Lost, Beaten, and Need Some Traffic Advice

24 replies
I have been at this for years and I have had some luck, spent thousands of dollars and today wading through SEO experts and WF again I still am not sure what the right moves are anymore.

I own MilPages and it's a great site. We have about 20 writers, run a fairly successful FB page, have a twitter, pinterest, and even Tumblr account/presence. We are active in promoting on social media, built links, and I have been reading these forums and others for years. I feel like I am fairly knowledgeable on marketing.

I mean I get the basics that everyone always says: build links, content is king, social media, PPC, article submissions, PR's, directories, and all the jazz. We do it ALL. We have hired some professionals to even assist along the way.

Today we still only average 500 visits per day which is a drop in the bucket. We are coming up on 2 years of working this thing so it's not a new website (owned since 2008). We are even expending into new content areas which obviously should help, but I need more.

Something isn't happening here. By now with everything I have been doing I would think even 1000 visits a day wouldn't be too much to expect. I am reaching out, looking for what I am doing wrong and what I am doing right.

I want to hire someone that would do SEO monthly on autopilot, but I don't want to hire someone that is going to do a couple link wheels and be done. I don't want someone who is going to drop a couple hundred links and hope for the best. I am looking for a professional that has my concerns at hand. I know, I know...good luck.

Can anyone on the forum give me some useful direction? What am I missing? What would you do with this site if you were in my shoes. I got a few thousand dollars to use, but I want to use it wisely. Biggest bang for the buck kind of thing. I want to build our newsletter subscription, amp up our daily visits, and really excite our writers that LOTS of people are checking out their content. I also want to explode our forum into something exciting.

Anyways, maybe you can offer some advice? I want to go from average to well-known.

Signed,
Beaten & Lost
#advice #beaten #lost #traffic
  • Profile picture of the author Newbieee
    Maybe look at the For hire section regarding the SEO guy part?
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    Pain is a perception, so is defeat & happiness!
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    • Profile picture of the author beanfan
      I do everyday. I haven't found the right SEO guy yet. Got one that fits my needs and you would recommend?
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      • Profile picture of the author Mission0ps
        Hi bud I had a quickie look at your site and sent you a PM -
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        • Profile picture of the author beanfan
          Originally Posted by Mission0ps View Post

          Hi bud I had a quickie look at your site and sent you a PM -
          Thanks, I don't think I can get PM's just yet. It's what I get for being a lurker I guess.
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          • Hi Beaten & Lost,

            Who says you are beaten and lost? The fact that you realize you might have a problem and are seeking help means you are far from beaten or lost.

            Having said that, I hate to be the bearer of negative vibes, but balancing aspiration with realism is important in business.

            So I'm wondering: what research you did before you started this site?

            You see, there are certain classic 'evergreen' markets if you want to make money on line, but I don't think 'military' in the way you are doing it would be one of them..

            What is your aim with the site? Is it to make money or simply keep it as a hobby site?

            I also feel that, coming from South Korea, which is pretty much on a war footing, may be coloring your judgement and you are assuming the same level of interest in the USA, which seems to be the focus of your site, among the general population.

            I fear that isn't the case, because they are probably more interested in the price of gas, the general cost of living and unemployment (and therefore interested in the 'make money' niches) or want to lose weight (which is why the 'lose weight niche is so vibrant).

            It's significant that there are hardly any comments posted on your site, which signifies you aren't lighting a fire under the visitors that you do have.

            I'm wondering - if you want to have a site that makes money - you should keep this site as a 'hobby' site and invest you spare cash and the team of people you've built up in a more viable market and niche.

            As one of our UK Prime Ministers once famously said: "You can't buck the market.", meaning if the demand isn't there you can't conjure it up out of thin air.

            Sorry to be so negative, but sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.

