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From 8 Million to 500,000 on Alexa, Fast!

This guest post is by Chuck Rylant of ChuckRylant.com.

The goal was to find a single resource—a roadmap or blueprint—to take my blog with minimal traffic and turn it into something significant. I was a few months away from launching a book and needed a platform to make it happen.

The problem was not insufficient information; the problem was too much information. The Internet is full of advice ranging in price from free to six figures, promising the answer. I did not want to become a professional blogger, but I wanted to learn enough to build my blog into something that could be taken seriously.

I decided to pick one product and stick to it. That worked, and it’s continuing to work. With a publishing schedule producing only three to four posts each month, here’s what I did to bring my blog, which was ranked at 8 million, to less than 500k on Alexa, fast.

31 Days to Build a Better Blog

There were many tactics that worked well, but instead of listing everything, here are the main points that likely led to the majority of results.

First I bought 31 Days to Build a Better Blog and decided to follow it exactly, even when there were times I thought the advice wouldn’t matter much. It turned out that those things mattered most.

For example, one of the steps was to create an “elevator pitch” for my blog. This did not result in a measurable or immediate boost in traffic. It was also difficult and boring to create. However, it turned out to be one of the most important steps.

Creating that elevator pitch forced me to concentrate on my audience and get clear about my message. It took me a week of brainstorming, writing, and editing, but that allowed me to be very precise with every message I write not only on my blog, but also in social media, guest posts, and comments on other blogs.

Analytics

There are several ways to measure blog success, and their appropriateness varies with your goals. My intent was to promote my book, but because it wasn’t for sale while I was building my platform, book sales would not work as a metric.

Instead, I needed data that I could measure to see results and keep motivated. I used Alexa to give me an arbitrary “score” and Google Analytics to measure actual traffic. I also used email opt-ins and the RSS feed as measures of my success.

Comments

I began commenting on several blogs. Initially I commented on any blog I could find, and paid extra attention on “do-follow” blogs—those that do not use the “no-follow” tag to prevent search engines from following comment links.

After a month of reviewing the analytics, I discovered something very important about commenting. It’s difficult to track the exact SEO benefit of each comment, but my best traffic has come from my most thought-out comments on other blogs.

I did not plan this, but when I ignored whether a blog was a do-follow or not, and instead commented when I was passionate about a topic, my visitors from those blogs spent on average four or five minutes on my on my site. That is a very long time on a website—especially when compared to traffic from other sources, which averages well under a minute.

Email list

Before beginning 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, I had an opt-in box on my blog that was connected to the RSS feed through Aweber. It offered nothing more than “Join to get the latest update.” As per the advice in 31 Days, I did two things that dramatically increased traffic to my blog.

First, I added a free PDF report bonus for those who subscribed to my RSS feed. It wasn’t a great bonus, but it was something that I had already written, and I wanted to get started rather than waiting. It’s easy to invent ways to procrastinate instead of moving forward.

Second, I added a pop-up box with the offer and opt-in box. Before the pop-up box, the subscriber-to-visitor ratio was .4%. I created a split test of the pop-up box with and without the PDF report bonus. Without the bonus, the ratio jumped to 2.9%, but with the bonus, it climbed all the way to 4.6%.

This was an important discovery. Not only have I grown my email list, but these people also receive an email every time I publish a new post, which brings traffic back to the blog and is often re-tweeted by subscribers.

Frequency

Daily posts are usually the standard in the blog world. I struggled with this approach for two reasons. First, I did not want blogging to become my primary pass time, yet I wanted to write longer and more in-depth magazine style posts. Second, my goal was to build an email list and I felt that daily emails were too frequent for my market, and would lead to a high unsubscribe rate.

Without testing, I have no way to verify this, but it really doesn’t matter because I do not want to write a blog post every day. Instead I committed to three to four posts per month, and I publicly promised this in my elevator pitch. Although infrequent, this consistency greatly improved my product over the random and infrequent posts in the past.

Cross-promotion

Finally, I took a macro perspective to posting and used all forms of media to cross-promote the others. I realized there was some overlap between blog readers, email subscribers, social media, and even my occasional in-person speaking gig; however, the overlap was small. Instead of assuming readers would see my message across all media, I assumed the opposite.

