8 Lessons Learned Growing a Site to One Million Monthly Page Views
Some time ago one of my sites crossed the one million monthly page views mark. The screenshot from Google Analytics for the month of August is below.
While I know there are thousands of other websites out there with much higher traffic, reaching this milestone made me quite happy, as this is a website I built from scratch (i.e., I still remember when I registered the domain).
Below you’ll find the eight most important lessons I learned while building this site (I won’t reveal the URL for privacy reasons, but the useful stuff is below anyway):
1. Choose Your Niche Wisely
Most people who read this blog probably think it is my largest and most profitable website. Well, it’s not. The reason? Niches like blogging, make money online, SEO or Internet marketing are pretty small when compared with mainstream stuff like gadgets, movies and television, cars, health and so on. That is why my “money” sites are placed in those niches, while I write on Daily Blog Tips mostly because I have fun doing it.
2. Find A Unique Angle
While picking the right, relatively large niche is important, I wouldn’t recommend you to start yet another tech or cars blog, where you would get most of your content from other, larger blogs and sites. Most mainstream niches are crowded, and if you just write about what everyone else is writing, after them, people will have no reason to visit your site. The solution? You need to find a unique angle. You need to come up with an idea that will differentiate both your site and your content from others in the same niche. Not easy, but possible.
3. Repeat Visitors Matter
There’s one metric that very few people pay attention to, yet I believe it’s one of the best indicators of the potential of a website: repeat visitors. Basically if the amount of repeat visitors on your site is increasing over time it means that you are converting some of your casual visitors into loyal ones, and that your overall traffic will increase overtime. If the amount of repeat visitors is not growing, on the other hand, it means that your content is failing to engage visitors to the point that they will remember your site a couple of days after visiting it. In this case you need to rethink your strategy.
4. Quality Over Quantity
If you need to choose between quality and quantity, go with quality. In order words, you’ll get much better results publishing one top quality article per week than publishing five average ones. It’s the quality of your content that will increase the amount of repeat visitors you get, after all, and the amount of backlinks you’ll receive from other sites (more on that below).
5. Google Is Your Friend
Whether you like it or not, Google is the main traffic driver around the web, so you better befriend it and use its help to grow your site. This means that you need to understand how search engines work (e.g., how Google crawls the web, how it decides which websites to serve when people search for stuff, etc.) in order to optimize your content, pages, and to promote your articles in a way that will increase their exposure with search engines. It will take some effort from your end, but the results are certainly worth it.
6. Research and Gather Data
When it comes to Search Engine Optimization and to promoting your website in general, you’ll need to research and gather data (as opposed to trusting your gut or intuition). That is, you’ll need to understand what are the hot topics inside your niche, what search terms are sending you more traffic, what visitors are more likely to stay on your site and so on. With the numbers on your hand you’ll be able to make much better decisions, both in terms of content and promotion.
7. You Can’t Do It Alone
While there are many people who manage to grow large sites alone, I found that getting some help along the way made all the difference. On most sites I have these days I focus exclusively on the strategy/promotion aspects, while leaving the web design/content development to other people. Sure, you’ll need to spend some money, but this is one of the most efficient ways to grow any website (and any business, for the matter).
8. Slow and Steady Wins the Race
It took me around three years to go from zero to one million monthly page views. During that time frame there was no single event that catapulted my site’s popularity, no large spike in traffic. It was a gradual and slow process, where every month I would promote the site a bit more, do some guest posts and so on. All that mattered to me was to see the traffic numbers increasing, albeit slowly, month after month.
51 Responses to “8 Lessons Learned Growing a Site to One Million Monthly Page Views”
Great stuff Daniel, I long for the day I finally get a site up to that 1 million milestone
Congrats and your achievement!
@Robert, thanks man.
Getting 1 million page views is a milestone for me but i won’t give up. Thanks Daniel for useful guidelines.
Conrats on your achievement Daniel, your blog give me big inspiration.
This is Awesome!
The one and only blog i read for blogging tips.
Yes that is quite an accomplishment! Slow and steady is the only way to go, especially if you want to stay on Google’s good side. =)
Hope I’ll archive this goal some day!
1,000,000+ page views is a great accomplishment! I read your stuff consistently so I am responsible for some of those page views 😉
Paul | All Groan Up
Great points. Especially about repeat visitors. It seems I have typically a 50/50 split from New to Returning every day.
