The Secret Behind My 1,866,913 Monthly Search Visitors (It’s Not What You Think)

secret

How many visitors do you think NeilPatel.com generates each month?

Maybe a million… maybe 2 million?

I bet you’re going to guess 1,866,913.

If that’s what you guessed, you are wrong. This blog actually generated 2,530,346 visitors. 1,866,913 is the number that came from search engines.

google graph

So, what’s the secret to my ever-growing Google traffic?

Sure, I have optimized my on-page SEO, I’ve built links, written tons of blog post… I’ve done all of the stuff that most of my competition has done. But doing the same stuff as your competition isn’t enough.

My secret sauce is that I optimize for user signals.

Last week, I broke down some of the user signals Google looks at, as well as providing benchmarks to aim for if you don’t want to be penalized by Google.

If you aren’t familiar with user signals, check the article I linked to above.

So, how do you optimize for user signals?

Well, I know everyone has different types of websites, so I thought I would share the process I use to optimize NeilPatel.com.

Are you showing people what they want?

Google Analytics is an amazing tool. I’m so addicted to it that I log in at least 3 or 4 times a day. Heck, I even log in on weekends.

But here’s the thing, it only tells you half the story. It gives you numbers, but it doesn’t help you visualize what people are doing and what they aren’t.

For example, here is what my main blog page looked like according to Crazy Egg:

blog heatmap

What’s wrong with the image?

Everyone is going to the blog to learn more about marketing. Above the fold, I have a box that showcases an SEO Analyzer. But there is one big issue: it’s barely clicked compared to the drop-down that lets you filter the blog content.

The SEO Analyzer had 128 clicks versus 359 clicks to the content filtering option.

Because you didn’t care for it as much, I removed it from the main blog page. And now when you head to the blog page you can see the filtering options above the fold.

new blog

I am looking to see what you click on and what you don’t. Simple as that.

If I keep showing you something you aren’t clicking on, I am wasting the opportunity to present you with something you do want to see. Which means I either need to adjust it or delete it.

Now, let me show you my current homepage:

homepage

What’s wrong?

Go ahead, take a guess…

Well, looking at the image you’ll notice there are tons of hot spots in the footer. That’s where the navigation is. With there being all of the clicks on the navigation, I should consider adding a navigation menu bar in the header.

Are you getting the hang of how to make your website more user-friendly? Well, let’s try another one.

Here’s an element in the sidebar of my blog posts:

blog sidebar

That element only has 1 click. That’s terrible considering that the blog post generated 10,016 visits. And to top it off, that click came from a repeat visitor.

My goal is to convert more first-time visitors into leads, which makes up the majority of my visitors, but they are the lowest percentage of my leads.

new visitors

So, what did I do? I deleted that element and you no longer see it in my sidebar.

Are you optimizing for mobile?

Let’s face it, more people are visiting your site using mobile devices than laptops or traditional computers.

If that’s not the case, it is just a matter of time.

So, have you optimized your site for mobile? And no, I’m not just talking about having a responsive design because everyone is doing that these days.

mobile homepage

If you look at the image above, you’ll notice that I removed the image of myself and a few other elements. This helps make the loading experience faster and it helps focus people’s attention on the most important elements.

Similar to the desktop version, my mobile homepage has a 24% conversion rate. When my mobile version included a picture of me above the fold, my conversion rate dropped to 17%… hence there is no picture of me. 😉

Now, I want you to look at the mobile version of my main blog page and compare it to my homepage.

mobile blog page
Do you see an issue?

The blog page generates a lot of clicks on the 3 bars at the top… that’s my navigation menu.

My developer accidentally removed that from the mobile homepage. That’s why the contact button in the footer of the homepage gets too many clicks.

Hopefully, that gets fixed in the next day or two as that could be negatively impacting my mobile rankings.

On top of optimizing the mobile experience, you need to ensure your website loads fast. It doesn’t matter if people are using LTE or 4G, sometimes people have terrible reception. And when they do, your website will load slow.

By optimizing it for speed, you’ll reduce the number of people who just bounce away from your site.

If you want a faster load time, follow this.

