Learn how to realize the full potential of your blog utilizing these tried-and-true strategies to increase your blog traffic.
If you are reading this, chances are that you already run a blog or about to create one. I might also assume that you’re still on your way to success, otherwise you would’ve been giving me advice instead. The best things in life are yet to come for you, so you might just kick off your shoes, relax, and get ready to learn a lot of new useful stuff.
Before we start talking about strategies to increase traffic, I wanted to define a few key things. If you feel like you already know what a blog is and how to handle it – which means you’re here just for the main course – you may skip the next few paragraphs and jump right into the meat of the article.
However, I strongly suggest that you remain patient and stick with the appetizer. By the way, it’s already here. Enjoy your meal!
What Is a Blog?
According to Wiki, blog is “a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or a small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.” Read this definition carefully – not once, but twice, because the devil is in the detail.
Blogs are (well, should be) written BY PEOPLE and FOR PEOPLE. People read blogs to get some valuable information, news, or simply for fun and entertainment. Those who create and run blogs are called bloggers. In case you haven’t mentioned yet, Digital Branding is a blog too 🙂
Among some of the most successful blogs are (based on eBizMBA rank):
- Huffington Post (approx. 110 million unique visitors monthly)
- TMZ (30 million visitors)
- Business Insider (approx. 25.5 million visitors)
- Mashable (24 million visitors)
- Lifehacker (23.5 million visitors)
- Tech Crunch (15 million visitors)
As you can see, these blogs have millions of visitors monthly, having established a name for themselves and essentially becoming a household name in their respective niches. TMZ is a go-to source of gossips; Mashable and Tech Crunch specialize in digital media, while Huffington Post is a news aggregator, offering articles on politics, business, entertainment, technology, lifestyle, and other things.
“How come these blogs are so successful and I’m still struggling to increase my blog traffic by at least 1%?” you may ask. Well, that’s the $64,000 dollar question, and we’re just about to answer it. But before we delve right into that, let’s recap some of the basics. And by basics I mean…
Three Simple Things You Should Realize Before Even Thinking About a Blog
Whenever we’re about to start doing something, we want to go all in, because we’re all hyped and amped. But don’t you do it, fight the temptation. Take a step back and think once again, “Have I really thought it all over?” If the answer is “no,” then here’s a few tips for your thinking process before you approach a blog.
1. Blogs Are Read by People
“Wow, who would’ve thought?” you may sarcastically exclaim. But the reality is that many bloggers tend to ignore this simple thought. Indeed, blogs are read by people – regular people, just like you and I, who want to obtain some information or just entertain themselves.
Therefore, whenever you do something for your blog, keep asking yourself, “How’s it gonna look like? How would people see that and react to that?” Empathy is a virtue, so try putting yourself in your readers’ shoes as often as possible – this will surely open up a different perspective.
Blog is not about you. You’re not writing for yourself – you’re writing for people. So, CREATE SOMETHING THAT IS WORTH READING AND SHARING. Of course, this does not include pictures of you walking your dog, unless you do it in some original, never-before-seen way. 🙂
2. Three Main Questions: What, Who and Why
Now that you realize the concept of blog and ready to start creating content for your blog, ask yourself three most important questions:
- What am I gonna be writing about? (CONTENT)
- Who am I gonna be writing for? (AUDIENCE)
- Why would people want to read/share this information? (VALUE)
Boy, do these questions clear your mind – better than any psychologist does. Formulate your answers as meticulously as possible, as if your life depended on it, and write them down. Why? Because this is your foundation, basically – once you’ve answered these questions, it all becomes so clear that you can… START WRITING! No, not exactly. Before you commit yourself to paper, consider the following tip.
3. Look Out For the Greats (While Trying to Be Yourself)
Whatever it is you’re about to write about, there is quite high probability (like, 100%) that someone else has done it before. Perhaps, successfully. So why ignore the experience? Find out who are currently the top players on your field and take their blogs down brick by brick, trying to understand what makes them great. See, how much of that you can implement in your own blog.
But don’t you ever copy anybody – search for ideas and inspiration instead. Think about it this way: if everyone is doing exactly the same thing over and over again, they will get the same expected results. Try to stand out from the crowd and find your own thing.
To grow your blog and increase traffic to it, tackle unusual or risky topics, go wild with your design, or develop your signature style of writing – basically, anything that’ll make people say, whenever they come across your content, “Yeah, the article is definitely from this blog.”
18 (or 19) Strategies to Increase Your Blog Traffic
Congratulations, my dear reader! So, you’ve made it here and now it’s the time to talk about the strategies that will help you attract more traffic to your blog. These strategies are not something entirely new or revolutionary; they are based on the common sense, human psychology and years of blogging experience. Most benchmarks have already been set by the greats, so let’s see what they have to offer us.