            Warmest regards,

            Paul

            P.S. If you never speak to me again, after this, it's been nice knowing you!
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            • Profile picture of the author beanfan
              Paul, great feedback, but you are having some assumptions in your post. I am in South Korea because I am stationed here...hence military. There aren't many comments on the site because we don't have a lot of traffic. The military is the most stable and financial ready source of commercial sales in the world. All are employed, and all are interested in buying something. Our facebook page a long is a lightening rod of success and a lot of conversation.

              Now with that said, I am thick skinned and I hear the undertones of your posts, but the issue is not reaching my audience.

              I picked this niche because with almost 20 years in the service I feel like it's a subject I can approach. It's one of the most under utilized niches out there because competition is not easy with sites like military.com. It's an online magazine, forum, and store. We make money, don't underestimate that. Our issue is we would make a whole lot more of it but that takes traffic. I need to find the bridge from today to tomorrow.
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            • Profile picture of the author beanfan
              Oh I forgot to add, I am not targeting the general population. I am targeting the following:

              - 2.4M Active Duty, Reserve, and Guard troops
              - Their families
              - Thier supporters
              - All the veterans that have retired since 1945
              - All the people who will join.

              Take that all in consideration and my audience is at least 10M. They all have jobs, they all buy stuff, and they all love reading about what affects them.

              Now how do I connect my content with them? How do I come up in google against some of the titans? Those are the answers that this problem needs. We already make a good chunk of money as I said so there is plenty of reason to confirm this is not a hobby site.
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            • Profile picture of the author Disruption
              Originally Posted by Paul Hooper-Kelly View Post

              Hi Beaten & Lost,

              Who says you are beaten and lost? The fact that you realize you might have a problem and are seeking help means you are far from beaten or lost.

              Having said that, I hate to be the bearer of negative vibes, but balancing aspiration with realism is important in business.

              So I'm wondering: what research you did before you started this site?

              You see, there are certain classic 'evergreen' markets if you want to make money on line, but I don't think 'military' in the way you are doing it would be one of them..

              What is your aim with the site? Is it to make money or simply keep it as a hobby site?

              I also feel that, coming from South Korea, which is pretty much on a war footing, may be coloring your judgement and you are assuming the same level of interest in the USA, which seems to be the focus of your site, among the general population.

              I fear that isn't the case, because they are probably more interested in the price of gas, the general cost of living and unemployment (and therefore interested in the 'make money' niches) or want to lose weight (which is why the 'lose weight niche is so vibrant).

              It's significant that there are hardly any comments posted on your site, which signifies you aren't lighting a fire under the visitors that you do have.

              I'm wondering - if you want to have a site that makes money - you should keep this site as a 'hobby' site and invest you spare cash and the team of people you've built up in a more viable market and niche.

              As one of our UK Prime Ministers once famously said: "You can't buck the market.", meaning if the demand isn't there you can't conjure it up out of thin air.

              Sorry to be so negative, but sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.

              Warmest regards,

              Paul

              P.S. If you never speak to me again, after this, it's been nice knowing you!
              This. Follow the advice here. As harsh as it is, it's true.
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              • Profile picture of the author beanfan
                Disruption please refer to the 2 posts above yours. The advice given to me is neither harsh nor true. If it was military.com would of packed it up years ago.
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  • Profile picture of the author david carr
    It's a very nice looking site, do you do keyword research or do you just write and post articles that you think people will enjoy reading and how do you track your rankings?

    Regards
    Dave
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  • Profile picture of the author beanfan
    Dave, thank you. We just went through a major overhaul about 3 weeks ago. We don't do keyword research or anything. We write about what is going on, opinions, and other types of content. Sense this isn't an "Adsense" type of site I haven't done that.

    I don't really want to "SEO" the content because then it changes the mindset of the authors writing it. I want to focus on the right type of link building and exposure without changing the content.
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  • Profile picture of the author david carr
    I've found that you can still write about what is happening AND what people are looking for.

    What type of backlinking do you do at the minute?

