Why Your Blog Doesn’t Get (and May Never Get) Search Traffic

why-your-blog-get-no-search-traffic In the last few months, I’ve met some amazingly successful bloggers. Yesterday I spent about 35 minutes talking to a super-cool blogger (Desi) who gets gobs of traffic. We were talking from about 4:00 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. and while we were talking,I found out that her site had already had 36,000 unique visitors for the day. FOR. THE. DAY. Whatha$#$%^$!!! You can check out her traffic monster here: The 36th Avenue.

After our conversation, I got thinking about the differences between her and other people I’ve worked with and talked to who struggle. She has obviously created a traffic machine – why do other people have such a hard time with this?

I’ve worked with a lot of people who struggle to get into the right mindset and if you’re in this boat, search traffic is going to be extremely hard to come by. I’m talking to you if:

  • You don’t have a network of friends in your niche.
  • You aren’t focused on making every post shareable.
  • You aren’t actively trying to make connections.
  • You aren’t trying to get your work onto other sites.
  • You don’t write about topics of interest
  • You are only trying to get search traffic

You Don’t Have A Network Of Friends In Your Niche

I’m telling you – if you want search traffic, having a network of friends in your niche is the most crucial thing you can do. Working alone, you have a long road ahead of you and I see this again and again.

Collaboration is extremely powerful. I’m always looking for new people to collaborate with because I know that I can’t compete without their help (and they can’t compete without mine).

I’ve found that most people fear that they will never find friends in their niche. I relate with that because I’m about as introverted as they come. It’s hard for me to branch out. My solution? I force myself to do it. What has happened as I’ve done this? I’ve found some really cool people who want and need to collaborate with me just as much as I want and need to collaborate with them.

Collaborating with A-listers in your niche isn’t what you’re going for.  A lot of people are trying to connect with them and frankly, you don’t have a lot of value to provide them. You need to be collaborating with people who are at or near your current level but that’s a topic for another post.

Not having friends in your niche affects you mostly because at the end of the day, you don’t get linked to by enough sites that have real traffic. If all of your links come from sites without traffic, it’s a bad signal for Google.

You Aren’t Focused On Making Every Post Shareable

I rarely see people fail to develop search traffic if all of their posts are shareable. When your content gets shared, it inevitably will lead to links and links lead to search traffic. You should be looking mainly to create useful content that leads to pins on Pinterest, likes on Facebook and Google+, and retweets.

This isn’t going to come all at once. When you don’t have an audience, it’s hard to get shares. You have to just focus on creating stuff that’s shareable, even if it isn’t actively getting shared. The progress will come.

You Aren’t Actively Trying To Make Connections On Social Media

It’s very difficult to develop consistent search traffic if you aren’t trying to make connections.

Let’s say you take the time to write an awesomely shareable blog post that you KNOW people will like. How do you let people know about it? If you aren’t making connections, this gets pretty difficult, doesn’t it? If you had even 100 people who you’ve connected with on your site or via email, Twitter, Facebook, or Google+, it could make a HUGE difference.

Things get especially exciting once you’re able to increase those numbers. If you have a few thousand people subscribed to you by email or have a few thousand Twitter followers and/or Facebook fans, it’s a lot easier to get some love for your post. One of them may link to it or share it with someone who will link to it.

Blogs that get gobs of search traffic are able to do this on a consistent basis. They may not get hundreds of links to a single post, but all of their posts get some shares and they get linked to here and there.

I see a lot of people who have to try to manually create all of their links and this ultimately doesn’t work that well. There’s no leverage in it and at the end of the day, search engines will notice the lack of social signals.

You Aren’t Trying To Get Your Work Onto Other Sites

Your search traffic will never be that great if you don’t get talked about on other sites. Other sites need to link to you and talk about you for search engines to like you. When you are starting out, getting this to happen is really difficult. You solve this by being proactive – by writing posts (or creating audio/video) that other sites would want to publish.

For those of you who are starting out, this is really key in the beginning. It’s a great way to get the ball rolling.

You Don’t Write About Topics Of Interest

I’ve come across a lot of blogs that provide a lot of value, but don’t create blog posts that are created around searchable topics. Or, you may create blog posts around searchable topics without using searchable terms in your posts.

