No optimizations, no new articles, no paid ads.
I've barely touched the site since the start of the year. And yet it has grown in traffic. How? I put the site in a good position for organic growth months before.
At the end of January traffic for the month looked like this:
There was constant growth throughout the last 6 months, with June's numbers at ~2.4x January's:
The vast majority of the traffic is from Google and returning visitors. ~60% of the traffic is from Google, ~30% direct, and the other ~10% from other sources.
The site ranks really well on Google for keywords. And some articles are the top result. For context this is a free info site (it's not monetized in any way) for a super niche topic. As you can see, the absolute numbers aren't that high despite being a top site in the niche.
Initial traffic was via Instagram where I posted cut-down versions of the content on the site. I took advantage of specific hashtags to get the content in front of the audience.
Eventually people started using Google to search for the site and the content on it. Google's algorithms took it from there.
Some key things I've learned:
Organic traffic takes time
The site was launched in March 2020, yet the majority of the growth was this year. Even after my time spent on the project dropped to maybe a couple of hours per month. The lag between creating good content and realizing the gains in traffic can be months long, so don't be too discouraged. If you're positively impacting people with your content, the traffic will catch up.
Google is the king of traffic
Whether you like it or not, ranking on Google is going to be key for driving traffic to your site. You may need to find ways to rank for certain keywords using tools like ahrefs, or using other SEO techniques.
To grow my traffic even more I will have to do some keyword research and write articles to take advantage of the opportunities. There are other things I'll be able to do, such as improving loading times and overhauling the design of to improve the experience.
Be valuable and be an authority on a subject
I get emails nearly every week from people who visit the site to ask specific questions. And I respond to every single one - sometimes with more detail than they were expecting. If I can't help them I point them in the right direction.
People appreciate it when you spend your time and go out of your way to help them. And often they feel as if they owe you a favour. This becomes an excuse for them to talk about and share your site with others.