Although I usually post on topics related to business strategy or marketing, a few weeks back I posted an article about my experience of getting hacked and a related tutorial on how I went about recovering from my Joomla site hack.
Apparently I wasn’t alone. In the ensuing weeks, it has become my most visited post and has encouraged more people to sign up for my feed than any other article I have written.
That got me thinking about the power of trends and how I might go about using what people are already searching for to grab peoples attention.
Paris and Britney can help you…maybe
This article is not about recovering from your site getting hacked. Instead is about trends, how to find out what they are, and how to take advantage of them to help drive visitors to your site.
To track what is hot (no Paris pun intended), I usually use Google Trends.
This is a free service and allows you to compare different search terms for relative search volume, where these searches come from, and for more popular terms, they also link relevant news articles to search volume peaks.
I have never been a trend marketer
It’s not that I can’t or that I find it morally offensive. The simple fact is that I have never been particularly hip, trendy, or ahead of the curve on the newest fad. I tend to stick to long term marketing strategies with tried and true metric analysis. My method is similar to how I invest. I don’t day trade and I prefer to plan on the 10% long-term average rather than looking at my portfolio every day (Thank god since my balance is in the crapper over the last year) It’s not sexy, it’s not hip, but it has worked in every business I have run and made me a millionaire in the process. That’s cool enough in my book.
But I also realize that blogging is a new game. Especially for me. I have only been doing this for a few months, so I am also in the experimentation stage. I am starting to understand that there may be real marketing value in occasionally chasing after the shiny new firetruck to roll down the street.
Here is how I use trends to drive traffic:
OK. My own stats prove that waaaay more people are searching for help on recovering for a site hack than they are for advice on how to build a solid marketing strategy. I get it. I’m sad, but I get it. So, assuming I am going to hop on the trend band wagon, how do I decide what trend to follow, and how do I incorporate it into my area of expertise?
Here is what I did:
I know my site got hacked.
I know that people are interested in the topic
I know that I have sites that use both Joomla! And WordPress
I know that both types of sites have similar weaknesses
So I pulled out my trusty google trend search and compared the search volume for “wordpress hack” and “joomla hack” What I found was that Joomla was searched a bit more often and there seemed to be a spike back in Q3 of 2008. Because there was not much news coverage on the events, there were no links tied to the spikes, but if you search some other topics: For example Bush vs Obama, you will see that there are usually specific events tied to peaks and valleys.
So how does this help me?
Well for starters, it lets me know that Joomla seems to be searched for a little bit more often than WordPress, especially in Q3 of ’08 for some reason. At that point, I might want to try to dig into the details further by seeing what actually happened during that time period.
What I was hoping to see was a huge difference in popularity which would give me a clear cut direction on which topic to focus on.
For example: In the case below, if I wanted to find some way to incorporate a train-wreck whore into my article, the choice is pretty clear. Paris is the slut of choice.
So going back to my Joomla Hack Vs WordPress Hack, my plan is to create a tutorial for BOTH now that I have this information. Since there is no clear cut winner, but both have a decent amount of search traffic, I might as well proceed with a tutorial that can help visitors deal with the pain in the ass of a hack on either platform.
The second thing I plan to do is what you are reading right now. That is – write an article in my area of expertise that ties in poplar search terms with my content. Now there is the danger of this article being completely irrelevant to those searching, and that is a real risk. But the relative small amount of time it takes to create an article, and my own results proving that people will sign up for my marketing and strategy feed based on a technical tutorial seem to be proving me wrong. My stats will ultimately prove this one way or another.
Isn’t this another “Punch the Monkey” banner?
In case you haven’t seen it 10 million times already, the “punch the monkey” banner is a slick and clever banner ad featuring a monkey that scrolls back and forth and you have to use your mouse to “punch” it with a giant boxing glove. This click then takes you to whatever website the banner is pointed to. This banner has been used on everything from dating sites to mortgage brokers. Granted the click through rate is HUGE (everybody loves to punch a monkey apparently) but there is usually zero relevance to the final site and whatever goal the site owner had for your visit is rarely fulfilled. (Would you submit a mortgage application from this banner?) Granted some miniscule percentage of the population may be looking to refinance their home at the time, but chances are, most clicks are wasted.
The key to using trends to help boost your marketing is to actually offer something related to the hot keyword. In my example, I DO have content on my site that teaches someone how to recover from a site attack. In addition, many of the people suffering from the same attacks I had are also small business owners, bloggers, and marketing folks that could benefit from seemingly unrelated content on my site.
As a funny closing note, I also have proof that complete irrelevance will NOT boost sign-ups. It goes like this: When I first started my blog I wrote an article called “The Jennifer Lopez Model vs. the Dolly Parton Model vs. the Kim Kardashian Model.” At that point I wasn’t concerned at all about driving traffic to my site and in no way was trying to use those name searches to drive visitors to my site. The goal was simply to be clever (The article is about different marketing approaches…big back end, big front end, big front and back end) I still think it’s funny, but that’s me.
Anyway, lots of people enjoyed the article, but I can tell you that it’s also the highest abandon rate page on the entire site. That tells me that many of the visitors were in no way interested in what I had to say..and rightfully so.
The key is relevance. You CAN make popular search terms relevant to your content. You CAN make strategic decisions based on trend results. You just need to be smart about how you do it.
As always, I’d love to hear what you think or comments on your own experiences using trends as a diving board. I’m usually pretty solid in my ideas on what works, but in this case, I’m just throwing crap on the wall to see what sticks. I’ve been proven wrong plenty of times before. I have no issues with it happening again.
JJ Kennedy is CEO of Evil Genius TV, the small business coaching and strategy arm of Evil Genius Interactive, a web and marketing development firm located in Gainesville, FL. He is an MBA, happily married to a Veteranarian, and is hoping to have a few little ones soon.