I love you guys…

… but some of you found this blog using some WEIRD ASS SEARCH TERMS.

I was tipped off to this phenomenon a few years ago when I first entered the blogging world. Monica over at Run Eat Repeat made a habit of posting lists of all the random search terms that folks used to find her blog, and there were some head scratchers in there. Fast forward to when I finally had a blog of my own and I decided to see what search terms people were using to find MY little corner of the internet.

Guys, I was mortified.

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As it turns out, this search term weirdness is really a thing. And seeing all the terrible things people have typed into a search browser in order to click on a link from MY site is one of the most entertaining and terrifying parts of my blogging life. But I can’t keep it to myself.

Let’s take a look at 2016’s Top Ten Greatest Search Terms (with commentary):

10. sweaty after gym girl

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But also, accurate.

9. real mermaid found after hurricane ike

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I’m not saying there’s no public record of me BEFORE Hurricane Ike, but…

8. the heat was unbearable yesterday but we had fun in the park

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7. ur happy is everything to me

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Thank you, random kind person on the internet.

6. hand foot and mouth disease is hell

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IT REALLY IS.

5. far side old man weather

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Guys, I have NO idea why, but this post is hands down my most popular post of all time. Even 2+ years after posting, it STILL gets daily views, sometimes more than fresh posts I just published that day. I really wish I knew why, but for now it makes me laugh just knowing it’s out there, still getting eyeballs.

4. imma keep it real classy

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Of course that term would lead you here. Because I am 100% classy…

3. keeping it sassy

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… and 110% sassy.

2. celebrity mom gets head dunked under in pool

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Literally NONE of those words are used on my blog in succession. I award you no points. And may God have mercy on your soul.

1. swimcap gagged

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YOU GUYS, COME ON. KNOCK IT OFF. THAT’S DISGUSTING.

Keep it Sassy, Keep it Classy, Keep it Real

When I started this blog, Imma be honest: I had NO idea what I was doing. All I wanted was to stop annoying the majority of my online friends who didn’t care about my running and fitness escapades, and a place to keep track of my training, vent my frustrations, and share more than just a few sentences in an Instagram photo caption.

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My friends’ faces after my 274th post about nailing a training run.

So I created the blog and created new Facebook and Twitter accounts to link to it, easy peasy. Seems like a win-win! But as time went on, I found that creating quality content for all these channels was hard, yo. By the time I get done with 9+ hours of writing and editing at my 9-5, the last thing I want to do is more writing. I’m tired. Hell, the last time I wasn’t tired was when Bush was in office. The FIRST Bush.

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Long story short, quality content is hard to create.

Fast forward to a month ago, when I attended a Content Marketing Class. In addition to some helpful tricks for my 9-5 gig (who paid to send me there!), I also picked up a few tips on shaping my social media strategy. If you’re blogging or tweeting or whatever solely for your own enjoyment, then by all means keep doing you. But if you’re interested in growing your own blog and social followings, these tips really struck me and I wanted to share them with you!

The first one? Keep it real. The most successful marketers (or bloggers, Instagrammers, etc) are genuine. They’ve found a unique way to tell their stories, whether it’s through humor or by being super smart or whatever. Think about it this way: when you’re looking for blogs to read (or people to follow on IG, Twitter, etc), what kind of stuff resonates with you most and makes you click the subscribe button? A quick re-telling of the same “Winter Running Motivation” article from Women’s Running Magazine that you’ve seen four other bloggers re-tell? Or an expletive-laced story about the time a runner got heckled by a passing motorist?

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with either of those posts – hell, I wrote both of them. I’ve learned it’s OK to publish content that will attract eyeballs simply because it’s a hot topic and people are searching for it. That’s organic traffic, and it’s a good thing. But to gain traction and connect with people, the key is to tell each story in a way that makes you stand out from the crowd.

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Go ahead, write one more blog post about the things that go through your head during a long run. But instead of using the same old “This is great/Is it over yet?” platitudes that the 12,539 articles about this topic use already, how about telling your story with GIFs?

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People will want to keep reading just to see how this GIF fits into a post about running 12 miles. I promise.

Similarly, this second tip is one that won’t fly with everyone, but I’ve found success on Instagram with it and think it’s worth mentioning: don’t be afraid to open up and switch things around a bit!  If you’re interested in growing a following, think about it in terms of making friends in real life: no one likes to hang out with the guy that ONLY talks about Star Trek 24/7 (no offense to you Trekkies, I’m part Trekkie myself). While people are coming to your blog or IG profile because you’re all about fitness or biking or running, it’s OK to open up a little and incorporate some other parts of your life into your content too. After all, it’s your feed.

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You DO have other things you enjoy besides lifting heavy things and putting them back down, yes? Well so do your readers! Show them you’re more than a one-trick pony. Post a pic of your dog. Blog about your latest vacation. Open up about those insecurities you have about your training. People appreciate that you have a life (just like them!) filled with kids and arguments and cupcakes and all that other stuff that can’t be measured with a scale or tracked with a Garmin.

I’m not saying turn your feed into the Dave-the-Doberman Show (no offense to Dave, he’s really a cute dog) – think 80% “brand” related content (running if you’re a runner, for example), and 20% cat pictures/artsy shots of your wine at happy hour/whatever else floats your boat. When you share more than your mile splits and WOD’s, I bet you’ll connect with more people than you think.

So how about it? Have you found any other tips that you’d like to share? Share in the comments!