11 Content Marketing Lessons Learned from 20 of the Top 100 Blogs

content lessons

When I started my marketing career, I had the privilege of working with 20 of the top 100 blogs, according to Technorati. My job was to help them grow their traffic… and most would say I was wildly successful at it.

For example, I was able to grow TechCrunch’s traffic by 30%, and I was able to grow Gawker Media’s traffic by an extra 5 million visitors a month.

Although what I did may seem impressive… it really isn’t. All I did was tweak a few on-page elements, leverage social media and cross-link to grow my clients’ search engine traffic.

What was impressive is the fact that some of these bloggers took their sites from nothing to upwards of 100,000,000 pageviews a month. Over the years, I had the privilege to watch, study and learn from their strategies.

Here’s what I learned from them:

Timing is everything

Almost every single one of these blogs became popular because they got good at breaking news. And not just any news…but mainstream news. These sites went after mainstream news because more people searched for it, which meant the potential traffic opportunity was greater.

The way these blogs found mainstream news was by following sites like Google Trends. Trends lists all of the hot topics, and if you happen to blog on one of those topics, you are more likely to get traffic.

One site that leveraged this strategy in the past was Mahalo. They built up a lot of their traffic when they started out by writing about everything mentioned on Google Trends.

mahalo alexa

They don’t leverage this strategy as frequently anymore; hence, you see the drop in traffic when you look at the graph. But as you can notice, it was very effective before.

Quantity over quality

I myself prefer writing high quality posts instead of writing large quantities of content, but that strategy doesn’t work well if you are trying to hit 5 or even 10 million unique visitors a month.

All of the 20 blogs I worked with focused on quantity first and then quality. They made sure crap wasn’t thrown onto their blogs, but they had quantity goals…such as posting 4 blog posts a day.

When I had access to all of their analytics stats, I saw there was a direct correlation between how many posts they released a day and how much traffic they received. The blogs that wrote more content tended to be the most popular.

It wasn’t because of social media. It was because of Google. The sites that published over 4 pieces of content a day typically received 55% or more of their traffic from search engines.

growth graph

If you look at the graph above, you’ll notice two lines. The first one shows general traffic growth of their core user base at 8% each month as content is continually published each week.

The second line represents hit content pieces that caused traffic spikes. Because the blog published content so frequently, chances of hitting these traffic spikes increased, which helped take their growth rate from 8% to 10%.

Your influence affects your blog’s popularity

Most blog owners who have popular blogs are well networked. Sure, their blogs helped grow their network, but even before they had a successful blog, they were still pretty well connected.

These connections helped them break stories and get more social media traffic. From getting their friends to tweet stuff to having them share it on Facebook, these blog owners leveraged their connections to get as much traffic as possible.

If you want to create a popular blog, you need to work on your networking. The more influential people you get to know, the more social traffic you will generate.

Hire influential writers

None of the blogs I worked with were “one-man” shows. It is simply impossible to be that popular with just one writer. There is no way one person can write 10 or even 4 quality blog posts a day.

So, you will have to staff writers to produce more content. When hiring writers, don’t just evaluate their writing ability, but look at how influential they are.

Bigger blogs love hiring people who are well-known. When I started my first blog, Pronet Advertising, I hired MG Siegler because he was a top Digg user, which helped me generate more traffic.

TechCrunch later hired MG as well, and it didn’t hurt that he had a ton of social clout as it can be leveraged to drive traffic. For this reason, he is also one of the more popular tech bloggers on the web.

Follow the data, not your gut

It’s rare that blogs get popular accidentally or by luck. In most cases, the big blogs are using data to figure out how they can grow their traffic.

One of the main metrics these blogs look at is author stats. They analyze the average traffic, number of comments and social shares per post for each author.

By breaking it down from an author level, they can see which writers drive the most traffic. They then use averages to see which authors drive the most traffic per post. This is important because some will write less than others, and the ones that have a higher traffic-per-post ratio are the ones you want to encourage to write more frequently.

This also helps them determine which writers they should fire. The last thing you want to do is pay a writer who can’t generate traffic.

It’s all about the headline

Some editors spend as much time editing as they do helping massage the headline so it hits hard. Without a good headline, your content won’t be read. That is why editors are so picky about post titles.

If you want to get to mass scale, you should hire a good editor who focuses on correcting other people’s posts and ensures that the headlines that are being used on the blog appeal to both users and search engines.

This isn’t an easy skill to acquire or train someone in; instead, you need to look for editors who are creative. It’s extremely hard to teach someone to be creative, so make sure you hire someone who knows what they are doing out of the gate.

In most cases, you can find a good editor by taking someone from the magazine world.

You don’t have to write to reap the rewards

Once your blog has reached a critical mass, you can keep growing it by using other people’s content. Entrepreneur Magazine does this to grow their traffic… they currently syndicate our KISSmetrics blog content.

I’ve experienced this firsthand with Business Insider when they asked me if they could repost a few Quick Sprout blog posts. They said they would link back, so I gladly accepted.

Once they published a few of my articles, I realized that they were generating more traffic from my blog post than I was on my own blog. Just look at this post. It generated over 21,211 views on Business Insider and only 6,315 views on Quick Sprout.

The other thing I learned from Business Insider when they used Quick Sprout content is that they broke it up into multiple pages. Although I don’t feel it is that usable, it increased their pageviews-per-visitor statistic, which helped their advertising revenue.