You should be actively using the Adwords Keyword Tool (or another keyword tool) to discover the topics that people search for in your niche. You should then be creating shareable posts that cover those topics. Use a catchy title that contains your topic/keywords.

You Are Only Trying To Get Search Traffic

I’ve mentored a lot of people and can tell you that this obstacle is the hardest to overcome. If you are trying to develop search traffic without developing other kinds of traffic, I believe that ultimately you will fail. You might succeed for a while, but that success will probably be cut short.

It’s easy to develop a little search traffic without providing much value, especially if you pick an easy keyword. You can just write a post about the topic and write some guest posts about that topic that link back to your post. You might rank for a while and get some solid traffic.

The problem lies in the types of sites that will be willing to publish your sub-par guest posts and link to your sub-par content. As soon as Google tightens up their algorithm again, you could be filtered out. On top of that, other people could come along and publish better work that will get shared and linked to. When that happens, it’s likely that you’ll get knocked out since your work won’t get shared or linked to. If you and your competitors links look similar and your competitor has social signals, you will lose.

I’ve found that it’s a huge uphill battle to keep getting traffic when I’m only focused on developing search traffic. I have been able to win that battle temporarily many times but ultimately, those projects fail to consistently produce. They always die.

People who are stuck in this mindset tend to quit when they lose their search traffic. They start feeling like it isn’t worth it. They often start over and build search traffic and then quit again once the search traffic dies out. It’s a vicious cycle.

The Search Traffic Game Has Changed

I know a lot of people who are still hanging on to the old ways of doing SEO. They still want to just ‘build links’ and make full-time incomes. At best, this will be a very shaky way of doing things going forward. The people who are going to thrive from here on out will learn how to create shareable blog posts and meaningful connections with other people. Combine that with solid SEO strategy and you can really create some traction.

Some of you are already brilliant at this, others have some work to do. What do YOU need to work on most? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Comments 55

  1. Hi Court – I was very interested and reassured to read your article. I’m fairly new to blogging and although I’ve learnt a bit about SEO I’m spending a lot of time making connections with other bloggers through commenting and social sharing and I think this is having the biggest impact on my progress.

    It’s time-consuming and labour intensive, but it’s making me feel much more positive about working online because I’m making genuine connections with real people and learning a lot from more experienced bloggers.

    I love the challenge, too, of producing content that people will actually want to read – there’s nothing more satisfying than getting some genuinely positive feedback about an article you’ve written – so much more rewarding than trying to trick the search engines into ‘finding’ your stuff with a load of strategically placed keywords.

    And I couldn’t agree more with your comment about connecting with competitors – I don’t actually feel as if I’m in competition with the people I’m meeting online, it’s like we’re all helping each other out.

    Many thanks for a very interesting post,


    PS Just spotted your visual captcha – love it!

    1. Hey Sue!

      Those connections will pay off. It takes a lot of time but it will be worth it. It sounds like you have a great mindset already. I’m excited to see how you progress. I see it consistently, people who are willing to do the work to make the connections are the ones who end up making progress.

  2. Sounds like this may very well be true Court! there are many voices who have been talking about the importance of social signals for some time. Sounds like the day has arrived when you cannot live without them.

    1. Yeah David – I think so. People who are good at creating shareable stuff and getting social signals are getting way ahead in the search game. It’s been pretty interesting to watch!

  3. Great points here, Court. I agree that ultimately the focus needs to be on the needs of your customer rather than your needs of marketing to your customer. This is easier said than done, however, when your site is new, and you’re forced to think of it as a sinkhole for your time and energy. But that’s what you do when you work on the web. We need to remember that we’re creating businesses and not playing the lottery. Success comes with solid commitment. Perfect is the enemy of the good here.

    1. Great points Kamuela. It’s WAY hard when your site is new but the more you can serve the needs of your customer, the better you’ll do. Commitment is everything. Thank you!

  4. Hi, Court!

    Great post! For those who’ve been out of the loop in a while, this post is a great place to start.

    Being sociable seems easy; but it’s a struggle for me. I don’t have many friends who are interested in my niche. Should we connect with competitors?


