
The technique worked well for me in the example above because I was writing a personal blog that covered a lot of different topics. My original post ‘Australian Idol Winner?’ was a post asking readers who they thought would win and sharing some of my own predictions. It was a topic I’d written about before and something that my readers responded to.
The post worked for me on that blog both in connecting with readers and positioning itself for search engine traffic – however if I were to write the same post on my other blogs (for example ProBlogger or one of my Photography blogs) it would fall flat on it’s face and probably cause a reader backlash.
Perhaps in my video post I should have qualified my comments on this technique by encouraging readers to stick within their niche if they’re trying this topic.
So instead of just thinking in general terms about what the wider population will be searching for in a few weeks – think about the question in terms of your niche. This of course makes things harder for some blogs than others.
Don’t Compromise on Content Quality
The other thing that is worth considering on this topic is the quality of posts. I’ve seen a few bloggers take this idea and write posts that are stuffed with relevant keywords for a topic but which are of no use to their regular readers at all. The key is to create a post that is both well optimized for SEO but which more importantly is useful to readers by providing them with content that means something.
If you sacrifice on quality you’ll not only frustrate your current readers – but you’ll hurt your potential relationship with new ones when they search for information and then arrive at your blog post only to find rubbish. Provide them with great information and they’ll stick around and become loyal readers!
Want some examples?
Let me share a few of my own posts which will hopefully illustrate the point. These photography related posts all provide readers with something of worth – but are also reasonably well optimized for the keywords that search engine users search for at different times of the year. Together these four posts have brought in hundreds of thousands of search engine visitors over the past couple of years.
- 16 Photography Tips for Christmas
- How to Photograph Fireworks
- Halloween Photography Tips
- Digital Camera Christmas Gift Ideas
The key is to anticipate search traffic – but not to compromise on your reader experience.
The other way of doing things, if you really want to go all out on seasonal or topical events, is to start a whole new blog on the subject (this could work well for recurring seasonal events), as I believe Darren did to great effect with the Athens Olympics blog.
It requires a lot more work and planning, and needs greater lead time when you first start, to account for any “sandboxing” by search engines, etc.
On the other side, though, it does reduce the risk of alienating existing readers – as you won’t have any!
Sometimes I write reviews or latest new on my blog which include what’s popular at the moment.
Previous month there was Transformers movie, Simpsonize me,…
I get most of my search engine traffic through these posts.
I collect keywords from search engine day by day and sometime I use it for my post.
Everyone is waiting for Halo 3 and I have had some visitors from Search Engine by a small post on my blog about Halo 3.
I will probably post a more detailed post on Halo 3 when it’s about to be released =)
Also include a link in there for them to pre-order =)
This is a great tip, and I’ve used it to great success last Christmas and valentine’s day.
Valentine’s day was my best day ever, with some 62,000 hits.
So, pretty much you need to keep up with holidays and current events… and try to write posts about those?
Although the trend seems to be holidays…
I shall have to keep that in mind!
Oops – sorry.
This article couldn’t be more TRUE!
On my celeb hairstyle blog I wrote and article on Tyra Banks weight gain, just before the tabloids started running wild with the story.
The search engines found my article which brought in a few thousand extra visitors.
I’ve been a big believer of this strategy ever since…
Keeping up with Holidays and Reaccuring events is key. Being in the travel niche I have to plan posts a minimum of 30 days in advance if I am to include travel fare deals etc. It defintely keeps me on my toes.
Great post Darren
I think its much more important to wait untill you’ve created a quality article rather than post something against your niche when the creative juices stop flowing.
Surprised you answered so quickly. Excellent answer. I’ll give it a shot.
I remember hearing this in your last video post. Awesome!
I know I was able too put this technique into practice way back in my first year of blogging, it really works well. Now I just have to figure out how to use it efficiently again.
Thanks for this post it has clarified and thoroughly explained something I was trying to get my brain around ever since watching your video. Great article, great examples and great comments succinctly answered.
I think I happened upon this phenomenon recently. A few weeks back I did a couple of posts about my son’s Transformer themed birthday party and wow if it isn’t the top two posts on my blog! I had no idea that so many people were searching on transformer birthday ideas, transformer pinatas, etc.
I’m not really sure that’s in the niche of my blog but I hope some of the visitors will at least remember the products they saw on my right sidebar! :-)
You made an excellent point, Darren, about keeping your content relevant to what people are searching for, but also keeping the quality up as well. A post loaded with keywords might get tons of hits, although it probably won’t generate much “sticky” traffic.
That’s a problem I’m facing right now: I’m getting tons of search engine traffic (30%+ of my total traffic comes from search engines), and I’m writing what I hope is interesting content, but it doesn’t seem to be very sticky.
My blog is still less than 1 year old, so that can be a problem as well – it’s not as established as other blogs out there. As a result, I’m having to experiment a lot to see what works and what doesn’t.
So that means I should start writing about gift ideas for Christmas right now to post them a week or so before Thanksgiving. hmm, I better get writing.
Darren, I need to thank you for this.
I took your advice and put it to use on my Web site. Since mine is a movie review site, I decided to look forward at upcoming releases and put a page on my site that, for instance, said: Dragon Wars Movie Review, Preview, Trailer.
Though the movie review is coming soon (film opens this weekend), there still is relevant information there for my readers in a synopsis, the date the movie opens, and a trailer for the movie. When the review is written, I’ll place it on that page.
I’ve done this with a handful of films as an experiment and I am now in the #1 spot on Google’s search engine for almost all of these films when you enter their title and the words “movie review,” which is how people will be searching. My traffic has skyrocketed with thousands of additional hits. Incredible. I never would have thought of this. Thanks very much!
Darren, I need to thank you for this.
Well said darren, Thanks again!