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
Tags seo 
Published Nov. 10th 2013
  • Germaximus
    That is amazing. Huge congrats. =)
  • JohnHeatz
    Featured Correspondent
    Amazingly informative! I run my very own little (tiny) gaming-news site, and have been struggling since day one with this...your advices here are definitely something I have to seriously take in consideration!
  • Ashley Gill
    Associate Editor
    I'm glad I could help. :) I'm starting a new article series soon based around utilizing basic SEO practices, to help other writers less experienced than I in the field. Obviously, the advice given will be applicable here and on other sites.

    My first one should be coming up in a day or two, and will be focused around an efficient use of links and making them work FOR you. After that we'll delve into keywords and some other fun stuff.

    I may be starting a small workshop-type thing within the next month, to give direct pointers to writers on how to handle all that stuff.
  • Capt. Eliza Creststeel
    Nearly 800 articles is astounding!

    Can't imagine how many you're posting on a daily basis. I won't be too disheartened by my 75,000 views, since I've only managed about 75 articles to date.

    The volume of your work is very respectable, lass and I do wish you continued success.
  • Ashley Gill
    Associate Editor
    I have been posting on GameSkinny since October of last year (I mean, in my case it IS my job). I used to write 3 to 5 articles a day, now I'm just down to 2 or 3 (or none) because the guide content takes so long. For example, I have several guides currently sitting in draft to be deployed later this week.

    You shouldn't feel discouraged sitting at 75k for a total of 75 articles. The site's overall traffic (outside of the areas I'm strategically pummeled) is rather small, and your traffic is fine in the scope of things and will only really grow as the community does.

    One thing I'm not good with is community dealings -- I can write guides all day, but at the end of the day I'm abrasive and too blunt (sometimes to the point of getting in trouble). People like you, Coatedpolecat, and the other community members that are engaged and get others engaged are what will carry us into the future. For that, I am very grateful. :)
  • Corey Kirk
    Featured Columnist
    Thanks for the article Ashley! I've learned two things from reading this. One, my linking needs work. I don't do it often (if at all) and my views are suffering from not doing what you are advising. Second, I need to start writing guides lol.
  • Ashley Gill
    Associate Editor
    Just to give you an idea of just how important linking (and proper links) are, ponder on this: I wrote an article SOLELY with links to my guides, but sorted. That can be found here: https://www.gameskinny.com/27qul/just-ashleys-final-fantasy-xiv-guides-current-and-upcoming-listed

    Now, at first glance it just looks like it's a convenience for visitors, and it is. It's gotten 16k views, the vast majority of those have been from Google or clicking from related articles. BUT the real motivation was to have even more optimized links pointing back to all of my content, giving it a bit more leverage.

    Something to note about this is that links coming in from OUTSIDE high PR domains are actually more powerful than those from the same domain, but those from the same domain are still effective when handled correctly.

    ;D And yes, I do recommend writing guides. They're hard work, but if you pull it off right you are in the clear in terms of traffic.
  • GabrielKross
    Featured Columnist
    I need to rework my links, just by reading this I've figured out what I've done wrong with mine.
  • Coatedpolecat
    Featured Correspondent
    I went back and did the same. :)
  • GameSkinny Staff
  • Stephanie Tang
    Featured Columnist
    Congrats! I was really excited about getting past 100k, it seems like such a small milestone in comparison. ^^;

    I like your inter-linking stuff a lot, it's useful without being overbearing. :)
  • Stephanie Tang
    Featured Columnist
    Also, now I want pho. Pho party?
  • Ryan Kerns
    Featured Columnist
    Hmmm very interesting read. I've only been on the site for a little over a week and I had no idea it was pulling in that kind of traffic.

    What I'm wondering though how come out of those thousands of people none of them seem inclined to click on other articles or leave comments... personally I've found a lot of interesting content and have been commenting on lots of things... I noticed Coatedpolecat and a few others doing the same... but nothing to indicate there were that many eyes on the site.

    I was a webcomic artist for Keenspot for a couple years and I would obsess over my numbers as well... but I always considered it more of a victory to have people who became regular readers and would send me mail or comment in the forum (even if it was hate mail.... got quite a bit of that) more than the number of unique hits I had each day.

    I have some ideas myself for getting the site to grow... I think the youtube channel is grossly underused at the moment. Hopefully with all of us working together the site will level up even more.
  • Ashley Gill
    Associate Editor
    The distribution of traffic is a bit of a mystery to me because unfortunately I'm not privy to exact stats on particular metrics. From what I understand, my content is heads and shoulders above everyone else's in terms of traffic, which is an issue we're trying to address.

    I have a few theories on why it is the way it is, but the simplest reasoning would be that the people coming to my guides are here for one reason: to open up their browser while in-game in FFXIV and level their tradecrafts. That's the one downside to my traffic gains: It's a bit of a black hole. That said, I do know my (and the entire site's) repeat visitors are at an all-time high.

    I don't worry about the numbers as much as I used to, because at this point it's smooth sailing for me. As long as my traffic is high, I can rest easy knowing I accomplished what I set out to do.

    I know over the coming months there are some things in the works to diversify our traffic into other niches, whether those come to fruition is going to depend on the individual writers. I very much want to give those who are not used to this industry the tools/direction they need to be effective.

    Additionally, I agree with the YouTube sentiment. I'm hoping our channel gets some more love.
  • Coatedpolecat
    Featured Correspondent
    I really enjoyed the article, it was a fun read. Also those points about links and running article together is something I'll take to heart.

    Thanks for the awesome piece, and DOUBLE HIGH FIVE!
  • Ashley Gill
    Associate Editor
    Thanks, bud. :) I really want to be able to help other writers pull in more traffic. Not just because the site is in my best interest, but because it feels great and it will help them become more recognized overall. It's a win-win.

    Hitting one million felt great (I was excited to reach it for weeks), and I want other people to feel the same!

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