SEO drives traffic: Four Years of Blog Traffic Metrics

I’ve been blogging since 2005, but this blog at kevinsandlin.com has been in existence since 2015. The chart below shows you the annual growth and views and visitors over these past four years. These for years have taught me that, while social media seems to drive awareness and clicks, SEO (search engine optimization) is absolutely and clearly the winner. SEO drives traffic in the long run.

Growth of visitors due to SEO

My Blogging Process

When I write a blog post, I picked from a handful of topics that I’ve put in my notes app on my iPhone. I write it straight through, and it usually takes about 20 to 30 minutes. Then, I optimize any images that are relevant and included within the article, and scour the web to find a beautiful hero image. After I go away for a few hours, I’ll return to review and edit, and then publish.

On publishing, WordPress Publicize automatically posts the article to all of my social media outlets. Those outlets are Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and, yes, even Google plus. The way I look at that is, it can’t hurt to tell Google what I’m doing, but does anyone actually use Google plus anymore? Didn’t Google shut it down? Who really knows. I digress.

I also use Edgar to constantly re-post all of my evergreen articles to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. That means, on average, each blog post will hit the social media outlets a couple of times each month until I tell Edgar to stop.

Social media is the immediate promoter of all of my blog posts. However as you can see from the pie chart below, social media makes up less than 10% of traffic to my website. It’s 86% SEO. SEO drives traffic. How does that work?

The biggest source of traffic to my blog is SEO, meaning Google

How SEO drives traffic

First let’s clarify: when we say SEO, we mean Google. Yes there’s Bing and maybe Yahoo and DuckDuckGo and a few  others, but 99% of the time, it’s Google.

With that clarification, it’s pretty simple to follow Google’s rules for how to publish a website that is SEO friendly. The best thing is, Google gives you all of the tools to do that.

Every month, I log into my Google Search Engine Console account and check my stats, errors, and status in the Google Index. I submit any new pages that I may have created, and resubmit my homepage because I change it quite often.

On every blog post, our use Yoast SEO to make sure I have a green light on 100% of their criteria for Google’s search engine optimization. Sometimes it isn’t easy, because all the SEO rules are complex. However, once you get used to it, you can write free form and then go back and adjust to the formulas.

But How Does SEO Really Work?

Easy answer is, SEO drives traffic in the long run. SEO works in the long run as Google recognizes your website as a source of consistent content. Google recognizes that your website follows their rules for how to publish content. You need to focus on SEO from Day 1, but it is not a silver bullet. You’re not going to be the #1 source for any information minutes, days, or even weeks after you hit “publish”. But in the long run,SEO drives traffic, and will dominate your stats.

Here are 3 simple behaviors that will help you win in SEO:

  1. Publish often and consistently
  2. Follow Google’s Rules
  3. Publish content for a long time

Clear, but not always easy. Finding sources for your content is usually the biggest road block. Once you find consistent sources (plural!), you will be able to publish more content, more consistently, for a longer time.

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