heya,

A client asked, what is the best way to generate traffic for his website.

You’d be surprised that my response was NOT Google Ads.

In fact, this is not the first time i give such advice, despite it not being in my best interest. Particularly if my aim is to secure and keep clients paying me ridiculous fees to manage their ad accounts. Not only this, if you’ve been a long time subscriber, you might remember me taking a FIRM stance against chasing this type of traffic (although it isn’t really true, as you’ll soon see).

In today’s lesson, i’m going to share with you a “traffic strategy” that has proven itself time and time again to be the most robust way to build a business website, to get a steady stream of customers, and to reliably monetise your efforts.

Recently, i’ve been more focused on “robustness” of business. I no longer invest into things that give short-term results at the expense of stability.

Let’s backtrack a moment to give some context.

Early in the year, a client for whom i was managing a website and Google campaign decided to end our contract. If you’ve done client work before, you know how it goes. People are temperamental and all relationships eventually end. Sometimes for good reason and others baffle your mind. I learned a long time ago not to worry about WHY and to NOT try to convince anyone to stay. In fact, i already knew the end was near when i saw him take hit after hit in other parts of his business, losing hundreds of thousands of dollars due to some bad hires he’d made.

I knew better than to take it personally. So i terminated our contract promptly and shifted focus to my other clients.

Strangely, however, he couldn’t let go of our relationship. He would reach out, periodically, and claim he was aiming to bring me back on board. I never asked or pushed for it. Secretly, i knew the more he tried on his own, the more he realised how important what we were doing was.

Here’s why…

Whenever he’d get in touch, it was always after some burst of sale activity from our “paused” funnel. I still get the notifications when they come in, so i know, inevitably, a couple of days later he wants to talk.

He’d wonder, “Are you SURE we paused the campaign?”

Diligently, each time, i’d check and assure him, “Yes, it’s definitely paused.”

“Where did these sales come from?” he would ask.

I started digging around his analytics and tracking to identify the source of these sales. And sure enough, each time i would conclude they came from ORGANIC SEARCH ENGINE TRAFFIC.

Now relax. Don’t get your knickers in a knot.

i’m not about to start advocating for doing search engine optimisation (SEO) because i never believed in it and i STILL don’t believe in it. And there’s a subtlety here i don’t want you to miss.

Doing SEO is NOT the same as organic search engine traffic.

One is a process, the other is the result. Meaning, some dumbasses DO SEO to GET organic search engine traffic. But SEO is not the only way to get this kind of traffic.

And organic search traffic is amazing! What kind of psycho would i be to diss on good quality traffic from search engines, free or otherwise?

My objection to SEO stems from the fact that much of it is a bunch of idiot, waste-of-time tricks to game search engines into ranking a website for some popular search term, to get this mythical free traffic.

Those tricks amount to:
 
   (1) building (typically JUNK) content in a way search algorithms might determine to be relevant to a popular search query,

   (2) and, linking to that content in a special way to artificially give the algorithm confidence in its assessment.
 
 
What you MIGHT notice missing from this strategy, is the USER. The only thing the SEOist is concerned with, is the computer and the software that determines ranking. He ignores the user.

However, the algorithm is in fact attempting to anticipate the USER’s determination of the relevance and usefulness of the result they see.

Notice too, the SEOist is handpicking the search query he wants to rank for and attempts to force relevance. Which requires him to understand how the algorithm works…and if in fact his content does not actually fit the criteria for relevance, he has to somehow shape his content in a way the algorithm would read it as relevant.

Ignoring the user and focusing on the algorithm is idiotic. In the end, even if the algorithm is initially fooled, it will self-correct by majority vote, based on all the users’ responses to the results seen. Meaning, most SEO efforts have a short-lived traffic benefit.

Aside from it being a poor long-term strategy, though, a big part of the problem lies in the JUNK content being produced to accomplish search ranking. Since content is ONLY designed to game search engines, when it is eventually seen by human visitors, that content has no value whatsoever to them. In fact, it reflects badly on the website, hurts its reputation, and makes no sales of anything.

“Free” organic traffic built this way, rarely translates into revenue.

You see, producing high quality, useful content that human searchers will appreciate, takes time, skill, and money. SEOists (especially those you might contract) want to get a fast, tangible result so they can get paid–and they don’t want to spend a fortune producing content to get it. That would eat into their profit margins and make their business not very lucrative. They’re lazy.

Even if it were possible to sustain the organic search engine traffic they get you forever (you won’t), you will struggle to turn it into any revenue and it can damage your reputation.

Case in point….

Some months ago, i was cleaning up posts at the yaghilabs website. and i came across some strange pages of content. They were hierarchically arranged, so i thought perhaps they were important. But i did not remember writing them. Upon closer investigation, it turns out the author was an SEOist i allowed, in the early days of YaghiLabs site, to try to “rank” us for some “important” key terms. The content was horrendous. It was riddled with embarrassing grammatical errors (poor, second language English speaker errors). There were nonsensical, misguided totally bad ideas about topics i had deep knowledge about, even back then!

Imagine someone coming from a search and landing on these pages of my website…what kind of impression does it give of me, of my expertise, and of my business?

I’ll tell you what, I was EMBARRASSED that those pages were on my site for so many years without me realising.

Do you think anyone is likely to buy from content like this? Clearly whoever is behind it has no idea what they’re talking about.

The problem is, no visitor comes along, sees it, and says oh yes Jim’s probably really clever about traffic but this must be his dipshit SEOist’s writing.

No. They’re saying Jim Yaghi is clearly a dipshit who clearly knows NOTHING about traffic generation, and he can’t write worth a toss, and he sounds like a fucking idiot.

None of this is true, of course (except i can be a dipshit, at times).