And don’t just optimize your site for speed once and forget about it. As you make changes to your site, your pagespeed score will drop, which means you’ll have to continually do it.

For example, you’ll notice I have been making a lot of change to NeilPatel.com (at least that is what the heatmaps above show). As I am making those changes, sometimes it affects my pagespeed score negatively. That means I have to go back and optimize my load time again.

A second in load time delay on average will cost you 6.8% of your revenue.

Are you focusing on helping all of your users?

Not every person who visits your website is the same.

For example, a small percentage of the people who visit NeilPatel.com work at large corporations that are publicly traded and are worth billions of dollars.

And a much larger percentage of my visitors own small and medium-sized businesses. These people are trying to figure out how to grow their traffic and revenue without spending an arm and a leg.

And the largest percentage of my visitors don’t have a website and they are trying to figure out how to get started for free.

In a nutshell, I have three groups of people who visit my website. The first group tends to turn into consulting leads for my agency, but they make up the smallest portion of my traffic.

One could say that I should only focus on helping them and ignore everyone else. But I can’t do that for a few reasons…

  1. I started off with having practically no money and people helped me out when I couldn’t afford to pay them. I love paying it forward and helping people who can’t afford my services because I have been there, and I know what it’s like.
  2. If I only focused on the large companies, who would link to my website and promote my content? You can bet that Microsoft isn’t going to link to me on a regular basis. If you want to generate social shares and backlinks you have to focus on the masses.
  3. Little is the new big… if you can please the masses, they will make noise and the big players will eventually hear about you. So, don’t just treat people with deep pockets kindly, treat everyone the same and truly care about your visitors.

Once you figure out the types of people coming to your website (and if you are unsure just survey them), go above and beyond to help them out. Create different experiences for each group.

On NeilPatel.com, I’ve learned that people who work at large corporations are busy and they want to listen to marketing advice on the run. For that reason, I have the Marketing School podcast.

And a lot of beginners wanted me to break down my steps over video, so they can more easily replicate my tactics. For that reason, I create new videos 3 times per week giving marketing and business advice.

Many of you want to attend the conferences that I speak at, but can’t afford to buy a ticket. For those people, I create weekly webinars that are similar to the speeches I give at conferences.

And best of all, I know the majority of you find it hard to follow along with all of these tips as it can be overwhelming. So, I created Ubersuggest to help you out.

ubersuggest

In other words, I try to go above and beyond for all of my visitors.

Yes, it is a lot of work, but if you want to dominate an industry it won’t happen overnight. Expect to put in a lot of time and energy.

Are you taking feedback from people?

You are going to get feedback. Whether it is in the form of email or comments, people will give you feedback.

It’s up to you if you want to listen… but if a lot of people are telling you the same thing you should consider it.

For example, I get a ton of comments on YouTube from people asking me to create videos in Hindi.

hindi

And…

hindi

Now, I am not only working on adding Hindi subtitles to my videos, but I am also working on translating my blog content to Hindi.

hindi content

I’m not doing these to make more money… I’m not doing this to become popular… I’m just trying to do this to help out more people.

It’s the same reason why I have Spanish, Portuguese, and German versions of this website. I had enough requests where I pulled the trigger even though I am not focusing on generating income in those areas.

But here is the thing that most people don’t tell you about business. If you just focus on helping people and solving their problems, you’ll notice that your income will go up over time.

Businesses make money not because their goal is to make money… they make money because they are solving a problem and helping people out.

Another piece of feedback I have been getting recently is that my blog is too hard to read on mobile devices.

hard to read

For that reason, I’ve assigned a task to one of my developers to fix this.

trello

Conclusion

Traffic generation is a business. It’s not a hobby. It’s competitive, and it’s difficult to see short-term gains.

If you want to rank at the top of Google, you can’t treat your website as a hobby. You have to treat it like a business.

And similar to any business, you won’t succeed unless you pay attention to the needs of your customers. That means you have to listen to them. Figure out what they want and provide it.

That’s what Google is trying to do. They are trying to rank sites that people love at the top of their search engine. If you want to be one of those sites, then start paying attention to your visitors.

Show them what they want and go above and beyond so that they will fall in love with your website instead of your competition.

