As I checked my traffic stats over the past few days, I noticed a steady stream of traffic to my reviews of the WD My Book World and Pro Edition II hard drives. I was pleasantly surprised, but couldn’t figure out why. Other than publishing the reviews on my blog, I hadn’t done any sort of promotion. No one had linked to them so far (from what I could tell), yet the traffic was there. It wasn’t an outrageous amount of traffic, but nice, steady and regular. That sort of traffic usually only comes from one source: search engines.
I checked, and sure enough, my two reviews had made it to the first page of Google search results — the dream of any content creator. Here’s a search for WD My Book Pro Edition II, and for WD My Book World Edition II. Not sure how long they’ll stay there, but it’s really nice to see blog content make it to the front page of Google search, and even better, it’s a treat to see my own content make it there. 🙂
I thought I’d check on some other popular content and see how it ranks in Google’s search results. I logged into my FeedBurner account and looked at the most popular pages for the past 30 days. Here are the top ten pages at ComeAcross, in descending order:
- Review: Canon EF 100-400mm zoom lens (first page at Google)
- Choosing between Flickr, Zooomr and Picasa Web (first result at Google when you search for “choose between Flickr and Zooomr“)
- Review: WD My Book World Edition II (as pointed out above, this is on the first page)
- ComeAcross: my home page is pretty popular apparently. And yes, when you search for ComeAcross at Google, it shows up first, as expected. But I thought I’d make it a bit more interesting and search for my blog’s motto, “Life through words and images“. Sure enough, it’s the first result at Google as well. 🙂
- ComeAcross: Food/Recipes: this is a category, not a page, but it’s pretty popular. It’s not on the first page at either Google Search or Google Blog Search. Instead, the traffic comes from StumbleUpon.
- The underrated Betta fish: not on the first page for any general search terms, but all of the traffic is from search engines, especially Google, so people manage to find this post somehow. The keywords they use are widely varying, so I can’t point out a few specific ones. What’s puzzling is that this is an old post. Plus, I’m no Betta fish expert. I don’t even have Betta fish anymore. Yet people find my post and ask me questions about their own Betta fish. I get about 1-2 questions per week. All I can do is to point them to more knowledgeable resources. There are tons of sites about Betta fish — I honestly don’t know how they manage to find me.
- Editing EXIF data in photos (first result at Google if you search for “edit exif data photos“)
- Two great bargains: HP Pavilion dv2000 and dv6000 series laptops: I got a ton of traffic to this post since I wrote it, and it keeps drawing more. I don’t know why. It’s past its prime: the specs listed in it are a year old, and when it comes to laptops, that’s a long time. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting traffic to my old posts, but this was a post with a projected shelf life of a few months, not 12 months and counting. Not on the first page for any specific keyword, but somehow people keep finding it.
- Review: Canon EF 70-200mm zoom lens: I’m surprised that this post isn’t more popular. I thought the 70-200mm was an all-around better lens than the 100-400mm, but most people want to read that review, not this one. This post is on the second page at Google search.
- Caveat emptor: Davison Inventegration will just take your money: on first page at Google when you search for “davison inventegration“. I’m really glad to see this. Honest people with good ideas deserve to find out how worthless and ridiculously expensive Davison’s services really are. Do not use them! They are crooks, will not help you, and will only take your money.
In truth, I’m not sure just what it takes to get to the front page at Google. Let’s just say that it involves a fair amount of chance along with the the hard work. I steer clear of dirty SEO tricks like keyword seeding and other such nasty stuff. Also, I haven’t really spent a lot of time optimizing ComeAcross with honest SEO techniques. Other than using WordPress, which has certain built-in SEO advantages, and trying to write good content, I don’t do much to ensure that my posts get good ranks in the search engines. That’s why I find it refreshing to see that content is still king, and as long as one’s design isn’t egregiously awful, you’ll still get indexed just fine and bubble toward the top as more people find your information interesting.
Don’t assume though that I do nothing to promote my work. Remember, I just finished writing about how I promote it using Twitter and Jaiku or other microblogging services yesterday. Here’s part one and part two of that discussion. I also have other tools that I use, though I don’t use them often. I depend on my readers to do that — or rather, I prefer to let my content grow in popularity organically, without “cheating the system”. It’s probably a good idea that I discuss this in more detail in a future post — perhaps next week.
I should also say that I’m not dismissing SEO. It has its value, and if done right, can help push content right to the top. Some people swear by it, and have seen their traffic double. I should probably look into it in more detail at some point in the future. And good web design is crucial. Design may not necessarily matter to search engines (to some extent) but it sure matters to people. If your site’s design is ugly or hard to use, don’t expect many people to read through your content or return to it. By the same token, good web design alone won’t draw the traffic. Good content will do it. Keep that in mind, and thrive.