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Growing organic search with content is like planting a fruit tree

All websites want their traffic to increase. This can be achieved with email marketing, social media (paid or organic). Google Ads or other types of ads but most of them will need an ongoing financial investment and all of them will need an investment of time.

The easiest way to grow your traffic over the long term is via organic search. And these days, 95% of organic search traffic comes via Google and even with Google's regular redesigns pushing the organic search results further and further down the page, quality content for popular keywords still delivers consistent traffic to your website.

Q. So when is the best time to start building your content? 

A. At least 5 years ago.

If you have ever planted a fruit tree, you will know the answer to this question. The first couple of years bear very little fruit while the tree builds up its strength but a few years later, you'll be making plum jam, plum sauce and giving bucket loads away.

There is a Moz metric called Domain Authority (and another metric called Page Authority) which are indicators of how well your page ranks against other similar pages. To illustrate this simply, if you write an article on your private website on an historical figure and the article is much better than the Wikipedia page on that person, you will never rank above Wikipedia because the Wikipedia Domain Authority is so much higher than yours.

So how do you increase your Domain Authority?

There are some basic things that need to be in place. The website should be mobile friendly and all the other basics of SEO should be in place (for example, meta titles and descriptions in line with page headings and URLs). But by far the best way to increase your Domain Authority is by adding informative content to your site on a regular basis. If there are other websites within the same topic area (with a higher Domain Authority) linking to your articles then that is even better.

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Why do some articles take off organically and others don't?

This is easy to see in hindsight but not so easy to predict ahead of publishing the article.

- Obviously the article needs to match popular search terms on the topic.
- The article must be timely. There should be few other articles on the topic at the time you publish.
- It's a bonus if the article references a term that is new, awareness of which is growing.

Some examples? The traffic below is for an article I write at the start of 2015 about a new phenomenon called "Ghost Referrals" which was affecting many Google Analytics accounts with spam date. The image shows that the article started ranking well organically almost immediately and then a link to the article from a Moz article caused another surge of referral and organic traffic later in the year.

Content Fruit Tree - Ghost Referrals

As the issue was addressed by Google, then traffic to the article declined. This is an example of an article which does not deliver traffic beyond its natural lifespan.

The next example is an article where a relatively unknown term was used. "A Leagile Strategy" by my colleague Ian Gray discussed "Lean and Agile", using a term that was not in common usage. This article gets regular organic traffic from all over the world as shown below - without ever having had a surge given the relatively low number of searches.

Content Fruit Tree - Leagile

Traffic to the page has come from 69 countries and Google Search Console shows that the article is in the top 10 for searches of "leagile" in 70 countries.

The next article an example of a slow burner. I wrote it on "Google Analytics Goals and Regex" when I was setting up goals with regex for myself as I believed others would find it useful. The article spent a fair time getting very little traffic and then it slowly improved its ranking until I noticed that it was one of the most popular blog posts.

Content Fruit Tree Google Analytics Goals Regex

So that's 3 articles from our own blog with examples of content that worked for us.

What effect can this content promotion have over a long period? Well here are 3 more examples. Firstly what happens when you have strong organic traffic but don't add to the content and allow yourself to be overtaken in rankings. As you can see the traffic peaked around 2015 and has been dropping since - such that 2018 is below 2013.

Content Fruit Tree Google Analytics Goals Regex

The next example is for a website that has excellent content and site structure and ranks for a very large range of keywords. However not much new content has been generated since the new site was launched in 2015. As you can see, organic growth has been impressive due to a high Domain Authority and gaining traffic from all over the world - but there is still room for even further growth if the content is updated more often.

Content Fruit Tree Google Analytics Goals Regex

The final example is the best one of all. This is the organic growth of Tui Garden (visit this site to discover when to plant a fruit tree in your location) who embarked on a strategy to consistently grow their organic content a few years ago. Their organic traffic now is around 5 times what it was in 2013 and the increase in Domain Authority means that new articles can rise to the top of search rankings relatively quickly. 

Content Fruit Tree Google Analytics Goals Regex

The page is an example of a new page shooting up the rankings. From being published in August, look at the rise in organic sessions since then - in just 4 months.

Passionfruit Content Fruit Tree

The page was ranking at 7-8 in September and now for the same searches it is ranking 1-2. That is a single page delivering around 2,000 organic sessions in the past month. That's a huge saving in effort and money if you used Google Ads to deliver the same results. 

Please contact me on LinkedIn or Twitter with any questions.