I’m conducting an experiment in increasing blog traffic (monthly searches: 320). The first part of the experiment took place three weeks ago when I published this post on how I started blogging.  I created it without a thought about keywords or search terms. The way I believe most bloggers write.

Now, here I am again. This time, I’m rewriting the original post with terms that are actively searched by people. My goal is to see if adding these terms will get traffic to my blog. (monthly searches: 320).

Still with me?

Following this post, I’ll ask some keyword analytics professionals to work their magic. With their help, I’ll rewrite the post again and repeat the measurement process.

If my experiment works, each post will win progressively more readers. As if…by magic.

Oh yes, one final niggling detail before we start. Those italicized terms followed by (monthly searches: xyz)? They’re the number of people who search online using those italicized terms. Yup, you can measure stuff like that.

The blogger (monthly searches: 450k) is born

Wait, one more thing before I get into the story of how I started blogging.

You may be blown away by the large number of people who search the word blogger – 450,000 a month.

So why don’t I just write blogger blogger blogger into my post, then sit back and have 450,000 people rush over to read?

The reason is competition. Where there are tons of searchers, there are tons of competitors trying to grab eyeballs using the term blogger. It’s a bit like trying to advertise your San Diego coffee shop with a term like best coffee (monthly searches 8.1k). You’ve just thrown yourself into the arena with everyone in the world who makes good coffee. Chances of standing out? Virtually nil.

Much better to type in best coffee San Diego (monthly searches: 250). Less searches, but far higher chance of connecting with coffee drinkers in your town.

The futureproof brand (monthly searches: 0) blogger is born

Dang. Forgot one important thing. If you go too narrow on your search term, you risk speaking to…nobody.

When I started my brand consultancy a few years back, I used my blog posts to position myself as a futureproof brand expert.

The only problem was, I got zero new business based on my writing. I back-rationalized, saying potential clients didn’t come to me based on my posts – but they certainly checked them out to see if I knew my stuff. Again, I had no proof of this. But it justified my writing, all the same.

As you can see, the number of people searching online for futureproof brand is zero.

I quite likely wasn’t getting any new business from my blog posts because nobody was looking.

If only I’d positioned myself as a brand strategy expert (monthly searches: 1.9k), a brand image expert (monthly searches: 1.3k), or even a cattle brand expert (monthly searches: 590) I would’ve fared better.

I have to stop now?

How long should a blog post be? (monthly searches: 390). About 500-700 words. Enough to demonstrate substance, but not so onerous that readers doze off.

Unfortunately, I’m bumping up against that limit. So it looks like I won’t be able to rewrite my original post after all. You’ll have to be satisfied with this little meandering missive instead.

So let me leave you with a cautionary closing thought.

Simply tweaking search terms isn’t enough to get (or keep) eyeballs.

People have finely tuned BS sensors, and they can sniff cheap ploys to grab their attention. Things like keyword stuffing (monthly searches: 390) and clickbait (monthly searches: 5.4k).

Truth is, content (monthly searches: 60.5k) is king. Write a good post that adds value to readers’ lives, and you’ll get those eyeballs. Anchor that post with a couple of good terms, and the numbers will increase, but most likely not spike.

Like everything in life, you rarely rocket from obscurity to stardom. It takes work and perserverance.

Of course, if this post gets significantly more readers than the first in this experimental series, scrap everything I just said.

Just write sex (monthly searches: 2.2M).

This story first appeared in Unreasonable.is on March 30th, 2015.