By cross-promoting my messages, I’ve grown all lists and increased readership. For example, I have messages that only go to my email subscribers. Occasionally, I refer my email subscribers to a blog post or a message posted on Facebook. This gets my viewers more engaged across different media and has been very effective at spreading my message.

In the end…

I’m continually learning and improving my blog. I did not set out to be a professional blogger, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to learn and use the tools that professional bloggers use.

My little success in a short time came down to one thing—following a clear and concise roadmap.

Before starting this plan, I was jumping all over the place and chasing the next bright, shiny object instead of consistently implementing the steps most likely to create the greatest results. Perhaps you’ve experienced that too. I’d love to hear your stories in the comments.

Chuck Rylant helps entrepreneurs manage their personal finances. He is also the author of How to be Rich: The Couple’s Guide to a Rich Life Without Worrying About Money.

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Comments

  1. I usually target 2 post at least per day to make sure my Alexa Rank doesn’t drop too much.

    • Hi. I’m writing mainly about my experience as a developer on Android Market on my blog (http://blog.plicatibu.com) but I usually publish 3 articles per month.

      I didn’t know one should release at least 2 posts per day to keep its ranking on Alexa.

      Could you please tell me where I could get this piece of information (and others that may help me improve my rank)?

      Regards.

    • iskandarX says:

      wow such a handy blogger you are. Actually I’m lazy blogger so I cannot maintain amount of post per-day target. May you give me some advise for it?

  2. Tim Soulo says:

    Hey Chuck, those are some really nice things to put your efforts in!
    I think you did a really great job of moving from 8M to 500K Alexa, especially considering that you didn’t have any previous background in blogging / online marketing.

    Actually I have a somewhat similar challenge right now :) I’m growing my blog from nothing to 100k monthly visits in 6 months, but I do have some experience of promoting things online & so I was able to get 90K Alexa in 10 weeks.

    That said, feel free to reach out to me for some help and maybe I’ll be able to share some of the tips that worked really well for me :)

    Cheers,
    Tim Soulo

  3. Tim Huntley says:

    What was the time period for the drop from 8 million to 500K on Alexa? While I understand that Alexa is not an absolute number, I admit that I like to keep track of where I am at (magnitude of moves and relative to other similar blogs). In two months since my launch, I have made it to about 650,000 globally and 55,000 in the US.

    Thanks,

    …Tim

  4. Fantastic tips. Thanks so much for sharing. I’m already doing a lot of this, but it’s always nice to hear it again from a slightly different POV, because I’m going to start doing this differently. I really need to get back to commenting on other blogs. I get so overwhelmed that that falls by the way side. 31 Days to Build a Better Blog was a fantastic change for me and I think I’ll do it again for both of my blogs – it’ll be a nice change to get back to the basics. I’m still working on building my mailing list – it’s hard to know what to say, but I’m getting there.

    Thanks again.

  5. “My little success in a short time came down to one thing—following a clear and concise roadmap.”

    i like this statement. i think that we must learn with the master. i also learn from the masters too. i always get infomation clearly than others. i think that i will be helpful when i consistent.
    thank’s for sharing. :)

  6. I am also not a professional blogger and average around 2-3 posts a month on my computer blog http://www.aminsolutions.com and post more frequently on my personal weblog http://www.chromiloamin.com. I also use Alexa to see my progress but am currently stuck at 5 million on Alexa for the computer blog and 23 million for the personal weblog. It’s been at 23 million for a long time and won’t budge. I thought post frequency would improve my ranking. Is it because I use Google’s Blogger for the personal weblog while I use WordPress for the computer blog? I am thinking of porting my weblog to WordPress. Did you determine if this played any role at all in your research and roadmap? I am also trying to promote an e-book http://www.aminsolutions.com/book and am using these blogs for my platform.

    • Chuck Rylant says:

      I don’t how much using WordPress played a factor. I understand it is very SEO friendly, but I don’t know how much that helps.

  7. Fred Tracy says:

    Nice! My journey into sub-500k Alexa land took a little longer than yours, definitely longer than a month, but I had some of the same realizations.

    One thing that I haven’t done is to create a pop-up box. I’m not sure I want to, because it seems pretty intrusive, but I might just do that.

