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What Happens to Your Traffic when You Stop Writing at Your Blog?

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I taught a Marketing with Social Media MBA course at a fully accredited university in Silicon Valley earlier this year. The class ran from Feb 9 – April 28. There were 73 students enrolled. Just over 50 survived to the end.

During the last day of class I asked my students, “How many of you have been angry at me some time during the past 11 weeks?”

They all raised their hands. Some raised both hands and waved them violently. Thank goodness there were no single digit waves … I think. But it was clear the students had had enough of blogging no matter what I called it – marketing with social media, content marketing, inbound marketing, whatever. They were done.

Indeed I was curious to know what would happen to the traffic to their sites when they stopped writing.

Now I know.

Take a look.

Aggregate After

This screen shot reflects the aggregate traffic to all the students’ sites.

It is clearly visible that the traffic is increasing overall.

Increasing?! When most of them had stopped writing?! And all of them are writing less!

Indeed. The traffic continues to grow.

And be sure to take note where the traffic is coming from. Organic traffic is far outperforming the biggest social network on the planet.

Case Study – Info-Nepal

A look at one of the student’s stats is particularly enlightening. Her site is dedicated to Nepal. It would be a great complement to a travel agent site dedicated to Nepal as a destination.

Not a couple of days AFTER the class was finished, look what happened.

After class

I wrote to her, “Very sudden and very nice jump in your traffic! What’s going on?”

Her reply:

“Yeah it all started about 3 weeks ago. All of a sudden I am getting a lot of traffic. It increased from 40-50 per day to almost 300 per day. I am excited. I need to write more frequently. Thanks for keeping and eye on it.

In other words, she did nothing special. Just plugging away, and even writing less than during the class.
We can see where her traffic is coming from.

Lesson Learned

The crystal clear message: Creating good content results in good residual traffic, sometimes known as the long tail.
When traffic is purchased (think adwords) or pushed via social networks and social bookmarking sites (think referral traffic from other sites) traffic will come as long as it is pushed, driven. But when the buying and pushing stops, so does the traffic.  Not so with good content that is on topic and created at the home site. It’s the content that keeps on giving, um, pulling.
Content marketing is inbound marketing. And it can’t be beat long term.
What is your experience with creating content compared to buying traffic by hook or by crook? Got case study? Wanna share? Feel free to read the students’ firsthand experiences at BillBelew.com. And by all means, reach out to me if I can help you see similar results at your site(s). See you in the comments.

Bill Belew is a professional blogger and pays his Silicon Valley mortgage through revenue from traffic to his network of sites. Bill has taken 10 different and unrelated niche topics to more than 1,000,000 unique visitors each and more than 87 million views overall. He is a published author, speaker, and teaches blogging, SEO, and web traffic building to his network of nearly 4,000 Meetup members in San Francisco.


Feedback

14
  • Leah McClellan

    Interesting–that’s exactly what happened to me with a blog I quit over a year ago. The less I wrote, the more traffic I got. There are about 100 posts written over a couple of years.

    It’s just as you say: there’s some solid content there. Most of the traffic, from what I can see, is coming from social, but I’m not sharing anything. Someone found certain articles by search (I imagine), started sharing, and they took off. Then others were found, either from those readers or from more organic traffic. A few articles have 2-300 FB shares, loads of tweets, and I have no idea who’s reading since comments are closed. All because I quit 🙂 I never had that much action!

    I was wondering if anyone else experienced this (you’d expect traffic to drop off when you quit), so it was good to read this.

    • Bill Belew

      @Leah, “The less you wrote the more you got…” If you have a bigger base to begin with = write more up front, you will get more on the back when you write less. Um… I think that is what I mean.
      Bill

  • Marie Wiere

    I have had a similar experience with my blog. I started my blog during my personal branding MBA class and blogged 2-3 times a week for about 5 months, then blogged around once a month on average after class was done. I haven’t added any posts for a few months now and recently found I have had a few thousand visitors in spite of no new posts. It’s definitely a good motivation to start blogging again.

    Great article!

  • Andy Beal

    It will be interesting to see how the trend continues. From an outsider looking in only at what you have shared, it looks to be a simple case of the search engines taking their time to figure out the value and relevance of the blog posts written. I suspect the stopping was merely a coincidence. Just a hunch.