I think I’m hooking people as well as an amateur fisherman without the right bait. But I’ll keep trying!
You are right Daniel,
When the initial stage of blogging I thought, if the blog get more blog posts, traffic will increase and after relize the facts that volume of posts not required for traffic.
Quality always win in this case that readers stay long time on blogs and surf more contents. When the readers stay long time, we can improve the Pageviews I strongly believe.
Thanks to the wonderful article.
There is no shortcut basically, and I agree. Good luck in your success!
The traffic spike pattern is interesting and it is consistent. One of my tech blogs have the same pattern – reduced traffic on weekends. But my other blog has the reverse – more traffic during the weekends! Maybe because its based on entertainment.
Getting a new blog from scratch to 1M page views in three years is a great work Daniel. Especially considering the fact that you manage multiple websites. My 2.3 year old blog is struck with 20k page views per month! I wish to achieve 1M page views in it by the end of the fourth year. Otherwise, I am bankrupt 🙂
Really interresting post..and congratulations.
I am thinking about starting a new website next month and leave the sites what i am doing right now to somebody who i work with.
You make very good points here and i will keep them in mind when choosing my niche.
Thanks for posting
Congratulations on your achievement but I feel as if, as a new blogger, that this type of information is detrimental to my progress.
I’m kidding, but not. I am no where near that number and when I see other people and their success, it is sometimes overwhelming and discouraging. You have great tips and I will of course try to implement them, but in the mean time, I am the slowest tortoise trying not to worry about you hares so far ahead….
Congrats on reaching one million! Thank you for pointing out that you didn’t reach one million visitors overnight. I agree that you need people to help you. Strength in numbers 🙂
I discovered your site a couple of months ago, and ever since I keep coming back I wonder why! 🙂
Congrats and your achievement!
And a great post indeed.
Congratulations Daniel. Strong work ethic and quality content. You make a great role model for the blogging community. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.
Wonderful list of items, I myself am starting a blog soon.
Quality is always better, people will link to useful resources. What matters is that people know you’re active, there should be a line that you draw in terms of your posting frequency as readers do find it important.
In particular, not posting enough and posting too much. But from other blogs I read (problogger), people care less about you posting less (especially when the content is worth reading).
I definitely will focus on quality, I’m thinking 1 – 2 posts / week.
Agree with 7. it’s almost impossible to do it all alone, while maintaining the quality. Especially because those sites are usually more news oriented and require more frequent posting.
I was wondering if you know Daniel, what is the usual price for a blogger covering for example movie&tv news (without reviews and similar opinionated articles, just news)? I’m talking about working 5-8 hours a day, just writing. Had any luck with OnlineJobs.ph freelancers lately?
@Matej, lately what I am doing is finding writers for each site, and then teaching them how to promote as well.
3 years to 1 million page views, great work! How many uniques are you getting?
I have tried SEO, and consistently updating content, I need tips on how to steadily grow traffic. When I put in a lot of effort, I get as high as 90 in a day, but how sustainable is putting this much effort in?
My site is a Christian magazine. If anyone is interested in helping please contact me with ideas or links.
Million Mile Secrets
Congratulations! I’m curious what percent of your traffic comes from search engines and Google.
Daniel, maybe you could look at odesk.com as well. I’ve so far had a very good experience there, especially for short term work/projects.
@Million Mile Secrets, around 80%.
@Gregory, around 700,000
Great stuff Daniel!
Gerry @ Niche Blog Pro
Congratulations for hitting 1 million mark..
Indeed proper keyword research (market research) can make a big difference and scaling your operations to include forming your “operations team” while you handle the marketing side of the business.
In my experience, posts get search engine love specially if they are meaty and well researched and of course don’t forget onpage optimization and link building.
Lionel Bachmann @ Model Trains
Congrats on reaching this milestone. I know that this a blog about blogging tips, but I can’t help but point out that the list you made can be applied for any website. These are some very good lessons to follow. Hopefully all of us will be able to reach the milestone you have.
Somehow I missed this article the first time around… Thanks for the email Daniel!
Very informative – worth memorizing the 8 headings!
Also congrats on cracking the 1mil pageviews!
How much traffic does Daily Blog Tips receive each month? I’m usually good for about 20 or so visits! 🙂
@Lionel, the tips were meant to be used by any kind of website 🙂 .
