Business, Life and Business Life. Real Talk.

My Failed Savage Experiment

SEO experimentOn Monday I wrote a post about what Macho Man Randy Savage can teach us about blogging. Truth be told there was a bit of scheming on my part behind writing it.

After reading Dan Cristo‘s post on DIY Blogger about SEO and Google’s QDFs I wanted to see how much traffic I could generate by writing about a topic that is hot in the news.

After all, Jeremy Salvador of Zero Passive Income did just that and generated over 2,000 views in 24 hours to his blog. All from one post about how much the royal wedding really cost.

So how much extra traffic did my Macho Man post generate for me? None!

Where I Failed

I Was Late to the Scene.

By the time I wrote the article the news wasn’t very “fresh” any more. The post went live 3 days after Macho Man’s death. If you want to rank for a hot news item you have to be the first to the scene…that’s the way the news works.

I Aimed too High.

This goes in conjunction with being late to the scene. But Randy Savage was a huge, famous personality. Of course his death, and the way he died, is going to make big waves.

By the time I got around to writing my post every big news organization and blog had already covered the story. The story was saturated. It was near impossible (I don’t want to say completely impossible) to compete with all the other sites covering the topic and rank for it.

I Shot too Low.

On top of all the other obstacles I didn’t rally optimize very well. I didn’t optimize the title. Didn’t really optimize the content. The least I could have done was optimize the permalink. But I didn’t really take SEO optimization seriously at all when writing that post.

Where to Find Hot Topics

Given my failure, I still think that there is a lot of potential to this method of traffic generation if done properly. But where do you find hot topics to write about? (And don’t forget to get in early and optimize!)

Twitter Search – Check out the trending topics on Twitter.
Facebook – Are your friends talking? Do they all share a common theme in their statuses? That’s how I found out about Macho.
Google Trends – Check out the hot search items on Google on a daily basis.
Digg Top News – Filter by top news, then most recent. See what’s trending right now.
Alexa – Sure the rank might be worthless, but they do show “Hot Topics” right on the front page.
Technorati – Check out the hottest blogosphere items.

The Caveat

News-focused posts may give your blog an adrenaline shot of traffic. But this is only temporary. The traffic is fickle unless the news deals directly with your blog’s genre and overall topic. In this instance if the big news was that Macho Man quit his day job to start an internet business…that could be something to work with :)

Of course with a big boost to overall traffic you may retain some repeat visitors, making the process worth it in the end.

 

Your Two Cents

Have you ever used this method? Did it ever work for you? Where do you find hot trending topics to write about? Do you think this is even worth the effort? Have an experiment gone bad?


51 Responses to My Failed Savage Experiment

  1. Dino Dogan says:

    I’ve been meaning to write about this. And will…its not a technique I use but I love your takaways , makes perfect sense :-)

    • Eugene says:

      Dino, I keep beating you to the punch. First branding now this? It’s like your busy doing other things or something :)

      It’s like your pretending to do work on Triberr or something. I thought Dan did the work and you just modeled for photos :)

  2. Hi Eugene,

    I love how refreshingly honest your post is. Kudos to you for experimenting! You absolutely rock for sharing what you’ve learned.

    Your conclusion that the boost in traffic can be fickle if not related to your blogs topic and genre is spot on. I had a similar experience, but it was not exactly an intentional experiment.

    In March 2010 Amazon fired me. Along with all of their Colorado affiliates.

    When I received the “you’re fired” email (completely out of the blue) I posted about it immediately. That post is still on the first page of Google. And it generated a ton of traffic. It wasn’t a rant post. It was a heat of passion post. I made no real effort to tie it in with how to think like an entrepreneur (my focus). Sure I made the point that you need to be aware of what your state legislators are up to as it relates to your business and your income, but still… the traffic was, and is, fickle.

    My conclusion? Offer solutions to problems. If I had the magic bullet that could have offered an alternative solution to those Colorado affiliates of Amazon, I would have been a hero. And perhaps gained some new reader loyalty. Instead, it just generated traffic with no real long term positive effects.

    And I felt a little better after writing it.

    If I did it again? I would find out what other states were on the chopping block. I would have researched how to stop Amazon’s action before it took place. In your state. Bet some readers in Illinois might have appreciated such a post:)

    Great thought provoking post!

    Theresa

    • Eugene says:

      Legislators just love to get in the way of business don’t they? If only they understood that, when it comes down to it, businesses are writing their paychecks. Oh well :/

      If you felt better after writing it then it wasn’t waste, right?

