Blog Traffic

How A Brand New Blog Brings In 3000 Unique Visitors A Week From Search Engines

Starting a new blog is definitely a daunting task, especially if you are running one or two other blogs already.

When I saw an untapped subject for a for a brand new blog recently, I wanted to jump aboard, but I knew that my workload over on my electronic music blog and Sparring Mind was a lot already, so this new blog would have to be fairly self-sufficient.

What do I mean by that?

Basically, I didn’t want to have to do a ton of promotion for this new blog to start picking up traffic.

I wanted to build it in the background while I focused on my other two sites, and when I had the time, I could pour more focus into it.

How could I possibly do this?

By treating the “blog” more as a “niche site“, or more accurately, an authority site.

That means that the lifeblood of this new blog would have to be a traffic source that could grow consistently without a ton of work involved in doing guest posts and networking.

The solution?

A blog that ran almost entirely on SEO, just like a niche site would.

And now, a couple of posts later, I’m getting 3000 unique visitors a week from almost exclusively search engines.

But how?

Read on, because not only am I going to reveal the niche, I’m going to show you exactly what I did.

1.) Find A Niche With Multiple Keywords

The difference between an authority site (and a blog that depends on SEO) and a niche site is that niche sites generally target only one relatively untapped keyword.

This type of SEO dependent blog and authority sites, however, don’t focus on one keyword: they focus on one niche topic that has a few good keywords to rank for (ie, ranking for long tail keywords and multiple terms around a single topic).

That’s why I did for my site.

I guess it’s also time for me to reveal what it’s about!

Note: I’m revealing my niche so that you can learn exactly what I did, I’m doing it in confidence that you won’t outright steal my topic, although I do welcome healthy competition :).

Basically, I had recently started using the Tumblr platform, and I noticed that there weren’t any good resources for bloggers using that platform, so I created I Love Tumblr, the niche blog that focuses on Tumblr tutorials and “how-to’s” for Tumblr bloggers.

I picked writing about the Tumblr platform for the following reasons:

  1. Topics about “brands” get searched more, and Tumblr doesn’t really mind people using ‘Tumblr’ in their domain name (meanwhile, WordPress does). This helps me rank better for terms related to Tumblr.
  2. Tumblr searches had a few strong keywords that nobody was pursuing, this is mostly due to the userbase using the platform casually, and with most social media sites not knowing how to cover Tumblr (since it’s a blog + social networking platform).
  3. I knew the topic well, since I actively use Tumblr myself, and since I am experienced with blogging, it was easy for me to take blog advice and apply it to Tumblr.

Speaking of which, Google Plus, Jux, Flavors.me, Posterous, and many other social sites don’t have a “big” blog covering how to use them. If you are a regular user, now might be the time to pursue a tutorial site on these and other platforms…

Anyway, back on topic!

So I knew I could write articles that could rank, I knew the niche well, and I knew Tumblr related searches were of a good volume (and rising).

So how did I get this bad boy started?

2.) Google Keyword Tool: Still Useful!

Finding topics to write about was really easy for this new niche, and honestly, all I used to start off was the superb Google Keyword Tool (I love and use Market Samurai myself too, but for this niche, the Google Keyword Tool was all I needed).

The process went like this (typical keyword research process):

  1. Search for “Tumblr”
  2. Organize for highest search terms monthly
  3. Change from “broad” to [exact] search queries
  4. Skip over the ones that don’t make any sense

To clarify: when I say terms that “don’t make sense”, I mean don’t make sense to write about, such as search terms for popular Tumblr users (for instance, it would be hard to rank for “Katy Perry Tumblr” anyway, since people are just looking for her Tumblr blog)

From there, I picked the most popular search terms that were two words long at first, and wrote some awesome articles about them.

