Building Brands & Traffic Training - A New Exclusive Series

Today, you're getting to see something big.  Huge in fact. I want you guys to know about it. Yesterday, this was revealed to my VIP tribe of newsletter subscribers. They were the first ones to know before it was published on here and before I shared it on social media. After today? They'll be the only ones who know about it. You see, I'm starting a brand new series called Building Brands & Traffic Training.

But after today, it's only going to be available to my newsletter tribe. It won't be published on here and it won't be talked about anywhere else. You have to sign up to get it. So, are you in?

Recently, Tom & I sat down and really opened our minds up to where we wanted to take A Branch of Holly. We put steps in place to change the direction of this online space, which is why recently, you’ve seen a fewer amount of posts, yet far more words. This is what’s known as slow blogging, something I talked about in last week’s newsletter. Our plan now is to use A Branch of Holly to show our expertise and build a real audience. 

That’s great, Holly. But how does this actually tie in with your newsletter?

Good question! Well, because I want A Branch of Holly to be an interactive, learning resource for you, I’m inviting you behind the scenes and onto this journey with us.

Now it’s time to be honest. My blog is small. Very small. You only really see the big bloggers revealing their traffic and how much they’re earning to the world. I’ve got nothing against this – these people actually inspired me to start this series. But I believe that a small blogger doing this will empower all the other small bloggers out there to do something amazing. So, each week, Tom and I will be delving into our website, social media and engagement analytics, to see if what we’re doing is working, and help you to implement these strategies for your own personal or business website. We’ll break everything down in a minimal and easy to understand format and hopefully will help you understand your own situation and grow.

This is going to be an original experiment and I really want you to join in. I know that the strategies we implement on this website, you can transfer to your own too.  After todaythis will never

 be published on the blog again. It's an exclusive VIP series for people who sign up to my newsletter. You can sign up at any time. So, you want to join in?

How Are People Getting To Your Site?

Have you ever thought about how people are actually getting to your site? It's something really valuable to keep an eye on, especially when you're putting different strategies in place.

Last week, over 50% of traffic came directly, through people actually typing into the search bar on their browser; or they have it bookmarked. Direct traffic doesn't come through search engines or social media - users are actively typing the URL in because they want to visit it.

How Can This Help Me?

 Direct traffic used to be the lowest source of traffic until I started implementing an email marketing strategy. You don't need to have a huge audience to start an email list. Start by sending out your latest blog posts and include a link to your blog. If people click on it, that will increase your direct traffic. Then, if you work on a strategy to produce great content, more and more of your active users will want to come to your site out of choice, and therefore be more likely to bookmark it.

Why Are New & Returning Users Important?

Looking at your new and returning visitors allows you to see how many new people you're targeting through your blog. For people changing direction or even just starting a blog, it's something really important to keep track of.

Over 70% of visitors this week have been new. This is also the biggest percentage of new users I've seen come to my blog. What's great is that this reflects directly upon the content that was published this week - there has been the most shares in the history of A Branch of Holly. More people have been sharing my content through their own sites and social media, which means new audiences have been seeing it, hence the number of new visitors.                                           

How Can This Help Me?:

 The trick is to create content that your audience will want to share. Ideas for posts like this could be interviews, reviewing a blog each week, monthly round ups, or even something as big as my 101 best websites series.

How Long Do People Spend Reading My Content?

One of the worst things you can see when looking at your analytics, is when you've spent ages working on a blog post, and people have only viewed it for about thirty seconds. It's a rubbish feeling, because we all want people to read the content we work hard to create. But there's always a way for you to narrow down why.

This week, the two posts published have received the longest views ever. For the first chapter in the 101 Websites Series, the average time spent on that page is over 7 minutes. 

And for the earlier post about improving your Twitter profile, people were spending over 5 minutes reading that. This shows that people who visit A Branch of Holly are enjoying the content and finding value in it. But there's something I wanted to clear up here with all of you. 