On the other hand, my client’s unexpected sales were not a result of bots enjoying his search engine “optimised” content and buying his products. It was real human visitors, discovering his consumer-targeted content, reading it, and deciding it was worth buying from him. Because it was me guiding him on what to write, and it was me editing and cleaning up the articles, and it was me formatting and publishing them on his website.

Surprisingly, the amount of content was actually VERY little!

We’re talking about less than 30 original articles published to his website. All of them started out as email marketing pieces, repurposed as website articles. And they worked.

Not only that…

I was using the Google Ads search query report to identify QUESTION type queries and guiding the client to write emails answering those questions. So imagine, the dynamic of this approach:

A user punches in their question, sees one of our articles in the organic search results OR sees our ad in the sponsored results.

If they choose the organic result, they will have their question answered immediately in a quality article. After reading our answer, they’re transitioned into an intelligent sales pitch (as we do in email marketing) for a product positioned as a solution to the problem the reader is facing. At the end of the article, the reader is given the opportunity to buy or join the mailing list for more answers. Either way, a positive experience that either results in a sale or increases the chance of getting a sale later.

On the other hand, if the visitor chooses the sponsored ad instead, they are pitched to join the mailing list. If they subscribe, at some point in the follow-up sequence, they’re going to see an email titled with the EXACT question they asked the search engine several days before. They may not recognise it as the same question, but we know they’re going to be interested in hearing the answer. They will open it, read  with anticipation, and again, when the email eventually transitions to a sales pitch to sell our product…they’re very likely to buy.

The technique is absolutely brilliant.

There is no “trickery” here. It’s just a human talking to a human.

The big benefit  is that as you build out content, day after day, month after month, year after year…the website grows into a more and more valuable asset. The search traffic that results is cumulative. It does not stop when you stop paying for it. And should you ever choose to sell your business, its website and its content are what will give you the power to raise your asking price.

So to be clear, my stance on SEO has not changed, i still think it’s a dumb method to get organic traffic. But if you use the right method, it makes a heck of a lot of sense.

The word “organic” here means natural. This is a kind of traffic which some content gets by being naturally relevant to a searcher’s query. What “relevant” actually means is not our concern. We just need to produce content that WE think is useful to people with the kinds of problems our products solve. And then point visitors to where they can buy our products.

Divorce yourself from the search term you WANT to rank for, and just create content for the audience you want to attract. When you do this consistently, you will be matched with people looking for what you are publishing about, and your content will rank for whatever terms those people are searching for.

Becuase the goal of organic search algorithms is not to match keywords to content–but rather to match people’s intents to what would satisfy them.

So the whole key to getting organic traffic is quality content. Not “optimisation”.

Smart website owners, influencers, and online businesses recognise that the currency of the internet is this content. And content can be information, entertainment, education, discussion, or answers. Its delivery medium can be text, video, audio, image, or software. No matter what it is or where it resides, open, free available, useful content is what attracts people, and what search engines use for food.

It’s what the algorithms are trying to organise for users.

If we, as business owners, focus on just producing quality content, there is ALWAYS a way to monetize it. ALWAYS.

You know why?

Because quality content attracts audiences. And if you can attract and keep a large audience engaged with your content, whether or not you’re directly selling to them, there is ALWAYS a way to make money from them.

I had another client who told me she took FOUR months to reach 6-figures in monthly revenue, WITHOUT having a product of her own, WITHOUT spending a cent in paid ads. She monetised her content by selling banners on her website and with amazon affiliate links.

Do you know what she did to get to this point?

She single handedly produced and published 6 REAL articles per day, every day, for four months. And she didn’t stop when she hit 6 figures! Of course, now that she makes a lot of money from her work, she’s not doing it “singlehandedly” any more. She can afford researchers, writers, and helpers. And she’s increased her daily output of content. And she sells her own products too.

Despite the potential reward, i cannot possibly imagine producing that much daily content so consistently. But it’s amazing when someone can do it.

If you’re like me, on the other hand, and you know you can’t do that kind of daily creative output, then you’ll want to use paid ads to sell and profit in the short-term and simultaneously invest into a less aggressive content producing strategy for long-term.

And here’s one more anecdote…

One of the clients i manage Google Ads for produces an INCREDIBLE amount of content both paid and free–i’m talking YouTube videos, podcasts, daily emails, blog posts, social media, eBooks and reports, interviews…THE WORKS. She has a team helping out, of course.

When i run her Google Ads, the MAJORITY of the traffic we convert into instant sales for really really cheap, are BRAND NAME seekers. That is, people already familiar with her free content, seeking her and her business out for more content. They easily buy her products without much of a push.

This is powerful. It is POWERFUL.

That is why today, i am focused primarily on building out content. You’ll notice my emails are deeper, more thoughtful, and well thought out. They are longer. But they are also more valuable, to the right people. I’m also in the process of launching a new podcast that adopts a similar philosophy. And i have many more plans to make high quality content available and open to our website subscribers and users.

Now it’s your turn.

If you’re interested in the combo approach of organic and paid marketing, while optimising effort, i encourage you to check out the Super Traffic Machine. We set up EVERYTHING from the start of the series for this approach to work.

But you’ll find the 8th User Manual has a companion resource book that goes over all the different types of traffic methods and how they work, the history, and the evolution, and what works and what does not. The main manual has a step by step practical component to help you execute, but the companion resource book approaches it all from an informational angle.

In particular, i discuss how i manage traffic campaigns ALONGSIDE Machine Learning to reduce work and increase results. It helps you implement both organic search traffic and paid traffic. It’s a pretty good read–i was thinking about selling it individually on Amazon but you get it free with the Super Traffic Machine.

Read all about the series at the link below…

~jim