If you aren’t sure if you are making the right changes, monitor your brand queries. The more people that are searching for your brand terms on Google is a big leading indicator that people are happy with your website.

Just look at NeilPatel.com: I get over 40,000 visitors a month from people Googling variations of my name:

search console brand queries

And I generate over 70,000 visits a month just from people searching for my free tool, Ubersuggest.

ubersuggest

That’s how I’m continually able to make my traffic grow.

Yes, I do pay attention to what Google loves, but more importantly, I pay attention to your needs and wants.

Are you going to start optimizing your website for user signals?

The post The Secret Behind My 1,866,913 Monthly Search Visitors (It’s Not What You Think) appeared first on Neil Patel.


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What Do Sites That Have Never Been Penalized by Google Look Like?

google love

User signals!

It’s the one thing SEOs don’t optimize for.

I don’t know why most SEOs ignore this metric considering how important it is to Google.

See, Google doesn’t care to put the website with the most backlinks at the top or the best on page SEOthey want to put the website that you and other people love at the top.

That’s why they look at user signals.

Now, if you aren’t familiar with user signals, check out this experiment by Rand Fishkin that I discussed in a recent article.

It shows that if everyone performed a Google search and clicked on the 4th listing instead of the first one, the 4th skyrockets to the top spot almost instantly.

I’m not saying you should tell your users to click on your listings over the competition. Instead, you should focus on the user. Because if you can make users love your site, then you will rank higher over time.

So, my team and I thought it would be fun to look at the Google Analytics accounts of websites that have never been impacted negatively from a Google algorithm update to see what type of sites Google loves to rank (and their user signals).

By looking at metrics related to the user such as bounce rate, time on site, pageviews per visitors (and 5 other signals), we were able to come up with benchmarks that you should aim for.

We ended up analyzing 518 sites. But before we go into our findings, here are some notes about the data:

  1. Each website had to have been around for at least 3 years. We didn’t look at any brand new websites because they wouldn’t have been around long enough to figure out if Google loved or hated them.
  2. Each website had at least 5,000 monthly visitors a month from Google.
  3. We excluded sites there were in Alexa’s top 1,000 list. Plus we didn’t really have any data we could share from any of those sites.
  4. We exclude any company that was generating over $100,000,000 in revenue. I know that seems high, but we needed a ceiling. When you start looking at data from extremely popular companies, it really skews the data.
  5. We bucketed sites into 10 different categories and we looked at both B2B and B2C sites.
  6. All of the data was gathered using Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

Let’s start.

User signal #1: Bounce rate

You’ve heard the term bounce rate before. And you know that you want to get it as low as possible. But before I get into that, let’s break down the definition:

The percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page.

We found that Google loves sites that have a bounce rate between 26% and 69%:

bounce rate

Based on the type of site you have, you should aim to have a bounce rate as close to (if not better than) the sites above.

If you have a bounce rate that is higher, just follow these 13 steps to help reduce it.

User signal #2: Mobile friendliness

Roughly 60% of all searches take place on a mobile device.

Because more people search Google using a mobile device and due to the fact that they have a mobile-first index, we thought it would be wise to see if sites that are in the good graces of Google have a mobile-friendly site.

mobile friendly

As you can see, all 518 sites had a mobile-friendly site. In almost all cases, they didn’t have a “separate” site just for mobile, instead, their website was responsive.

This also makes sense because these days you have to think mobile first when you are designing or creating any website.

If your website isn’t responsive, you should get that fixed ASAP.

And I know some of you are probably wondering about AMP. Most of the sites we looked at were not leveraging the AMP framework as they weren’t all blogs.

User signal #3: Average load time

This is the only metric we didn’t leverage from Google Analytics or Search Console. Instead, we ran each website through Pingdom.

average load time

In general, the faster your website loads the better off you are. Why would you want people to have to wait 5 or 10 seconds for your site to load? I know I don’t like waiting.

Google not only uses it as a factor within their algorithm but the slower your site loads the fewer sales you will generate.

If an e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, a second in load time delay will roughly cost you $2.5 million in lost sales each year.

