WHY ISN’T MY CONTENT GETTING READERS?
The truth is, most of the time, you are going to find yourself writing articles that nobody will read. You may spend an hour or two putting out a very informative article, to see nobody has actually visited it at all. There are so many reasons for this. Understand that this doesn’t make you a bad writer or not cut out for this sort of thing. It’s usually because of reasons out of your control. Here are a few:
- The content is old. If you’re writing about your favourite game as a child back on the Nintendo 64, nobody is likely looking for that anymore. Maybe a few people are, but even so, you’re trying to compete against other sites which wrote a similar article maybe even 10 years ago. It’s all about ranking high on Google, and trying to compete with older content is difficult. How many people are searching “best Nintendo 64 game” now-a-days? Not many.
- Your work isn’t ranking on Google. Pretty much 90% of our websites traffic comes straight from Google search. If an article you wrote isn’t on the first page of Google, then it likely won’t bring in any readers. There is a funny saying I read once online, which was “the best place to hide a body is on the second page of Google”. If content hasn’t been covered before by other sites, you can usually expect to see it on the first page of Google within 12 hours of publishing. That’s usually how often Google scrapes our site to check for new content. If something you wrote about has already been covered by Polygon for example, there isn’t a chance of your work outranking it. Google uses an authority scale to work out which websites to rank higher, and we’re lower than a lot of other related sites (for now). It can usually take weeks/months too for Google to start ranking articles in higher positions.
- Nobody is looking for it. This is similar to the first point. You may write an article titled ‘Games I miss from the PS2’. Google will use that title as a literal search term, and you may not show up unless a user types ‘Games I miss from the PS2’ specifically into their search bar. Instead, you’d be best trying to work out what the audience is looking for. Try ‘Best games from the PS2’. You can drag it out further, ‘Best racing games on the PS2’ or ‘Best PS2 games from 2005’. People are more likely to be searching for these topics.
- The topic is too congested. I think we can probably agree that some of the biggest game series would be Fallout & Grand Theft Auto. If GTA 6 was to be announced on the Rockstar Games website right now, there would be no point covering it at all. Every other website is going to try and get a piece of the pie by also writing about the release date. You don’t stand a chance of ranking, and with at least a 100 other websites covering it, you may not even be seen on the first 3 pages of Google search. Instead, think deeper. ‘Will GTA 6 be on PC?’, ‘Where will GTA 6 be set’, ‘Will GTA 6 have multiplayer?’. These topics will likely have less coverage and have a better return rate. These are called long tail keywords.
Okay, so we have 4 pretty good reasons as to why your content might not be building an audience. We have no control over congestion or age of the topic. But we can control what people are looking for. It’s time to look into keyword research. Which is essentially how we find out what your target audience are looking for.
CONDUCTING KEYWORD RESEARCH
When doing keyword research, you are looking for terms that people are putting into the Google search bar. Our aim is to rank first for the term and bring them to the site. There are many ways of finding potential topics to write about, lets cover some below.
USE GOOGLE PREDICTIVE SEARCH
This method isn’t guaranteed to give accurate results, but is definitely useful. Have you ever typed something into Google search and seen the list of relevant results below. You can use this to your advantage. Lets use League of Legends as an example. We can start by typing just League of Legends to see some predictive results. People look for player counts, patch notes and tier lists. You can check these results out to see how congested they are and whether you could rank for it.
No? Lets break it down further. If you’re wanting to write some guides for the game, you can add ‘how to’ onto the end. Some results we see are level up fast, equip borders, show ping and a few other useful results. These are all topics you could probably write about. But we only have 10 potential topics. We can break it down even again, by adding a single letter for the next word. Starting with A, you can see how to appear offline, activate XP boosts, use all chat and more. Write some down that you think are worth writing about, then change the A to a B and continue.
There are so many other possible combinations too. Fallout has such a huge modding scene, that you can try ‘Best Fallout 4 mods for’ and see what comes up. You’ll likely end up with ‘Best mods for Survival’, ‘Best mods for PS4 in 2018’ etc which are all worth writing about. Just try the term ‘Best’ in general too with League of Legends. So start in Google with ‘League of Legends Best’ and see what others are searching for and keep narrowing it down. Eventually you’ll have hundreds of topics.
FORUMS & DISCUSSIONS
When a game is announced or released, small communities will pop up full of players of the game. The most notable example being Reddit. For example, the Jurassic World Evolution has a subreddit where players discuss and ask for help. You can make use of this by using the search bar in the top right. Try searching for ‘how to’ or ‘how do i’. Make sure you have the check box ‘Limit my search to /r/subredditname’ checked.
We can see a list of questions asked by community members. Your job now is to answer them in the form of an article. You can cover how to beat the second island, remove trapped guests and grab a photo worth £10,000. Another useful site would be the Steam discussion forums for a game. They have their own search bar where again, you can search for the ‘how do i’ and ‘how to’ terms to find potential topics.
Once you have answered the question, you can even go back to these forums are drop a link to the article you posted. It will help build a constant flow of visitors to the page from others who’ve looked at the forum. Quora is a good resource too for questions, and you can also drop a link to your article there.
PLAY THE GAME YOURSELF
When I want to cover a game, I’ll usually play it out. I keep a notebook beside me, where I can write down a load of potential topics. If you’re playing a survival game such as The Forest and you’ve just learnt how to make a spear. This is something you can write a post about. Same for catching rabbits or even just opening the crafting book.
When someone needs help or needs a question answering, they usually head to Google search. The first thing they should find is hopefully your article. Every little thing you do in the game can be covered. Whether you are changing the resolution or grabbing every achievement. Nothing is stupid enough to not cover.
SHARING YOUR CONTENT
When an article is posted, it will appear on the home screen as well as under the appropriate sections. Reviews appear under the ‘Game Reviews’ area, Battlefield V posts show up under the Battlefield V area etc. As well as that, they are expected to show up on Google search within around 12 hours of being posted.
You can choose to share your content online which will help boost traffic, and potentially the overall authority of the site which helps everyone. If your content is appropriate, it can be posted to directories such as N4G. Whilst they don’t appreciate guides, they like previews, reviews and gaming news. Your content will need to be approved by other users, but when it is, it will appear on their site and bring the occasional bit of traffic.
Content can also be posted to forums. If you where to write a guide about Stardew Valley, or talk about the game or mod, it may be a good idea to post it. You can share it to forums where Stardew Valley players are as well as to the subreddit, where it can cause its own discussion. As I mentioned a little further up, when you find someone asking a question and you aim to answer it, leave them a response with a link to the post.