Right now I’ve got one thing on my mind and it’s Da Bears. In case you missed it on Sunday, they beat up the Saints and set themselves a date with Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl. Needless to say, I’m pretty damn excited about it, but that’s not what this is all about. Instead I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about some of my learnings from running Da Bears Blog.
Just about a year and a half ago I started the site with a few friends. We didn’t really have a plan for it, just wanted a place to talk Bears football. Slowly the site began to develop a voice as Jeff became the main writer. Since then the site has taken off and while the traffic isn’t enough to pay my bills, it is a lot higher than NoahBrier.com.
Anyhow I thought a lot of the lessons would be applicable for building traffic on almost any website and especially blogs. So . . .
- Find a voice: Da Bears Blog is not a newspaper. That’s because people have newspapers already. It’s the voice of a serious football fan. It is also very well written.
- Post frequently (but not soooooo frequently): It’s been my opinion for a long time that blogs don’t need to post 5 times a day. Once a day will do just fine. Da Bears Blog is designed with that in mind: Only one story appears in its entirety on the homepage (just as on this site). People come back everyday to see what’s going on. They keep coming back to keep up with the comments (which often reach the 40s and have topped 100 on occasion).
- Think about SEO: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is your best friend when it’s comes to growth. A few changes in title tags can mean the difference between 1st place and 30th place on a search you’re really looking for. Da Bears Blog scores big on a couple key Bears searches and about 40% of the traffic ends up coming through that way.
- Consider SEM too: SEO isn’t enough. With Da Bears Blog I’ve also bought a fair amount of keywords, including a number of searches that the blog appears number one organically. I first heard about this strategy awhile ago and it seems to be paying off. While we do pay for some people who we might get for free, the traffic from these keywords is impossible to ignore.
- Encourage email subscriptions: I recently started doing this around here as well (you can subscribe here), but for a site where the majority of the audience is not geeky email subscriptions are hugely important. These people get an update every day and make it back to the site. In the offseason, when Bears football isn’t necessarily top of mind, this should allow the site to stay relevant. This has been a big push lately (subscription form on every page) and it seems to be paying off.
Now I know these aren’t necessarily revolutionary, but I think there are some interesting tips. The site gets the kind of commenting that most blogs dream of (30+ comment average). Of course it’s a passion topic, but shouldn’t everything be?
Anyhow, hope you’ll all be rooting for the Bears 13 days from now.