Is there a magic way to increase blog traffic? Everybody wants to get more and more traffic to their website or blog because this is the reason why these web properties exist but how do you go from 0 to 1,000 visits per day and then from 1,000 to 10,000?
What I will try to explain below are some of the strategies I use to grow my websites (including the blog you are reading now) that are proven to work and techniques you can start using right way and increase your blog traffic for free and without spending any money.
#1 – Patience is the key
While all the steps that you will read below are real and if you follow them correctly you will be able to increase your blog traffic, it won’t happen overnight.
It may not even happen in 5 or 6 months. How long it will take depends on a number of factors (to be discussed in a different post); what is important is to have patience so that you won’t give up too soon.
Instead of anxiously waiting to see your blog posts in the first page of Google, you can concentrate on monitoring your progress (for the different keywords you are targeting) and watching the improvement from month to month. Progress is much more important than anything else and while waiting, you can spend your energy in creating and publishing high quality content on a regular basis.
Patience, regular monitoring and high quality content are the top ingredients for search engine success.
#2 – Optimize your blog for SEO
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the key for your blog’s success. Why?
- For starters SEO will get you more traffic from Google and other search engines.
- It will get you more conversions (whether this is an email signup or the sale of a product) because search engine traffic is converting.
- SEO will get you more links since people tend to link to pages found in the first positions of Google
- SEO will get you more social shares for the same reason as above i.e. if you are on the first positions of Google then it means that your website is good so people are more than willing to share it in their social media
Now that you are convinced that SEO is a must, how do you optimize your blog for SEO?
Well, there is no one magic solution or technique you can follow but understanding the basis of an SEO friendly website and going through our SEO checklist will certainly put you in the right direction.
If you want more traffic for your website or blog then SEO should be your starting point.
#3 – Publish Quality Content
For most people there is nothing new here but for beginners it should be made clear that publishing content online is not enough.
What you need is high quality content that search engines will love and users will find interesting so that they share, comment, continue to the next step (make a purchase, sign up to an email, etc) and come back to your blog for more.
What is high quality content?
In the past this was like a ‘million dollar question’ but over the years search engines have become more advanced and they are now able to spot high quality content and differentiate pages that have high quality content from the rest of the web. In summary, high quality content is:
Original and Unique – the exact same content is not published on any other website
Descriptive – It gives a complete detail view of a situation, covering all sides of a story (i.e. it’s not biased)
Has an author – Users can see who wrote the content, it is not written by admin or unknown.
Sharable – People like the content and they show this by interacting with the content (reading it, commenting, sharing).
If you cannot produce high quality content your chances of succeeding online are minimum so either find a way to improve the quality of your content (by outsourcing for example) or stop wasting your time because this is not going to happen.
#4 – Publish Frequently
Once you figure out how to make good content, the next step is to be able to produce (publish) good content on a regular basis. As Ann Smarty mentioned in a blog post, consistency is the most difficult but yet important part of being successful in blogging.
Why is consistency important?
When you have a well-defined publishing schedule (for example Mon, Wed, Fri), this gives another incentive for users to re-visit your page and also for search engines to come back and get the new content and learn more about your website.
Don’t forget that search engines want to keep their users happy by showing up-to-date and accurate information in their search results so when you update your website regularly they will pick your content even faster.
Create a realistic publishing schedule you can follow in the long term rather than a schedule that is too optimistic and you fail in following.
To increase your chances of following a blogging schedule prepare blog posts for 2 weeks in advance and then start publishing. This will give you enough time to prepare new blog posts.
#5 – Promote your Content in the social world
Don’t just publish content but promote it as well. Your ‘job’ is not finished when you hit the publish button. Creating and publishing blogs is the first part of the blogging equation, the second part is to promote your content so that it gets the attention it deserves.
What do we mean by promoting your content?
Part of your ‘job responsibilities’ either as a digital marketing manager or solo blogger is to connect with other bloggers in your niche and the best way to do that is through the various social media channels.
If you have done this task correctly then most probably you will have at least a few thousand followers in twitter, google plus, facebook etc.