You have to fuel the fire

Starting out is the toughest part, which is why companies like AOL acquire blogs instead of creating them. You have to get traffic from somewhere when you are starting out, or else your blog won’t be popular.

Some of the blogs I worked with, e.g., Mashable, fueled their growth by commenting on other blogs. Other blogs fueled their growth by levering their contacts. For example, Guy Kawasaki mass mailed his entire email list when he launched his blog.

In today’s market, it is hard to create a popular blog from scratch. One of the ways you can increase your odds of becoming popular is by advertising on Facebook. Send your paid Facebook ads to a landing page that allows you to collect emails in exchange for giving away a free ebook.

Then, whenever you write a blog post, you can email your list, asking them to read the blog.

Acquire to grow

Once you have the traffic and your high authority in Google, consider acquiring other blogs to fuel your growth. GigaOM acquired The Apple Blog years ago, which helped them drastically increase their Apple traffic.

When they combined all of the blogs – both the ones they started and acquired – under one domain name gigaom.com, they were able to increase their authority in the eyes of Google, which eventually helped them increase their overall traffic.

Acquisitions don’t have to be pricey. Blogs that generate 50,000 or even 100,000 visitors can be bought for five figures or less. You can do that because most of these blogs don’t make any money, so when you offer someone $10,000 for their blog, they get intrigued.

When I bought Gym Junkies, it was generating 170,000 visits a month, and I spent $30,000. That’s not a bad deal considering the site was making $30,000 in profit each year… so, in essence I bought it for one year’s profit.

Quality doesn’t guarantee traffic, but it does build loyalty

You can write great content, but it doesn’t mean you will see an increase in traffic. You can write crap content in large quantities, and you are more likely to see your traffic numbers go up.

In the long run, however, crap content will lead to disappointed readers, which hurts your long term traffic. Yes, in the short term, things will grow like a hockey stick, but once search engines continue to see that users are bouncing away and no one is willing to tweet your content or even link to it, eventually your traffic will tank.

You have to consider your strategy not just from a direct traffic standpoint but also from a search engine standpoint. Google looks at the number of pages you have indexed, the number of sites that are linking back, and even the number of social shares you are generating. If you have a good ratio, Google will reward you with higher rankings. If you don’t, you’ll eventually see your rankings tank.

If you want to build a long term blogging strategy like the big boys, you have to focus on high quality content. Quality will help bring loyal readers who will continually share your content via the social web, and these readers will increase your overall word of mouth rate. This will help increase your direct traffic and your referring traffic.

Aggressiveness may tick off users, but it usually doesn’t slow down growth

Being aggressive with growth strategies is usually forgiven by your readers if your content is great. I’ve used aggressive strategies in the past with Quick Sprout, and I’ve continually grown. From multiple pop-ups to content blockers, I tested it all. Every time I have done so, I saw that this approach does tick off a few readers, but my traffic continually climbs up and to the right.

Another good example of a blog that uses aggressive strategies is Upworthy. Their blog is extremely popular even though they use popups to try to convince you to friend or like them on Facebook.

upworthy popup

Now, I am not saying you should be aggressive, but the data shows it typically doesn’t increase bounce rates or cause an overall traffic decrease. According to this article, Upworthy is the fastest growing blog that ever hit the web, and they are extremely aggressive.

You can also look at Mixergy: you can’t read their content without putting in your email address.

Conclusion

Optimizing a blog that is already popular so that it can be more popular is easy… I did it with 20 of the top 100 blogs, and I was able to provide additional growth in just a few months.

On the other hand, starting a blog from scratch and growing it to millions of visitors a month is a very difficult task. But if you follow the strategies that the big guys use, which I outlined above, your overall traffic should quickly increase.

So, what other tactics the big blogs are leveraging that you can learn from?

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Comments

  1. Hi Neil,
    Thanks again for another powerful post with some great insights. I enjoyed in particular, this one –
    “Quality doesn’t guarantee traffic, but it does build loyalty”
    and also
    “Aggressiveness may tick off users, but it usually doesn’t slow down growth”

    The second one is not just true in online world. But in real life, in any business it works. You can’t make everybody happy but if you are consistent and intentional about your growth – it does happen!

    Thank you for this awesome post. It was worth the time here!
    Regards,
    Kumar

  2. In online, it’s always who you know not what you know or who you are.

    And about writing award-winning headlines I couldn’t agree with you more Neil. Jon Morrow said it best “the fastest way to boost your website traffic is to improve your headlines”.

    This is by far the best advice from you till date, “send your paid Facebook ads to a landing page that allows you to collect emails in exchange for giving away a free ebook.”

    I’m already using FB ads to collect leads, I must say it’s working like a charm and the leads are of high quality!

    Cheers,
    Rahul Kuntala

    • Rahul, glad you found the information helpful. I think the small things like headlines and calls to action really add up. Let me know how everything works out for you with your site :)

  3. Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned Neil sir. I have a question, how did Business Insider generated such huge traffic from your content? Did they got that traffic from Search Engines or from their regular readers?

  4. Thanks for continuously driving the “quantity over quality” point home. It’s super important, I think that’s one of the number one things that hold a lot of people back – me included.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Ray

  5. I would make a ToDo list with each of your subheads as tasks and get busy with it. What you say makes so much sense. Thanks man.