    1. Hey Geronimo!

      Being sociable has always been a huge struggle for me too but I’ve found a way to make it work. The realization that everyone needs people to collaborate with was a huge one for me.

      Yes – you should absolutely connect with ‘competitors’. You can help them the most and they can help you the most. I’ve found that in most situations, results aren’t mutually exclusive. Together you can get a bigger share of the market which is usually many many times bigger than your collective reach.

      My sister is a perfect example of this. She does basically the same thing as all her friends (who are all competitors really). They all post DIY stuff that relates to decorating. There are about 20 of them. They are all competing for the same traffic, but not really. There isn’t any reason that a visitor can’t follow all of their blogs. In fact, a person could buy all of their products if they decided to create products.

      It’s a weird paradigm shift but it’s really been a game changer for me.

  5. That’s a hard one for me. I only use Facebook, and recent changes on there have made it so that my status updates and shares are only seen by a super small portion of my “friends”. I’ve had real-life friends who said they thought I was done with Facebook cuz they never see me post anymore; even my wife never sees my FB posts anymore, though I post several times per week.

    Frustrating. When you post all week long and you don’t even get a comment – and usually not even a single like – that’s frustrating. But then when I comment on my friends posts, they’re like, “Hey man! I haven’t heard from you for awhile…” Did FB like block my statuses from showing up or what?

    Anyways, I keep thinking maybe I should just start a whole new FB account or switch to Google+ or Twitter, but I dunno. I don’t want to waste my time.

    1. I hear you Chris. Facebook’s changes are really strange to me. They’ve made it so it’s a lot harder to contact people who WANT to hear from you. You pretty much have to get people to add you to their interest lists now, which is totally weird. Google+ is way better for that right now but there aren’t as many people there.

      Just got to get connected with more people though. All of the platforms have their issues that you have to work with but the more real connections you can make, the better things will go.

      Thanks for your comment, Chris!

  6. “There isn’t any reason that a visitor can’t follow all of their blogs…. It’s a weird paradigm shift but it’s really been a game changer for me.”

    I recently came to the same realization and paradigm shift, as well.

    I think it stems from the limit scope of keywords we would target and the dramatic difference in #1 and #2-10 rankings on Amazon. Ranking #1 for “Colorado lasik surgery” (throwback, I know) is a very limited scope, and being #1 for that very specific term pays off.

    When we realize that there are hundreds and thousands of keywords out there, via the long tail, being #1 for a specific term doesn’t matter as much if you are getting tons of links with all kinds of crazy anchors that help boost your overall search profile.

    Then, when you add being social on top of that, you see that being #1 for a term doesn’t matter as much (though, it’s still very nice). When you have an email list that can help you to drive tons of initial traffic to your blog post, you get that strong initial surge of traffic. If you have a hungry fan base that wants to share and if you provide content that they will want to share, then you’ll have another layer of traffic coming. Then, if you provide stuff that your competitors, who you have built a good relationship with, want to share, then your message will be delivered directly to the perfect audience, via your competitors. This requires a good relationship, and providing value.

    I noticed this phenomenon on Amazon. Their ‘Customers Also Bought…” section often featured many books on the same book you are looking at. People have no problem buying multiple books on a topic, and the same goes for websites.

    Interview your competitors! This is fantastic, valuable and unique content for your blog, and more importantly, your competitor will want to share the interview with their readers with a nice juicy link (and the traffic) that comes along with such sharing.

    1. Amazing insights R.J.

      Interviewing your competitors is super smart – about as smart as it gets. Like you said, it’s really valuable for your visitors and can also help you to break down walls between you and people you can potentially collaborate with.

    2. I’ll let my father know that he can go back to Germany this winter and practice his trade as “Ofensetzer”.Might be a bit more difficult cutting a hole through double/triple glazing to put the chimney out the window, but not much has changed.Kids may be sent to scrounge coals for heating if there’s a power station nearby.BTW: Haven’t heard much about _that_ anniversary. Already forgotten after 22 years? Or are Merkel, et al. bowing to their overlords in Brussels; to ensure that Germany won’t make it to a 25th anniversary?