    Regards
    Dave
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  • Profile picture of the author beanfan
    Dave we have done article submission, PR, blog commenting, social media. We have done all of those in the last 30 days. We need better work done. Someone who is going to really cater to our needs and give us the SEO work over so we can start pulling the real organic traffic. So at the moment nothing. I need to get on the horse again.
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  • Profile picture of the author David Moore
    Hi fellow warrior, beanfan you are a true warrior. Never give up, seek the problem, analysis, search for every possible answer. I believe you will find the answer soon.
    From my quick analysis, I think you need a quality SEO expert who have the experience to increase page rank and page view. Have you ever tried to find the "right person" outside the general way. How about elance, odesk, freelancer, iWriter, etc. It is a matter of luck, so try it rough and you will eventually find a diamond writer in there. How can I be so sure? been there done that.
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  • Profile picture of the author david carr
    I'm sending you a PM

    Regards
    Dave
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  • Profile picture of the author beanfan
    David Moore, thank you for the kind words. It would take a lot to deter me from this. I believe in it that much. I have tried probablt 10 different "professional" SEO people from all over the place to inlcue freelancer.com and elance. None have been able to hit the right tone and get us taken care of. Maybe I will find the right one eventually.
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  • Profile picture of the author Malcolm Thomas
    Stay positive and remember to never give up.

    I don't think that you are "beaten and lost".

    I think that you are making the smart move by seeking help now before the problem gets worse.

    I wish you the best of luck in your journey.
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    • Profile picture of the author DABK
      There are two ways to get more traffic: get current visitors to recommend your site (a post) or get people to find you on their own (no one recommending the site).

      I read the article:
      Resume for Life: Establishing Connections as a Military Spouse

      It looks daunting... The paragraph are too long for online... and too close in length.



      And I think it would work better if it were either a 'my story' kind of article or 'here's what you do to come ahead in situation x' type of article.


      If it were the latter, it would have a list, bullets... it would be easier to read and see the benefits.


      If it were the 1st type, it would be more personal....


      I've never been to a military base, or moved around like the writer describes, but I'm betting, within that sub group (military spouses), there are even smaller sub-groups (by age, by number of times they changed base, by kids or no kids, by education).


      This particular article doesn't target any and, I think, not engaging strongly any group.


      And you need catchier titles.


      You could add calls to action to your meta descriptions.
      From:

      The first few months to a year of any marriage can be difficult or so I've been told. When you're a military spouse, it usually seems downright impossible.


      To:


      The first few months to a year of any marriage can be difficult. If you're in the military it's worse. Read this article for tips to make that period better.


      Resume for Life: Establishing Connections as a Military Spouse|Milpages

      This is the url of one of your pages, it's about military spouses

      Why are the urls numbers? I read what you say about SEO, how you don't want the writers to feel. But, if you made them be the title, you'd improve your SEO.

      These are the meta keywords for that page:
      moving, military spouses, employment for military spouses, military frienships,starting over, pcs moves, ,employment for military spouses,military frienships,military spouses,pcs moves,family
      moving, family don't help

      military spouses, military spouse, military wives, military wife, and the others help, longer versions would help even more... And your writers would have no SEO constraints imposed on them.

      This is the url to one of your images (on the military spouse article): <a href="http://www.milpages.com/blog/6481973/mainimage1-636x394" rel="attachment wp-att-6481974"><img src="http://www.milpages.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/mainimage1-636x394-300x185.jpg" alt="Leaving always means starting fresh." width="300" height="185" class="size-medium wp-image-6481974">


      If you named the image using a keyword: 'military-spouse' not 'mainimage1-636x394' and added alt="Being a military spouse means you need to learn to start fresh", your SEO would further improve, without the writers being constrained in any form or shape.


      There are many things you and do, SEO-wise, that work in the background, do not interfere with the writing...


      All you'd have to do is have a list of good keywords to go after ready...


      Overall, you either do SEO or you get very active on social media and, then, you have to have more targeted, more useful articles...