Bounce rate.

How Can This Help Me? 

So for those of you who don't know, bounce rate is whether people land on your website and leave, or they land on your website and visit a number of pages. So having a high bounce rate is bad, because users are going on your home page and then leaving. A low bounce rate is good, because people are viewing different pages on your site in one visit.

Many people think it's bad when they see they've got a high bounce rate on a blog post. But think about it - when you're directing people to your blog in general, you'd hope to have a low bounce rate. If you're directing them to one post, does it really matter when you ideally just want them to read that post in particular? Don't get worried when you hear the word bounce rate. It's good to keep an eye on, but for some purposes, it's not as important.

Experiment: Let's Look At Word Length

Something I want to talk to you about in this section is word length. When I started blogging, from what I read, I got the impression that blogging every day up to 500 words was great. So I did this for a long time. But as my direction changed, I had more to talk about and more words were being produced. But how did this affect my traffic?

December 12th
Blog Post Published: Moments of Happiness
Word Length: 445
Visits: Very few

January 8th
Blog Post Published: Basic Career Advice
Word Length: 777
Visits: Nearly double more than December

February 3rd
Blog Post Published: 10 Things That Happen At The Start Of A Relationship
Word Length: 32
Visits: Less than January

March 19th
Blog Post Published: Six Signs You Should Quit Your Job
Word Length: 1500
Visits: Over 40% more than February

April 14th
Blog Post Published: How To Really Up Your Twitter Game
Word length: 2000
Visits: Around the same as March

May 5th
Blog Post Published: Buffer - Why Do People Love It So Much?
Word length: 1200
Visits: Almost double  compared to April & March

Apart from some small variations, the answer to this experiment is clear – the longer your content is, the more views it will get. This may not ring true for everyone, but I’m certainly an example of when this has worked.

How Can This Help Me?:

 Try writing longer pieces of content, even if it means cutting down your posting schedule by a day or two. Keep an eye on your results in terms of views, engagement and newsletter sign ups and see if it has the same benefits.

What About Social?

It’s no secret that traffic and engagement rates have been higher on the days when a blog post goes live: Tuesday and Thursday. But why do I publish on these days? Well, research has shown that Tuesday is the best day for publishing content, and then the days decrease in importance as the weeks go on. To break the week up, I chose to publish a second time on a Thursday, and so far, it’s working out well.

In this series, I also want to talk a little bit about social media presence and leveraging that with your blog. For me, I've found that these two go hand in hand. Some of us can be very wary of self promotion and I agree, there is a limit. But we’re all in the same boat, aren't we? With that mindset, you can only use this to your advantage.

Many of you will know that I've been working hard on my social media strategies recently, especially for Twitter. This is starting to pay off as this week, over a quarter of my traffic has come through social channels. What does that mean? Self promotion is worth it guys!

Unsurprisingly, Twitter is the channel where the majority of social traffic has come from.  These are really great results to see, especially when a new strategy is implemented. But what did surprise me, was seeing that the next highest source of social traffic was from Pinterest.

It’s also the second highest source of referral traffic this week, which I’ve never seen before. There are a few possible reasons for this, and these are what you can take away from this point.

How Can This Help Me?

 Try and set yourself up for rich pins. They help to make your site look more authoritative on Pinterest and more trustworthy, meaning more people are likely to pin your content.

Then it’s time to go on the hunt for group boards. I only just joined one this week and after pinning two of my posts in there, Pinterest is this week's second highest source of social and referral traffic. I’ll be honest – I didn't really believe people with all the hype about Pinterest being such a big referrer. But once you see the results for yourself, you’ll know it pays off.

So I hope you enjoyed the first post in this secret newsletter series, and I hope you continue to follow along on this journey and start implementing some strategies for yourself. If you want to sign up so you never miss an issue you can here:

Do you have any thoughts on these stats this week? We'd love to know your thoughts so let us know what you think!

Holly & Tom