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The #1 Mistake for Converting Blog Traffic [Traffic and Conversion #7]

by Steve Scott | Join Him On Facebook

How to Increase Blog Traffic Welcome to the seventh update of the Traffic and Conversion series!

This is a monthly post where I detail traffic optimization strategies for this blog.

Today’s post will discuss a mistake I made over two years ago.  It was something I did when I first started this blog.  And the goal of this post to help you avoid making the same mistake.

Before we get to that, let’s go over the numbers from last month:

March 2012 Statistics

First lets recap the stats from February:

  1. 35,165 Visits
  2. 78.38% Bounce Rate
  3. 1:07 Time on Site 

So what happened in March?

Let’s take a look at the metrics from the last month:

March Blog Traffic Stats

Click to Enlarge

 I use three metrics to measure the “success” of  my traffic generation efforts.  Here’s how they did in February:

  1. 46,413 Visits (31.99% Increase)
  2. 77.45% Bounce Rate (1.18% Increase)
  3. 0:57 Time on Site (13.89% Decrease)

Once again, my raw traffic numbers are exploding.  I’m getting a lot more visitors.

The problem is I consider most of this to be junk traffic.  Case in point, I have one blog post that received 23,503 visitors who are looking for an image of spring:

That’s over half of my traffic who care nothing about affiliate marketing or building an Internet business.  There is no way to convert this traffic or make it useful.  Trust me…I’ve tried.

So I’ve decided to stop worrying about junk traffic and focus my effort on converting my core audience. (More on this later.)

Finally, it was another light month of publishing blog posts because I was busy working on my new free report.  Here are the stats for what was published in March:

  1. How a 19.98% Traffic Increase Can HURT Your Site (Time on Page – 4:13)
  2. 8 Ways to Make Money with Niche Sites (Time on Page – 6:21)
  3. Build My Rank Has Been Shut Down!  (Time on Page – 4:17)
  4. Free Report: 111 Affiliate Marketing Strategies for a Six-Figure Income (Time on Page – 3:49)
  5. How to Make Money on YouTube (with 5 Case Studies) (Time on Page – 6:06)

Not the greatest month of blogging.  Definitely some room for improvement in the number of posts and getting people to stick around to read them.

Which brings me to…

…A Brief Story

This blog was started back in January 2010 for a few odd reasons:

I was going through a bad breakup. I was trapped in my house because of a horrible blizzard.  And I needed something to keep my mind occupied.

My logic was: “I’m bored, so why not start a blog?”

I already had success with affiliate marketing.  So I thought it would be super easy to make money from blogging.

Boy, was I wrong!

The mistake I made was NOT picking a solid niche.  At first, I blogged about my interests: Lifestyle design, making money online, personal development, physical fitness, and traveling.

For 2010, I literally wrote about EVERYTHING.

I spent most of this time living out of a backpack, traveling through Europe.  So I never took the time to analyze why I was blogging.  The end result is my content didn’t target a specific audience.

I turned things around (a little) in the 2nd year…  I picked the “Internet Lifestyle” as the main theme for this blog.  So I wrote everything I know about online success: Affiliate marketing, email list building, converting traffic, search engine optimization, and niche websites.

The main problem is you can create an infinite amount of articles for EACH topic.

So again…I wasn’t picking a solid niche.

This January was the start of my third year of blogging.  During a plane ride to a conference in Austin, I was realized  how “burned out” I was on blogging.

At this point, I had two choices:

1) Make my blog work.

OR

2) Quit doing it.

I also realized something else… I was failing because my blog did NOT target a specific audience.  Sure, I was writing content for Internet entrepreneurs.  But I wasn’t speaking to a specific sub-niche.

On the plane ride home, I wrote pages of notes.  My new plan was to talk about my #1 area of expertise –> Building an authority affiliate marketing business.

Authority affiliate marketing is how I make the bulk of my income.  So why not make it the focus of my blog?

