Our 31st-month blogging was spectacular and right in line with the last two months. Have you ever felt like you were on the cusp of something, just ready to breakthrough? That’s where I feel we are with Partners in Fire. I really think that if I continue writing, improving, and growing, we will see epic growth in the near future.
So, let’s see how we improved during our 31st month – and find out why I think we’re ready for a breakthrough!
31st Month Update
Our readership during our 31st month definitely improved. We went from 2800 to 33000 to now over 35000 users! And, we’re so close to breaking 5000 pageviews! We’re definitely killing it.
The best part is that we can see the growth right in front of us. The last week of the month was the best yet – with over 1000 users coming in just that week. And most of these were from SEO changes rather than social media (not that social media isn’t important – it’s just not as consistent).
We still had six days this month with less than 100 users, but the lows this period were slightly higher than last month, which is a win. Our peaks were higher too, and a bit more consistent.
I don’t actually even know why we saw such a huge spike this period. That was around the time I published “DIY Bathroom Remodel,” and that post did see a ton of social shares (because it’s so good – read it if you haven’t yet!). Still, it’s also around the same time that I updated “How to Avoid Being Taken Advantage of,” and I have noticed a slight increase in users to that post as well. That just goes to show that you can’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Getting views from a variety of sources is a big boost to blog growth.
Our viewership from organic traffic was pretty consistent this month – with about 1800 users finding us through search. This is basically the same as last month, but it wasn’t as consistent. We had a few days with quite low search numbers (luckily, social media was able to fill in the gaps!) but then improved again towards the end of the month, with about 80 users coming to us per day.
Our top page from organic search remains “How to be Twitch Affiliate in 30 Days”, and I continued to roll with that theme. I wrote a super SEO-friendly post on “ How Twitch Affiliates Make Money,” which is a perfect cross between gaming and finance. Gaming can be a valid side hustle, folks!
In fact, I even decided to try my hand at gaming as a side hustle. I’ve dabbled in it before, of course, but I never took it seriously. I decided to start doing that now, so we shall see how it goes.
Although the majority of my organic search traffic is going to the Twitch affiliate post, it’s not the only post that’s getting attention.
Can you guess what these posts have in common?
They aren’t in the “Your Money or Your Life” niche. This is solid evidence of the fact that it’s easier to rank for posts that don’t fall under that umbrella. However, I know that niches are important (though I hate the idea and would rather write about anything), so my goal is to improve my rankings on those posts. And since I’ve done the best I could in regards to on-page SEO, the next step is to improve my EAT rating.
EAT is basically Google’s way of determining whether a website is legitimate enough to rank high – especially in those “Your Money or Your Life” searches. It stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. Google wants to show users the most relevant sites with the best information – and they use a complex algorithm based on those three things to make that determination.
So the real question is – how do you improve your EAT ranking? No one really knows Google’s exact algorithm, but we do know what they are looking for. I’m no expert, but I’m trying my best to figure these things out. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.
Expertise is all about your content. Write legitimate content that answers every question a user might have about a given topic. I’ve updated my Twitch affiliate post a ton, adding short headers which answer additional questions. Then, I write an even more in-depth post about that header and link to it. That’s actually how I decided to write a post on How Twitch Affiliates Make Money. I realized that’s one of the main questions that was asked in conjunction with being a Twitch Affiliate – so I added a subheading addressing it in the main post, then wrote an entire in-depth post about it and linked them together. This shows Google that I’m addressing all the questions that their users might want to know.
Authority is all about your domain authority, and here’s where I’m still lacking (and where I have big plans for improvement!).
How does Google measure authority? Backlinks, backlinks, and backlinks! From what I understand (and Google is complex, so I may be way off), it also uses your social metrics (media shares) and searches for times you are mentioned without a link. Most of this is way too complex for me to understand – how does Google know they are talking about me when I’m not even linked? Scary really. But I digress.
I know that one of the reasons why some of my finance posts aren’t ranking higher is because of my Domain Authority. At the beginning of the month, it was at a paltry 24. With the help of the blogger group that I’m in, The Money Mix Insiders, I got it up to 27, and they’ve helped me do a ton of stuff this month that should skyrocket my DA. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t work instantaneously, so I probably have to wait a few more weeks to see the full results, but I’m sure it will be epic. Everyone who started in the group before me has a DA of 50+.
If you really want to bring your blog to the next level – check them out. It is a bit pricey, but they are still offering a free three-month trial (that’s how I got in!). I am confident that you will see the value in it after your first month or so, but if you don’t, you can quit.
Google also wants to make sure the pages it features are trustworthy. The Insiders helped me make a few changes to my overall site that would improve trustworthiness. Helping me improve my site speed was a big one, but they also pointed out a few small changes I could make which would help. Also, linking to reputable sources (and getting them to link to you – which is much harder!) helps.
Some of the other components of trustworthiness are a little harder as a blog. I don’t have a yelp page or anywhere that customers can leave reviews. I don’t do any transactions, so I don’t have any information on returns, and I don’t have terms and conditions in regards to the products and services I offer (because I don’t really offer any).
I’m not entirely sure how Google measures trustworthiness outside of those few things – it’s a nut I’m still working on cracking. SEO is tough!
For more information on EAT, head over to MOZ. They have basically everything you ever wanted to know about it.
We saw another huge increase in the number of users coming to us directly this month. Over 1200 users came to Partners in Fire via direct hit!