To save you the trouble of filtering through the Google Keyword Tool yourself, let’s look at some of my most popular ones:

  1. “Tumblr search” —> I wrote an articles about how to rank well in Tumblr search by using the tag system effectively.
  2. “Tumblr vs WordPress” —> I did an honest comparison of my two favorite blogging platforms, and criticized Tumblr where necessary. People really appreciated my honesty, and I regularly rank #1 for this term (sometimes #2 or #3)
  3. “Tumblr widgets” —> I compiled a list of 40+ widgets to use on your Tumblr blog, and posted it to Reddit, where it was a top post on the r/Tumblr section.
  4. “Tumblr mobile” —> I created a guide on how to post to your Tumblr from anywhere using your phone.

The best part?

For most of these terms, I’m not even on the front page, which means that when I do get on the front page, I’m going to be seeing much more traffic than I already do.

3.) Writing Articles to Rank

My on-site SEO strategy was really, really easy.

My formula for writing articles started with making the permalink structure the exact search term.

For instance, on my guide for how to add Tumblr comments (using Disqus), I made the permalink /tumblr-comments/, and removed any “fluff” words (such as “a”, “of”, “to”, etc.) since they contribute nothing to ranking.

After that, I wrote an awesome article!

That’s the tough part ;).

When writing, there were three important things I kept in mind to rank better, and they aren’t complicated at all:

  1. Placing an H1 (headline) tag early with the appropriate keyword.
  2. Having the right keyword density for each post.
  3. Interlinking my new posts to my old posts (sometimes with contextual anchor text, sometimes not).

For the H1 tag, I always made sure that it appeared after the article’s intro.

For example, on my Tumblr vs Blogger article, the keyword “Tumblr vs. Blogger” appears early in the article in an H1 headline, which is good for search engines, as long as you do it naturally.

Tumblr vs. Blogger H1

I did this for almost every article, and it has worked wonders for such a small trick.

Next, I used a few tools to make sure my keyword density was right (such as Scribe SEO) and my own knowledge of SEO copywriting to know when I had too many keywords in the post or too few.

As I mentioned, I also interlinked heavily to my other articles in each new post, making sure they were contextual at times, and not at others (in case you are new, contextual means linking back with anchor text that matched what I was trying to rank for. So on some posts I would link back to my “Tumblr vs. WordPress” article with the words ‘Tumblr vs. WordPress’, and other times I wouldn’t so the interlinking looked natural to Google).

4.) Building Backlinks

Since my niche was so untapped, I honestly did not have to do a lot of backlinking.

I had two main backlinking “strategies” for this new blog, although they won’t always be this easy depending on your niche:

  1. A few backlinks from people willing to do them for a cost to get the ball rolling.
  2. Creating natural buzz with Reddit.
  3. Guest blogging.

The backlinks I got were through social sites only, no “XRumer blasts” or any of that, just a few links so that my domain got picked up by Google easily.

The real strategy came in my use of Reddit.

I am a mod over on r/Tumblr, and since I put a lot of time and effort into each of my articles, submitting them to this subreddit usually got them voted to the top.

Reddit is a tough crowd, and generally downvotes any blog content, unless it is well written and totally un-spammy.

So I used a friendly site design, wrote the best articles I could, and submitted them as if I was providing a resource, not promoting my own stuff.

And the Redditors of r/Tumblr really helped me out!

My Tumblr vs. WordPress article ranks as well as it does right now due to simply that one submission on Reddit, since it picked up a few social media shares which helped it gain popularity.

I also featured I Love Tumblr on a few guest posts that were specifically about blogging on Tumblr, including one on Problogger.

Guest blogging can be one of the greatest way for building quality backlinks, even SEO newbies recognize the need for a few guest post backlinks from high authority blogs.

If you are able, definitely go for the contextual backlink on each of your guest posts (some authors do not allow this).

For instance, the search term “love Tumblr” is actually pretty popular, so I would sometimes link back to my blog like this: “Greg is an avid blogger who also specializes in effective tumblogging over on his site for writers & bloggers who love Tumblr.”

If you are a reader of Glen Allsopp (of ViperChill), you’ll see he used guest blogging in this way to rank #5-6 for the term “personal development”, which is a very competitive search term.

