Kotovsky's recipe: a bike blog with 6,000 unique items!

Victor, hello. Not so long ago I noticed that your bike blog traffic has increased, now it is about 6,000 unique / day. Before that, I have never seen anything like this, especially at first glance it seems, well, what you can write about bicycles. And at the same time, commenting is also good, obviously not especially for search engines such a blog was made. Of course, you have other posts there, about life, so to speak, but still I don't quite understand how it happened. So I would like to ask you a couple of questions.

Hello Oleg, hello Daria and Yegor, hello life-trip readers. Thank you for the invitation, I will be happy to answer all your questions. To begin with, I want to make a little boring clarification - I rather have a website, not a blog. A blog is a web log, an online diary, where the bulk of the material is devoted to the author and his life. I probably won't have ten percent of such articles. Therefore, I think that my site is a publication aimed at visitors, that is, useful information, instructions, explanations, motivation, etc..

Leap Forward and Attendant 6000!

Leap Forward and Visiting 6000!

1) First, tell me who you are and where you are from?

I live in Estonia, in the city of Tallinn, I was born and raised here, Russian by nationality. To clarify, I noticed that the citizens of the Russian Federation look at us, former compatriots, as at some strange foreigners, vaguely calling them Balts. In fact, we are absolutely the same Russian people, we live almost 100 percent in the Russian information field, listen to Russian music and sit on Russian websites..

On the Internet, I am known for running a website dedicated to the spread of the bicycle virus. 🙂 In other words, I am the author of a fairly well-known resource in narrow circles, the main subject of which is bicycle and travel. The mission is gradually being implemented, more and more positive feedback - people find a new hobby for themselves, someone changes their worldview, and someone and the whole way of life.

I'm sure there are a lot of cyclists among your readers, they just don't know about it yet. 🙂 A bicycle is such a thing that you just can't help but like it: a person, sitting in a saddle as an adult, after a long break, feels delight, because it is freedom in its purest form.

Many do not even imagine that an ordinary person, not an athlete, can safely drive 60-100 km a day and not get particularly tired. This provides fantastic travel opportunities for people of all wallets. For example, I have traveled more than once with a budget of only five euros per day in Western Europe, and I felt great.

Imagine, June, Italy, you are rolling along a narrow provincial road, on the right are vineyards, on the left is a field on which sheep graze. The birds are singing, the sheep's bells are ringing, the breeze is blowing on you ... the soul rejoices! At such moments, you understand that all you need for happiness is your loved ones nearby and the road that goes beyond the horizon..

I sincerely hope that my site will help everyone who wants to rediscover the bicycle with accessible information, to awaken the spirit of the wanderer that slumbers in many of us. It is a pity that so far in our countries they look at the bicycle as a child's entertainment, but every year the number «infected» More.

2) Let's move on to site development. What is the recipe for your success? Can you highlight what are the main 1-2 things? After all, some are puffed up with all their might, they apply seo, promote, but for you it's just like a blog for the soul and without promotion.

First of all, I must say that a personal website is far from a debut on the Internet for me. I have been creating and monetizing sites for five years already, and before that I was working with forums and blogging. Therefore, when you know what to do, have a plan and do not fuss, then everything happens by itself..

In fact, there is no success, as webmasters see it, at least because there is no significant traffic on the site, 5-6K per season is, one might say, not about anything. First of all, the site was conceived as my own stool, from which I have the opportunity to read my opinion. As a result, I don’t use seo enough, I don’t buy links, I don’t promote myself in social networks..

I have a lot to say about the basic things for bloggers. First, the reason why the overwhelming majority of beginners do not achieve results is that they do not fully understand why they need it. At first, they, perhaps, amuse themselves with the thought of making money, especially after reading the finstrips of some well-promoted blogs. 🙂

But in seo, as you know, there is no money. And blogging too. Therefore, once they start making $ 50 a month from adsense after a year of blogging, the thought of getting rich disappears. The justification is immediately found: after all, a blog is just a hobby, not a job, and it should not bring money. And in the best case, the blog becomes a repository for reports on new trips - nevertheless, the accumulated several hundred readers do not allow you to simply abandon this business..

