One rule you can always follow in regards to making sites and driving traffic to them is - CONTENT IS KING. There will be nothing else in this world that will drive traffic as much as good content does. Nothing will attract more customers and visitors. Doesn’t matter what your niche is - as long as your content is good, you will see an audience that will grow exponentially.

Like you I am a scientist and like you did in the past, I am currently working on translating great scientific literature into tips. In my case it’s child development research into play tips for parents. I can already see that the outcome of my experiment is going to be the same as yours. Great content but who cares. I hadn’t even thought about my key influences. I know some important ones, but don’t see how they would share my content. I thought I was writing content for my potential customers. Is your SEO that works course the same as the content that gets results course? Sorry if I sound a bit dim asking that question.

Google is currently been inundated with reconsideration requests from webmasters all over the world. On public holidays the Search Quality teams do not look at reconsideration requests. See below analysis. From my experience it can take anywhere from 15-30+ days for Google to respond to reconsideration requests; during peak periods it can even take longer.
The latest research from Google underscores the importance of having a mobile-friendly website. As consumers continue to spend more time on mobile devices, mobile page load speeds are critical to a good user experience. Over 50% of mobile users abandoning sites that take longer than three seconds to load, but most web pages take a lot longer to load, creating a significant gap between consumers' expectations and most businesses' mobile capabilities. 
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