    3. CustomersTips for small business and entrepreneurs: the right customer service when things go wrongFeatured Job: Customer Care at Alpine Access – A Service of HomeJobster! – The Home Income Blog if (top!=self) { window.location =

  7. You said:
    “The problem lies in the types of sites that will be willing to publish your sub-par guest posts.”
    “I know a lot of people who are still hanging on to the old ways of doing SEO. They still want to just ‘build links’ and make full-time incomes.”

    Isn’t this a description of PostRunner?
    The majority of posts I receive via Post Runner are low quality filler content – ie sub-par guest posts.

    If I read this blog post right you are basically saying that Post Runner and other similar systems are redundant.

    1. No Johnno, that isn’t a description of PostRunner at all. PostRunner is a ‘free country’, so to speak. It allows you to use it however you want – it’s 100% free market. You have the choice of whether you want to publish the posts you get, or not. If you believe that it’s filler content, I would highly recommend not publishing them. If you don’t want to receive any more posts from a bad author, blacklist them. I’m very clear about what kind of posts I’m willing to publish and honestly, I don’t get that much filler anymore.

      Better and better sites are hooking into PostRunner all the time and they will require better and better posts – it’s better for everyone.

  8. But how many of those 35k visitors are actual buyers – or are they just sharing cute cat pictures? Being popular with huge traffic is not for me – I’m not interested in a personality cult – particularly one built around me!

    What I want is a decent, robust, sustainable income, so my focus is now on products rather than “blogging” per se.

    RK is spot on though in his comments re competitors – in many niches people will buy multiples of the same “solution” – think how many books or videos you own about fitness for example

    1. Hey Lissie! It’s been a while since I’ve seen you! It’s good to hear from you. You’re exactly right – people will buy a lot of options in the same niche. If you know of any good fitness books, I’d love to hear about them.

      In this example, Desi actually has a lot of traffic that’s people with similar interests and their interests are actually pretty commercial. But, I hear what you’re saying. The actual traffic numbers don’t really matter if there isn’t a way to make money. I actually have some ideas for products that I think could sell very well for her, and for other bloggers in that niche.

      I know quite a few people who blog in that niche and most of them just sell impressions – pretty easy to do when you have over a million per month. They already make full time incomes. But, if they started to create the right products, I think that most of them could easily triple or get an even bigger multiple on what they make. I would love to see them do it.

      1. Fitness – oh that’s easy – spend 28 days in Burma with a 8kg pack some of it in temps in the mid 30′s (C) and 99% humidity – you get fit, lose weight, while still enjoying a beer or 3 – I should write the book LOL (actually I am – that’s why I’ve been quite Google and I have fallen out so I am currently focussed on selling books via Amazon and elsewhere)

        Selling impressions – means selling private ads I assume. Are they no-follow? I still worry about doing this though there is good money in it in some niches- but of course it’s against Google’s TOS. Or is most of her traffic not search – so it doesn’t matter?

    2. Lissie… trust me… trying to build around me, R.J., has been the hardest thing for me to do. And I haven’t even got to the public part of it yet… it’s still mostly “the guy who runs eBooksHabit”…

      As I analyzed many of the top blogs many tons of money with robust, sustainable income… they are all built around personalities.

      I know one blogger who mainly did blogging, made great money from impressions and affiliate income… she started writing some ebooks, and based on her following and some solid marketing direction, she has hit the top 20 of the entire Kindle store… you don’t have to blog daily… focus on creating valuable content… getting people on your list, and whatever you do, whether more blog posts, videos, or products/classes, you have an instant buying pool.

      Step out of your comfort zone… it’s hard…. but I know the payoff is huge.

    3. The people I know in this niche run their ads through various ad networks – they don’t pass PageRank so it’s completely inline with Google’s TOS. They basically pass through a redirect that isn’t a 301.

      The ones that do private ads would definitely want to make it clear that it would be a ‘nofollow’ links. Or, they could run their own ad server than ran the ads through a non PR-passing redirect.

    1. Hey Beth!

      In the olden days, there were actually a lot of effective ways to build links with no value trading hands. In the beginning, people just swapped links. They would create useless link pages that did nothing but link out to all of their link partners. In fact, people made directories of these links on their sites. The pages were never meant for the site’s visitors to see. They were just links.

      Now people do a lot of other things to get links that don’t provide any value. For example, they spam bookmarking sites with software just to get links. Or, they use software to send comments to thousands of blogs.