Therefore, dear beginners and continuing bloggers, if you say that blogging is a hobby for you, you will not achieve anything. If you say that you are not going to make money from it, you will not achieve anything. Blogging is really not a job, it is a business. Until you adjust your attitude towards it as a business process, you will not see serious results. When a blog becomes a business, then you will no longer have standard excuses like «I can't write without inspiration» - you have to learn.

Now the second. Newbie bloggers set the wrong goals. Blogging goals should not be expressed in terms of the amount of money or the number of visitors. Both tend to increase nonlinearly, while the drop in enthusiasm always occurs sharply and unequivocally..

The goal for a blogger is to occupy and master their informational niche, and ideally, to become its leader. Coming to the Internet to create another blog about Thailand without having strategic objectives is a deliberate loss of the most important thing - time and vital energy. Many, again, find an excuse in the allegedly received experience, but in fact, this experience will only give you the realization that you have not been able to achieve results in this area, when in fact - it could change your whole life, you come to it right.

Third. Fear of competition. I know that many do not really believe in the success of their blog, because there is high competition in the niche, and therefore from the very beginning they do not set ambitious goals for themselves, translating everything into a plane «for the soul». In general, competition on the Internet is a very capacious topic, and I will not even touch on it seriously. I can only say that judging the competition of a niche by the number of sites and blogs in it is the same as judging the competition of a search query by frequency..

In no case should you be afraid of competition, because there is simply no competition in blogging. For example, you, as a content consumer, have never had such a thing that you open the Internet in the morning, but there is nothing to read? Would it really be bad if a dozen fresh, relevant, topical posts appeared every morning in the information niche you are interested in? But this is not the case! Hence, the niche is free for bloggers.!

Bloggers are not competitors to each other, in any way. Until it comes to the point that several blogs completely fill the entire information space of a niche with daily, and even hourly publications, any newbie can break through, even on such a contentious topic as Thailand.

Fourth. You need to think not like a blogger, but like a publisher. Then there will come an understanding of your audience, and an awareness of the mission, and ideas for content, and much more, which the print edition cannot do without. Every publisher knows the holy rule «you do not sink - you do not burst» - this is me for excuses about the drop in enthusiasm and lack of inspiration. Think about it.

In general, Oleg, you can talk about the main features of blogging for at least the whole day, but since we have an interview format, not a lecture, we will limit ourselves to these four points.

3) Based on your words, I also get not quite a blog. Yes, personal life is covered here, but 70% of the material is information on travel and Thailand. But another question is of interest, what does it mean to think like a publisher? Move away from creativity / hobby aside «I write what the audience needs»?

Of course, you don't have a blog in the literal sense of the word. And by the way, the blog is positioned not only by posts about the author's personal life. The subject that attracts readers can be his personal opinion on issues, even those that are far from his competence - people just like to know the thoughts of this person.

A parallel can be drawn here when a famous singer or actor is invited on television and asked about politics and economics. He, without making sense of this, gives emotional comments, people like it, the rating is growing. Take Goblin (opera), his 80% is not search traffic, and I wouldn't be surprised if the bulk of search queries are related to his name and the name of the site. This is a blogger, he does not give any useful information to people, and nevertheless, the traffic is just freaky.

However, an online edition does not have to be just a blog or only a website, you can and should combine both directions. The ideal option is 50-60% of search traffic for information requests, from which the readership is formed.

You are absolutely right about the publishing mindset, this is primarily a departure from «a blazer for the soul» towards work for the target audience. Actually, you yourself have already started to deal with this - recently you publicly refused articles related to politics and other incitement topics. You have something to say on these issues, but you cannot write it on your own blog, interesting, right? 🙂 Nevertheless, this is a normal balanced position of a publisher who feels responsible towards their audience..

In general, thinking like a publisher means viewing your project like a magazine or newspaper. This automatically means that you cannot afford to depend on mood, inspiration and other metaphysical excuses. Hence - strategic planning, investing in the project (time or money) and a clear understanding of monetization.

4) Does the blogger need to write about anything personal? I've been posting finstrips, thoughts not related to travel, successes in terms of Yegor. You, as I know, are not a supporter of this.