    Thanks for sharing your story

    • Chuck Rylant says:

      I agree Fred. I was reluctant because they annoy me personally. That said the metrics don’t lie and I decided it was kind of like selling, there is nothing bad about bringing attention to something that may be helpful to the reader.

  8. Tory McBroom says:

    Plan to succeed! And thanks for sharing what worked for you Chuck. Some really good tips!

  9. suraj says:

    i too observed in Google Analytic the readers comes through the comments stay more time on blog and most of reader are loyal readers. Its help to decrease bonce rate.

  10. Sanjeev says:

    I have also felt that if you are able to get user socially engage, they tend to spend a lot of time on blogs. Using multiple media channel helps and 31dbbb is a great book.

  11. Mark Aylward says:

    Hey Chuck
    Nice and specific. All too often these types of posts don’t leave you with actionable items. The more I do this, the better the writing gets and the more I believe that very high quality at a lower rate of quantity is more effective. It’s also a lot more fun!
    Thanks
    Mark

    • Chuck Rylant says:

      I’m with you Mark. I’m doing much more writing and as you say, working on quality with actionable tips and less fluff. Great point.

  12. Lauryn Doll says:

    Great post!

    What I took away from it most was the increased audience in relation to quality blog comments, whether the site was “do follow” or “no follow.” By focusing on crafting the passionate, engaging response that comes from the heart, you’re more than likely to get responses from people who care, because you’re demonstrating that you care already.

    When it comes to looking at the overlap between media and the message, I like how you clarified how small the overlap is, which magnifies how much of an opportunity we have when it comes to engaging different people on various platforms. So many of us think that the blog is the beginning and the end. It really isn’t. Sometimes it’s easier to interact on Facebook, Twitter… YouTube…email and a number of other means.

  13. Comments have helped grow my readership the most. But, because of my consistent commenting, a lot of my readers are bloggers. I need to spend more time on social networks to connect with new readers.

  14. Thanks for this post. I liked how you broke it down in simple step by step points which could help out anyone from a noob such as myself to an expert. I also subed to your RSS. Thanks again

  15. Celine says:

    Thanks for the useful information. I am new to this and I will try out the steps you shared. It will be interesting to see how much my blog’s ranking will improve in six months’ time. Thanks again.

    • tiny blogger says:

      I am very very new to this blogging but i am enjoying it. This site is helping me alot on how to grow on my blogs. I will continue reading and learning thank you again.

  16. That’s pretty commendable progress! There are still so many kinks on my personal blogs, but perhaps trying out one or more of those listed will get me closer to my target goal.

  17. TV Rockstars says:

    I think the quickest way is to comment on other blogs.

  18. What was the time period for the drop from 8 million to 500K on Alexa? While I understand that Alexa is not an absolute number, I admit that I like to keep track of where I am at (magnitude of moves and relative to other similar blogs). In two months since my launch, I have made it to about 650,000 globally and 55,000 in the US.

    Thanks,

  19. Satrap says:

    Hey Chuck,

    Congratulations on your success.

    I think you touched on a very important point at the end of your post that so many people (especially beginners) need to realize.

    “…Before starting this plan, I was jumping all over the place and chasing the next bright, shiny object instead of consistently implementing the steps most likely to create the greatest results. …”

    I think thats the biggest reason why so many people fail at making money online. They keep looking for that magic tool thats gonna lead them to success. Of course there is no such tool and so they will never make any money.

    Thanks.

  20. dojo says:

    Posting daily, commenting in blogs and forums. In 7 days the Alexa rank dropped from 10M to 5M. Good tips, we just need to establish a good image and then traffic will soar.

  21. naijadotcom says:

    Great post,Thank You for sharing.

  22. James Greg says:

    Commenting on blogs gives a real leg up. Its the same as introducing yourself in a crowd and people will listen to you, but people would pay attention only if you have something worthy to deliver, or else the attention would be only a fraction of time.

    I too like to use Alexa as my inspiration the graph showing high spots really makes me feel good and it seems my hard work is paying off. I t feels great when people visit your blogs and leave comments, I would call that appreciation by your audience.