    I am making the excel sheet right now! :)

    But one of the blogs, my personal one — many of the suggestions won’t apply.

    I say this with relative confidence because I know of this one-man blog that is – by any stretch of the imagination – a popular blog. And it is run by one guy, you know him I’m sure, he’s kind of a big deal :)

  6. I can see that you are applying a lot of these lessons with QuickSprout, but at what point to do stop calling yourself a blog?

    I still look at a blog as more of a personal outlet for a single writer or small group of writers. I wouldn’t consider a media juggernaut Huffington Post a blog any more than I would consider Mahalo a blog.

    To put out large quantities of content like you mentioned to the tune of 4-5 posts a day takes a team of people and a good CMS, and just because there using a blogging CMS doesn’t mean they are a blog.

    Either way you still need to fuel the fire and get enough traffic to justify the cost of creating the content. There are good lessons to be learned here for blogs of all sizes.

    Thanks for sharing your insights.

    • Mical, you bring up a good point. I think a blog is defined by the person who is writing the content and providing the pieces of information. I think blogs encompass a wide array of media. I think as long as you are providing quality content and people come back to read your posts you are definitely doing the right thing. Thanks for your feedback :)

  7. Writing high quality posts instead of large quantities of content is the best way to generate loyal and dedicated readers and followers.

    Right on the nail Neil! Thanks for the other tips.

  8. Timing may be a good source of getting traffic but quality has always been a major factor of traffic for me.

    Most of my blogs received more traffic in the longrun than viral traffic.

  9. @Neil the whole article is quiet good to get good leads.

    Specially good headline can help to get good lead, I am very happy that you also using this tactic.

    Thanks @Neil

  10. Thank you Neil for this awesome post.I have a question,why you don’t share version of these posts into a podcast.I really love this blog,I don’t want to miss any post.it’s my newspaper.
    Raphael

  11. Chester Maitri Ku-Lea :

    Hey Neil, great post. Question for you – when you were tweaking on-page elements, what were the main tweaks you would do?

    Cheers for all that you do!

  12. Neil, how does syndication work? Do you need permission from the original owner? Is there any code to embed into the 2nd copy that tells Google this is duplicate content?

    • Yes, you need permission. These sites also want the rankings, so all you are going to get back, at best, is a link back to your original article.

      Sometimes you will find that their duplicate content will out rank your content.

  13. Mahalo got crushed by the first Google Panda update which explains the huge downward trend in their Alexa graph.

    This is another great reason to follow the quality over quantity path.

  14. It’s hard finding good writers. Where did you find your writers for Kissametrics?

  15. Great article! And it’s my birthday – which doubles this content as a nice gift from Neil to me :)

  16. Hi Neil,

    There is a school of thought that’s prevalent at the moment of ‘don’t bother blogging until you’ve grown your subscriber list’.
    However I have seen data in the past that shows a direct correlation between sales and blogging frequency.
    And I also can see from my own data- you need to blog to get the traffic.
    I guess you need to post as often as you can without compromising on quality – find the balance that fits your business.
    Thanks for the great post.

    • Susie, you bring up some terrific points. It’s all about creating content that isn’t only quality but seeks to achieve a laid out goal. It’s best to have a strategy when writing and promoting any post.

  17. Oh man, you always crash my late working days with your posts… I always want to take just a look at the post, but I always get so excited that I start to add more and more points to my to-do-list… :)

  18. Great read, really makes and and makes me think about how to truly expand a successful blog. My blog is starting to gain visitors and will keep all of this in mind going forward. Now that I know my writing is working I need to find ways to find other writers that are good to work with.

  19. Fascinating post Neil. It’s interesting that you say the aggressive strategies of blogs that force you to sign-up to read the content or share on social media actually don’t put many people off. Personally I always click ‘back’ as soon as I see that tactic!

  20. Hey Neil,
    Thanks again for a really great post, with a lot of great content – as always!
    I will definitely try to be more aggressive with my pages, to catch some more fans and subscribers to my newsletters.

    Thanks again,
    Gustav

  21. Hi, Neil post is really great i am really glad to see that all things which you are describe in your post And i am also agree with your thinking that “Quality doesn’t guarantee traffic, but it does build loyalty” and as you ask in some of your previous posts quality should be matter, So the thing is that you can do anything for your blog and for your site as well Butt one algorithmic update will destroy your all effort in one shocked,
    Well Awesome post..! butt my question is as you ask “Hire influential writers” but where i get them because my organization is unable to find good writers, Will you please help me in this case.?

    • Qamar, glad you found the post helpful. Quality will always get you results over time. I think a good place to find bloggers in your niche is to go out and find them. Look at what your competitors are doing and go from there.

  22. Neil Patel, your right on the money man……Targeting google trends is an amazing idea/ I have been doing that on my tech blog and it is doing well. It has got an alexa rank of above 120k in less than 2 months. keep posting such awesome stuffs. you rock

  23. Yet another useful post. I have a blog that writes some good content and is small and gets republished in other places. All of the other places appear to have better traffic than mine…. so this has got me thinking…

  24. Good article and advice for traffic growth, I also find that building traffic facebook pages, helps with driving traffic back to the site.

    Lastly the power of reddit is something everyone should consider when creating and article, submit to reddit gives you an instant traffic influx.