Well, since we are talking about blogging, then of course we need to write about the personal. Another thing is the degree of disclosure, everyone chooses it for himself. I really am not a supporter of frankness about myself, but you are you, perhaps if you stop doing this, then some part of the audience will stop reading you. But in general, it is better if the personal on the blog is not about the life of your family, but about your attitude to something. Better to let people come to read your opinion than about your successes and failures..

As for finstrips, my attitude is: they should be published only by those who trade in success. If you are not selling your name as a guru, then it is better to keep silent about money. There are many more envious people than you think. Why give them another reason to be jealous, because you don't have any profit from this.

5) I looked carefully at your site again: there are no comments on social networks, no social widgets and apparently groups in social networks, a fairly simple template, there is no multi-level menu. That is, the impression of a simple small blog, which is clearly not conducted for making money. So designed?

I cannot say that I have ever thought about such questions. I just don’t have enough time to engage in social media activities. The maximum that I can devote to my site is a couple of hours a day, I still need to work. Well, just to create a group and repost your articles - what's the point, it doesn't give much effect.

On the design side, yes, that's by design, I love the seamless, minimalist design. There is nothing to distract from the content, and so far everyone said that the site itself seemed very stylish to them. As far as navigation is concerned, there is still work to be done. I don't organically digest dropdown menus, so my menu is simple. I sorted the main materials by topic under the heading Useful. In general, I advise readers to more actively use the search on the site, because he is looking for excellent.

6) A couple of hours a day ?! And pretty decent traffic at the same time! I understand that for the monsters of Internet business, normal traffic is in the tens of thousands, but for most bloggers 5-6K is already an achievement. I, for example, have to spend all my time to achieve my performance. And articles come out regularly with me, and I cover the necessary informational topics, what am I doing wrong? 🙂 Using my specific example, you can tell what the error is?

Well, probably with a couple of hours I lied a little, because I didn't count the communication by mail and social networks with readers here. It takes a lot of time, for example, 300-500 emails related only to my personal website come in a month. I try to answer right away so that blockages do not accumulate, then you can somehow cope with this.

As for the traffic, this is just a seasonal surge, and in June-July it will return to the values ​​of 3500-4000 per day. However, this is not so bad, considering that I began to seriously deal with the site only last April. I opened it in January 2012, but for almost a year and a half I did practically nothing, as I was extremely busy - I played the game DayZ, there was barely enough time for work. 🙂 Then he pulled himself together, and as a result - got some results.

You are doing everything right, Oleg, you just need a slightly more systematic approach. For example, the main mistake (in my opinion) of working with semantics is to write informational articles only on requests with a sufficient, in the opinion of the webmaster, frequency. I believe that you need to work not with disparate requests, but with information pools, in which requests are combined by meaning. For example, you have articles about the island of Koh Samui, some of them are written for regular readers, some are sharpened for clues. Each article is a blank slate for search engines, and in order to get traffic on these pages, they need to be displayed in the tops..

But there is also a workaround that can bring no less traffic, and often even more, without any promotion and promotion. First you need to go through the wordstat and collect the main keys, then sit down and, by brainstorming, identify all possible requests related to independent recreation on Koh Samui, in general - everything. And those that arise from people only looking for information about the proposed trip, and those that arise from longsters.

Don't look at the wordstat, think about how people can enter queries into a search engine, write down absolutely any little thing that you can remember. Frequency - to the light. After that comes the routine - to isolate informational directions for articles. There should be a lot of them, so some of them can be combined into one article. When writing text, sharpen headings and subheadings under the keys. All the little things that you wrote out in the process of brainstorming should be dissolved in the text - this will bring you a lot of longtails. At least one small paragraph in an article for such a mini-key.

Now the final chord - you have got a certain number of articles for a decent frequency and three times more - for a low one (according to the wordstat, even, perhaps, zero). The entire low-frequency automatically climbs to the top, because there simply will be no competition. You make a semantic linking from these articles to more frequent ones - this automatically increases them in the crescendo according to the mid-frequency request, and strengthens the site's trust in the high-frequency «Koh Samui island».

