Monday, April 6, 2009

Getting Web Traffic: Take the Road Less Traveled

Another blogger commented: How many of you have or know someone who has looked up the recent world cup soccer scores or the latest American Idol gossip? Now think of how many people you know who have looked up the Latin name for the potato beetle? Right. So if your site is about rare insects, you have your work cut out for you to get a high ranking in the search engine.

Although it "sounds right", that blogs or web sites writing about the most popular topics would have the highest ranking, I think he's dead wrong.

Look at the numbers:
  • about 53,700,000 results for "World Cup" Soccer Scores
  • about 262,000 results for "potato beetle"
If you try to get high search engine rankings and traffic by writing about soccer scores, celebrities, and other "hot" topics, it's like trying to get attention in a crowded stadium. There are too many hands in the air, too many people yelling and screaming trying to attract traffic. Your soccer site, unless you are Ronaldo, is going to be down in the weeds in the search results. If you are trying to attract traffic, you'll have a tiny crumb of a very large pie.

On the other hand, a tightly focused site about how to keep Leptinotarsa decemlineata and its relatives from taking over your home garden has a chance of making it to the top three pages. If I wanted to invade that niche, I'd create something useful to the general public, with good pictures and maybe a bit of humor. It would follow good coding practices for the search algorithms, of course.

I'd have almost no competition at all for a page with the specific keywords "kill potato beetles" ... that's what most gardeners want to do to them. I hear the ads for insecticides pay pretty well too.

Potato Beetle courtesy USDA photo archives

Leptinotarsa decemlineata ... the Colorado potato beetle.
Photo from the USDA photo archive.

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