A big portion of that is you wonderful subscribers. We got 3 new subscribers this month (awesome!) and continue to pump out content that you love (hopefully). I think it’s time to upgrade my email list so I can have more control over the content you guys get. You deserve it!
But I don’t think the direct hits are only from subscribers. I’m starting to think that some of my users from Pinterest are being recorded as direct hits because, according to Pinterest analytics, I had 344 link clicks, but according to Google, I only had 16 users from the platform. Something doesn’t add up there.
Someone told me that Google counts any user of unknown origin (that means Google isn’t exactly sure where they came from) as a direct hit. I think that’s happening a bit with Pinterest users and even some referrals. But hey, traffic is traffic, and I’ll take it!
Speaking of social platforms – according to Google, we had a huge decrease in users from social media. We dropped from 542 last month to just over 400 this month. But it’s easy to see where most of that decrease came from.
As I said above, Google only recorded 16 users from Pinterest this month. That’s way off from the 344 link clicks that Pinterest recorded. It’s difficult to say exactly what is going on here, but I think it’s fair to say that I’m getting at least some users from the platform, regardless of where they are being recorded. I’ll have to be sure to watch my Pinterest analytics in addition to my Google analytics in the future.
I’m still working my Twitter magic. Over 240 users visited us from the platform this month, which is a slight increase from last month.
There are a few reasons why I’m able to drive so much traffic from Twitter. First, I try to write engaging tweets that make the reader want to click my link. I learned a lot about this in Make it Stick- a mini-e-book on Twitter engagement. It’s mostly about in-platform engagement, but I was able to make the ideas work for link clicks as well – and was able to finally get over 5000 followers on the platform. Huge wins!
Another reason why I’m able to pull some traffic from Twitter is the Insiders group I mentioned earlier. They have absolutely helped with some technical aspects of the blog, but we also help each other as much as possible, and one big way to help is to share each other’s posts. That aspect gets my blog post in front of some new audiences and gets me more clicks.
I failed at Facebook this period. We only had 6 users from the platform, a huge decrease. But, to be fair, I didn’t post much of my own content on the platform this month. I did share a ton of stuff from my blogger group on Facebook (and Twitter), but that’s not going to get clicks to my own site.
I want to do better, but I also have many other things I’m working on, so Facebook isn’t much of a priority for me. That’s okay – you don’t need to focus on everything all at one time. Sometimes it’s better to focus on the things that will drive the most traffic.
Partners in Fire published a ton of relevant and engaging content this month. With all the (extremely valid) protests surrounding Black Lives Matter, we realized that it was time to write about racial justice – one of the only social issues that we haven’t covered yet. But, instead of writing from my perspective, which doesn’t really matter so much, I wrote about lifting everyone upand shared a ton of awesome content created by BIPOC.
In addition to that, I wrote a post bashing the finance community’s blind spot when it comes to political policies. I’m a bit tired of all the big gurus pretending that there isn’t a political aspect to personal finance. I get that it’s tough to write about, but I think we do our reader’s a disservice in pretending that politics don’t impact every aspect of our financial lives. Some people literally can’t escape poverty because political policies are in place that holds them back. As finance writers, we need to acknowledge that and do our parts to fix it.
But we weren’t all serious this month! We also wrote about how to make money as a Twitch streamer, to stay in line with our content on gaming, published a more finance-related post (we are a finance blog, I guess) about saving money, and wrote an epic post about remodeling the upstairs bathroom. Hint – it was not fun.
How Are We Going to Improve Our Readership
It seems that improving our SEO game is going to have the largest impact on our readership, so my biggest goal is to make that happen. I have a list of posts that are currently ranking on pages 3-4 but could possibly rank higher with some minor tweaks. My goal is to update at least one of them a week.
Also, as I said above, improving my EAT score should help a lot. I’m going to work hard on that stuff this month as well, with the help of the Money Mix Insiders.
A final thing I’m going to do to improve my readership is continue working on my social media presence. For me, I think this means focusing on Twitter and Pinterest. I do want to have a presence on all the platforms, but it’s too difficult to keep up. I’ll continue doing what I’m doing on Facebook and Instagram (which is a tiny bit more than nothing), but my main focus needs to be the platforms that are getting results.
It took me 2.5 years to reach over 5k followers on Twitter, but I think if I become more active on the platform, reaching 10K will be much faster. My goal is to get there by this time next year, so we shall see! An active Twitter community is also super beneficial for my other big venture – Twitch streaming.
We haven’t written about monetization much because we didn’t really have anything to report. But it’s different this month! I made a whopping twenty dollars during my 31st month! That may not seem like much, but remember, I made $16 total my entire first year. So twenty in one month is freaking awesome!
All of that money came from ad networks. Most of it came from Interactive Offers, the company that offers embedded ads. I’ve been doing pretty well with them lately – I didn’t even notice that I’d been averaging about ten bucks a month there! That’s enough to cover my hosting! Woot!
The rest came from Shemedia – those are the banner ads at the bottom. I just started with them about a week ago, but if my traffic continues to increase, I should be able to make 10-20 bucks a month with them as well. How cool would that be?
Partners in Fire is continuing to learn and grow. Blogging is a long-haul game, there’s always something new to learn, and I’m dedicated to learning it! I’ve heard that July sucks for traffic in general, so I’m excited to see if we can at least remain consistent next month. We’ll find out!
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.