In this article, I’m going to dig into a personal example of mine, of a niche website that I’ve grown over the last 15 months. We’ll dig into the data quarter by quarter so that you have a clear understanding as to how many posts and approximately how many words you have to publish to start getting organic traffic.
What is the site all about?
First, let’s get some high level context of what this site is all about. This site was a passion project of mine that was largely just an SEO case study for me to experiment with some methods that I had been using in other spaces to see whether or not they would work in this space as well. I bought this domain off of the previous owner who had owned it for more than 10 years. And so what happened with the previous owner is he had let it expire so the domain was largely 404 for at least six months before I purchased it.
The reason why I bought an established domain as opposed to a new domain was because of the fact that this guy had spent more than a decade essentially building authority in this space that I was interested in. So rather than start from square one, I wanted to piggyback off of some of the good backlinks that he had accumulated over the years. That domain negotiation is a story for another time, but I was able to get a great deal for this site because he didn’t even know what he really had.
They were backlinks to this website going to even the New York Times when I purchased it. Ultimately, the goal for me with this new revamped version of the website was to provide informational as well as affiliate content in this particular niche space. To do so, I hired three writers to help me create the content for this site.
Now that we have some background context, let’s dig into the actual data about how things went for this site.
Q1: Jan – Mar 2020
in quarter one of January first to March 31st of 2020, pretty much I didn’t actually publish any content on this site until the month of March, much of those first two months were simply prepping the content for our big release and launch in March.
Whenever I launched a new website, I like to launch with a new piece of content every single day. This way the site has a strong foundation to build on top of in case the new visitors are looking at what sort of content to expect from the website. So what you can see on the screen here is that this site got 832 page views over the entire first quarter of 2020. That being said, what you’ll notice is that a little bit more than 700 of those page views were just to the homepage or to a 404 page on the website.
This anomaly in the data is likely because people were still trying to go to the own website when they saw that this site had come back online and so they were referencing the site from some old backlinks that existed for this domain. For the most part, though, you can tell that once I actually brought this site back online, the traffic was largely nonexistent for the entirety of the first quarter. By the end of this first quarter I had about 30 posts give or take and a hundred thousand words in content.
Q2: Apr – Jun 2020
At this point, you’re probably thinking SEO sucks, why would I even stick around? You’re not wrong I don’t think that at all. And here’s why:
In Q2 is when we start seeing the results of the pieces that we started publishing all throughout the month of March. In the next quarter, I had a ton of new content being published at a high velocity, sometimes having one or two posts every single day for the first two months of Q2.
This meant that by the end of the second quarter, I had pretty much tripled the content on the site. In other words, we’re at about 300,000 words of content on this website that is less than six months old since its relaunch.
During the second quarter, we got 4.2K page views, which represented over a 4X increase from the prior quarter. This is the equivalent of 5X growth from the prior quarter. So it’s really impressive. Again, I want you to remember that a ton of the page views in Q1 were noise just from past backlinks and things like that whereas the data that reflected in the second quarter, more closely reflected organic traffic that was coming in from all of the content we’ve released.
So at this point, we’re at a hundred plus posts and 300K words of content. And what we’re starting to see is the content flywheel is working. What this also means is that all of that content that we publish throughout the month of March started to actually rank on Google. And this likely was due to the fact that I had built this entire site off of a highly repeatable domain, as opposed to starting from ground zero. If you were starting a new website with no domain authority, it probably would have taken twice as long for these sorts of results.
Q3: Jul – Sep 2020
At this point in Q3 started laying off in terms of content production, because my writers were a little bit burnt out and I also was losing a little bit of interest in the project because I wanted to see how things played out in terms of the rankings before investing more money into content.
This meant that at this point, the site had about 360K words in content and 140 posts. During the third quarter, we got 10.7 pageviews, which still represented a 1.5X from the prior quarter. The lesson here is to keep going. Even if you have to take a little bit of a break, you should go ahead and do that, but figure out what sort of revised content schedule that you can still stick to in releasing a new, additional content to your sites.
There were two things that started happening during this quarter. First of all, I had just launched this YouTube channel when starting to get into that a lot. And then the second side of things is I was starting to exhaust the topics in the space that I could actually have content written about. And so by the time that Q4 rolls around, I pretty much exhausted the bulk of 80% of the topics that would fulfill this particular niche.
Q4: Oct – Dec 2020
Q4 of 2020 was a great recovery quarter because we were pretty much exhausting the final bit of topics that we hadn’t already covered over the first three quarters of the year. So we added about 60 new posts during this quarter. This meant that every single month we were adding between 40,000 and 50,000 new words of content to this particular in each site. When we reviewed the Google analytics, we can see that the page views also followed our content production.
During this quarter, we got 19.3K pageviews, which was still representing an 80% growth from the prior quarter. So at this point, in case you’re keeping track, I have about 200 posts on this website and half a million words and content. This was all done in a year’s time. And something else to note is that if you were just to take the average of 200 posts and half a million words in content, you can tell that the average length of my posts are at least 1500 words if not higher end on average 2.5K words.
This sort of longer form content is generally helpful because it tends to give people the impression that it is higher quality content and over a ton of studies that SEOs have done, they have found that longer form content tends to be shared more by people.
Quarter 5: Jan – Mar 2021
As we take a look at quarter five, which was the first quarter of 2021 at this point in time, the site was largely archived. I had largely shelved this project because it was highly unprofitable and it validated what I wanted to be validated for the test, but I wasn’t going to continue building the site to what it needed to get to in order for it to be worth my while. That said, though, I did add about 15 posts or so, and we saw a ton of growth during this time.
In fact, in Q1 of 2021, this website got 61K pageviews, which is a 2.1X from the prior quarters traffic. There’s a few reasons why I think this happened. But for the most part, I think is because a couple of the posts that we had released during Q2 of 2020 started to perform exceptionally well. In fact, when I dug more deeply into the Google analytics here, I found that our top 10 pages accounted for 70% of all the page views to this site.
At this point, we’re at around 215 posts and 520K words total. Since the end of Q1 2021, the traffic has only continued to grow for this website. That’s because a lot of the content push that we made in Q4 of 2020 is now starting to also perform really well on Google.
The key thing I hope you’ll notice I’m looking at this sort of data, is that it can sometimes take anywhere from one to six months for content to truly start ranking and performing well. This is because Google simply needs a few more data points to test your content against different variants of other people’s content to see whether or not you actually deserve the top spot.
There are two things that I want you to remember from today’s article:
- The first one is if you’re building something online and aiming to rank for SEO, just keep going. Keep making your content better, make it more authoritative, get backlinks for those, and then continue to level up your content. It’s only by doing so that your authority will actually elevate over time and reach that inflection point where you will start to earn those top spots.
- The second thing I want you to remember is I want you to answer commonly asked questions. They’re a great way to rank really easily. When I look at my Google analytics and I filter for just the, what keywords that I created content for, they counted for 46% of the overall traffic that this site got over the five quarters of data that we reviewed today.
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