  25. Great blog post. Thanks. I have a question…How far ahead should you plan before starting your blog?

    Should you just start with yourself and a few article ideas, or do you need to have a whole of team of writers on board and a load of blog posts ready to go out? Thanks!

  26. The question I have is, does the quantity over quality still hold true with all of the Google algorithm shake-ups? Many of these sites that just produce average articles at an alarming rate have been killed in search results. I think I might stick with quality.

  27. Sir Neil this is on point again, though for start up they need to know what to do. As with everything else worth having or archiving out there.

    There are no shortcuts to any of them, as you have advice they should leverage some of the ways others did the big one.

    Or even get their hands on the guides already written in here .

    • Joel, great points. There are no shortcuts in this industry. You have to provide quality content that is sticky and then promote it the right way. Thanks for your feedback :)

  28. Hey Neil,
    I’ve thought about hiring an article writer before. What is the typical arrangement to hire a writer (pay per article) or what?

    … and what would you say you’d need to spend to attract an author with a following?

    Thanks,
    Chris

    • Yes, it is pay per article. It ranges from $20 to $500 an article. You can find good writers from Craigslist or Jobs.problogger.net.

      As for the arrangement, it can be flexible to. It is really up to whatever you want.

  29. Mical, you said exactly what I have been thinking lately!

    I started my website in 2003, and it currently has 2.8 million pageviews a month (its had more before, building it back up again). I’ve tried to make it as authoritative and informative as possible, yet I still get people contacting me saying, ‘I love your blog!’

    Its always made me scratch my head though – yes I am one person running it and write a majority of the content, but I do have expert contributed articles and even dabbled in some writers when I realised I couldn’t do it all on my own any more (duh!). I don’t run it on WordPress, its on Ruby on Rails – a CMS.

    So, what is a blog and what makes a fully fledged website? Is one better than the other? I always cringed at the blog comments because after 10 years of blood, sweat and tears, I felt that perhaps they didn’t take my information as seriously, being someone’s random comments and ideas?

    I guess most people will say, ‘So what, you have all that traffic!’ but I have always been genuinely curious. How do people view blogs over websites – which is seen as more authoritative? Because the sites that I compete with are owned by News Ltd and Fairfax for example. Very tough gig!

  30. I was thinking about starting a website that would rely basically only on curated content. Do you think it’s a viable strategy these days?

    Btw, Neil would you let a new blog/website with little traffic republish your content (of course with linking back)? Thanks.

    • Marcin, content curation is a huge trend. You should definitely try it out. I have no problem with people sharing my content, just as long as it’s not dupe content :)

  31. Excellently written, as always. I agree fully with what you say here, but would like to add a couple of insights when it comes to smaller markets.

    Sweden, where I’m working from, is one small market. And many tools that can be used to analyze traffic and keywords simply cannot handle the low statistics base. Too few searches, to far apart, simply put.

    When I try to help customers optimizing performance for keywords where our own market cannot suffice, I use what I call parallellism to do broad searches for similar terms both in Swedish and in English. Then traffic and search patterns can be compared, making it possible to estimate traffic even for word the regular tools can’t handle.

    At my site Brandicon I teach these things and other useful stuff to the crowd willing to listen.

    Cheers!

    • Steve, I understand the issue. It’s tough in markets outside of the US sometimes. That’s when I suggest just a/b testing on your own and finding out where and how traffic is coming to your site. Thanks for the great feedback :)

  32. This is one of the best articles I’ve read and the information is priceless. Things like producing more content to rapidly grow the blog traffic is great and very true.

    At the moment I have started to work with Ceylon Radio, these tips are going to be very useful and I can personally see that daily publishing has helped us increase the traffic to the blog to pass 3000 visitors per day mark.

    Also I’m using these strategies you mentioned to TieTip.com which is a Tech blog my client just started from scratch and we are monitoring the stats and keeping a note on how long it will take to pass the thousand+ unique visitors a day.

    Thanks for the share and really helpful article.

    • Fernando, glad you found the article helpful. Please keep me posted on how everything works with the radio station. I would love to hear how the strategies worked or didn’t work. Looking forward to hearing from you again :)

  33. Great post Neil!

    Upworthy is a great example for headlines too, apparrently they write up to 25 headlines per post then watches which ones are most successful.

  34. This is absolutely fantastic Neil.

    I never thought there is an upside to aggressiveness. Definitely success if intentional and for the bold. I guess I should be bolder.
    Great post as always.

  35. It’s a nice helpful post . Thanks a lot to share it. I just learn more and more in this lesson .

  36. Great post, Neil! I am testing syndicating my content on a few sites (much larger than mine) this week and excited to see how it works out.

    Also, what are your thoughts on the 80/20 rule (80% promotion & 20% creating content)? Derek Halpern of Social Triggers is a big fan of this, as am I. I have spent a lot more time on promotion over the last few months and did see quite an increase (at first), although it has plateaued.

    I think a lot of bloggers think promotion means one tweet, a Facebook like and a LinkedIn share and they’re back to creating more content. Content syndication and guest posting is something I am (currently) testing and plan to add to my promotional strategy.