For complex semantic areas, you can apply this method: a large article is written for a large request, for example, «Samui beaches», in which you briefly describe all the beaches of the island, their pros and cons, remoteness, etc. After that, you write one separate article for each beach, but in detail, with a full layout, with photographs, maps, gps coordinates, and link from them to the main article. Articles about individual beaches are likely to go to the tops and pull the whole request along with them. «Koh Samui beaches».

By the way, other complex directions are also docked here, for example «Koh Samui hotels». A generalizing article full of correct semantics and links to it from the same individual beaches - and the request can go up, but even if you don't get to the first places, you will get a lot of low-frequency traffic that those who sit in the tops lose.

The main thing is that the search engine, instead of individual articles, will see a structured pool of queries related in meaning, completely covering this topic. This is trust, this is positions and this is targeted traffic. Moreover, I want to emphasize that this is not an ordinary internal linking, when the weight is chased from one article to another, but the transfer of semantic (semantic) authority from those that got to the top of the pages to those that are in great competition (articles for midrange).

Of course, many people know about this technique, but few people use it. People sharpen articles for competitive keywords, because of this they have to fight with terrible competition and buy links, which costs a pretty penny, and always threatens with filters from Google (and in the future from Yandex). I recommend thinking to everyone who follows the direct path of promotion: how are you going to move requests when the link factor will be minimized even on informational sites?

I believe that those who now invest in useful, well-structured and semantically consistent content will get a head start in the very near future. And by the way, content rich in search semantics is something that copywriters from the exchange cannot provide. Such texts can only be written by people who are deeply versed in the issue..

7) How do you choose the topic of posts, is there any plan or semantic core? And right there, do you use keywords in your articles? I'm just trying to figure out whether you yourself are betting on search traffic, or whether the readership is more important to you, or both are important at once..

Semantics is generally the basis of any site, and here I could talk for hours again, but I have to get away with general phrases. Specifically for my personal site, I do not work out the semantics, and I just rely on my knowledge of the topic - I write about what may be of interest to beginners or advanced cyclists.

There is one trick related to the semantics of the site - with the help of Wordstat you will never get really live traffic. You can write an article on a midrange query and even bring it to the top, but as a result, you will find yourself depending on the positions in the sickle. As soon as other sites push you out of the top, most of the traffic is lost, because for one key, say, 1000 visitors came.

My method is to write articles from the perspective of understanding the issue you are writing about. I can roughly imagine what my audience will be looking for in a search engine, and I try to saturate the text with such nuances. As a result, almost all my queries are low-frequency, I do not occupy particularly high positions in search engines, but the traffic is decent. In general, I sharpen articles for keywords, but I don't bother too much, probably 70% of the content is natural text.

Regarding which traffic is more useful for me. Of course, regular readers are more important to me, and here I can be proud that at least 40% of traffic is type-in, mailing list, social networks and links from other sites. It is very important to be able to convert casual visitors from search engines to regular readers. It also has its own techniques, both in terms of content and visual component..

Sometimes it happens that an article, sometimes not even particularly relevant to the main topic of the site, accidentally climbs to the top and carries tangible traffic. You need to wriggle out, but do it in such a way as to catch some of the visitors on this request and direct them to the main content. Look carefully at the page with the eyes of a casual visitor, given that the text is not read, it is scanned with eyes diagonally.

Put in the text stand-out boxes with links to other articles with provocative anchors, you can insert clickable pictures with an engaging image - in short, whatever you want so that the visitor goes through several interesting articles and understands that this is not just another article with a rewrite, but a live site with their audience.

8) Can you share other techniques on how to convert a casual visitor into a regular reader? That's right specifically, what can be done for this from the not obvious? Because the internal linking is now already used by everyone, and the majority of sites are such that it is immediately obvious that this is a blog, not a GS. I say because I recently went to the Blogun with Gogetlinks for interest, and there is just tin, and not sites, you can immediately see it even with the naked eye.

A casual visitor is a person who went to your site using a link, it does not matter whether it is a link in a search engine, on a social network or on a forum. These visitors can be roughly divided into two parts - a refusenik, that is, one who almost immediately closed the page for some reason, and an information seeker who is trying to find something useful.

