Ranking Update, and Reality Check

So my existing niche site continues to climb in the Google rankings.

Here’s the progression-

June 20 – 64th

June 26th – 39th

June 28th – 38th

June 30th (today) – 29th

A quick search of the existing blogs and sites in the top ten was all the reality I needed to get my feet back on the ground, however.

They clearly have boutique web designers. They have custom made interactive maps, and charts for every article. They have slick sites with custom sidebars.

They review far more destinations than I have (travel niche).

They (to my chargin) have comments disabled, or rerouted through social media (i.e. the url that my name would link to would be my facebook profile).

Getting in the top ten in this niche might be rough, but here’s why I’m not throwing in the towel just yet.

1. This is all a learning experience. When I chose this niche I didn’t have a super firm grasp on keyword research, and part of the motivation for writing a travel blog was to give me an excuse to travel. Which is not to say I’m “moving the goalposts” – I’m still going to go after it 100%.

2. Even if I don’t get in the top 10 for my primary keyword, there’s still reason to monetize. Online biz guru Hayden Miyamoto monetizes every site that cracks the top 20. Sure, the top 20 is daunting, but that seems a more reachable goal. Moreover, I’m already receiving traffic from certain “longtail” keywords semantically related to my niche.

Let me just pause here and mention that if any of these words sound like jargon or cult-speak, as if I were talking about Scientology, you’re not wrong. If you’re crazy enough to still be reading, check out this post for background.

3. My content may not be fancy, but it’s f@#$ing awesome. Many of the competitor sites seem to pick locations and businesses to review either because of affiliations, or totally at random. The result is a fancy looking blog with very little useful information to the user. If every chamber-of-commerce or small-biz association blog were brimming with useful information, there would be no need for Yelp. Yelp isn’t fancy, but it has something far more important – credibility.

How does credibility with users translate into rankings? Not directly, it’s true. The average time people are spending on my site is close to 12 minutes, and most people are viewing multiple articles. This translates in two ways – number one, search engines do take stock of time-on-site and what’s called “bounce rate” (basically the number of people who take one look at your site and go “hup that’s not what I wanted) as a metric to judge whether your content is relevant to the search term, even though it’s not the most important metric.

Second, people liking my content translates into a repeat user base – people who view my site as a go-to for credible information, and who will potentially subscribe to a mailing list and/or check back when new articles/reviews are published.

Anyway, I’m tantalizingly close to being able to monetize my first site. What stands between me and dollar one, as I wrote last Monday, is more content, and SEO. Inspired by some of the blogs in the top 20, I want to create more destinations, and expand still more on those where more depth is available. I’m also working on the next several phases of my SEO – blog comments (easier said-than-done), and social media/gallery sites.

More to come.

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