      I think solutions can definitely get you some new fans. Although the topic I chose to write about wasn’t very problem-solution driven at all. I think it’s a technique I might try in the future…if I feel a spark of inspiration :). Probably not something I will be consciously aiming to do (at least not for a little while).

  3. Dan Cristo says:

    Yeah, don’t underestimate the value of understanding “why” this experiment failed. Fail fast, and fail often. The result of that is faster success.

    • Eugene says:

      And I think I learned what I need to change to have a similar experiment succeed in the future. Perhaps we’ll see if I truly learned anything some day soon :)

      • Zarko says:

        Hi Eugene, I will say it right off the bat, you learned something and this is a fact, just like Dan said, fail and fail often, and you will come to success, as any person that really tries and fails learns from past mistakes.

        only people that don’t try will never learn…

        • Eugene says:

          I don’t mind failing at all. But I’d rather start learning from successes eventually :)

  4. Haha… you made me bust out laughing when you said that it would have been perhaps you would get more repeat traffic if the news about Randy “Macho-man” Savage (god rest his soul) would have been about him quitting his job for an Internet Business! :)

    Anyway, yeah I agree with most of the comments here. Sounds like you were just late to the scene.

    I’ve actually tried this before on a different group blog when the BP Oil disaster happened in the Gulf of Mexico.

    The title for that post, if I remember correctly, was “Oil Spills Suck. Internet Businesses Rule!” – That simple little post generated more traffic for us in a week than all the other posts did that month. It was pretty awesome so I know that strategy definitely works.

    A huge traffic potential article that could have been attributed to a world even would have been termination of Bin Laden.

    Perhaps you could have said something like, Why Bin Laden would have never been taken out by U.S Navy Seals if he would have simply quit being a terrorizer (Former President Bush’s term for terrorist, lol) and become an Internet Entrepreneur (lol) or something like that. You get what I’m trying to say. lol

    Let us know how your next article does!

    • Eugene says:

      Thanks for stopping by Hector!

      As your example goes to show, I think it is definitely a technique that can work. I’m not sure if I’m going to make it a point to write with a news-focus very often. But I have definitely learned some lessons for the future for when/if I decide to do another one of these little experiments.

  5. Frank says:

    Eugene,

    Thanks for having me on the show today. It’s good to be back. :-) I too have tried to use popular news items to drive traffic. Just like your experience I was unsucessful because I was wayy to late to the party. Now what I do is focus strategically on keywords. When I title my posts or write my meta descriptions for my posts they are keyword heavy. The goal is to use at least 3 heavily searched terms in any of my meta information. Once I put this practice into place my traffic has spiked (by spiked I mean increased by at least 10 unique views) to unseen numbers by my site.

    Now I get at least 1000 visits per….I let you guess. I’ll give you a hint. It’s not a day, month, or year. :-) But it has turned me in the right direction which is not going down. I can proudly say that more than just my mom is reading my posts now.

  6. Eugene says:

    Thanks Jeremy. And thanks for stopping by!

    Your results with the technique were really impressive. Definitely caught my attention. It might be something I try to do in the future…if I can figure out how to incorporate a news story with the overall theme of the blog :).

  7. Eugene says:

    Good to have you back Frank!

    Growth is all about continuing an upward trend. I know I’ve got ages to go until I’m seeing traffic numbers like some of the people I follow, but it’s ok with me. I know if I keep at it I’ll get there at some point.

    I hope your mom is STILL reading! :)

  8. Benny says:

    I haven’t tried to use big news stories to try and get traffic. I may in the future.

    Did you see how TMZ loaded their title tags with keywords to try and get it ranked? The post title was simple. The title tag was 20 years or so.

    Like my last post said, “Fall down seven times, get up eight.”. An experiment is just that. An experiment. You don’t often get it right on the first time.

  9. Stan Faryna says:

    I like how you are willing to experiment. I like your willingness to take risks. And I like how you can shrug off the failure and gain the insight.

    But I worry you’re investing too much of you into the SEO. On titles. On content.

    You need to eat well, pay bills, treat yourself to an ice cream cone on occassion, and, yeah, build a long list of loyal customers that rave about you to someone (anyone!) AND come back for more of what you do.

    Customers are people who pay you money – not to be confused with people (such as myself) who leave comments to your blog post.

    Nor should you confuse customers with strangers or friends that follow an affiliate link a la amazon and buy a book on occassion- unless they buy a book or whatever every week. And if they are buying a recommended book every week, you should be writing about that book. Take the journey with your customer. Think book club.