    • Adam, I think spending a lot of time on your content is important as well. If the content is great and speaks for itself you will find that you need to do less promotion. It’s all about striking the right balance. Test things out and see how they go. Also, keep me posted :)

  37. Thanks Joel. Appreciate the appreciation :-)

  38. Great ideas and I’m sure the strategy of writing breaking news would work for a more general blog. But how would a blog focused on a niche write about stories that are trending in Google? I will look into acquiring a site in my niche and I’d never seriously thought about that before.

    • Reid, you can start off with blog headlines that will capture your niche’s eye. I think top ten posts are a great way to get the ball rolling. ex “top ten reasons to ___ “

  39. Thanks Neil for this article and really all the others on this site. I’ve been learning a lot. I especially enjoyed the section “You have to Fuel the Fire” and your idea with the Facebook ad.

    Once I get finished improving my site, I’m going to implement that idea especially to jumpstart the site’s traffic. You’re right that it’s hard to start a blog from scratch. Hard, but not impossible.

  40. You are right, growing a blog from 0 to 10,000 hits is very difficult but once you reach a substantial number of visits it is much more easier.

    Your strategy about aggressiveness is my favorite lol. As a new blogger/entrepreneur this is something that I have to implement.

    Thanks for these great lessons.

  41. My guess for blogging about breaking news for a niche topic would be to find a good news site on that topic for subject ideas. For example, Google Trends doesn’t have any good information on trends in technology, but looking at gizmodo.com and arstechnica.com would give you some ideas about what to write for “breaking news” topics.

    I’d imagine you’d want to make sure that it’s actually “breaking news” as to make it work and not compete so much with the big guys, you need to get the article out as soon as it happens. Much later and your article is swallowed when the big sites catch up.

    • Tim, the key is to capture the audience’s attention as quickly as possible. Sometimes leaving a hanging header does the trip. I have also found that “top ten” or “top 20″ headlines perform very well. Please let me know if you need any specific help and we can discuss :)

  42. Great post, Neil. Really enjoy reading your stuff!

  43. Publishing posts a day, I will ran out of English words since I am still learning to write in English language. But that will be perfect to practice my food photography. I do not have a lot of traffic yet, but I am surprised that when I decided to post three times a week, my traffic increased to 200 visits per day. I noticed also that when I post on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, that is when I get several visitors. So I made those days my regular posting schedules. Lately, I got three subscribers a a day too. Today I got five. This made me feel happy because these are the people that I know will surely read my posts. Having those subscribers make me be motivated to write because I know they are expecting for my post. My goal is to get 1000 visits per day. I am not sure if I will get there but I am hopeful. Thanks for the wonderful post, Neil.

    • Shobelyn, That is a terrific strategy and I think you definitely will got a ton of traffic if you keep it up. You just have to wait it on and find out when people are most engaged with your website. Please let me know if you need help with anything at all :)

  44. Hi Neil,

    Great post. I loved it.

    Is there any way to attain top rankings without using blogs and social media like facebook, twitter etc. I am in China and all these tools are not available.

    Would you provide guidance (for a fee) to our in-house SEO team member?

    Regards Vijay

    • Vijay, that’s a tough one. You may want to look into the social sites that China does provide to see if there is a linking strategy that is connected to Google or any of their local search engines.

  45. Hi Neil

    Great post I recently started a blog and am regularly posting content (couple of times a week) traffic is growing slowly but would love to get it to where I want it to be quicker…alas no quick wins in SEO!!

    Cheers

    Larry

  46. Neil I love your articles, as it’s always backed up by stats. I always thought about experimenting with multiple pages option for long post, but I believe it’s not so user-friendly..but considering Business insider strategy, it should work, as most of my content are well-researched and some time they are as long as 3000+ words…..
    Thanks for another value addition.. :)

  47. Neil, thanks for all this valuable information. I have just started a site for our business and your posts are extremely helpful!

  48. Having great quality content allows you to connect with your readers and build a relationship. That relationship allows you to sell any number of things to your readers – it starts with sharing content, grows into comments and email conversations and then perhaps if the fit is right, you’ll sell products.

  49. You have fine tactics in your content Neil!

    So much for that, I guess that quality means more than quantity to gain loyal readers. I am not certainly a blogger, but I would love to read post that came out from high quality writers or bloggers.

    Nice idea!
    I found and “kingged” this on the Internet marketing social site Kingged.com

  50. Thanks Neil,

    Once again a cracker before Diwali, such a wonderful post. I am going to follow all as suggested. Hope to receive good response.

  51. Hello Neil,

    Your ideas appear to be simple but extremely effective in driving traffic. Here’s another basic idea that bloggers and marketers can use.

    One usually published a blog after numerous edits. Hence there is always some scrap content that can be utilized. The same unused content can be used to make posts on popular platforms like tumblr with a link directing towards your site.

    Do share your feedback! :)

    • It could work… but most people scrap content because it isn’t great. If the content is good and it is being scrapped for another reason, then your idea can work.

  52. Thanks Neil and now I understand why you have multiple pop-ups as I thought that was an oversight. Yes I guess you may tick off a few but without some of these, I would never have clicked and still I follow you faithfully. Thus proof is in the pudding. My blog has been running now for a few months and writing quality content is what we do but we do not have the traffic. This post came at the right time as I’m growing annoyed from little growth.

