Here on MH@H, 2020 has been the year of the Google. I’ve had a huge increase in the number of visitors that arrive at my site via search engines. It’s nice to see because I want people to hear what I have to say about mental illness. Interacting with the WordPress community is by far the most satisfying part, but to a fairly large extent, I’m preaching to the choir, so it’s nice to have a mix of both.
What’s changed very recently is that I’m now getting more visitors via search engines than via WordPress. I’m not sure if there’s been a slowdown in WordPress, although in general, my WordPress Reader feed has felt quieter than it was a few months ago. Absolute numbers aren’t that interesting, but ratios are. Last week, for every 10 visitors from WordPress, I had 15 visitors from search engines, and 6 visitors from Pinterest.
Search engine visitors, and Pinterest visitors, for that matter, interact differently. They’re less likely to have a WP account, so they’re not clicking the like button and they’re not that likely to leave comments. I only know what they’re looking at from stats.
Because I’ve aimed from the beginning to have a broad reach, I’ve tried to incorporate SEO as I went along. When I upgraded to the business plan last summer and was able to start using the Yoast SEO plugin, I spent a shit ton of time going back and sprucing up old posts. I’m always a bit surprised, though, by the posts that do well (you can check this using webmaster tools like Google Search Console).
Last month, I did a post called Jewellery Box Stories. For some reason, Google started serving it up as a Google Discover recommendation to people searching on their phones. It strikes me as an odd choice, because it was kind of fluffy. Not that fluffy is bad, but I’m surprised Google was interested.
Lately, a post I did on chakras is getting a bunch of traffic from Google. When I type in “are chakras real,” aside from the Wikipedia featured snippet, my post is the first result, as shown in the image above. Search results are served up based on location and usage history, but regardless, the post is ranking high enough to get a lot of clicks. On Friday alone, there were 32 clicks through to that post from Google. WTF?
Where things get really interesting is the text that’s shown beneath the post title. Normally, Google would display the “meta description” I entered for the post using my SEO plugin. Not this time, though. Instead, they’re showing the most recent comment, which gives a very different picture than what the post is actually talking about. I’m guessing people are clicking on the post because of that and disappointed by what I have to say on the topic.
In the past, if I searched Google for Mental Health @ Home, my blog would be nowhere to be found, because the words overlap too much with mental health care organizations. As I was writing this post, I tried searching it again and it came up as the first result. I checked the next day and I’d dropped a few, but I was still on the first page. I’m guessing it’s just because Google knows me, but it’s still interesting that it changed.
So, that’s what’s been happening with me lately in terms of search engines. Do you get many visitors to your blog that way? Is it something that you’re trying for, or is it totally unimportant?