    I’m worried that you’ll fall into the trap of thinking that blogging for the sake of blogging is being professional. Professional work gets paid. More importantly, professional work provides a livelihood that goes beyond paying the bills and living day to day.

    Maybe, I’m worried for all the wrong reasons and you’ll do fine. But if I right, please do consider my concerns about you.

    Right now, I’m listening to Rush’s Tom Sawyer.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7DFsBcVMDA

    • Eugene says:

      I didn’t spend enough time on SEO…that’s why I failed! :)

      But I completely understand what you are saying. It was just a little experiment I decided to do to see what kind of results I could get. And what’s an experiment without analyzing the results, right?

      But I am definitely trying to change focus on the, as you say, professional side of things. I just had a very value-packed exchange with Paul Wolfe and he has definitely given me some ideas to start moving in the right direction.

      I have an idea of how I want to proceed with things. And I’ll do a write up soon.

      Thanks for the great comment once again!

      Oh…and great song :)

  10. Stuart says:

    It’s interesting that you talk about this kind of stuff Eugene, as I’ve had a similar experience; I wrote a post about alternative ways to celebrate New Years 2011.

    I published it on the 29th December, enough time for people to read it and absorb the info.

    The result? 31st December had the highest amount of page views for 4 months before a big post in April. All because of the search engine traffic that came my way.

    If you needed any more proof Eugene, here it is ;-)

    • Eugene says:

      Yet another example of this technique working if done right. Were you able to retain of the increased traffic?

      • Stuart says:

        I wasn’t able to at the time Eugene, as my blog wasn’t big then, and searchers only had to view the New Years post and then leave.

        I’m bigger now, but I think this situation would happen with any blog, no matter how big or small :-)

  11. Well I feel like I’m always the last to know things, so hopefully that makes you feel better ;) Don’t beat yourself up about it. I’m sure it was just one that you weren’t the first to post about. Reality TV events are great topics so just making sure you’re up to date with Snooki and the Kardashians, you’re good ;)

  12. Rob says:

    Hey Eugene,

    Sweet idea. I also read the post over at DIY.
    Just please don’t go chasing any ambulances:)
    I actually read, and can’t remember where, something similar except this cat jumped on something and got 50k hits in one day. If I find it I’ll send it over.
    My eyes will be open…I’ll race you to the next BIG THING…to be continued…

  13. I like posts like this for their honesty and because they are exceptionally useful. Sometimes being on the crest of the wave isn’t as important as being able to see what it brings to shore.

    • Eugene says:

      I’m glad you found it to be useful because that was the whole purpose of this post. To share what I learned and to analyze my “experiment.” You make failure very poetic Jack :)

  14. I ave heard about this method a ton of times before but in all my attempts it never really works out. The only thing that worked was to make a video about a Google trending topic

    • Eugene says:

      And putting it up on Youtube? That probably would work. Given that Google owns Youtube and likes to rank those videos pretty high in the search rankings :)

  15. Jk Allen says:

    HEY EUGENE!

    I guess the news doesn’t hit Disney World very well…all that money spent and no one could stop by our room and let us know that Mr. “OOOohhh Yeeeeaaaah” passed away. Daaaang! I was a huge WWF fan back in the day…in fact, up until my freshman year of college (1999). Yes, ya boy 30 years old. But 30′s the new 20, so it’s all good!

    I’ve never tried this type of technique. I’m terrible at SEO…I should step my game up because most of my traffic comes from Google…and it sticks pretty well. But I should maximize it and get more!

    Anyway, one of my blogging friends was telling me that he used an image of a video game (I’m thinking it was Call of Duty) and the image actually carried that title…the day he posted it, happened to be a day of a new release of COD Black Ops and he got a massive influx of traffic all because of the image. His post said nothing about COD Black Ops. That situation got me thinking…although I haven’t done a thing with it.

    Thanks for sharing this man. I love the analyitical thoughts and experieiments. If you ever have any ideas for a hustler like me – let a player know! Lord knows I need help!

    PEACE

    • Eugene says:

      I’ll be glad to share more ideas with you as I fail more experiments :).

      Coming from a guy that’s almost hitting 200 comments on his posts though…not sure how much help I can provide you :). I should be asking you for advice!

  16. Hi Eugene,

    I also read the post about QDF on DIY Blogger, and have been thinking about it lately. I’ve never tried this before, but it’s definitively something I would like to try. The problem, is like you describe, will we get any subscribers or visitors that will visit our blog more than this one time?