The point: guest blogging is awesome (I use it for every new site), and a great way to build a few high quality contextual backlinks.

Those initial steps allowed me to build a site that almost exclusively operated on search engine traffic, and should only be able to get bigger once I put more effort into it!

The One Thing To Worry About…

There is one bad thing about search traffic for a new blog…

If you depend on it, it could be gone at any time.

Tumblr may die in popularity, I may lose my rankings for some reason (I don’t do any paid backlinks, but you never know with Google), and I’m not currently building an email list.

Over To You

What do you think about my strategy of running a blog on pure search results?

What ways could I really step things up a notch, and what should I look out for?

Lastly: If you’re more of a WordPress person, feel free to visit me at Sparring Mind, my WordPress marketing blog that is big on data and not on fluff.

Gregory Ciotti is a content strategist who is obsessed with behavioral psychology. He's the marketing guy at Help Scout, the invisible email support software for solopreneurs & small business owners.


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{ 38 comments… add one }
  • Vivek Moyal September 9, 2012, 12:20 pm

    Nice article good to read. I have recently started my blog now i will use some of your tricks and tactics to achieve some traffic for my new blog.

  • Muhammad Ali April 16, 2012, 1:37 am

    Thanks Greg, great useful tips. It’s pretty hard to get visitors that quick for any new blog specially with Reddit the users are sometimes very mean (Sorry redditors). I find using Google Keyword tool pretty but the way you showed me made it easy now. Great Post!

  • Jamie Northrup
    January 26, 2012, 2:17 pm

    Thanks for sharing your actual experience, it’s nice to see something concrete as opposed to just hearing how things are supposed to go. I have more experience with actual blogs and creating corporate websites, but have been looking to create more niche sites because of their obvious potential. I think I’ll detail my first attempt on my blog when I get it started.
    Jamie Northrup recently posted..Nevermind SEO, How Much Traffic Do Blog Comments Bring Me?My Profile

  • Abhi Balani
    January 26, 2012, 4:07 am

    It’s really a great article with buckets of useful information. I’m going to bookmark this article. And now I’m leaving to work on keyword density more precisely.

    Thanks a lot.
    Abhi Balani recently posted..Good Blogger And A Good Blog: What Are The Signs?My Profile

  • Christopher Ryan January 2, 2012, 3:54 am

    Awesome article, Gregory. It’s refreshing to see that some people are still willing to give our useful information without charging an admission fee just to read the teaser lol. : )
    Christopher Ryan recently posted..How to build a Web 2.0 Social Syndication Network for your Blog or any WebsiteMy Profile

  • Sakya January 2, 2012, 12:51 am

    All good points on starting a blog. even though now days social media sites like facebook is taking up big time on blogs, still blogs will be a great source of information in coming years i think. i liked the tips provided here and will try to implement it.thx.

  • Hooker December 29, 2011, 10:41 pm

    I appreciate this list. I am learning to do much of this now, especially with backlinks. In the past, I think that has been the one area I have neglected and now understand is one of the most important. It’s still not all clear to me, but it’s coming slowly. Articles like this one, where there is a concise and easy outline, are very helpful.
    Hooker recently posted..Stoopid Facebook Poster 8My Profile

  • Dawn December 29, 2011, 8:42 pm

    Wow congrats on finding the right niche! It took me quite some time to get a lot of visitors to my blog. But when I first started it, I didn’t even know what a blog was so it took quite some learning. I like to do a search for titles I would like to use for articles to see how much competition I would have (and of course so I don’t use the same title as somebody else) before writing articles on some of the article directories I write for. It has gotten some of my articles quite popular among search engines.
    Tho search engine traffic is not always consistent, it is quite valuable if you make sure you get the right target audience. You can gain a lot of loyal readers through search engine traffic!
    I am sure your blog will continue to do well as people will recommend it to friends when they learn something valuable about Tumblr. You can become the “go to guy” for Tumblr information.
    Dawn recently posted..Wednesday’s Online Business Mistake-New Year’s ResolutionsMy Profile

  • Luis Bernardinelli December 29, 2011, 4:35 pm

    Thats a very good explanation,
    I have a website that receives more than 3k weekly organic visitors.
    BUT it took years to get where it is now.
    Success and Happy new year!!

