I'm an Idiot (Or, The Importance of Analytics)

Do something for me real quick. Open a new tab and Google: Slideshow Tips then come back to this post and I'll explain what happened.


The good news: I recently found out that my pretty much static blog, www.photographyontheside.com has been getting some awesome traffic from Google. (I'll show you the results a bit later).

The bad news: My negligence of not looking closely at my analytics, has cost me YEARS of easy, passive, affiliate income.

More good news: Once I saw what I had done, it took about 5 minutes to fix it and I'm excited to have another, potentially lucrative, revenue stream back in my (side) online business.

I don't want you to kick yourself like I did.

So I'm sharing my story.

The Short Story:

  1. Look at your analytics people!
    1. Make sure you're using Google Search Console. If you don't have Google Analytics on your website, do it ASAP. Like...right now. It's free. It's easy. It's something you HAVE to have on ALL of your websites.
    2. Have a look at the data. Specifically, look at your top 10 traffic generating posts/pages as well as any popular search terms people are entering to find your various posts. You may be surprised by what's doing well. (I sure was!)
  2. Go through those popular posts and make sure all of your links are working! Especially affiliate links...you know, the ones that provide you with INCOME! And optimize your popular posts - headlines, descriptions, and content. These posts are your money makers.

Yep. You guessed it. I found a popular post on my (other) blog that had broken affiliate links on it. 

Ugg.

As of this writing, I'm ranking #1 for the search term "slideshow tips" with my post, 9 Tips to Great Photo Slideshows

Good news, right?!

For sure it was. Ranking No 1 in google for a pretty significant term like that is pretty awesome.

And because I hadn't looked at my analytics for a while (3 years, cough), I had NO IDEA until a few days ago.

I was super excited, obviously.

And then I remembered that I had promoted a slideshow tool in that post. Animoto! (That's an affiliate link right there, of course. But that's not the point of THIS post. I know you're not looking for slideshow software. Or are you!?) :)

Woo hoo! Money money money!

I opened the post. I clicked the link........and nothing.

The link was broken.

WTF

Animoto must have changed their affiliate program at some point since I wrote that post and I had no idea. So my link went to nothing. 

I had lots of solid, "warm" traffic visiting my post EVERY SINGLE DAY since early 2015. All I needed to do was link those interested folks to the software tool I promoted. And all those folks who clicked that link went to NOTHING!

Grrrrrrr...

I seriously screwed up. 

After I swore out loud (then promptly apologized to my kids), I went to work to rectify the problem. Which, unfortunately, wasn't to hop in my time-machine and fix the mistake before all that traffic showed up.

Sans Time Machine, I googled, "Animoto Affiliate Program". Which sent me to Shareasale (which happens to be the same affiliate marketing management tool that my other successful affiliate merchant uses, SmugMug)

I applied to be an affiliate for Animoto. They approved me within a 24 hours.

I spent 5 minutes updating the links in my post.

I should have done this YEARS ago. The data shows me how much traffic (and money) I let go by.

I keep thinking about what could have been...

But at least I fixed it. And such an easy fix it was too.

My next step will be to optimize the post. I'm going to add some more quality content to it to make it even more helpful to the folks that are reading it. Google loves it when we're helpful. :)

And I'm going to look at some other hidden gems I found in Search Console. Apparently I'm also ranking well in the term "SmugMug Examples" - which is another post that surprised me with the amount of traffic it's been getting.

Not only is "SmugMug Examples" ranking number 1 for that term (and generating the most clicks into my site from SEO!), but when you enter the term in Google, you can see that Google gave me some extra love by featuring my post as a special snippet!

Bonus Search Console Tip: Have a look at the CTR (Click Through Rate) column. You want to increase that rate by making your headline (and description) as inciting and relevant as possible. In other words, ranking high in Google is great. Getting lots of impressions (eye balls) is great. But you need folks to click into your posts (obviously) and that's where the CTR comes in. Play around. Have fun optimizing!

OK. You know what to do.

Dig into your analytics. Find the posts that Google (and searchers) like. Optimize them. Fix those damn affiliate links. Get found, help people, and make some money!