I’ve combined these strategies into a few large groups for your convenience. They are:
Let’s start with the audience. Ready, set, go!
1. Define Your Target Audience and Hit Precisely
Correct me, if I’m wrong, but there’s no way you can actually compete with Huffington Post or Mashable at this point by posting articles on general topics.
The best strategy for you would be to find your very own niche – something quite specific. For example, if you want to run a blog about animals, don’t go all over the place, you might as well start with “how to look after giant pandas.”
Chances are there’s a few people out there who care about giant pandas more than anything else in this world. Maybe not millions, but there sure are a few thousand. They will be your target audience, not just “people who love animals,” cause that’s, like, everybody.
2. Find Out Where Your Audience Is
Now that you know who your target audience is, you need to figure out what are the most likely places for these people to hang out on the web. Is it WWF forum? Or is it a Facebook fan community like this? It’s up to you to figure out.
As in many other cases, Google is here to help – keep searching until you find all possible spots, where your potential visitors dwell. Rank these spots by potential – from highest to lowest.
Once you’ve got it all figured out, start elaborating on how you will lure these people into your blog. And that’s when you need to…
3. Become a Part of Your Audience
Yes. Remember, when we talked about empathy? It takes a panda lover to find one, and that’s a universal formula. Join communities, read news/announcements, talk to people on forums, find out what they’re up to.
Are they satisfied with the information they get? What are their concerns, complaints? What do they suggest? Imagine yourself as an undercover agent in a gang and gather as much information as possible.
Based on this information, draw up a plan for the content you plan to post over the next few months. For example:
- The natural habitat of giant panda
- Giant panda behavior
- A perfectly balanced diet for your giant panda
To learn more about content strategy, read my article “What is Content Marketing: Guide to Successful Content Strategy” on this topic.
4. Learn From Your Competition
Discovering your potential audience is never boring – you always learn something new (and useful). While you’re at it, you might as well check out your competitors: who they are, what they do, and how they struggle for their place under the sun.
To analyze your competitors more effectively, you can use the same Competitor Analysis tactics as in this “How to Set Up and Launch Successful Email Marketing Campaign” article. Create a spreadsheet, list all your competitors down and their features – across, and rate each competitor from 1 to 10 to see which one is the strongest and at what exactly.
Then it’s all up to you, whether to follow your competitors’ examples or not. Just remember something that Pablo Picasso, a famous Spanish painter, once said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”
5. Write Good Articles
It’s not that I’m implying that your current articles are bad. What I mean is you’ve got to write ridiculously good articles that would be worth sharing, if you want to increase traffic to your blog.
How do you do that? First of all, be familiar with the subject. Second, write about something that hasn’t been written about before. Uncover unpleasant truths, compile curious facts – do whatever it takes to make your content stand out from the crowd. And finally, be specific and targeted.
Being universal won’t take you anywhere.
6. Use Infographics, Videos and Images Generously
Too much text is too much. People these days are more about watching than reading. Images and videos are great for several reasons:
- they help people digest your content easier;
- they allow for a better visual structure of the article;
- they add emotions into otherwise plain text.
Besides, a nice and original infographic is always worth sharing, thus helping drive more traffic to your blog. Just like this one below.
7. Evergreen Content Rules
Evergreen content is the kind of content which stays relevant no matter what the date is. Usually evergreen content features phrases like “Best…,” “Top 10…” and “… Ever.” As opposed to the trending content (which is about some current hot topic), it has longer “shelf life” and much stronger sharing potential.
For example, an article about a golf tournament can stay relevant for the duration of the tournament (a few months maybe). But an article on “Top 10 Golf Players Ever” will last much longer and will probably outlive us all.
8. Catchy Headlines Rule Too!
Yes, they do. How often do you browse the Internet and come across headlines like “10 Ways to Become a Millionaire by Age 30”? I bet, quite often.
What makes this and other articles (they are sometimes called “clickbait”) so popular is catchy headlines. Hard to resist clicking on them, isn’t it? That’s because:
- such articles appeal to basic things which most people can relate to – health, relationships, wealth, gossips etc;
- they offer solution (or an interesting perspective) instead of talking about the problem, and most people love that.
Consider these two factors when creating a headline for your next blog post – it’s one of the most effective strategies to attact more traffic to your blog.
9. Write Both For People and Search Engines
SEO and great writing can and should walk hand in hand. Whenever you’re about to write an article and have it planned out already, spend some time researching possible keywords to make your article not only interesting, but also SEO-friendly.
There are many tools for that, such as AdWords Keyword Planner, for example. It’s free and easy to use – give yourself a favor and try it.
SEO is a huge topic by itself and I suggest your read “On-page SEO Checklist: How to Build a Perfectly Optimized Website Page” article to get the idea of what SEO is.
10. Use LONG-TAIL Keywords
Long-tail keywords are search phrases which contain more than 3 keywords.