      Of course, there are lots of legitimate ways to get links and we could also call them ‘building links’. For example, you contribute to All Things Thrifty (yes I know this about you hahaha) and because of that, you get links that will help your search ranking and this also helps you to get traffic. This is 100% legit. But, let’s say that all you do to get links is create blogger blogs with scraped content that link to your site. That would be more the link building that I’m referring to. No value trades hands with some of these methods and these are the methods that don’t last. Based on what I know about you so far, you’re doing legitimate link building that will last!

      Hopefully that answers your question! From what I understand, I might be ‘meeting’ you in a few days. Looking forward to it!!

  9. Court-
    Good to see you out here. I am not familiar with “sell impressions”. Not trying to get into the weeds and take this conversation sideways, but I don’t have any history with that.

    1. Hey Scott! Yeah basically what I mean is they sell banners and use advertising networks that pay per 1,000 impressions. They are usually able to run multiple banners on the blog and they get paid for each one. In some industries, it’s a decent way to make money, especially if you get a lot of traffic. There are usually ways to make more though.

  10. Court

    Thanks for all the replies and questions answered.

    Are you or Mark still offering personal coaching sessions? If so, where do I go to learn more?


  11. Great post Court!

    When I read and re-read the post I came away with one word that, in my opinion, really nails all of this – Networking.

    Networking in its various forms has been around for many years and now with all of the various social media platforms, changes in google and evolution of what it means to have a business online, it all comes back to being able to adequately network with individuals effectively.

    Take your topic headings and you can easily see them beaming with the need for us to place networking at the forefront in building an audience.

    You Don’t Have A Network Of Friends In Your Niche – Networking with friends
    You Aren’t Focused On Making Every Post Shareable – Networking with strangers
    You Aren’t Actively Trying To Make Connections On Social Media – Networking on platforms
    You Aren’t Trying To Get Your Work Onto Other Sites – Networking with affinity groups
    You Don’t Write About Topics Of Interest – Networking with passion
    You Are Only Trying To Get Search Traffic – Networking gone wrong!

    If you do networking right, everything else falls into place. Your ebook has an audience to sell to. Your new product has a buying base that will love to purchase from you. Your blog article with your most recent affiliate recommendation will catch fire and expand your bank account. Remove networking or deciding that you can’t or won’t do it and you have an uphill battle.

    We all come to networking with many hang-ups… We might be concerned about not knowing how to do it… We might be afraid of rejections, afraid of people getting too close, afraid of the unknown, but really, networking is not rocket science and for some special group… It might take some work and effort, but it is not elusive.

    These ways have helped me to network better:
    Partner with someone that does it naturally and learn from them.
    Attend events that force you to network with strangers.
    Focus on what you bring to the table and how that is beneficial to others.
    Take a public speaking course.
    Volunteer at a local shelter or community group and help others.

    I am far from an expert in this area, but I can tell you that when you give effort toward learning how to network better, you will see results!

    1. Hey Shawn – good to hear from you. Yes, you’re 100% right. We all have hangups when it comes to networking. The way I see it is that it’s just another skill that has to be and can be learned.

      Yesterday I was chatting with RJ and he brought up a really good point that relates a lot to this. Quite a few people are afraid to network because they just aren’t proud of their site(s). They don’t want other people to see them. There’s a lot of fear associated with that, especially when you don’t yet have the technical ability to improve the look and/or feel of the site.

      I actually think you are an expert in this area. I mean, I can’t even remember when we first crossed paths but I know that you just keep providing value wherever I see you. You’re always helping us out by contributing positively to our conversations in our forum and now here. That’s definitely made an impression on me and that’s how you do it. If I got an email from you, I would definitely open it. If it requested a phone call, I would do a phone call.

      Anyway thanks for your contributions Shawn!

      1. Thanks Court for the nice words and kudos!

        I agree that many people are afraid of networking for those reasons you mentioned, at the same time, we live in a global, virtual, and technology rich world… for what people pay on their cable bill, they can hire someone to improve their website, create a virtual persona and start marketing intelligently. With a little bit of time, some smart planning and luck, they might just enjoy “online succes”.