    • Joshua Dorkin

      I was thinking the same thing, Andy. The charts I can see in the post above only go back a few months. The search engines take a little time to start ranking sites as they get to know them better. So, it seems that without any more information, we can’t come to any conclusions that stopping blogging had anything to do with the traffic. The timing may have been purely coincidental.

      Without far more testing, I wouldn’t put much stake in the limited results posted here.

      • Bill Belew

        @Joshua and Andy, The charts go back to the beginning of the blogs. There is nothing before that. I am not advocating an increase in traffic because they stopped posting, but in spite of the huge drop in the number of posts. Does that make sense?

        Bill

        • Joshua Dorkin

          Bill – It makes sense, but I don’t believe that there’s any cause/effect happening here. I just believe the timing for the pop was coincidental and would have happened regardless.

  • Justin McClelland

    I’ve noticed a spike in my traffic as well, especially towards the end of April 2013 and early May. I indeed attributed the spike due to the fact that some of my content was finally getting indexed. But also, this increase in traffic seemed to be concurrent with the Google Panda 2.0 update. So, I’m not for sure if there is one single cause for my blog or these students here…

  • Chris Sansone

    Were all of the blogs structured similarly to the Info Nepal example?

    My observations with blogs seem to be supportive of the idea that if the entire post contents are displayed on the home page, the search engines have to struggle with what page to index for the newest content.

    The Panda hates duplicate content, remember that. They have figured out that a lot of blogs work this way and certainly made some allowances for it, but to the extent that I’m able to compare the different blogs I work on, results in search are nearly always better and faster when full post content is not available on the home page or category pages.

    This is especially true (or I think so, anyway) for less popular blogs that aren’t getting a lot of mentions and links to the individual post pages as they are published. Most blogs, in other words.

    When a new post goes up, these new several hundred words of content have now appeared on the home page… and on their own page, which is now one of the highest positioned links on the home page.

    Over time this seems to sort itself out, each individual page gets its place in the index for whatever keywords it’s going to start ranking for, and search exposure and traffic increases once the algorithms have made their decision on which page is the authority for each piece of content.

    It would be interesting to see how the results of a similar experiment would differ using blogs where the homepage showed mainly thumbnails (if used), titles and snippets, and plenty of them.

    The link love tends to spread farther and wider, faster, when there are more like 20 prominent links to recent posts than when pagination links are the only links to most of the posts. Same with category pages

    As it is now, most of the posts on the Nepal site are at least 2 clicks away from the homepage. Indeed, it may be that over half of all posts are at least 3 clicks away from home.

    @Marie above, your blog is structured the same way. I think changing that would help you with indexing.

    @Leah that structure is closer to what I mention, but a reader (or search engine) still has to get through like1800 words and all the contextual links within before reaching those snippets. Maybe make that first post have a larger, full width headline and thumbnail and give it a more prominent snippet, but keeping the content div links to other recent posts closer to the fold should be a benefit.

  • Bill Belew

    @Chris,

    We did not focus on front page appearance as I don’t think this makes that much difference and until a blog becomes very very popular the front page might be the least visited page overall. It is individual posts that are found … not the front page from my experience.

    Does this answer your question?

    Bill

  • Gugulethu

    That’s a really great case study. I totally agree with all you said especially about quality content. I once posted an article in my music blog, back in 2011, I think hehe… The post got a lot of hits from facebook coz I created a facebook event for the post and invited about 500 friends.

    It has good comments which turned into discussions and a lot of social shares as well and it still gets shared. It’s one of those keywords that every music producer will Google at some point in their career, no choice 😀 and the great part is that I didn’t even write the article I got it from Ezine Articles. That’s when I realized that my blog needs to have content that the visitor finds valuable and can put it into practice as well as bookmark it to use it as reference later.

    So I hold back nothing, I give out everything. That’s when advertisers started contacting me I didn’t go to any of them. I was out-ranking them without even realizing it. All I was doing is create a post and create facebook event. Done!

    I stopped posting on the blog early 2012 and took a break from this online business. Now I come back and there’s a lot of gimmick stuff, people claiming to empower people while they’re just empowering themselves, family and friends 😀 anyway it’s cool.

    Just focus on getting good keywords for your blog posts then you’ll be fine. That’s a great post Bill, Many Thnx!!

    Peace!

    • Bill Belew

      Thanks for reading, Gu.

      Original material will perform even better than borrowed material long term. Borrowed material will eventually be found out if it is done too blatantly and the web site will be done for.

      Bill

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