Episode 55 – Site Audit with Christi Johnstone

Let’s just talk about Christi. She started blogging in 2010 to keep track of recipes and share them. She was primarily baking for a long time, but she’s expanded it in the last few years. She started baking with her grandmother, but also just figuring them out over the years.

Christi talks about how there are so many memories that are tied to recipes. It’s important to keep those alive and well… they taste like your childhood.

Christi has been focusing on SEO, but then it bottomed out in April, and she started dropping traffic. She was working hard at it, things didn’t recover. It’s been stagnant.

A lot of the traffic has come back, but Christi doesn’t feel like she’s done much to the posts. There’s an element of “luck”. Josh calls it “Yahtzee.” A lot of the traffic rank based on 15 keywords. Look at what gets you traffic. It’s the 80/20 rule. Most of your traffic will come from 20% of your posts.

Christi has been focusing on creating more content. The amount of time and effort that she put in, stressing, she didn’t see a big return-on-investment. She saw more of a return-on-investment for the content creation. It’s also about streamlining the site, and looking at how different people see the blog.

What About Content Gaps?

Josh says that they haven’t talked about content gaps, but it’s a good thing to do. It’s good to write thematic content (making sure to cover variations of content related to the same keywords). Sit down and come up with a list of stuff, then spread them across the Content Calendar. Then, you can stop thinking about Content Gaps, because you have it covered across your calendar and you’re doing it in a way that keeps you from getting bored.

There’s only so much attention that you can give to any one subject. So, you roll it out over time. If you do it in a thematic way, you can hit all the high-ranking keywords. Take from every category, prioritizing high-value keywords. Move them down the chain to lower-value keywords. The high-ranking keywords can be your anchor text, with your lower-ranking keywords supporting that.

What About Cannibalizing Keywords?

Every post has an overlap. If you’re writing about food within a particular keyword, Google is going to rank based on the intent of the searcher. Cannibalizing keyword usually refers to keyword equity, where someone is linking to an internal site that you don’t want them to link to. Josh says that he loves links. “It feels really good when people link to my site.” He says, “It’s your investment portfolio.” You’re in this for the long haul. You’re less concerned about one link on one post, and more concerned about the aggregate links. You’re just trying to provide great content.

You’ve got “nachos” covered, so look at other keywords that you want to cover. Eventually those things will rank and creep up. Then, you have a wide swathe of keywords that are contributing lots of traffic. Then, you have a couple that is “sweet sugar on top.” You’ll also spend less time defending your rankings.

What About the Blogging Mindset?

Christi says that a shift of her mindset has helped. She decided that she just wanted to write the recipe.

Josh says that you can do cooking because you love it… and blog for the fun of it. Some bloggers commit bloggercide, because they say, “I can’t grow.” What’s frustrating for them is that they’ve become trapped to the blog. It can be a thief of joy.

Christie says that her circle of friends keeps her grounded. She says she’s fortunate to do blogging for a living.

What About the Process?

Christi knows that other bloggers expand and grow their team. While she has people who help her out, she doesn’t want that. The reason she started the blog was because she’s solitary. She doesn’t want to have a corporation. She wants to continue on the path she’s on. She’d like to increase traffic, increase income, fill in the gaps, and create a great collection of recipes so that when her daughter goes out into the world, she can find whatever she wants to make on the blog. It is a way to pass it on.

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