@Warren, DBT gets around 400,000 monthly page views.
Well if I wasn’t impressed with Daily Blog Tips, your accomplishment of hitting a million on your other site sure would have done it. You’re an inspiration Daniel.
I wish you all the best in success!
I have been blogging two months – got a long ways to go – 1 million – wow – I can dream can’t I. Thank you for letting me know this is possible. Thank you for reminding me quality is what matters. Thus far I have 6 blogs. All on topics I am extremely passionate about. I only post once a week or once a fortnight because I refuse to post anything less than the highest quality I can. Quality takes time to produce. Exceptional quality takes lots of time. So building up an audience for me will be slow. People have told me to do faster posts – more general – but I resist the temptation. I want to be unique – and exceptional. Thanks for your very encouraging example. It might take 3 years – but I know I’ll get there. Thank you. It dismays me that the world is not flocking to my blog en-masse after 2 months. Thanks for showing me I still have hope – time is the magical ingredient. I shall continue focussing on the highest quality I am capable of producing and bide my time.
Shanker Bakshi @NetProfitMantra
I am very much clear now, what I have to do next, No matter i like the niche or not, no matter how passionate i am for this or not, but I am up for it now. This niche works superbly, and I’m into it, This very moment. I think I got my answer.
Congratulations, Daniel! Would you like to show us what the site is? So that we can learn more by referring to the great 8 lessons for how to grow traffic. 🙂
Too good and must say, well deserved!
When I’ll hit the 1M mark in number of visitors, you’ll be on my list to say “Thank you” to, Daniel, because I’m constantly learning how to make a better blog with the tips that you share freely.
Here’s to many more successes for you…. 🙂
Congrats on reaching this milestone. Youâ€™re an inspiration Daniel.
Dexter | Best of Riyadh
Congratulations… 1 M pageviews will only means lots of income.. How I wish someday I could have the same… My main site is now at 400,000 Pageviews a month..
That is amazing. I wish my site will be there one day.
It would be interesting to show us traffic sources, bounce rate and average time.
It seems that the visitors are bouncing, since they do only 1,4 pages per visit
These claims needs to be verified or they should be taken with a grain of salt.
That means you need to divulge the details of your site and URLs. if you can’t do that, dont put this out please.
Great post. Mr. Scocco!
After 3 yrs/ I thought I was doing well with my almost
24, 000 views. I need to do to more.
Thanks for the great advice-Mr. Scocco!
That’s great but what is the name of the site? “One of my site” is too abstract. Why do people who say “my site this”, “my site that” never provide the names?
@Young, I won’t be sharing the URL for privacy reasons (i.e., I don’t wanna people copying my stuff).
@Giannis, traffic is 80% Google, 10% direct and 10% referring sites. Bounce rate is a bit high right now, but I am working on it.
@Mike, the important stuff is the lessons I learned. That is what I think most people can use on their own sites/blogs. Whether you believe on the number or not doesn’t really matter, after all I am not trying to sell you anything 🙂 .
@Anastasia, I am not revealing it for privacy reasons (i.e., I don’t wanna people copying my stuff).
Geet | HobbyIdeas
Daniel, You are an inspiration. Congratulations for 1M mark. Liked point # 8. Slow & steady wins the race.
Wowww… Loved two points ‘Google is Your Friend’ and ‘Slow & steady wins the race’. This is inspiration for many bloggers across World. Congratulations for touching 1M traffic mark 🙂
This is awesome news! well done! When you talk about getting peoples help do you mean like getting them to help you write articles and looking after the website??? Did you just scout your friends for this and offer them a small percentage of the revenue? I have a few websites with potential I just get overwhelm with keeping up with the articles since the websites are outside of work, hobby, spare time websites…
Hey Daniel thanks for the post. How long did it take for your site to reach that milestone? How much time and money is required to hit that milestone?
Congratulations. Daily Blog tips is an awesome source of information, no wonder you reach such level! Keep on growing, “Slow and steady” 🙂
Great work Daniel, I have been monitoring your lists in the back ground here for over a year and thought it is about time I drop you a line to say THANK YOU for all your great advice. Always most appreciated. I like to say one thing though, most of my traffic does not come from Google in fact Google ranks 3 or 4 in my analytics #1 is wiki if you can imagine it.
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