    • Kelli, thanks for sharing your experience. It’s great to know and be validated by the pop-ups. I a/b test everything and I have found that people find the pop-ups useful and it keeps people coming back to the blog :)

  53. Hi Neil

    I have also noticed lot of popular blog use to publish 4 to 5 posts every day. I got some action elements from this post. That a lot Neil for writing this wonderful post about content marketing and the things we should keep in mind while hiring writers for our blog.

  54. Great post, as usual. I’ll contribute back one typo to fix: levering -> leveraging :)

  55. Neil, excellent tips. I like quantity over quality, although I would say do your best to nail both down. I write 2-3 quality posts daily, carefully publishing each piece of content tailored to my audience.

    So far so good. I am generating 10,000 page views a day on Cash With A True Conscience. Now I am looking for more guest bloggers ;)

    Thanks Neil, sensational stuff here!

    Ryan

    • Ryan, glad you found the post helpful. I think you got it all right and if you wait it you’ll start getting more and more traffic. Please let me know if you need help with anything at all :)

  56. Wonderful post Neil .
    Thanks !!

  57. @Neil, it is remarkable! From “Timing Is Everything” well does this graph is true for everyone? What if we make a mix of “News Jacking” and “Fuel the Fire”? Hope you will write few words :)

    @Joe Mwakasege mind it my friend, “Looser was once Bold” – Beware ! :)

  58. Again useful content marketing tips from you.. Thanks

  59. Neil, as usual, you provide great content, just as you recommend in this post! Your conclusion, about how difficult it is to start a blog from scratch and nurture it so it will grow, is very accurate (speaking from experience). I think the two big things I can work on from your list right away are probably to follow the data, and to make sure that my headlines are really good. This last takes practice, and the first takes sitting down and doing it! Oh, and commenting on other blogs! (Which I do regularly, but is still worth doing!) ;-)
    Thanks for all you teach and share!

    • Deborah, sounds like you have all the strategies down pat. It’s all about putting together the right mix of marketing to achieve your goals. Please let me know if you need help with anything :)

  60. Neil, you made my morning! Thank you for the wonderful insights. I love to get up each morning and read something to stimulate my mind; your posts always get the gears turning!

  61. Consistency and unique content helps.

  62. Oh I’m feeling so guilty right now because I am not blogging as frequently as I should be. After reading this insightful piece, I recognize I’m getting bogged down on the quality quotient. I read somewhere that 20% of your time blogging should be on writing and 80% on distribution. As with other small business owners, there is never enough time or enough money to get it all done. Thanks for the kick in the butt…I needed that.

    • Nancy, it is definitely a tough act to balance. However, I have found setting up a schedule and sticking to it is the best strategy. Please let me know if you need any help :)

  63. Praveen Prabhakaran :

    Hi Neil, Your article is an eyeopener for me. I love the way you explained points with practical examples.
    I am learning social media and read blogging is very important as your articles stress. You have mentioned here 170,000 visits a month earn $30,000.per month that you had bought. Can you please tell me how money is made through blog.

    Thanks
    Praveen

  64. Hi
    Thank you Neil for the article. I am glad to know you worked on the SEO of Techcrunch. I have tested the new SEO tool you have created. I got A + for all my sites, but I was wondering Techcruch.com got poor ranking, and that was very surprising to know.
    Coming to the article, a very nicely written and useful post. Heading has to be unique and eye-catching.
    Regards

    • Sanjib, thanks for your feedback. The tool measures metrics that can help people improve on their website. Sometimes larger sites like Techcrunch are so well known that they can get away with neglecting their site structure. It all depends on the popularity of the site and how long it’s been around too.

  65. Wow, this is my new favorite article on blogging. I’m just getting started and it is really tempting to just throw a bunch of stuff up and see what sticks. You’ve reminded me that quality really does matter and that I’m better off taking the time to get it right the first time rather then damaging my “brand” by throwing up a wide variety of stuff.

    • Amy, glad you enjoyed the post. Quality really does matter. It’s becoming more apparent that people should focus on some key metrics that they have been ignoring.

  66. Great post Neil. One question please:

    You say we can hop on Google Trends for traffic, I was wondering whether blogs with higher PR and more back-links won’t bury a blog without or a new blog if both hop same trends?

    • Robin, in this day and age it’s becoming more about quality of content than back-links and other old metrics. I think one should focus on providing blog posts with value.

  67. What do you mean optimized in all the right places? Thanks.

  68. Kumar I agree completely and Neil you were right on the money! Thank you for such a detailed post, so many don’t look beyond the obvious and get down to the nitty gritty and what it takes…REAL work! Thanks again!

  69. Like this post – covers a subject that gets lots of queries,
    Nice recommendation.

    Thanks

  70. We do many of these tactics, but one of the best things we do, is continuously add to our ‘Mega Writer List’. Just as a publicist updates their media contacts, we update our writers list.

    Build rapport and trust with some of the top writers and follow them. They are always seeking angles, interviews and opinions and often look to their own network for help.

    Our list of ‘influential’ writers is growing and it has been helping our network incredibly.

    • Renee, awesome! It sounds like you guys are doing all the right things. It’s all about keeping track of everything. Being metrics driven really pays off. Thanks for your terrific feedback :)

  71. Neil,

    Just an idea why don’t you write a super helpful blog post on how to capture leads and sell then to companies for a profit. I’d love to do this myself but don’t know where to start

  72. Superb post neil,
    Covers almost every marketing lessons that we would ever need.
    Glad to have read it.

  73. Colin Fitz-Gerald :

    Hi Neil,
    I notice you reply to almost every comment. Clearly this is an important activity. Is there a time window to reply that a blogger should be aware of?

