In July 2015, Sam Kazemian, Mahbod Moghadam, Travis Moore, and Tedde Forselious started Everipedia, a modern age Wikipedia.
I had a chance to sit down with them and their founding team in order to learn more about how they have used unique marketing tools to boost their success.
Keep in mind that Wikipedia is the 7th largest site in the world and gets an estimated 300 million unique page views a month, so their task was to try anything and everything to edge out pageviews from one of the largest sites in the world.
After about 9 months of being launched they cracked 1 million pageviews a month and now are around 3 million per month.
There’s a lot to be learned from their hustle – and from our discussion, I pulled out 10 actionable tips to get from 0 to a million page views per month.
1. Grow Your Social Media Following
This is honestly just a requirement for everything in this day and age. Social media is slowly becoming the new go-to for marketing.
Building a good following on social media can be tricky but extremely rewarding for your traffic. At this point, about 10-20% of Everipedia’s traffic comes from our social media networks alone, translating to around 300-500k pageviews a month.
In order to expand and leverage your social media networks, consistency is key.
All of your networks should have the same pictures, headlines, links, and posts. This uniformity means that all of your consumers whether they look to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Tinder for their news will find your page and see the content you push.
Additionally, make sure that all of your posts have hashtags on them or else you will miss a large chunk of organic search via social media sites.
It’s a good place to start – but to learn more, you’ll want to copy Guy Kawaski’s social media strategy.
2. Enhance Your Social Media Engagement
Besides just maintaining quality social media profiles, you need to get out and engage with people on these networks.
Facebook groups have largely replaced the need for forums and also enhanced the ease of reaching specific demographics. Meanwhile, Twitter has made it extremely easy to track trends and keywords of your target demographic.
Between these two routes along with search engine marketing and targeted hashtags, you’ll be able to talk directly with people who might be interested in your site. Keeping up this sort of engagement and outreach is free and pays off in dividends by recruiting more members to your following.
To expand your reach beyond the basics, you’ll want to learn about the top social media platforms for engagement.
3. Nurture Virality
The Kardashian Klan made a few hundred million dollars in 2015 and will make even more in 2016.
They know how to work the attention economy, generating and controlling social media and press buzz. Even a tasteless rumor can drive incredible traffic to their personal projects, sites, and apps.
If you are able to replicate or hop on similar trends you will be able to garner boosts, too.
“We have a bit more maneuverability since our site is literally an encyclopedia for everything, but targets we found worked well were television shows since traffic for the pages came each and every week, celebrities for similar reasons, trendy news stories such as Bernie rallies or hashtag social movements, and other things you could see on the “Facebook Trending” section,” says the Everipedia team.
All of these socially viral topics will lend yourself an increased probability to being found and possibly shared.
Want to know more about highjacking attention? Read Mahbod’s Startup Guide to Guerilla Marketing.
4. Always be Building your SEO
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization is pretty much just a set of steps to follow in order to ensure your website pops up as high as possible in Google searches.
The core SEO surrounds 5 pillars.
First, keywords are pretty much what words do you want your site popping up for.
Next, incoming links refers to how many sites are linking to you, what keywords they are linking to, and how reputable are those sites.
Thirdly, the more traffic you get the higher up you rank.
Fourth, the amount of unique content on your site boosts your ranking, since Google only wants to be promoting the first edition.
Lastly, in hand with the previous pillar, Google gives points to both the oldest and most recent content for any given link, so starting out you might have a honeymoon period, but long term you will have to compete heavily to beat a similar site from 1999.
Don’t know where to start with SEO? Look no further than the Founder’s Guide to SEO.
5. Don’t Waste Time or Money on PR
Press is nice and can be a cool note to add to your resume or tell your friends, but in terms of traffic will not get you anywhere near 1,000 page views per article let alone 1 million.
For traffic and traction’s sake, your time is better spent focusing on growth hacks and expansion, rather than trying to get featured in the New York Times or Wall Street Journal.
More to the point, press is there for any startup and project – you just need a story. Spending $5,000 a month on a PR firm is purely a waste of money and giving money to any writer will likely result in a loss on investment.
Don’t outsource press and don’t do press in-house. Just keep working on your story.
6. Leave Your Shame at the Door
In order to have a site take off, you need to be promoting it constantly – always posting in your personal channels, and never leaving a stone unturned.
Too frequently, I meet people who are afraid to pursue options, reach out to investors/writers/unicorn founders, or scared of what self-promotion might make them look like.
This is 100% of the time the wrong approach to have. If you care about something more than your company or project, then you should not be working on it full time and you will never cross into the million pageviews a month club.
Simply speaking, never have shame for your company and always look for opportunities to talk about it and share its ingenuity. Mahbod certainly doesn’t – and it works!
7. Work Seven Days a Week
The problem with aiming to hit a million page views per month is that you need to average 35k pageviews a day – and this statistic doesn’t take weekends.
So neither can you.
Tying in with the previous point, if you would rather go to the beach on your weekends, then you are doing things wrong.
Building and maintaining a site requires extreme dedication and a ton of work, which needs to be constant.
As Lori Greiner puts it, “Entrepreneurs work 90 hours a week to avoid working 40.”
For websites this is even more true because each day is a precious opportunity to get traffic and if you aren’t pushing some sort of content or experience and promoting it then you are losing out on opportunities.
I asked the Everipedia team about its own work schedule to which they replied:
“Everipedia’s office is based out of a penthouse in LA that the whole team lives and works out of. Admittedly there will be a few days a month where I won’t leave the building because I am glued to my computer getting stuff done. While we try to find the healthy balance of getting to the gym and scheduling in a couple blocks of time a month for fun, realistically our only priority is the site and getting it to succeed. We have mimicked this off of one of our cofounder’s previous companies, RapGenius which is now one of the top 1,000 sites in the world and we like to think is a common denominator for both sites’ success.”
8. Put the Cult in Company CULTure
My grandfather owned a lot of businesses and the wisdom he passed onto me which I will always remember is that for business partnerships, “The beginning should always be perfect, this is your honeymoon before things get bumpy. The best businesses find a way to keep that honeymoon feel in the partnership forever.”
If you and your team are not deathly and creepily in love with each other, the project, and the mission you are certain to have cracks pop up down the line.
As the running trend for getting to a million a month is, if you would let anything get between you and your company/team then it is not the right thing for you.
Be in love, be passionate, and drink the Kool-Aid.
9. ABC: Always Be Creating (content)
Content is key.
If you are not posting content, updating features, and overall continuing to exceed people’s expectations then last month’s first time viewers will not be this month’s returning viewers.
As seen with most apps, the most important statistics are monthly active users and daily active users.
These stats derive from an extended recurring interest in the content of the app or site.
Building these loyal users and content readers, who become brand ambassadors, creates recurring monthly pageviews each month from the same demographic – but demands you keep impressing them.
10. Never Pay for Pageviews
Bought traction is not traction.
Furthermore, Google is pretty good at figuring out when things are getting clicks from Bangladeshi click-farms and when it is actually a trending page, and Google is not kind to those who game the system.
Additionally, this will likely get you burned from joining ad networks or receiving VC funding since most are vehemently against fake traffic.
Overall, fake traffic is definitely the apple in the Garden of Eden, seemingly valuable while innately poisonous: why pay for +$1 per click via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or AdWords when the chances of those clicks converting into recurring users is extremely low?
The biggest takeaway here: pageviews are not the end all be all.
Pageviews per month is only as valuable as your bounce rate, pageviews per session, returning visitors, and email captures. Buying one statistic will not get you anywhere unless the others come with it.