Google Traffic Alternatives Deep Dive

Best alternative platforms, A new FB tool, and the latest SEO news

Welcome to this week's issue of the Niche Media Publishing Newsletter.

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Ok, let’s get started with this week’s topic.

Google Traffic Alternatives & Where to Start

There’s still a lot of doom and gloom news for indie publishers leveraging Google search traffic.

I won’t waste too much additional ink covering this. It’s just not productive!

For regular readers, you’ll recall that my new “north star” is email subscribers (or community subs).

This is a big pivot for our company and a long overdue acknowledgement that we’ve relied on “big tech” platforms like Google, for far too long.

I still think Google traffic is gold, it’s just harder to make reliable investments if our only play is directly monetizing that traffic with ads or affiliate revenue.

In a “search scarcity” environment, we’ll do whatever we can to get subscribers and fans, even with a smaller slice of the pie. BUT, if we are serious about growing our lists, we also need to explore NEW traffic channels.

With this in mind, here’s how I see the current options for independent publishers:

  • Facebook: This is probably one of the fastest paths to immediate traffic right now if you have a modest budget to spend <$500 to build Facebook fan page likes via paid advertisements. I’ve been experimenting with a new tool called Strevio (more below in my “tool spotlight” section) and - so far - highly recommend it if you are seriously pursuing a Facebook traffic strategy.

  • Pinterest: Pinterest might be the closest fit for most media brands previously oriented around Google search. The content is generally evergreen and intent based (inspiration). The challenge I’m experiencing is that 1) it’s not the right fit for every niche, and 2) it’s a SLOG. It can take weeks of manually pinning 15-20+ images a day to get traction. The RPMs can be MUCH higher than Google Search, however! So the up front pain might be worth it. One tool that I’ve found makes this easier is PinGenerator. Specifically, the image generation feature using AI + images auto-pulled from your URL.

  • Twitter (X): Twitter has been a nice source of email signups for our personality based B2B brands, but it can be incredibly fickle as an algo. There’s also the new monetization on-platform, which is enticing. I’d like to find a way to re-distribute content effectively on X without having to become 100% platform dependent (e.g. it only works on Twitter). Twitter + LinkedIn co-distribution seems to be a good first step.

  • Reddit: Reddit is what replaced many quality indie media brands in Google Search, so it may be a hard pill to swallow… BUT I’ve had success co-distributing our content libraries on Reddit. It doesn’t have to be comment spam, either. You can create a perfectly legitimate brand page (e.g. “r/nichemediapublishing”) as a community group, similar to a Facebook page or any other social platform. While popular sub-reddit’s do tend to rank highly, there isn’t as much distinction as you’d expect between highly engaged posts and less engaged posts. I’ve found a mix of helpful “on-Reddit” content and selectively quick summary posts + links back to your site is an effective, non-spammy way to do it. Best of all, you can be your own group moderator.

  • YouTube: We started implementing YouTube into our playbook a few years back. There’s traction, but we haven’t had that viral lift yet. This might be because what works in Google Search isn’t necessarily what works for YouTube. An important tool I’m using to better understand a YouTube-first strategy is TubeBuddy (almost like a Semrush for YouTube).

  • LinkedIn: There are a few different ways to use LinkedIn for traffic. There’s the viral / sharing strategy which compliments a Twitter strategy for sharing content with commentary, but there’s also the publisher side where you can “write an article”. Similar to Reddit, these articles can often rank highly in Google right now as well. Unlike Reddit, I’m not sure if there are any major platform network effects, however. I haven’t experimented with his directly yet, but it’s on my list.

  • Newsbreak Local: Newsbreak is an interesting new local (and some national) news sharing platform. I haven’t been approved yet as Publisher for any of our brands, but when we are, will share my experience. Worth a look if you do anything with local news!

  • AI SEO: I’ve started to see attributed referrals from Microsoft (Bing) Co-Pilot in my analytics reports. It’s still early days, but optimizing to BE the source is increasingly a plausible growth angle. Interestingly, source data is not always correlated with search rankings. OpenAI also recently announced new attribution links for sources.

  • Bing: It’s still a search engine and I’m not entirely sure if there’s anything different to do to optimize for Bing Search vs Google Search, BUT I’m paying close attention to their search layout functions and Co-Pilot integration. Bing also power Yahoo search, DuckDuckGo, and Ecosia, so it has more market share than you think. Early days, but Bing may be catching up…

It' also appears that Bing (and others powered by Bing), have a MUCH higher RPM. Discerning, higher income users tend to use Bing? This was a learning point for me.

  • TikTok: With the legal limbo, I’m not actively planning on getting a TikTok play going. It’s the only traffic channel with MORE obvious risk than Google right now. That said, if they can navigate the legal challenges, or restructure as a US based company, I’m going to give it a strong look.

  • Instagram: I’m prioritizing FB over Instagram, but I suspect a similar strategy might work. I do know that one of my favorite local media plays (Naptown Scoop) got traction initially by sharing (and then crowdsourcing) iconic local images from around town.

Was this a helpful segment? I would love to do more of these and dive deeper on each specific platform if there’s interest.

Which platform are you interesting in learning more about?

For alternative traffic sources.

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Tool Spotlight: Strevio

I’m going to start highlighting more of the “tools of the trade” for indie media publishers, particularly during this time of industry disruption with AI + Google Search changes.

Today’s featured tool that I’m actually paying for & using in our business is… Strevio!

Strevio is a Facebook super tool on steroids. It combines powerful scheduling features and deep insights into what’s working. The more shares your account has the more valuable the insights are.

Over time, with Strevio I’ve been able to:

  • Re-share our most engaged posts

  • Create more related content around our top posts

  • Experiment with new formats and measure results

Best of all, it’s automated, meaning very little tedious post formatting and copy. once you have a performing feed, it’s very close to an evergreen content library.

P.S. They also have a really cool new competitor intelligence feature where you can track what other similar Facebook pages are sharing and what’s working for them.

My Offer: If you sign up using my link here (affiliate) & respond to this email, I’d be happy to do a free 30 minute consulting call to help you get setup (if needed). 

This is a service company we run, reach out if you need content wizards!

Other Newsletters Worth Following

Here are some other publications I subscribe to, author, or co-sign.

Fresh Salmon is a great marketing read at the intersection of content & commerce:

If you are operating a newsletter (or even just interested), this next one is one of my “must opens” every week:

If you leverage affiliate relationships in your media business, Affiliate Insider is where I share my in-the-field experience.

Our COO (Amy), publishes an incredibly detailed and thoughtful newsletter for content marketers here:

Content Forward: Thoughts from the Front LinesWeekly deep dives & insights from a real operator, for creators seeking an edge. New insights every Friday evening!

We also cover the latest MarTech trends and deep dives with a monthly (soon to be weekly) newsletter for B2B operators:

MarTech ToolkitDiscover & Implement marketing tech in your business.

OK, that's it for this week...

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