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New year, new traffic strategy: How I plan to boost my website traffic in 2023
Note: This is an adaptation (you’ll be reading this word a few more times in this post!) of the email I sent subscribers a few days ago. I share more with subscribers via the mailing list. Faster too.
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Back to our regularly scheduled program.
We have decided to adapt and diversify our traffic sources.
Three things are now making me change my strategy and make 2023 a year of fresh beginnings.
1. Search traffic is slowing down
Our revenue numbers were fine through November, but I knew things weren’t going too well because they only “held up.” They didn’t keep growing during November, or even October.
For our company, lack of growth is a problem.
After all, we have produced 800-1000 posts each month for the last six months. You’re expecting revenue to grow along with that.
But it didn’t.
It would have been easy to blame Google, but I don’t think Google is to blame.
I blogged about the real problem with the longtail strategy here .
In a nutshell:
More competition is driving everyone further into the long tail – where the traffic volume per query is often too small.
I’m not saying longtail is dead.
Our sites still had approximately 4 million pageviews during December and still made a good amount of revenue. All from longtail content.
But we have to keep producing more content just to keep those numbers. The average pageviews per post is going down.
That’s not a good trajectory.
2. AI Content is around the corner
The second emerging threat is AI.
I’m not sure ChatGPT in itself is a game changer, but at the very least, it provides us with a glimpse into the near future. A future that now seems more tangible than before.
My guess is that in the short term, we’re going to see (and are already seeing) a lot more longtail content out there.
Using advanced GPT models to create articles is just too tempting. And as far as I can tell, Google either can’t or won’t penalize for using AI content.
And since more competition is the real issue with the longtail strategy, the new AI capabilities are likely to make things even worse.
An even worse scenario is this:
Google (or another search engine) employs future AI’s to become answer engines. Prompted with a question, their AI would provide a thorough and detailed answer on the fly.
I don’t think this will happen in 2023. But I’m also not 100% sure it won’t. I know too many people who have already switched to using ChatGPT instead of Google. So we’ll see.
(I wrote this two days ago. Coming back to edit and send, the last paragraph is already not up to date .)
3. RPMs going down (?)
Did you see the RPM numbers for January 1? Ouch!
I tweeted about low RPM figures here, and other publishers chimed in –
Yes, the drop in RPM rates over the last few days of December (and the first few days of January) was seasonal.
RPM always drops after Christmas. It’s the way things are.
I am not freaking out over the lower RPM rates. Just noting that overall, this year’s RPMs for Q4 on some of our sites were lower than those of the previous year.
It could be just a random fluctuation. Or it could be that RPM rates were exceptionally high in 2020 and 2021 (due to the covid effect). Maybe this is the new normal now that people are back to their pre-2020 patterns.
I’m not sure.
Either way, IF this is related to the recession, we could see rates fall more throughout the year. Only time will tell.
In itself, the decline in RPM rates isn’t very concerning. But combined with the previous two trends listed here, it could potentially become more of a problem in 2023.
Challenges Bring on Change
I asked ChatGPT to provide me with a nifty quote about how challenges bring on change. I thought this one was spot on –
The only thing constant in life is change, and it’s often through the challenges we face that we are able to grow and evolve.
I’ve been talking about the need to diversify for several months now. On my blog but also with our team.
The recent changes are pushing us to adapt even faster.
The Plan for 2023
We’re still continuing with longtail content for our sites. It still works, even if it’s not as lucrative as it used to be in 2020-21.
At the same time, we’ve identified four websites in our portfolio where we think we can start diversifying both traffic and revenue sources.
Some would call that branding. Branding would be a welcome side-effect, for sure.
Everything is on the table at this point.
Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, and a bunch more.
We will need to adjust our content and introduce more “shareable” content into the mix.
And whatever the source of traffic, we will aim at turning visitors into subscribers.
For each site, we’ll experiment with new kinds of content and various traffic channels until we find the right mix for that audience.
Will it work?
I am sure it will be challenging. Very challenging. Who knows how long it will take us to make the transition?
No one promised me success when I started my longtail niche sites. If you go back and check my early traffic and revenue reports on Yeys , you’ll see that my business was in the red for many months.
I kept on pushing. At some point, I blogged about taking a leap of faith. In fact, I needed to read that post again today, including the part about avoiding burnout. With all the commotion, I was getting dangerously close to that point.
Speaking of leaps. Here’s a nice quote that Clickup threw at me today –
An entrepreneur is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down.
~ Reid Hoffman
Always true, and now more than ever!
And if you have already mastered traffic generation from sources other than Google Search, I’d love to hear about it.
Leave me a comment to let me know how it’s going for you. I’m eager to learn from others!
One more thing before I sign out
I started a YouTube channel for Yeys!
Originally, the idea was to create 2-3 videos per month, sharing my thoughts about Web Publishing there (as well as on the mailing list and in the blog).
Then we launched this “Operation Adaptation” in December. There’s no way for me to add a full-blown YouTube channel to the mix, sorry!
So, instead, I am trying out YouTube Shorts for the channel.
They’re shorter, easier and more fun to create.
At first, I thought I’d challenge myself to a daily Short. That held for like three days. No can do. So, I’ll push them out as often as they come to me. I have a few recorded already; I just need to edit them.
I could use –
- Engagement (that’s likes and comments)
- Ideas for Shorts content. If you have a question that you think I could cover in under a minute, let me know! I’d love to incorporate a little Q&A into the channel.
As always, your feedback is welcome! Unfortunately, I need to approve each comment because some people just can’t play nice. It may not happen right away, but I do try to go over comments at least once a week. Thank you for your patience and for reading this post!
Hi Anne, I’m starting to build niche sites this year and I am just realizing how difficult it is to find a good niche. Most of the niches that I could come up with are saturated but I remember reading somewhere on your blog that niche sites are a numbers game. So is it possible to beat other websites by writing more articles than your competitors? Let’s take beekeeping as an example. And let’s say most websites ranking on page 1 have 300 average posts and 1-3 years old domains. Is it a good idea to tackle this type of niche?
I think there are no guarantees or hard and fast rules. If you’re going with the longtail strategy, then yes, there’s power in the numbers. You would need to have a site as big as your competitors, but that won’t be the bee-all and end all of it (sorry, couldn’t resist). You would still need to make sure that you’re starting out with low-competition topics.
Longtail used to be a great strategy until a year ago because there wasn’t a lot of competition out there. Today, you’ll have to pay a lot of attention to finding the right topics.
Just remember that longtail isn’t the only strategy. You can also decide to build a personal brand as a beekeeper, focus on creating very extensive guides, a social following and a mailing list.
I think both strategies still work in 2023. I still think longtail requires high post numbers. It’s just that there’s more to that than just getting more articles out than your competitors.
With Chatgpt, SEO will change. It is better to Diversify our traffic sources on social media and also build & grow our email lists.
Hi Anne. Thank you for sharing amazing helpful content. May I ask a question regarding niche sites. I recall you mentioned micro sites on an interview. May I ask generally how many posts would a micro site generally max out at. Thank you
Hi Mark, I’m not sure in what interview, or what the context was? I don’t think I’ve used the term in many years. Back in the day, I used to create sites with 20-30 pages and that worked. Now, I try to shoot for 150-200 at a minimum.