  74. So many visits for Gym Junkies for just $30.000 a year in profit?

    Why so little money? Is Adwords so a bad idea?

    What’s the point of creating a blog and work hard to create great content if the rewards are so few? And that’s the pay for a succesful blog. How about those that even having great content don’t get good traffic?

    • Yea, it was under monetized and the seller didn’t want it anymore.

      AdWords is a good idea if you can make it profitable, which can be hard due to the increased CPCs over the years.

      You can make more. The blog had potentials to do over $30,000 a month in profit if not a lot more.

  75. Great post. Today’s marketing success depends a lot on networking. Thank you for this wonderful post.

  76. Hey Neil

    Nice Read.. You had covered all most topics of Blog and Content Marketing ….i must say… here is a need to bookmark your blog to watch more and more latest and helpful blog post…..

  77. This was extremely useful, it’s really changes my mindset on how to find more people and be a bit more aggressive with it. I’ll try a Facebook plugin and split test my website with it. I’ll keep reading your material Neil. Thank you!

  78. Hi Neil . Thanks for sharing this wonderful article. Great info. I have a new site and this seems to fit in well to rank in my niche. thanks again.

  79. Neil, it’s awesome except the quantity of posts point. I am concerned about the rate of unsubscription with this kind of crazy shoot. As a reader, am surely not happy to receive 4-10 posts a day from even BESTEST of the blogs. How do they manage? With one off newsletter? Or they focus more upon new traffic coming from search engines and other channels. Curious to see your response.

    • They focus on search engine and social traffic. They typically don’t send a newsletter more than once a day or once a week. If they sent an email 4 or 5 times a day it would be too much and they would get a lot of “spam” complaints.

  80. Neil, Happy to see you again with a marvelous post. Worthy post to read and share.

    I need a suggestions from you regarding an infographic. I have created an Image which I furnished and I need to know that wat are the mistakes I have done in that.

    http://visual.ly/advantages-better-ventilation-effects-poor-ventilation-system-home

    Looking for your suggestions…. :)

    • Sameer, I think it looks great. The visual representations were really eye catching. I would suggest checking out some more data points and incorporating them into the info graphic.

  81. I didn’t know that MG Siegler has worked for you also. He is an awesome person in tech world. He normally breaks headlines with his network in technology niche.

    I got the point. At the moment, I was doing everything by myself, but now, I believe I should spend some time in hiring others to work for me.

    Good Work! (Y)

  82. “It is simply impossible to be that popular with just one writer.” This is the only thing I was less eager to acknowledge, let alone read in a content marketing lessons list… Even though I can’t even dream of transforming my blog into a top one such as the ones mentioned in this post, I will definitely put all my efforts into making it a valuable resource for those interested.

    Many thanks for putting this together!

  83. Really fantastic Neil bro. Your experience is life line for us. Please keep sharing in future too. Thanks.

  84. I really liked the way you did the replies to every person who is commenting on your post. Moreover i think this is the main thing or we can say technique to make people loves you. :D
    I also want to introduce myself that i have also started to go deep inside this business so i keeps on reading about you and yeah Neil i also want to tell you that you are really doing a nice job. Hats off to you.
    Hoping that some day i can have a chat with you to share our views and have a conversation. I know its really difficult for you to have time to talk to the guys like me. but then also i think may be some day. :D

    • Sanyam, glad we could connect. I think it’s very important to reply to as many people as you can. For me that means I would like to reply to all my comments. I look forward to chatting with you someday soon. Thanks for the word of support :)

  85. Do you really think we will have chat someday ? :O I know this just for saying as i have commented it on your blog but in reality its not possible Neil. :D I thought you always say truth and you are always honest. But this is not a honest reply it is a diplomatic reply. :D :D

  86. Great write up Neil,

    You have published the perfect post at perfect timing for me :-)

    I bought a old domain with PR3 few months back, which I have used two weeks ago to build a health related blog. And using exactly your strategy. I am calling it as AUTHORITY HACK, means finding and hiring influential authors and paying them for their CONTENT as well as THEIR SOCIAL INFLUENCE.

    I am also using postrunner to increase frequency of posts and thinking to use facebook advertising once we reach 100 posts.

    My overall strategy is to neglect SEARCH ENGINES TRAFFIC in initial days of start up and paying attention to SOCIAL MEDIA TRAFFIC. Once we grows on social media; search engines will follow…. :-)

    Lets see how this trial goes!!!

    Thanks for sharing more insights on same topic which is supported by real stats. I really liked Business insider story!!

    • Sachin, I am glad I could share the guide with you. Sounds like your strategy is right on point. It’s all about growing all your channels then having them coalesce into something that is a marketing machine. I look forward to hearing about your progress :)

  87. Excellent post. I think that all the top blogs just used quality content for their readers. They do not believe on having too much quantity, they just took care of quality.
    Thanks

  88. Another helpful article Neil. Headlines are the best way to capture the attention of the readers. It is true what you said that quality does not generate traffic but gains loyalty and eventually those loyal readers will help you spread your blog.

