The Rocket And The Rollercoaster: Great Traffic Takes Time


Imagine that these are your two choices for a content marketing plan: a rickety rollercoaster with few unpredictable highs and underwhelming lows; and a rocket blasting off into space. The rocket starts slowly, but builds power behind it and rises over time, and eventually stays in space for good. The roller coaster jumps up and down with each new trend or tweak, is bumpy and unpredictable the entire way, and although it’s fun for a little bit, the ride ends too soon.

This should be a no-brainer. You would want the powerful long-term solution, not the unreliable short-term solution, wouldn’t you? Traffic-building is a long-term goal rather than a short-term achievement. The process requires the best of many different disciplines, and takes time to accumulate. Successful campaigns and their managers know exactly how traffic and website lifespans work, and how to build those results using SEO, marketing campaigns, and other tools. They also know how effective long-term solutions are over short-term attempts.

Core Values Change In The Short-Term

Content marketing and traffic-building are all about results, but how you approach those results will ultimately determine the overall success you’ll earn with your content. If you use a short-term approach, your content will be overly-optimized for current search algorithms and designed to do well now, but not necessarily later. As Michael Martinez from SEO Theory says, “it’s really NOT about the content – it’s about the package: low-budget, high-volume, non-unique value.”

Google’s recent Panda and Penguin search algorithm updates threw a wrench in current short-term strategies: when they were released, content that was gamed for short-term success was aggressively de-listed. Common short-term benefits are actively penalized under these new algorithms, and SEO marketers that made their business gaming the short-term now have to completely rethink their strategies. Panda and Penguin weren’t specifically designed to penalize short-term SEO, however; they were designed rather to reward better rankings to long-term SEO practitioners.

The Long-Term Approach: Content Worth Sharing

Long-term marketing, or “white hat” marketing, places natural value over instant results, in anticipation of better long-term results overall. There aren’t any clever tricks in the system, no shady tactics, no keyword-stuffing or link-buying or other tools “black hat” marketers use for short-term gains that eventually get penalized in SERPs. Long-term focuses on providing good content worth sharing that anticipates need and search trends.

This is the key to healthy, reliable traffic building for any website. What good is a bunch of short-term gamed content if it boosts your traffic results for one month before they drop off again? White hat tactics still involve keyword use and research, but instead of exploiting that data, it is used in moderation. Instead of ten or twelve, two or three keywords in a highly focused, informative piece of content might be used. Multimedia is also used more frequently to spice up pages and make them readable for viewers, and search engines will acknowledge the extra effort as well. Long-term content starts slowly, but picks up steam as its value is discovered by searchers and visitors.

Be Subtle, Be Informative, And Be Rewarded For It

A website filled with white hat, long-term oriented content will see results that grow exponentially. As your content grows, it will show up in search results more often, will be shared and referred to more frequently, and your offsite reputation will grow as your backlinks increase. Google and other search engines rank webpages based on intrinsic value, now more than ever, and your content’s reputation is far more important in the long term than short-term over-optimization.

Writing for the long term simply means that you write good, informative, high-quality content designed for readers first and search engines second. Your analytics data and marketing research are both still incredibly valuable, and can shape the direction and tone of your content strategy over time. New keywords may emerge and traffic trends may inspire improvements in your own practices. No matter what you do, though, writing for the long-term will ensure that your content soars into high search rankings as it ages, and will keep that space for longer; rather than bouncing up and down on the SERPs roller coaster with every tiny algorithm tweak.

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Andrew Glasscock is currently based in Nashville, Tennessee. He graduated with a BA in English, specialized in Creative Writing, with a minor in Marketing this past May. Along with copywriting, he loves being an improv comedian, playing frisbee, and dogs.

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