  23. Hello chuck,
    Taking one product and focusing on it is really a better way. It makes the way clear and simple!

  24. Grant Hughes says:

    I don’t think the majority of you understand how alexa actually works…Unless you are under 100k then alexa is wildly inaccurate and most of the suggestions in the post and comments make very little difference. The only thing that drives alexa rankings are users who have the alexa tool bar installed and visit your site.

    And generally the only people who have the alexa toolbar installed are webmasters…

    • Chuck Rylant says:

      I realize you are correct Grant which is why I used other metrics such as Google Analytics and Aweber opt-ins. Alexa did, however, give me one other measure that simply kept me motivated.

  25. Thanks for sharing your experience Chuck, 31DBBB is a great ebook/workbook, I would say it was the best one about blogging I ever purchased.

  26. Alain says:

    I dont trust Alexa. When I compare my site analytics with Alexa, I see the numbers going in opposite direction!

    That being said, I agree that cross promotion is mandatory to get a decent coverage!

  27. Sean Supplee says:

    I did 31 days to a better blog and get a lot of great info out of it. However Alexa ranks hardly mean anything to me as they are so easy to manipulate.

  28. I’ve just a few days ago started a new blog. So far (with my other blogs) I’ve only looked at the pageviews and unique visitors. But maybe Alexa rank could be interesting to watch. At this point the blog doesn’t even have an Alexa rank (and only a few posts ;). It’ll be interesting to see where it’ll be in Alexa in one month or so. I do think that Google page rank would be more “appropriate” measure, but it’ll take longer to change…

    Thanks for the idea to use a pop-up for the subscription form. I’ll add that soon.

  29. Tatianna says:

    I actually bought ” 31 days to a better blog ” and I am loving it so far. I am new at blogging and I found this guide to be very informative, and it’s helped me a lot to understand blogging in depth.

  30. kanchan says:

    Thanx for the tips for getting good rank!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. Kuttus says:

    Alexa is really doing good. I can find my site info easly. It is very helpful,

  32. Thanks Chuck for the great and informative post, specially pointing out on one important thing that traffic is all about good and informative content or things that readers would find it to their liking.

    Well, never mind the ranking, with good contents, your posts will do the ranking for your site.

  33. Joèl says:

    Just reading through some of the comments here… Lots of different opinions! Chuck, I appreciate the advice and think that the time it takes to do some of these things is worth it. Whether it does magical things to Alexa ranks seems debatable but it’s worth a shot.

  34. Bluemontoya says:

    Good tips! I’m still trying to rank high on Alexa, still stucked at 1,800,235. Got to keep working hard on it.

  35. Gian Samson says:

    Content is still king. Thanks for the tips. Hopefully I reach sub-500K soon.

  36. So in short the alexa rank is depend on the frequency of articles, I usually publish 1 article a day and I have a good alexa rank.

    IS

  37. Ray Speer says:

    I love the idea that you can rank high without posting something every day. I agree that with all of the information out there, it is hard for people to keep reviewing a post that comes out every day and may make the content not as important. Good luck and keep the GREAT information flowing to all of us!

  38. janwong says:

    Awesome leap you have there! This goes to show that you do not need to post everyday (which is exceedingly difficult if you have a day job) to be ranked. Dedication and commitment makes it happen.

    • Chuck Rylant says:

      Thanks for the kind words janwong.I agree with you, that it is dedication and consistent implementation on the things that matters most–80/20 rule.

  39. Kudos to you for the achievement. I, too, set out on a similar challenge last month. While Alexa, Compete, PR or whatever measuring tool you choose are not the holy grail, they at least provide some type of measurement to help you monitor performance of your blog. At the beginning of my 30 days my blog ranked 1.4mil in Alexa and PR0. Now 34 days later, my blog is 496k in Alexa and PR1. My goal is Alexa <50k and PR4 as a measurement tool. In addition, I use Google Webmaster Tools and Analytics for more in-depth analysis of my site. This gives me better insights to what my readers prefer and how many readers I am gaining… which is truly what I am trying to do… increase readership. Now, I just added this poor opt-in form on my site, begrudgingly, two days ago. Honestly, I need to work on the poor thing. It is really quite sad. Remaining consistent with my chosen tools as well as analyzing the wishes of my readership is essentially the road map I will stick to until it doesn't work anymore. It will be nice to see your next success and the book launch. Cheers!