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I've Reached One Million Views! Time to Tell You How

I've reached a million views! PARTY AT MY HOUSE

This is not a drill, my friends: Ashley Shankle has reached one million total views. One year in the works and hundreds (maybe thousands) of hours poured into my work, and I have finally reached that shining milestone!

Because I feel like I've earned it, I'm just going to wing it here. Not going to write like I normally do, I'm going to write how I talk, give you some history, and rundown how I reached a million views. Plus some other junk after. Deal with it.

Believe it or not, I'm not new to the writing game

I came to GameSkinny as a contractor, not a site user. My expertise, specifically, is SEO (search engine optimization) and general content writing. I'd worked for several small companies in the past writing copy, optimizing their sites, all that jazz. I'd taken the dip into gaming sites before with a very small site years ago, but coming here was my first real foray into this (games journo) industry specifically. Though I know I'm technically not a games journo, for now.

I applied for my position here because I was dead broke and about to be homeless. This gig saved me, though shortly after my older dog, Maxie, went through kidney problems and eventually was diagnosed with diabetes a mere two weeks after I began here. (She got cataracts three months later, which then shattered her retinas two weeks later. But she's fine otherwise!)

-- I wandered off course here.

Point being, I came here with an extensive amount of experience behind me in general content writing and SEO practices. Paired with video games (my biggest hobby), this job overall has been a dream come true. I wanted to work for a gaming magazine growing up. This is basically the closest thing you can get today.

Traffic-building from the start

Now, there is a particular aspect of every website that most people don't know about: page ranking. Page ranking (PR) dictates how highly Google (and other search engines) will place pages from that site by default. The higher a site's PR, the better leverage it has to get on the first page of search results. This is super important to any site looking to make revenue, and a brand new website has to fight an uphill battle to get placed and have a reasonable PR.

GameSkinny, as with any other site, started with abysmal PR and in its first few months it was my and the other contractors' jobs to get relevant content on the site to give it some leverage. Once we had begun to move forward with that, I began a series of articles covering what was to come in Aion 4.0.

Now, the Aion thing might not sound significant but we were able to get on the first page of search results for Aion-related keywords within about a month. For a long time, the majority of our search-based traffic came from Aion. We've been around for just over a year -- Aion pulled in a reasonable amount of traffic (for the time, anyway) for 5 to 6 months.

For a long time, I couldn't compete with Kevin Spence. So while my search engine traffic was nice (and very long-term for how small of a site we were), my overall views weren't higher than the almighty Kevin.

Surprise: For a long time, Kevin was my 'white whale'. I wanted nothing more to overtake him in views and claim my rightful place as king of GameSkinny.

I am sure there are more than a few regular posters on the site who would love nothing more than to knock me down from the number one spot. I have, afterall, taken a giant lead over everyone else. So here's what I have to say to you:

You can do it, if you have the right strategy.

Strategy baybee

I've garnered as many views as I have because I came up with a strategy, I put it into motion, and then I rolled with it as it unfolded. Hell, I'm still rolling with it.

My big tasty niche is Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Big surprise, right? But the way I approached it in particular was designed (by me) to maximize the amount of traffic I could get from those articles. Take a look at my dashboard:

For a relatively small site like us, the traffic jump gained by my initial set of Final Fantasy XIV articles was amazing.

  • Day 1 - 4k views
  • Day 2 - 18k views
  • Day 3 - 25k views
  • Days after that up until now - averaging at 14k views per day

For us, this is a really big deal. These articles got us to PR1 and really solidified us in a community -- something various writers on-site have been trying to do for quite some time. (Before all this started, I had over 300k views under my belt.)

The release of this series and its subsequent success is not only from shares and search engines, but also how I've linked them all together in some way with optimized links.

Here, take a look at my Leveling Crafting/Tradecrafts with Repeatable Leves Guide. There are 11 total links to other articles I've written on the subject. Each link goes to relevant content the reader will be looking for after reading the primary article.

Literally every single one of my FFXIV guides contains at least two links to other relevant articles. Most of them have three or four relevant links.

My strategy here was: I can create all this content on this one subject, all of these articles will be sort of related. If I link them all together, Google will index them based on all of these relevant optimized links and individual visitors will be far more likely to click around.

And you know what? It worked. It worked amazingly. Optimized links, by the way, are those that have just the right words in the hyperlink text. Examples can be found all around my FFXIV content. I figure I'll go more into that with my series of SEO articles coming soon.

You have to think about your readers and the search engines when you're looking for long-term success when writing online.

You need to know what your readers want, what is likely to turn them away (and keep them around), and whether that niche of people is likely to link your content. You also need to think about how search engines like Google and Bing will index your content. Do you have a keyword in mind, are you using it properly? Are you linking for success?

All of the factors above will contribute to whether or not an article you write will do well in the long run. I'll go more into detail on them later, in another article.

Anyway, who cares!

Since this whole article is FUBAR:

  • My favorite games are Star Ocean: The Second Story, Harvest Moon: Back to Nature, Silent Hill 2, Sonic Adventure 2, Xenogears, and Romancing SaGa: Minstrel's Song.
  • My favorite food is pho. My favorite soda is Coke.
  • I have two amazing dogs, who I have to thank for keeping me grounded when things have gone poorly. My dogs, and games, are my life.
  • I prefer manual to automatic transmissions.
  • The first game I ever owned was Super Mario Bros. 3.
  • I am still waiting for ArcheAge.
  • im da bes
Published Nov. 10th 2013
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