        How do I know this? You have taught it. You have shown how it is done. You have practiced it for me to learn. RJ has shared openly how to market better for far less than paying an agency. Fraser has been an example on scaling it and building a following on the topic of Space… Seriously?!? Space is cool, but there are a lot of other cool things that one could build a following around.

        At the same time, here is what I observer…none of you seem to be the most extroverted, people loving and gregarious individuals on the planet… normal folks that do what they love and get people to love what they do.

  12. Hi Court,

    Great post! I’m excited about reaching out to fellow bloggers in my niche. What are the ways that you recommend doing this?


  13. Hi Court,

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge with all of us. After reading some of your posts, I really think you are one of few that share real and practical stuff with general public for free!!!
    And your posts sound very genuine too.

    Said that, I have a website focused to sell transportation services to Spanish speakers people coming to Orlando. I built a rustic website myself using WordPress Org. I wrote the pages, and some articles too. I just worked on couple of keywords, since it is very hard to find a keyword with some decent traffic (in Spanish).

    Since my niche is very specific, social networking is not very useful I guess (it’s only valid for people going to Orlando), so what ideas could you recommend to increase my visitors? There are many Latinos visitors to Orlando though, but keywords with some decent traffic (in Spanish) are very hard to find!!!

    Thanks in advance and good luck.

    1. Post

      Hey Michael! That sound like an interesting niche to be in. Here’s what I would be trying to figure out – where do they go right now to find transport?

      Are these people immigrating or coming to visit? If they’re coming to visit, I bet there are plenty of online forums and sites that talk about visiting specific areas like Orlando.

      I went to Tahiti and Bora Bora on my honeymoon earlier this year and I spent literally days on Trip Advisor trying to figure the trip out. I was in the forums, reading reviews, and checking out what people said about all of the attractions. If I were you, I’d be finding those places and helping people out. It will help you to get clients directly and will also improve your SEO.

      Check this out:


      This site is in English but there has to be somewhere where people are trying to figure it out. Own those places!!

      When you do get clients, talk to them about the process they went through for finding transport. It should give you some great insights.

      And yes, work on the keywords you are able to find.

      1. Thanks Court for your fast, clear and smart approach…I had already done some work on this direction, but not persistent enough. Your words weigh more than my guesses, so I’ll focus on that from now on. Cheers.
        PS: I serve visitors coming on vacations 90%, business 10%. I take them from and to any place, Airport, Disney, Universal, Hotels, shopping, restaurants…and so on.

        1. Post
      2. Oddly enough I’ve been doing just that with Tripadvisor. I have a travel site which I use to promote my travel books. I used TA extensively before a recent trip to Burma, so on my return I’ve been posting extensive trip reports there and commenting- in a week, over the Xmas period, I’ve got 10 new email subscribers directly attributable to that campaign. It’s not a lot – but it’s a 10% increase to my list 🙂

  14. Hi,
    I have been reading a ton of your stuff and find it really helpful. I have one question that I haven’t been able to find the answer to yet….
    I am very new to this and my blog is teeny tiny. I know I have to make connections to other blogs the same or similarly sized, but my question is, how do I find them? I know all the big ones, who are wildly out of my league at this point, but if we are invisible on line, how can we find eachother?


  15. We have to work really hard to get traffic to our site, and perhaps the reasons you gave here are the ones that are responsible, really found the tips you gave here helpful and working on making connections with other people around the web.



  16. I just love this article and can’t agree more! A balanced approach between doing the fundamentals of SEO and recognizing the importance of real human connections through social media is the way to go. I find that many bloggers have no concept of SEO but they do a better job of social interaction and forming real relationships. Most internet marketers have been loathing the thought of blogging and social media. They see blogging as people just talking about their day or the funny thing their dog did.

    The smart ones get in both arenas and build businesses that last. I love search engine traffic but I have come to realize that my email list and my reputation are the only two things I can take to the grave.

    Thanks Court!

  17. Thank you for this article. Since I have just started a week ago I have allot to do. I need to write valuable content in my nichie with catchy title and searchable content. Also need help to develop friends in my nichie at my level of blogging. Also I need to learn the Seo strategy. Do you have any tips on making my blog sharing attractive on Facebook or other sites…

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