For example, “how to make money” is a short to medium keyword, it has millions of search results in Google, while “how to make money in Siberia” has thousands of search results, and “how to make money in Siberia when it’s -200 outside” has probably tens of search results, if any. 🙂
The more results you get, the higher the competition. You don’t want your article on making money to end up on page number 110,645,907 of Google search results, do you? Cause that’ll just ruin the whole purpose of it.
It would be much better to shoot for less people, but make each one of them your fan, than go searching for a needle in a haystack. So, be specific.
11. Create Links to Other Articles (Including Your Own)
Think of it as establishing connections within society. The more friends you have, the more likely some of them will help you. Besides, sometimes it is necessary to mention those you quote.
Don’t be afraid to provide links to your own articles as well – it is SEO-friendly and allows your readers to experience more of your blog.
12. Encourage People to Comment, Share and Like
It’s as obvious as can be. You offer great content for free, people like to read it. There’s nothing wrong in asking for a small favor in return.
If you still haven’t done it yet (I’m sure you have though), place social buttons (Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc.) at the top and bottom of your articles. Not only you should do that, but also be proactive about sharing – ask people explicitly to share and comment your article by showing them various notifications/hints. Don’t overplay it though – be easy on the annoying pop-ups.
You should also use the amount of views, comments, likes, tweets, or shares as an indicator of the article popularity. People tend to follow something that’s been socially approved, so if you have 10 articles and one of them has 1,000 views while others have less than 100, rest assured that people will click on the first one even if it’s not exactly what they’re looking for.
Curiosity killed the cat, but it has never killed a blog reader.
13. Collect Emails and Get Your Users Subscribed
Same here as in the previous strategy to increase traffic to your website. Ask people to subscribe to your blog while offering them something in advance.
Once a person has committed to such action, chances are he/she will stay with you much longer than a random visitor. This is how any community starts.
By the way, don’t forget to subscribe to my blog too – take a look on the right 🙂
14. Post on Other Blogs and Allow Guest Posting
In other words, make friends and be friendly. If you happen to post for someone else’s blog, be sure to provide a link to your own blog – in the article itself or in the “description/ about the author” part.
Same with guest posting – don’t be shy and let other people who share the same ideas as you post on your blog. The benefit is always mutual.
Be sure to provide links to your own articles as well – it is SEO-friendly and allows your readers to experience more of your blog.
15. Implement Analytics Tools and Collect Data
This is a very important strategy that will not only help you increase your traffic, but teach you to think rationally.
Blogging isn’t always about creativity and inspiration – this world is ruled by numbers. Everything you do with your blog should be carefully measured and analyzed via such tools as Google Analytics.
Some of the most crucial metrics to look out for are:
- pageviews/visitors (new vs. recurring)
- time spent on page
- bounce rate
- traffic sources
Collect as much meaningful data as possible and use it to create reports – weekly, monthly, and yearly – to see where you’re heading and how fast you’re doing it.
16. Run Surveys and Listen to What People Have to Say About You
There’s no other way to find out if your blog is worth it or not, than to go ask those who read it. Arrange in-depth conversations with your readers to learn what they really like about your blog and, most importantly, what they don’t like.
Run surveys regularly and ask readers for an opinion about your blog. You can use the so-called Net Promoter Score (NPS) to measure the level of people’s satisfaction with your blog.
Read comments, write comments, reply to comments – engage with your audience in all ways possible. This is the most effective strategy for increasing traffic.
17. Experiment with Timing and Frequency of Your Posts
Believe it or not, but some posts do better if posted on Tuesday morning, others – on Sunday afternoon. Some blogs fare exceptionally well with one article per week, while others need to have fresh content every day. It all depends on the topic and audience, of course, and it’s hard to give strict recommendations, not knowing what your blog is about.
However, it’s in your power to experiment – try different timing and see when posts perform better. Same with frequency – the more you do, the more you learn.
18. Tweak Your Design
Be easy on people’s eyes – don’t let your design dominate your content. Remember, blog is about reading and getting information. It’s not a beauty contest.
Ideally, your design shouldn’t have a lot of fancy colors. Grey to black text on white background is pretty much a standard so keep it that way. Again, look out for the greats.
19. Extra Strategy! BE CLOSE… TO PEOPLE
Remember this simple, yet powerful thought – blogs are read by people. So whenever you do something for people, try to speak their language. They’ll enjoy it. You would’ve too, if you were them.
That’s the end of our 18 (or 19) strategies to increase your blog traffic, hope you found them useful. Try applying them for your blog and see how things change in a short period of time. Meanwhile, thanks for reading and good luck with your blog!
The right thing to do would be share this article with your friends on the social networks – just click on one of the icons of social media, it’s that easy.
If you have further questions on the subject, please write them in comments – I’ll be glad to answer.