  89. Hey Neil,

    You made me to spend minimum 30 mins on different pages on your site from your every subscription mail :):) . and I have one query for you regarding content, I am trying to promote eBooks on wordpress platform using widgets. My keywords are ranking in google blog section,but not in search and is that because of same content issue? if yes then how come other ecommerce platforms are using the same content to promote books / eBooks???
    Expecting some +ve responds from your end Neil :)

    Thanks and appreciate your support for digital world
    Harish

    • You just have to give it time. It is easier to rank in Blog search than it is to rank in the normal search. Also focus on link building as your blog doesn’t have too many links, this will help with your rankings.

  90. Neil, we love all your do. Would it be possible for you to do an extensive article on list post?

    Thanks in advance

  91. Fantastic work Neil! Keep the great tips coming. Now I have more work to do! HA

    Cheers
    Brendon

  92. Hey Neil,

    I am a real novice when it comes to SEO but for my new site i have accidently bought a PR expired domain. Was shocked but then thought lets give the domain a try. So i did all the basic stuff even installed yoast wordpress SEO. Now there are some issues like –
    1. the old pages of the domain are still indexed and show the old expired meta and not the new ones that i have set.
    2. I have submitted the sitemap to GWT – url.com/sitemap_index.xml, but after it is processed, the child sitemap do not show any indexed urls for that matter.
    So should i delete this expired PR domain and buy a virgin domain or can we work on this as well.
    Your advise is seriously needed.
    Reagrds
    Joy Mukherjee

  93. I appreciate your work, very nice information i got from your blog regarding content marketing. Thanks for sharing this great blog.

  94. Thanks for the post! You broke everything down very simply and made it easier to understand for those of us just starting out.

  95. Hi Neil . Thanks for sharing this wonderful article. Great info. It would surely help many of us…

  96. Neil,

    I’ve read a bit of your stuff – always very helpful. Just thought I’d leave a note this time to let you know how much I enjoy/appreciate your candor. Many marketing writers strike me as disingenuous. When you write lines like “aggressiveness may tick off users, but it usually doesn’t slow down growth,” it’s refreshing. Working ethically while understanding the end-game from a business standpoint seems to be hard for some folks to accomplish. You seem to have mastered it.

    Andy

  97. Very helpful Neal. I will, of course, read it again. By the way, I believe I also “follow” you on Google Plus. I’m not sure if you are in any communities, but you definitely should be running on.

    Stay warm!

    Ed

  98. Hello,

    Thanks for a great post!
    You talk about whether the headline should be optimized for people or search engines, and I wondered if it would be a good idea to give the post a catchy title in the beginning in order to make people read it while its fresh and current, and then later change the tile to something search engine friendly?

  99. Thanks Neil For such a great post.. as always !
    Definetly your site is a perfect stop for SEO leaners :)

  100. Another helpful article Neil. Headlines are the best way to capture the attention of the readers. It is true what you said that quality does not generate traffic but gains loyalty and eventually those loyal readers will help you spread your blog.

  101. Wow, this is my new favorite article on blogging. I’m just getting started and it is really tempting to just throw a bunch of stuff up and see what sticks. You’ve reminded me that quality really does matter and that I’m better off taking the time to get it right the first time rather then damaging my “brand” by throwing up a wide variety of stuff.
    Thanks for the Stuff.

  102. Hi Neil,

    Thanks a mil for amazing content! I even now have my girlfriend reading your posts :-)

    I know this feedback seems a bit late but just stumbled upon this post. I think the point of consolidating sites and projects under one banner like gigaom did, is vital for a few projects I’m working on now.

    However if I am looking to build another brand site for “expert” interviews and discussions as you mentioned in the other blog audience post, what do you recommend ?

    Regards,
    Terrence

    • Terrence, thanks for sharing it is much appreciated.

      I would say just go for it. Make it WordPress based so it is easy to modify.

      • Thanks for the feedback Neil!

        I have made contact with your office via your email for requesting to get in touch with you about consulting and assisting with a magazine project that we have been publishing for the last 5years, that we are working on.

        I only got feedback from someone that wrote back on your behalf asking about budgets. Is there a way of getting in touch with you directly to consider assisting us on our magazine and traffic/sales?

        Looking to drive digital sales and traffic and would love to have you on board, if we can afford to.

        Please advise.

        Regards,
        Terrence

  103. Hi Neil,
    Thanks again for another powerful post with some great insights. I enjoyed in particular, this one –
    “Quality doesn’t guarantee traffic, but it does build loyalty”
    and also
    “Aggressiveness may tick off users, but it usually doesn’t slow down growth”

  104. Hey Neil,
    I am a big fan of yours, have downloaded your books too. I read this article completely and I agree with each and every point you have discussed here.
    The one you wrote something “acquire to grow big” . Can you please elaborate the same?

    Thank you
    Regards
    Raviraj

    • Raviraj, thanks for all the support. I think you are referring to my emphasis on creating quality content that converts. It’s all about making in-depth content that provides value to your readers.

  105. Thanks for sharing such useful information in your blog. A great content for getting the proper information regarding content marketing.

  106. Informative article sir. Thanks for it.

  107. An impressive share! I have just forwarded this
    onto a co-worker who has been conducting a
    little homework on this. And he in fact ordered me breakfast because I discovered it for him…
    lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to
    talk about this issue here on your site.

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