People leave the page right away for two reasons - irrelevant content and problems with the site (loading slowly, advertising banner pops up, terrible design, small print). The second is easy to solve - it's a matter of technology. The first one is more difficult, because we do not know what is in the head of a person who clicked on a link to your article in classmates and immediately closed it.

Most likely, he is simply not in the mood to read, he does not need this information at the moment. Although the text is relevant to the title, it is not relevant to the mood of the visitor. Therefore, I would not fight for refuseniks, the main thing is that people do not leave because of problems with the site..

But you can work with information seekers. As I said before, people don't read text, they scan it with their eyes. Think of yourself clicking on links in Yandex - I think no one starts reading an article with 6K characters in all seriousness. You just slide your gaze, clinging to some points - heading, picture, subheading, sidebar, highlighted text, etc. This takes approximately 10-30 seconds. If «anchors» you are interested, you go back to the beginning and start reading.

Therefore, the content should be neat and structured: a capacious and catchy heading, short paragraphs expressing one thought form (2-3 sentences), explaining pictures, semantic subheadings that differ in the color of the frame, possibly with links to other pages. If you have a travel blog and a lot of pictures, then you must necessarily have captions for each photo, and not «this is a cat in bangkok», but something like «this is the same infection that stole the fish from Petit's plate». Give your readers emotion so that they don't just glide through the photos, but get a little more than a faceless image gives.

I wrote above about information pools, when in the limit of some subtopic all possible queries are completely covered. This is useful for search engines, and even more useful for converting a visitor into a reader. For example, a reader is interested in a trip to the same Samui, and goes through blogs in Google's crescent. Suddenly he stumbles upon your blog, which contains absolutely all comprehensive information, first-hand, with the author's personal assessments and a lot of photographs.

As long as the topic of Thailand interests him, he will remain your constant reader. And if you have enough neutral articles on your site about life, worldview and philosophy, then it is possible that it will become a virtual friend.

About the not obvious, well, it's you straight, like about a button «Loot» you ask. 🙂 Everything lies on the surface, you just need to analyze and experiment - different things are suitable for one audience. Well, okay, if you are interested in ambiguous solutions, then I can give you such an example - search «refuseniks» after clicking the cross, a banner with a subscription form is slipped.

You will laugh, but there is quite a good conversion, especially if you subscribe to some manuscript with an attractive title. The list of published articles is included in the mailing list once a week, and the conversion rate is quite good. I don't use this technique on my personal website, but not because of damage to my reputation, but just somehow lazy to do it, and I'm not chasing readers especially.

A small slider with links to interesting articles, which crawls out in the bottom corner of the page, when scrolling down, also increases the number of internal transitions (and, as a result, the conversion to regular readers). Again, I don't use it, but I know for sure that it is not particularly annoying for readers, but it gives the result.

9) It was very interesting to know your point of view on blogging and your approaches. The last thing I wanted to ask is, where did you get started with the sites??

It all started with the banal realization that I was trapped: I make enough money from my job, but I only have one month to live my life. Therefore, like many others, I typed in Google «how to make money online», I read all this disgrace for about six months, filtered and analyzed.

In the end, he began to act, chose a direction for himself - MFA, micronishe sites, sharpened for high bids in Adwords for commercial requests. I managed to catch this topic before she started dying. Further, after Google stopped loving such sites, I repurposed my activity to create content farms for YAN.

A couple of years ago, looking at all this lack of spirituality, I remembered that I am, first of all, a creator, and decided to open my own website. 🙂 My acquaintances of webmasters, whom I told about the plan to open a website dedicated to bicycles, twisted their fingers to their temples - we have one and a half people riding, besides, there are already several large bicycle forums, one strong collective bicycle blog and a bunch of bicycle publics on social networks.

I knew that I could not only fit into this market, but even become, sooner or later, a niche leader «For beginner cyclists». So far, I cannot assess my achievements, but judging by the feedback that reaches me, everything is going according to plan..

P.S. In my opinion, a very valuable interview and full answers. Victor, thank you, I learned a lot of interesting things for myself! Glad you took the time to write all this.