When I got back home, I made a few dramatic changes:

  1. I dumped every advertisement that didn’t relate to affiliate marketing
  2. I started writing the “111 affiliate strategies” report (It’s finished!)
  3. I mapped out a killer autoresponder sequence that genuinely helps affiliate marketers
  4. I sketched out a blog design that will convert visitors into subscribers (This is being done right now)
  5. I planned an affiliate marketing specific publishing schedule
  6. I posted an article that detailed my new content strategy.

All of these actions are designed to build a list of people who are specificically interested in learning about authority affiliate marketing.

The #1 Mistake for Converting Blog Traffic

 So what’s the point of this story?

Well, it all goes back to the #1 mistake that I mentioned at the beginning of this post.  Most bloggers (myself included) limit their success by NOT identifying a specific market and audience.

It isn’t enough to pick a niche.  You have to target a VERY specific audience within that market.  Only then will you be able to build a loyal audience who will buy whatever you’re promoting.

Here’s an example…

I love running.  But I would never pick “running” as a niche market.  There’s too much competition and it’s a generalized topic.  Instead, I’d try to position myself as an expert in one of these areas:

    • Running Ultra-Marathons (50K and beyond)
    • Trail and/or hill running
    • Injury free training and racing
    • Getting faster at short distances (1 mile to 10K)
    • Running plyometrics

Each of these small topics can be used to build an audience within the running community.  All a runner needs to do is regularly publish content related to this sub-niche and people WILL find him (or her.)  That’s how you build an audience!

Case in point…

Right now, I’m training for the Pikes Peak Marathon in August.  This is massively difficult race that includes a 7,000 feet elevation increase and a severe drop in oxygen levels.  It’s tough as hell!  And you have to train really hard to even survive it.

So to prepare for it, do you think I’m reading:

1) General blogs about running

OR

2) A blog written by ONE person who geeks out about running mountains and ultra-marathons

You better believe I’m picking the second option!  (It’s iRunFar.com by the way)

My point is this…

Getting lots of web traffic is great!  But it won’t convert if it’s not the right kind of web traffic. I learned this the hard way in the last few years.

You need to pick a niche.  Then you need to pick a tightly focused topic within that niche.  And then you need to create DEEP content that discusses this specific subject.

This is what I’m doing moving forward!

Want to join me?

Comment below…

Take Action. Get Results.




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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom Ewer

You’ve hit the nail on the head here Steve. I wrote an article recently that essentially made the same point as you – don’t generalize; specialize. There’s plenty of people out there, you rarely need to worry about not having a big enough audience. Look forward to seeing how you progress!

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Steve Scott

Very succinct Tom “don’t generalize; specialize”

Even when you KNOW this, write about this, talk about this and try to do it… it is still to easy to generalize a little bit too much. It is just such an easy trap to fall into.

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Steven Place

Right on!

I have owned a niche site in options trading, and focusing it on that instead of “trading” has helped keep my traffic super targeted and high converting.

I look forward to your posts!

– the other steve

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Steve Scott

There you go “other steve” :) sounds like you hit the nail on the head there with a sufficiently targeted topic!

Thanks for the comment and have a great week.

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Bryon Powell

Hi Steve,
Best of luck training for and racing Pikes Peak. I’d be there watching the marathon, but I’ll have just finished the Leadville 100. Let me know if I can ever be of help with your running.

Happy trails,
Bryon

Ps. Thanks for making iRunFar your example. I’m flattered!

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Steve Scott

Byron,

Thanks for dropping by Byron. I will let you know if I have any specific questions. Right now I just need to get out and train more! ;)

Steve

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Ankesh Kothari

Thanks Steve for being transparent with your traffic statistics and inspiring others.

Tip for making some money off junk traffic from image searches. Add a note letting people know that they have to link back to you if they use the image. If they don’t want to attribute, they can pay $10 to use the image without mentioning you.

The other thing I would do is place that image for sale on istockphoto and other such sites.

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Steve Scott

Ankesh,

What you said makes sense. Specifically the linking back. But it would still be a link from a non related site (likely) to an off-topic post. But heck, it could at least help pagerank, that way.

