Months Later, My First Post Became the Top Result on Google

Don’t forget to monitor your old Medium posts.

Carter Kilmann
Feb 22 · 4 min read
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As a freelance writer, I love LinkedIn. It’s an invaluable resource and lead-generating tool. It also allows me to connect with clients, fellow writers, old colleagues — and even satisfied readers. One such reader messaged me the other day:

Hi Carter,

I came across your post on the medium titled “Quitting Corporate: Why I chose happiness over money

To be fair, I googled up to get some motivation & stumbled upon yours. I agree with the things you said.

I wish you all the best.

-Sruthi

I thought, “That was nice of her to take time out of her day to message me.” Then the gravity of her message hit me: “Wait, she found me on Google?”

Sure enough, after rattling off a few Google searches, I discovered that I ranked on Google’s first SERP for several keyword phrases.

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Source: Google

I dug into the depths of my content stats — which really isn’t that far down — and found a pleasant surprise. My Medium post has gradually accumulated Google traffic over the last three months. The numbers aren’t crazy high; it’s not like hundreds of thousands of people flocked to my post as a result of its newfound ranking. My external views average closer to 1,000 per month so far.

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Screenshot from my post’s stats page

I wondered, “What else am I missing?” So, I perused my older posts in search of anomalies. Although the traffic pales in comparison, it turns out that I have a few posts that rank on Google for certain keywords.

Some are a bit…unconventional, like “Why did curiosity kill the cat?”

The immediate takeaway is validation — Google crawls billions of webpages to find the most relevant information, so based on that logic, the search engine deemed some of my writing to be valuable. That’s pretty neat.

Besides feeding our egos, what else can we do with this heralded status? If you write for Medium’s Partner Program, you’re well aware that external views don’t generate earnings, but that doesn’t mean we can’t monetize or take advantage of Google traffic in other ways.

How To Use Google Rankings to Your Advantage

While external views don’t contribute to reading time — which ultimately drives Medium earnings — you can still take advantage of the Google traffic. Let’s walk through four ways to earn money or build your following using search engine traffic.

Affiliate links

Even if you’re unfamiliar with affiliate links, I bet you’ve at least clicked on them before. Product reviews are a common example. The reviewer will include links to the product or service they’re assessing, and the company pays them for driving traffic to the landing page.

There are a few written/unwritten rules of affiliate marketing though:

  1. Don’t be sleazy — disclose that you’re using affiliate links. It’s unethical and potentially illegal to sell something to a reader without them knowing.
  2. Don’t overdo it. There is such a thing as too many links, which will feel salesy and discredit your content.
  3. Only promote products and services that you believe in. Needless to say, if they’re your products and services, your advocacy is a given.

Courses

If you created a course and it’s relevant to the post, you can drive Google traffic to your course’s landing page with a well-crafted CTA. Of course, the keyword is relevant. A cooking course CTA at the bottom of a story about financial hardship would be bizarre and offputting. Personally, you’d get a chuckle out of me — so maybe it could work.

Social media

If your readers enjoy your writing, maybe they’ll like your tweets, pictures, and pins too. There’s nothing wrong with extending an open invitation to your readers to follow you on social media. I’ve never tried this approach (I’m awful at maintaining a social media presence) but that doesn’t mean it’s not a viable option.

Email list

Email lists help you engage with your readers and cultivate relationships with your audience. Of these four options, this is the one I’ve actually implemented. I’ve used my most popular Medium posts to drive traffic to my personal finance newsletter, Bits. To date, I’ve gained 95 subscribers using this technique.

Don’t Neglect Old Posts

Obsessing over your Medium stats is unhealthy and unproductive — but it’s worthwhile to scroll through your archive once a month to ensure nothing slips through the cracks. You never know when a post will go viral or become a top result on a search engine.

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