  • James
    December 28, 2011, 12:42 pm

    great article, if you do your SEO job good then you can get traffic from Google without big promotion and constant updates, at the end, it’s all about the keywords and helping people with they searches.
    James recently posted..Monetize Your Audience – Get Paid For Tweets,Posts,VideosMy Profile

  • Barry
    December 28, 2011, 12:23 pm

    Thank you for sharing your success strategy. In this highly competitive blogging arena, to be successful, selection and presentation of niche products and services is one part and exploration of new methods and tactics to find keywords and promotion methods is second part.
    Barry recently posted..BACK TO THE BEGINNING ABOUT BLOGGINGMy Profile

  • AstroGremlin December 27, 2011, 7:52 pm

    Fabulous article, with a strategy that combines the well known with a new twist. Greg, most authors of “how I did it” don’t give away the keywords they targeted for ranking or the precise details. (Most of the time there’s only a pitch for some tool they used!) So refreshingly transparent.

    Question: When you say “I made the permalink /tumblr-comments/, and removed any “fluff” words” did you do that in the WP title, or in an SEO plugin, or ??
    AstroGremlin recently posted..Funny Secret Agent Aptitude TestMy Profile

  • doug_eike
    December 27, 2011, 7:07 pm

    Your comments about reddit are interesting. My experience has been that a significant number of reddit users do not follow the rules, which limit a down vote to something that is off topic or inappropriate for posting there. I’ve still been able to generate some traffic through reddit, but it’s usually good for only a few hours or a couple of days. I like your SEO approach, but for me, it’s not practical, because I’m not interested in starting blogs simply to take advantage of unused keywords. Thanks for the insights!!
    doug_eike recently posted..Pretty SentencesMy Profile

  • Robert
    December 27, 2011, 6:04 pm

    There’s always a danger associated with just getting traffic from Search Engines as you pointed out. It’s really essential that you can have a good split of traffic sources, however you’ll generally see higher revenue returns for adverts with traffic from search engines if your content is relevant
    Robert recently posted..5 Killer Tips To Increase Your Smartphones Battery LifeMy Profile

  • Mark
    December 27, 2011, 3:11 pm

    It looks like you have a pretty solid on-page SEO plan, Greg.

    I think on-page SEO is highly under-rated. I have some article directories and watching what ranks and what doesn’t is simply amazing at times.

    Long tail keywords that you would never expect get TONS of traffic. You would swear they were hi-comp short-tail.

    Mark recently posted..Backlinks Continue To Lose Steam As A Ranking FactorMy Profile

  • John Galt December 27, 2011, 3:04 pm

    H1 Tags have worked for me and Keyword and meta data focus. I think its very important to take the time to create good mark up as well. For the most part I would say H1 and good strong content and knowing what your main keywords are is what its all about.

  • Ales December 27, 2011, 1:46 pm

    My website visitor decreases gradually and I am sure I will implement these strategies to gain my visitors back. Anyways thanks for the wonderful article now I will use headings and keyword in an article.
    Ales recently posted..Remove Event Log – Cover Track After Hacking MetasploitMy Profile

  • Pratik Dholakiya
    December 27, 2011, 1:42 pm

    Greg, thanks for sharing nicely explained case study
    BUT I would say that bringing in traffic for a brand new blog or an old blog, it all depends on the niche that you picked up.
    For example, If you are writing something about “Relationships, How to Impress your Girlfriend, Playboy Playmates or any other popular things/platform” then you are definitely going to get huge traffic compared to what you will get while writing for “Hand Gloves, Remedies, Curtains etc.”
    Pratik Dholakiya recently posted..How to Communicate Effectively on Social Media Sites to help you get more business?My Profile

  • Bruce
    December 27, 2011, 1:38 pm

    You make it sound so simple, & in reality it is. The hard part for me is coming up with those great “untapped” niches such as you did here with the Tumblr comparisons.

