- Driving traffic to the book landing page through our YouTube channel
- Gaining organic Google traffic with the help of search engine optimization
- Building my brand as a writer and thinker, posting comments to relevant videos and participating in discussions on philosophy forums
These promotion techniques form our long term marketing strategy, as we try to promote University of Solitude to the world. In this post I’ll update you on the progress we achieved so far, and describe lessons I learned along the way.
But before we look at the numbers, let me stress once again the key characteristics common for our main promotion techniques:
- Following them can bring decent recurring traffic to our pages (new visitors day after day, without any additional work)
- They require a lot of work and time, but success can be achieved without spending a penny (investing a little will speed up the process though)
- They are based on “pull marketing”. Instead of pushing our message in front of potential readers, we try to be naturally found by them, while they search for relevant information on Google, YouTube, or other places.
Let’s have a look at the progress we achieved so far:
We have amassed more than 13,100 views on our YouTube channel. I purchased 12,000 views, trying to improve our ranking in YT search results (it cost $12), which means that we still got about 1,100 natural views for our videos. Not bad for a start….
I have uploaded 15 videos. Most of them promote the book directly (optimized for keywords like “books for inmates”, “books about prison”, “best spy novels”, “real life inspirational stories”, etc.), but some videos share a philosophical message, and aren’t intended to rank for any keywords.
We have achieved a decent progress for most videos, including a few top ten positions:
- “inspirational Christian stories” (nr.2, started as nr. 34)
- “solitary confinement stories” (nr.6, started as nr. 12)
- “best spy novels” (nr.4)
- “books for inmates” (nr.3)
While the rankings do not bring many natural views at the moment (they bring some though), I hope that as the channel grows older, as we add more new videos, the original, keyword optimized videos will rise in the ranking for both main and long tail keywords, which will result in a decent flow of recurring traffic every day.
Note: I described my YouTube ranking strategy in this post.
- On page optimization matters for YT ranking. You should place your keyword in the title, video description, tags, thumbnail, video file name (the mp4 file you upload to YT), etc.
- YT Searches differ strongly to Google searches. We managed to rank nr. 4 for “best spy novels” on YouTube, which reports 2,900 monthly Google searches. However, we got barely any views for this video, which means that while many people search for “best spy novels” on Google, just a few of them take the same action on YouTube.
- We suppose certain ranking difficulty correlation for YouTube and Google, which means that results achieved on YouTube will help us to determine how to succeed on Google, and which keywords to try to rank for there.
Search engine optimization
I describe my Goolge ranking strategy in this article. What I have done so far:
- I have built 35 links on 31 different content rich platforms (LinkedIn, Yola, Weebly, Webnode, Ted, Vimeo, Slideshare, to name just a few).
- 22 of these links have been indexed in Google so far (which means that Google counts them for their website ranking decisions)
- I have written more than 20,000 words of unique, average quality content, on the topics of imprisonment, solitary confinement, surviving prison, Iranian prison system, inspirational stories, etc. I can write pretty fast, but it still took me about 20 hours to write the content. I used the content while building the links.
- So far I have focused on free platforms only, spending no money while building the links.
- All the links point back to University of Solitude, I haven’t built any backlinks to this blog so far.
I submitted the website (and the blog) to Google Webmaster Tools. The free tool offers a lot of useful data for webmasters, and if you are serious about online marketing, you will submit your websites to GWT.
The data from GWT will help you to understand your search presence, and keywords you rank for. See the picture below:
People saw our website in Google search results 61 times during the last seven days. We didn’t rank high enough, outside of top 30, so we got no clicks for “real life inspirational story” and similar keywords, although we found ourselves within top 100 already. We got clicks for Matej Valuch and University of Solitude keywords.
We will need much better rankings (inside top 10), to get clicks and traffic from Google. Anyway, search engine optimization takes time, and I am satisfied with the results so far.
- Google is very picky about indexing the links in 2016. You need to write original content for your backlinks, otherwise you would be wasting time building them (only indexed links count and will help you rank)
Building my presence as an author and thinker
I’ve visited the philosophy forums every Monday and Thursday, and tried to answer a few new threads, using my real name. I also commented on relevant documents on YouTube after watching them.
It’s hard to measure the efficiency of this strategy. But if we take a look at the data from Google Webmaster tools again, we can see that people searched for “Matej Valuch” and “University of Solitude” 29 times during the last seven days. That definitely means that our activity on the internet attracts some interest. People want to know something about me, and that’s exactly what we try to achieve with this third promotion technique.
However, I’ll focus mostly on YouTube commenting (Ted.com, Medium.com commenting) in the future, since philosophy forums are pretty closed communities. Only a few people participate in the vast majority of threads (you can call them “forum veterans”). The veterans have posted thousands of replies over the years. They monitor the forum on a daily or even hourly basis, replying to each new thread!
A recent discussion thread with 500 views and 50 replies may seem like a great place to post your reply and try to promote yourself, but inspecting the thread closely you’ll realize that just five people participated in the discussion….
Considering the amount of time it takes to read a single thread and formulate a unique and useful reply, I don’t think promoting yourself in this way is worth the effort, for the audience is very small, and repeats itself from thread to another.
I will still continue visiting the forums on an irregular basis and reply to some threads. From now on, however, I’ll focus on YouTube comments. The YouTube audience is immeasurably bigger, plus it takes less time to post a useful comment on YouTube, comparing it to philosophy forums….
On the top of that, commenting on YouTube does not only help to build my personal brand—it also promotes my YouTube channel.
- Philosophy forums consist of a small community of active posters. They count for the vast majority of threads and replies. Considering the amount of time it takes to read a philosophy thread properly, and to post a unique reply (ordinary or copied replies have little chance to attract interest), it is likely not worth trying to promote yourself on the forums, trying to build your personal brand in this way.
- YouTube commenting attracts broader audience, and good comment (that receives upvotes and stays on the top) promotes your YT channel as well.
Traffic statistics from the website and the blog
We managed to attract 2,321 people to the Universityofsolitude.com website in half a year. The blog (moved to new domain on 1st July) attracted 246 visitors in four months.
That counts for 400 monthly visits for the website, and 60 visits for the blog.
The goal is to reach 3,000 visitors/month for the book landing page, and 1,000 visitors/month for this blog, plus at least 3,000 natural views for videos on my YouTube channel.
A newbie in internet marketing would say that we made little progress towards the goal. However, progress in internet marketing is rarely continual. Oppositely, you can have no views at all, until you achieve good rankings for keywords of your choice (e.g. top 5 in Google). Then the traffic will rise exponentially, sometimes from day to day:
The picture above shows traffic stats for one of my very first websites, started in April 2011. We had just a couple of hundreds visits in April, May and June 2011, and several thousands in July and August 2011. However, once I managed to rank the website for desired keywords, the traffic skyrocketed, and in March 2012 reached more than 100,000 monthly visitors…
Each project is unique and has some limits. Considering the nature of our book landing page, our niche, the blog, considering the competition and everything else, I know that 100,000 monthly visitors isn’t a realistic goal for University of Solitude, and nobody would ever achieve that feat with our website, unless they had a monthly budget of $10,000 to spend on ads.
But 3,000 targeted visitors a month, 1,000 for the blog, and 3,000 natural YouTube views each month, is definitely something we can achieve with minimum expenses, and I will continue working to achieve this goal.
That’s it for now folks. I hope you found some inspiration in the post, and will continue your own marketing efforts.
I never said it would be easy, but sticking to the right strategy for long enough will eventually yield the desired result. 95% of people give up and quit too soon. I hope you won’t be one of them! Have a great week and I’ll see you soon with the next post!