OK I’m going to be posting a regular update on the progress of my travel authority site. The updates will probably be about monthly – unless something huge comes along. Frankly monitoring this sort of project more than monthly means I’d probably be doing too much talking and not enough doing – if you know what I mean.
Hey at the end of it when I’m making thousands a month from my travel site – maybe I’ll pull all these together and flog the ebook to you guys!
Until them – I’ll try to explain what I’m doing, and more importantly – why. I know making the transition from niche, anonymous site, to being out there with a site with your name on it is daunting for many. Well its daunting for me to, but frankly if I can do it, anyone can. Can I do it? No flipping idea, but I’m going to try, stick around for the ride!
Background on my Authority Site
I’ve written about my overall business plan for this site before.
I initially registered the domain on 1 June 2011. I registered it to be the “home” for my self-published books. As I’ve said before I’d found getting organic rankings for a travel site is tough going. I didn’t do much with the site – tossed a little content on and let it sit. If found some very long tail keywords, and wrote about 7 posts. I then published nothing for two months, then I did a few more posts in September, then again nothing until March.
Meanwhile I did a few guest posts and other hmm… “self promotional advertising” – and voila my search traffic started building steadily from 146 visits in January to 946 in March (so far my record month for search). This dropped a bit in April – why? Not actually sure, the Penguin debacle was late enough in the month to not have a huge effect in the statistics. More likely its the seasonality of the search terms (hard to know without a year or two of good data).
BTW If I was doing this again I’m not sure I’d use my name in the site’s url again (for frigs sake this is the second time I’ve done this – you’d think I’d learn!). In the unlikely event that I want to sell it, the branding issue would be a problem.
Authority Site Statistics
|Alexa Rank US||271,824.00|
|SEM Rush Rank||1,999,856.00||199856,00|
|Uniques (last 30 days)||1138|
Frankly I don’t know enough about the social to know what is good or bad about it! I noticed the page rank had dropped a couple of days ago with the latest PR update but apart from that every other metric seems to be going in the right direction.
What am I aiming at with these metrics? I’m aiming to get into one of the many “top 100 travel blogs” lists. Nomadic Samuel’s seems to have an objective list of requirements – and I don’t think I’m a million miles off of making his cut off. I also think there is a very much a snow ball effect with social media. If you have no friends or followers no one wants to go first (in fact if the site had been really brand new and I hadn’t got around to creating and ignoring the Facebook pages months ago- just buy some likes fiverr.com will have plenty of people offering that service)
On Site Content
- 32 new posts
- 2 pages
- content for the armchair traveller
- “how to’s” for the serious traveller
- and photos
- I installed a plugin called WordPress Editorial Calendar. Its a drag and drop interface which allows you to plan and manage posts easily.
- I did some research and discovered that the most popular time to read your emails is 9am. Given that most of my readers are from the US – I know schedule my “social” posts to publish at 9am EST, on a week day. Remember only some of my posts show on my “travel blog” page, the search engine focussed stuff gets published as its written.
- The pages are effectively the content on the category pages. I’m really only doing them as pages because it keeps them out of my RSS feed and makes it easy for me to find them.
- I also installed a plugin that automatically creates an index of a page based on sub-title tags: Table of Contents Plus
How To Build Social Media Engagement
Well if anyone has the passive income solution to this one I’m all ears! I think this is one of the biggest hurdles for many Internet Marketers. I’m applying a really simple strategy. I basically go looking for bloggers in my niche. I comment on their sites, and I comment on their site’s facebook page. If they respond I do it again. I don’t pick the “leaders” in the niche. I go to their sites sure, but its not them I’m targetting, they don’t need me. Instead I am picking on their followers, who also have travel blogs. The wannabes if you like. The people at my own level are far more likely to respond and reciprocate than the “big boys”.
I’m nice, and most people are nice back. Its strategy that worked bloody well for Griz and Court in this niche – I see no reason why it shouldn’t work in travel – because people are people.
I’m also in several “membership groups” around travel. Why? For the networking. Yeah really that nasty N-word. Why the heck does networking matter – well for the links I just described above! My being members of those groups I’ve so far found an advertiser who spent over $400 with me (for 10 minutes work), plus I’m part of a nice guest posting set-up which should give me lots of exposure at the end of this month.
Why Am I Building Social Media Engagement
Yeah I would have asked that a month back too! Why? For the money of course. As you no doubt already know social traffic won’t make you rich clicking Adsense ads. However social engagement is something that advertisers are looking for when they are considering working with a travel site. Not all, true. Some, maybe many, just want to see their keywords on your page and Page Rank.
But the more discerning actually want figures that prove you have an audience. Because that’s the audience they want to reach.
Personally I’m diversifying – I’ll take their money whether they want my audience or my page rank 🙂
Well I hope this series will be of some use to someone out there. Its pretty funny – when I hang out with bloggers they are dead scared of all this “SEO stuff”, when I hang out with IMers they are dead scared of “social media stuff”.
Actually neither is rocket science, you just need to figure out an approach, and do it!