Anyhow, thanks for sharing. Have a great week!

Steve

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Tho Huynh

First, good luck with your competition
Second, you are absolutely right. It isn’t traffic that matters, it’s TARGET TRAFFIC. Otherwise, you’ll lose bunch of your resources for nothing (i.e: junk traffic, spammers…)

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Marc B

Hi Steve!

Thanks for this lesson. I’ve recently started my blog and I think my target market is targeted but your post confirmed that I need to go another level deeper within my niche!
Thanks for the examples you set and best of luck with the Pikes Peak Marathon!

Marc B.

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Steve Scott

Thanks Marc,

Yeah it is surprising HOW focused you can actually be. There are a TON of people in the world. SOmething may seem like a fairly narrow focus… but still have tens of thousand s of people eager for information. If you drill down to you can’t drill anymore, you are well on the way. :)

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Ryan Biddulph

I have learned this lesson the hard way too, Steve. Traffic means little if it’s not targeted. Mark that: hyper targeted. Most people who show up better be there on purpose, meaning, they actually want what you have to offer.

Put strict emphasis on SEO. Link up to authority blogs in the same niche. Drill down. Get super specific. Really, you can’t get too specific in this gain. With intense clarity you attract exactly who you want to attract with greater ease.

People fear drilling down but the web is littered with general blogs. Making money online ain’t gonna cut it. Drill down about 10 levels from here. Trust me, with strict SEO the right audience eventually shows up, you grow your list, make money, and the time spend becoming uber-specific is well worth it. You learn the miraculous power of clarity in build your home based opportunity.

Thanks for sharing Steve.

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Timo Kiander

Steve,

I made the same mistake too.

I was a generalist, but now I’m looking forward to serve my target group better, since I have a clearly defined crowd on my mind.

PS. Keep us posted how your training goes :)

Cheers,
Timo

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James Pruitt

hey Steve, really great post. I totally agree with you on getting really specific. I have been focusing more on doing that myself.

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Sergio Felix

Hey Steve,

I’m actually doing the same mistake but I’m aware of it now so I have a plan and I’m actually taking action already to fix it.

As for your marathon training goes, wow dude, that IS a huge elevation right there, hope you are getting ready to get some extra air out of nowhere.

Not too long ago I ran Guadalajara’s Mexico marathon and it wasn’t pretty from the hills but it is not any near to the elevation they mention on the place you’re going.

Hope you’re able to prepare yourself accordingly and to CRUSH it in the end.

Take care bro and speak soon!

Sergio

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Steve Scott

At this point I hope I just -live. LOL. I really need to get training in. It is 100% flat where I live (on the shore). I have done the treadmill to 18% on some practice runs….rough!

Glad you are working on narrowing your focus. Perhaps it is something we should all try to do periodically.

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Jane @ aweber or mailchimp

Wow Steve, all I can say is “I agree” – nothing more! Lol.

I’ve made these mistakes too. Now I know how to start a blog properly. This is the most important lesson I learned in my blogging career. Failures are so essential. Now I know what works and what doesn’t. Earlier I wanted traffic. Just traffic. I was totally ignorant about conversions. Now I know what kind of traffic I need – not all traffic is right!

Thanks for sharing this.

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Steve Scott

Jane,

Yup, the right traffic sure does make a big difference, eh! Thanks for dropping by and commenting. Have a wonderful weekend!

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Alan | Life's Too Good

Hey Steve,

this is a great post and it makes sense. I also like the mix of stats, history, personal story and key point all in one post.

On the key point, I get it but I’m guilty as charged. Even worse than you were, I think. My site is very broad covering 4 topics: Life, Health, Finance & Business. How broad can you get?

Despite being so broad, getting the reason for having a more targeted niche and specializing, I somehow still can’t bring myself to do it. I’m sure you know the feeling. It’s a balance between my own motivation and reaching the audience – if I was more targeted, sure I’d probably find a bigger audience but I’d be super-bored.