      And lower the writing level (the article I mentioned above is at a 12th grade reading level, should be 7th or 8th: Readability index calculator).



      Again , I'm basing this on the home page, a post, and a news item.



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  • Profile picture of the author 8485marketing
    Just a thought, I know you've said you've done PR work, but did this include any 'offline' work. Sometimes getting the best out of something online means putting in work offline. Maybe you could get yourselves directly involved with offline support group, military academies, recruitment offices and wherever else people 'hangout' and consider military services.

    I know nothing about the military and how to monetize more effectively, I am merely passing a marketing observation. I am hoping you can add your nouse and experience to provide an effective offline method.

    Best of luck with it though, I wish you continued (and improved) success.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sarevok
    Awesome niche. I used to have a sweet little politics blog, but eventually I let it die out. So, is my advice really worth anything to you?

    (I have researched and put a lot of thought into it, for whatever it's worth).



    I'm going to give you some advice based upon my personal observation of those in similar niches but more popular.

    Take notes:

    1) Build a list PROMINENTLY. Get people on YOUR LIST IMMEDIATELY. (This includes popup optin, optin in every article, and sidebar optin)

    2) Start emailing your list with every new post (if you find that to be extreme, email them ONCE per day with a summary of new posts)

    3) Promote "prepper" and "green energy" and "identity theft" niche type offers in your email to make money
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  • Profile picture of the author Sarevok
    PS: If you're suffering from tiny quantities of traffic (and can't viably collect opt-ins quick) I would also create videos summarizing each post on YouTube.

    Get someone attractive or with charisma to make the videos on topics that are very popular and potentially viral.

    EDIT: You also want to be covering very controversial topics on your website.

    Controversy creates discussion.

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  • Profile picture of the author MartinPlatt
    Are you doing any testing, to see which of your efforts worked?

    Who are you actually targeting as a reader? It looks a little like a news site, so I'm unsure who you think you're going after as your target market?
    What would that person visit your site for, as that doesn't appear to be too obvious?

    Do you have a unique aspect to your website? If so, what is it? What makes you better than the rest in this niche?

    I think that you need to find your niche, maybe even tighten it up a little, be more specific to start with perhaps? I think you need to find how to build a relationship with your readers, as it currently just looks like a bunch of news, but to be honest doesn't look much different from any other news site.
    What issues, or pain are the people who read having? What is it that they want to know, that you can provide answers for? How are you making your readers' lives better?

    With those answers, you might also find that your SEO efforts are easier, as the content would better fit what the readers are expecting. Also with a more specific niche you can better target your readership. If that niche or angle is slightly unusual you may attract more people due to that fact.

    Clearly if the social proof is real, and not purchased, there is definitely a following out there. Perhaps controversial posts would help, something that stands out a little?

    You'd obviously have to test my speculation, as I have absolutely no idea about your niche. Just general observations.

    If you're looking for something to tell you how to test, try this:

    How To Test With Google Analytics Experiments - YouTube

    I wouldn't give up yet, until you know why it is that you're finding things hard, and that you've tried different ways to improve the situation. Testing and finding yet better ways to do things can only be good for site improvements, and your goals - traffic.
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    • Profile picture of the author beanfan
      Thanks everyone for your replies. It was nice to wake up to. I certainly appreciate the one talking about the writing. This is where I might need to find a good editor to bring in so the content can get better. I have noted that one.

      Narrowing down thie content is key and it's why we are getting branch specific in the coming weeks. We have started already but it takes time. I will take in all this advice to include some google analytics comparisons. I am willing to try anything at this point to get us rolling in the right direction.

      The FB numbers are real. Those are highly targeted people that liked our page and are avid readers of the site. Those are not Fiverr gigs or anything, it took us about 60-90 days to get those 13K likes.

      I will keep reading, pick my head up and get back into the fight. This website will be one that makes it! Thanks again to all replies.

      Adam
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