If you want to improve your load time in the eyes of Google, check out this Page Speed Insights tool that they have. It breaks down exactly what you need to fix.

Don’t worry about getting a perfect score, just get as high as possible.

User signal #4: Percentage of repeat visitors

No one really knows the exact factors Google uses in their algorithm.

And no one has proof if Google is using data from Google Analytics, Chrome, or toolbars (as far as I know). But if I had to guess, I would say there is a high chance they are assuming it is legal.

One of the signals I would look at is repeat visitors. The fact that someone keeps going back to a website tells Google that it has loyalty and people love it.

repeat visitors

As you can see from the graph above, websites that have done well on Google have anywhere from 16% to 45% repeat visitors.

When you are starting off, your repeat visitor count is going to be extremely high because it’s going to be you and your friends continually going back to your site.

But as you grow, you’ll notice that it will drop to less than 10%. To get visitors continually coming back to your website, you’ll want to use tools like Subscribers.

It’s a simple tool. It uses browser notifications to get people back to your site.

push traffic

As you can see from the screenshot above, I used Subscribers to get 42,316 people back to my site 174,281 times.

User signal #5: Percentage of search traffic from brand queries

I’ve blogged about this in the past and have even shown you how my search traffic started to climb as my brand queries grew.

Just as a quick recap, I found that as more people Googled “Neil Patel” or variations of it, Google started to rank my site for other terms like “online marketing.”

Once I learned that brand queries help, I spent more time on building a brand. Now during any given month, I generate roughly 40,412 visitors per month from brand related terms:

brand queries

I even generate 3,806 brand queries on YouTube:

youtube searches

It’s not just me either. Sites that continually dominate Google also have brand queries as a portion of their search traffic.

brand searches

And these sites aren’t just getting people to search for their brand, but a high portion of those searches land back to their site. In other words, their brand queries have a high click-through rate.

brand queries ctr

If you want to dominate Google, you need to build a brand.

The bigger your brand and the more loyal people are to it, the more search traffic you’ll get over time.

If you aren’t familiar with how to build a brand, check out hack number 3 in this article that I recently wrote.

User signal #6: Click-through rate

Speaking of click-through rate, we thought it would be interesting to analyze everyone’s Google Search Console to see the click-through rate these sites had.

search traffic ctr

Most of these sites had click-through rates between 1.9% and 3.1%.

If your website has a low click-through rate, you can improve it by following these 13 steps.

My best advice is to continually A/B test your title and meta description tag to see if you can make it more appealing so that more people want to click on your search listing as opposed to your competitor’s.

User signal #7: Pageviews per visitor

If someone continually browses your site and visits many pages, you are usually doing something right because it means that people like your content, product, service, or whatever else you are offering.

Of course, you can game the system by writing a really long article and only putting a few hundred words on each page and make people click a “next” button to keep reading more.

But that’s a terrible user experience and you don’t want to do that.

You want people to naturally want to visit tons of pages on your website without having to trick them.

So how many pageviews per visitor do high ranking sites have? Well, here’s the average:

pageviews per visitor

If you want to boost your pageviews per visitor, just follow the tips in this article.

User signal #8: Average time on site

You don’t want people to leave your site… unless they are going to buy something or click on ad.

You want them to stay on your site as long as possible.

time on site

As you can see from the chart above, websites that ranked well on Google were able to keep people around for at least 1.6 minutes if not all the way up to 5 minutes.

Now the 5-minute number is going to be a bit tough, but if you can keep people on your site for over 2 minutes you are going to do well.

Plus, you’ll have fewer chances of getting hit by a Google Panda penalty.

This article will teach you how to keep people on your website longer (without tricking them).

Conclusion

To dominate Google, you need to think like Google. It’s not just about gaming the system and tweaking your site so that Google loves you.

It’s more about understanding their main objective, which is to put the user first.

That means that if you also put the user first, in the long run, your rankings should slowly climb.

Now, this doesn’t mean you can ignore normal SEO practices like on-page SEO and link building, but instead, you need to do all of that in parallel with focusing on the user.

So how do your metrics stack up with the benchmarks above?

The post What Do Sites That Have Never Been Penalized by Google Look Like? appeared first on Neil Patel.


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