    Your article actually got me to open up an old Tumblr account I hadn’t visited in a long time!

    Bruce recently posted..Unique Bird BathsMy Profile

  • Matt Kinsella December 27, 2011, 1:04 pm

    A lot of really great info and I have been looking at the niche sites and keywords thing for a while but I have not made much use of Reddit so after reading this I’ll take another look at it.
    Matt Kinsella recently posted..How To Be Lucky In LifeMy Profile

  • Al Sefati
    December 27, 2011, 12:26 pm

    Nice post. It all goes back to the SEO blogging basics; Find an untapped or less competitive area, write content with keywords that are high in traffic but less in competition, and do some back linking and bam.

    To test this I did a post about iphone 7 and and I believe to this day I am ranking on first page for that keyword.
    Al Sefati recently posted..Happy Holidays and Thanks EveryoneMy Profile

  • Alan Tay December 27, 2011, 8:55 am


    I’m not a big fan of Tumblr but I love the way you build an authority site. No rocket science which what I love the most. I am planning to do so on my side but going to make a switch by not emphasizing on only one keyword but probably extending to few more just like what you had suggested. However, I still think that if more effort to be put into backlink for instance guest post as you suggested is going to send the site even better in Google.
    Alan Tay recently posted..5 Reasons Why Even Home Users Need Data Backup SoftwareMy Profile

  • abhiz
    December 27, 2011, 8:46 am

    Its a helpful article but ‘me already registered a new domain so how its possible to getting bulk visitor’??
    abhiz recently posted..2012′s Best Keyword Resources are Waiting for Online MarketersMy Profile

  • Ryan Biddulph
    December 27, 2011, 8:16 am

    Hi Gregory,

    Helpful breakdown here.

    I began using Tumblr again recently after hearing bloggers speak of Tumbling Success. Timely article for me.

    Also, you nudged me to start using H1 tags again. I did for the longest time and saw nice results. For some reason I moved away from it. Lesson learned. Time to get back on the H1 wagon.

    Thanks for sharing your insight Gregory.

    Ryan Biddulph recently posted..Create Content At A Sick Pace 3 Easy TipsMy Profile

  • DiTesco
    December 27, 2011, 7:08 am

    That’s an excellent write up on how you got that “niche” site up and running. Interesting part is that you have done that via “Tumblr”. I do have some of my niche sites of my own, and like you said, done properly, they don’t require that much work, unless you want to move it up a notch 🙂 I am curious though.. are you monetizing that “niche” site? I know that there is a way to add “adsense” but either than that…
    DiTesco recently posted..Best Free Content Curation Tools 2012My Profile

  • Helmi Asyraf
    December 27, 2011, 6:21 am

    In the topic of Tumblr’s popularity, I find the future for Tumblr may not as bright as compared to WordPress. People use Tumblr because of its simplicity.

    Now, with more and more Tumblog WordPress themes being developed, those who are planning to have Tumblr because of its simplicity may have think again. With Tumblog WordPress theme, besides giving the flexibility and strength of WordPress, it will definitely show the simplicity element of Tumblr.

    • Gregory Ciotti
      December 27, 2011, 8:47 am

      Hey Helmi, while it is true that WordPress has come a long way in terms of being flexible enough to run a “tumblog” site, there are two main problems which I think will keep Tumblr around:

      1.) The social networking aspects of Tumblr are incorporated as well on WordPress, and younger people tend to like Tumblr because of these aspects.

      2.) The “real” WordPress platform still has to be self-hosted, and a lot of people don’t want to bother with that, so they’ll stick to hosted platforms. I know WordPress.com offers this, but it is considered in the eyes of many to be a “traditional” blog platform and doesn’t offer as many microblog themes as Tumblr obviously does.

      Gregory Ciotti recently posted..How The BufferApp Grew To 70,000+ Users With A Solid Product & Content MarketingMy Profile

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