How This Happened and Why it Doesn’t Help

Posted on Thursday, July 6th, 2017 No Comments


Or, “How Getting a Featured Snippet and Huge Increase in Traffic Only Costs Me Money”

Sometimes I write instructional guides or how-to articles as blog posts for Zen Web Themes. The articles are related to WordPress development, and usually explain how to do something that I’ve figured out for myself.

This is pretty standard content marketing. The idea is to provide some free content for people who might be likely to buy the products sold on the website. In this case, folks who are buying WordPress themes to use on their clients’ websites.

 

One of those posts caused this to happen:

That’s a screenshot from the Google Analytics dashboard widget for the past year, from July 2016 – July 2017. It drops off at the end because the screenshot was taken today (July 6th), so not much of the month has passed yet.

 

Here’s a screenshot from Jetpack that shows the months:

 

This is a more detailed shot from Jetpack that shows one day (yesterday, July 5th):

(click for bigger)

 

As we can see there, the post that’s getting all the traffic is How to Add Bootstrap to Your WordPress Theme.

I wrote that post because I’ve been using Bootstrap components in the themes I built (mostly for the navigation bar, but sometimes for other elements as well), and I thought it would be nice to show other people how to do that, too.

 

Looking in Google’s Search Console, we can see that this post is showing up for a lot of related organic queries. This screenshot is for the past 28 days:

 

Sometimes it gets a featured snippet, as seen here:

 

And other times, it shows up near the top of the search results, sometimes in the #1 spot:

 

What Could Be Bad About This?

So why am I saying that this “doesn’t help” and “only costs me money”?

Doesn’t Help

It doesn’t translate to sales. I’ve been working a full time contract for the past 6 months and have had zero time to work on Zen Web Themes. No time for any kind of writing, developing new products, nothing. So the only traffic that site gets is through organic searches, and there aren’t many posts available to generate that. This particular post is useful for people who are technical enough that they’re integrating third-party tools into their WordPress themes, so they might be less likely than the average person to buy a theme, because they can create their own. More importantly, they’re not searching for themes to buy at all—they’re searching for help on a specific development-related task. They are not the target market, at least not at the time that they arrive on the website.

There are ways that it could help a little overall. Maybe some people will link to this article, and that would help SEO in general. However, it’s still not related to any keyword that would help increase sales of themes. Maybe they’ll remember the website and come back later. Maybe, maybe not.

BUT. These themes do sell from time to time, and there has been an increase in the last couple weeks. MAYBE something has happened that’s helping. But I don’t know for sure, and it’s only a small amount.

Costs Me Money

The increase in traffic was too much for my shared hosting plan and I had to upgrade to a VPS (virtual private server). I let the website run slowly for months because I didn’t want to pay extra for something that wasn’t generating much for me anyway. I finally decided to upgrade since I saw that a few more sales were coming in, and I didn’t want the poor performance to deter any customers.

So at this point, it’s only something like $5 more per month that I have to pay, and if I get a few sales for very little work on my end, it’s obviously not a real problem.

Illustration for Small Businesses

I tend to work with small businesses, and most of the blog posts I write here are an attempt to educate them about how SEO, and their websites in general, really work. This is a good illustration of how important it is to target your audience correctly. Don’t waste your time writing content for the wrong crowd. In my case, I don’t really mind what happened here because I still want to provide some useful content for developers. And I specialize in WordPress development, not marketing, so that’s where I want to spend my energy. But if YOU are putting time and resources into content marketing, take the time to do it right so that you’re not disappointed in lackluster results.




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