February 16, 2016

Attracting Search Traffic to Your Atheist Blog

Google analytics
Back in 2012, I wrote a brief post about how bloggers who track traffic to their blogs can use services like Google Analytics to learn about what search terms bring visitors to their blogs. By knowing what people are searching for when they land on one's blog, the blogger may get some ideas about topics to address more frequently, keywords to emphasize, or words to include in post titles. This is pretty basic search engine optimization (SEO) stuff that many of us don't use like we could. At least, I certainly don't use it to anywhere near its full potential.

I took a look at these data back in December of 2015 and noticed that some unexpected search terms were bringing visitors to Atheist Revolution. Some of the more surprising terms included "holy bible," "Satanism," and "Satanic." At least for the month of December, all of these terms had higher impression rates than "atheism" or "atheist." I never would have expected that. As I looked through my collection of posts, I found that relatively few of them addressed these topics. In essence, people were arriving here from search engines and probably not finding much of what they were seeking.

Based on this information, I wrote a few posts in January I probably would not have thought to write otherwise:
Although none of these posts proved to be particularly popular with regular readers or caught fire on social media, a brief scan of my Google Analytics data for January suggests that they were effective in bringing additional search engine traffic. These terms not only continued to be popular in January; they were even more so. In essence, writing more about what people are searching for tends to bring more visitors from search engines to one's blog. In addition, it makes it more likely that those coming from search engines will find something they consider relevant.

This raises an interesting dilemma for bloggers: should one write for one's current audience or one's potential audience (i.e., writing with the goal of attracting new visitors)? Yes! I suspect that for most bloggers, including me, the answer is some combination of both. I have always written primarily for myself in that I am going to write about what I am interested in at the time. I also write with my regular readers in mind, especially in the sense that I often find ideas and inspiration for future posts in the comments left on existing posts. And once in awhile, I write with the goal of attracting new readers who are searching for information. This last one is clearly a growth area for me, as I don't do it nearly enough.

Part of why I find Google Analytics so helpful is that I am an extremely poor predictor of the sort of content that will be popular. I'll often write what I think will be a well-received post that ends up going nowhere, and some of my throw-away posts end up taking off. With Google Analytics, I have data about what people are searching for so I am not left guessing about the sorts of things that bring them to Atheist Revolution. This is no guarantee that a post will do well, but it appears to make it at least somewhat more likely that those searching for information on various subjects will find their way here.

For those of you writing atheist blogs, you might give Google Analytics a try to see what kinds of things your visitors are searching for when they arrive on your blog. You might be surprised, and this information might give you some ideas for future posts.
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