Or I could try and argue that the unique combination of the four areas I cover and the way I do it makes me really unique, but that’s not the same as targetted and probably a very weak argument.

Give me another year and a half and I’ll probably reach the same decision you just did ;-)

great post though,
cheers,
Alan

Reply

Steve Scott

Alan, I know the feeling. After all “Lifestyle Design” really runs across all sorts of topic and that somehow TIm Ferris somehow got that to work. There is certainly a chance to find a niche that crosses niches. But I think it is very tough. I certainly haven’t figured out how to do it. ;)

Anyhow, I hear you on the being a little bored. I once posted daily when I would talk about far more topics. Ultimately it is a trade off between blogging for yourself or others. If you are doing it because it is fun and for yourself. Do what you feel like. But if you are trying to make a profitable enterprise, you have to take a hard look at what works and what doesn’t.

But you do make a good point too…when you reach the point that it becomes too much of a “chore” to sit down and write on a topic…that surely ain’t good either.

Thanks for dropping by Alan!

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curi lema

brilliant! “don’t generalize; specialize”makes a lot of sense….hmmm thanks for giving me good food for thought

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Emmanuel Emoezofu

Is it ok for one to create a blog with the theme “Online Business and Motivation”

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Rebecca@Web Hosting

You’ve given a very good case for focusing the blog as specifically as possible on some sub or even micro niche

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Bill

Great post. I’ve already listened to this advice and have set up shop in a great niche. I’m working on the traffic part right now and I’ve generated a couple of excellent resources for free distribution.

Something you didn’t really touch on is the helping people angle. When you set up in a niche you really enjoy and try to honestly help other people (like you’re doing here) your work comes across more sincere, which is what all of us are searching for on the internet.

Glad you didn’t quit blogging. Keep it up!

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Jack Sander

Focusing on the core visitors is essential to increase the conversion rate. Getting loads of junk traffic happens all the time, but we should just focus on what we do best and just ignore it.

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SEO MASTER

Can I simply just say what a comfort to discover somebody that really understands what they are discussing online. You certainly know how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More people ought to look at this and understand this side of your story. I was surprised that you’re not more popular because you certainly have the gift.

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Nick

Thanks for the advice. I am new to all of this and have found people like yourself are very helpful and kind giving your advice for free to people like me. Really helps to minimise the number of mistakes I make.

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Michelle

I totally agree that you have to pick a niche for your blog. Otherwise, you find yourself writing content that’s all over the place, and your site won’t have a set identity or distinction either.

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ralph@cantankerousoldcoots

Steve,
You always deliver and even more what you say isn’t really a surprise or counter intuitive. What you tell is simple, and clear and, lets face it, obvious if you are not blinked by the trivial buzz that engulfs us everyday. Shut off the buzz and the wishfull thinking and be clear about either what you like or what you want to know. I always feel so smart when I read one of your posts but then I reveal that knowing (of thinking you know) and doing are completely different animals.

Reply

Steve Scott

As always Ralph, thanks for the great comment. You are right, most of this should be common sense. The problem is that tuning out that “buzz” is very difficult. I even find myself getting caught in it’s allure from time to time

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sajan kota

Very indetail information.Thanks Steve for being transparent with your traffic statistics and inspiring others.your points are very impressive and explained what kind of traffic is required.

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Carmen Amato

Steve, I found your books on amazon and they’ve led me to your site. I’m a fiction writer and am trying to figure out how to use my year old blog to build an email list and convert to sales on amazon. So far my posts are popular and I’m getting more page views that I thought I would, but the bounce rate is high and subscriptions are low. This article is helping me think about how to refocus content and design. My goal is on reaching readers rather than other writers–so am disinclined to talk about the writing process as so many other do. At any rate, your site is helping me along the path. Good luck with the running, too!

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Steve Scott

Thanks Carmen! Glad that this article helped. In a few weeks, I’m publishing a series where I’ll show how to turn an authority site into a following of people who buy Kindle books. So hopefully that will help as well. Appreciate you stopping by…

Reply

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