    For instance, this has nothing to do with QDF, but it’s still interesting. A while ago, I decided to pay a designer to create a few facebook banners for me. I also asked the designer if I could share them on my blog with my readers. She said yes, and I did. Now, I’m ranking at the top 3 (depending on the week) for the the term facebook banners. And I get between 300 and 350 unique visitors a day, just from this search on google. It’s awesome. But, this post alone has more than 90% bounce rate, and I get close to no new subscribers from it, and no comments. So, it’s really just taking up bandwidth :)

    I guess what I’m saying is that we need to think about how we’re going to turn the people who are visiting our blog into readers or customers.

    Jens

  17. Eugene says:

    That is exactly why I’m not sure if I’ll focus on this technique in the future. It’s very hard to connect pop culture or news items with a business blog. How many people are really going to be interested in internet marketing or business startup if they are coming to your page to read the latest reality show news. Probably not many… :)

  18. Hi Eugene

    You have just confirmed my thought process on trying to cover popular topics. In the beginning of my blogging journey I tried to use twitter, facebook, mashable to generate ideas about what to write.

    I wanted to talk about what the big guys were talking about, but by the time I posted them on my blog the big guys had already covered it. I was too late

    Its like the news having their sports segment when ESPN has already shown the highlights 10 times on sports center lol

    Now I just write from my own experiences, that seems to be more effective in terms of driving traffic. If a person wants the scoop on the big stories more than likely they’ll hit the big sites for that type of information.

    Hopefully we can be the places where people are in search of authentic content lol

    for now we’ll be just another fish in a big sea and eventually we’ll be THE fish in a big sea haha

    • Eugene says:

      The sea is definitely a big place with enough room for all of us. I’ve come to the conclusion that writing your own thoughts is where the value is anyway. I’ll let the tabloids cover the latest reality show scandals, that’s now where I can add value anyway.

  19. Adrienne says:

    As I love to say Eugene, just fail forward.

    I never write about trending topics because let’s face it, they usually never have anything to do with what my blogs are about. From time to time I’ll run across some post that will claim how they got so many views on just one post in just 24 hours and it’s always about writing about trending topics. But it’s an interesting lesson to learn and like you said it can be achieved, but it won’t last.

    Love your honesty though with your writing so thank you for that. That’s refreshing and I enjoyed the read. Dino and Dan are both guys I also admire so anything you can beat Dino to, I applaud you!

    Thanks again,

    Adrienne

    • Eugene says:

      Thanks for stopping by Adrienne!

      I am making it my mission from now on to beat Dino to the punch on anything and everything. It might even work out once every 6 months :)

  20. Mouh says:

    It is true that this method has nothing to do with my blog topic, but I seriously like the idea. I think it is a great way to generate traffic. I think one can implement it creatively. For example, one can create a page about “Internet Marketing News”, “Unrelated Things I Like”, etc. on his or her blog. One can also write a paragraph or some few sentences about trending topics and insert it in posts creatively or in a humorous way. I think that would give you a share of the cake…

    Anyway, I believe this method is good and can be used.

    Mouh

    • Eugene says:

      It can definitely be used. But you have to tie it in with your overall blog theme somehow…which I tried to do with the Randy Savage post. Of course I didn’t really do too well in terms of optimization anyway.

      Have you used this method before? How much of the traffic were you able to retain?

  21. Mouh says:

    Hi Eugene,

    I have never tried this method. I learned it from you. I must admit it is hard to tie it in. I am not that creative at this, I have to say. But I am sure you are. I probably need to learn this from you…

    Take care and keep sharing your tricks!

    Mouh

  22. Eugene says:

    I appreciate the compliments and vote of confidence, but clearly I am not one to be learning this from since I failed at it :)

    Either way, I think it can result in a temporary spike in traffic, and maybe even a small retention of recurring visitors. But I don’t think it’s a method that should be focused on a lot. Building consistent traffic with loyal visitors should be the focus

  23. I like your honesty and your boldness in writing. As they say, learn from the mistakes of others :) So thank you for sharing your failed experiment to us! I’ve learned so much by reading your post.

  24. Eugene,

    I always stick to this saying that early bird catches more worm :) But at least you have learned from your mistake. Thanks for being honest!

    • Eugene says:

      Early bird definitely catches the worm. You have to jump all over an opportunity when one arises.

  25. Your article really make sense. I’m satisfy by the way you brought out ideas. keep on posting!