These are the people that are most likely to find your content interesting (provided that you connected with the ‘right people’) so you need to let them know that you have new content on your website or blog by informing them through your business and personal social media accounts.
What is the benefit of promoting your content socially?
Simply put, the more people see your post the greater are the chances of visiting your website, sharing it and linking to it. (See also Social Media VS SEO)
Promoting your content in social media has many direct and indirect benefits and it is the best way to quickly spread the word about your new content.
#6- Do your keyword research
Doing keyword research before creating content is a must for a number reasons.
For starters it will help you understand your niche better by learning what keywords and phrases are the most popular.
Second, it will help you get a higher return from your blogging efforts since a blog post that is the result of keyword research has more chances of getting more organic and social traffic.
Keyword research doesn’t have to be a painful or time consuming process. If you are a beginner, here are some tips to make your life easier:
#1 – Start with the Google keyword tool – www.google.com/sktool. This tool will give you an estimate of how many people per month search google for a particular keyword. I will explain in a different post how to use this tool but this is your starting point.
#2 – Use BuzzSumo – Buzzsumo is like a search engine but the results are based on social media popularity. In other words, when you search for a term, buzzsumo will tell you which articles that have this term performed better in social media.
#3 – Use Google – Start typing in google search and look carefully at the suggestions given to you by Google. Change the letters as you type to get more suggestions. After you hit search, scroll down to the bottom of the page and see which are the “related searches”
#4 – Watch what your competitors are doing – monitor your competitor(s) website(s) closely and take note of what kind of posts they are publishing. Your goals is not to ‘copy’ them but get some ideas on where to concentrate your efforts.
Keyword research is an important tool for all your digital marketing efforts and it is the starting point of SEO, PPC marketing but also social media marketing.
#7- Craft titles that can get you rankings and traffic
This is related to the previous point and what you need to understand in addition to keyword research is the importance of choosing page titles that both search engines and people can understand.
A title that is super human friendly is not necessarily search engine friendly and for maximum exposure you need to learn how to keep a balance between the two. The title of a page is also very important for SEO so you need to make sure that the title includes your keywords otherwise search engines will have a hard time understanding what your page is about.
Good post titles will not only increase your organic traffic but also the email open rate (if you send a newsletter) and social media sharing.
#8- Do some guest posting
Guest posting is considered by many as a “safe” way to do link building but the real benefits of guest posting are far more than getting a link pointing to your website.
Guest posting is a great way to promote your brand (either personal or business) and get traffic to your web site. To take advantage of these benefits you need to get your posts published on high quality websites with lots of traffic and this is not always easy.
First you need to identify the websites that are good candidates to accept your posts and then create a plan on how to get published. The idea of just sending an email with your post will not work so you need to work harder and be more creative.
When approaching big web sites that accept articles from contributors (like forbes, inc, socialmediatoday etc) you need to show them examples of your previous work so before attempting to contact them make sure that you have some nice examples of published work in your portfolio.
When the Editor will review your application for becoming a contributor they will also view your social media profiles so ensure that you have a really strong profile in at least one of the networks.
Guest posting for traffic is hard work but it is definitely something that will set your website (or blog) apart from the rest and this is very good for SEO purposes as well.
#9- Create an email list and send out a newsletter
I cannot think of a niche that an email list would not be useful. Many people believe that social media killed email lists but this is nowhere close to the truth. People still use email and they actually check email several times per day. In most cases they also get a notification when a new email arrives in their mobiles, smart watches or tablets.
Some consider email lists and newsletters as a kind of spam but this is not correct. When people enter their email address to subscribe to your newsletter they do it because they like what they read and they need more.
So whatever your niche is, start collecting emails from your visitors and send out emails to inform them about new posts, new offers, new products and anything else that may interest them without spamming and without overdoing it.
Before sending out a newsletter think for a moment if it is useful for the recipients and if it something you would like to see in your inbox.
For blogs and websites that are not selling any products or services but are using adsense or other ways to monetize their content, an email list registration can be considered as a conversion metric.
It is proven by various studies that traffic from a highly targeted email list converts better than any other source including search and PPC.
#10 Rinse and Repeat!
If you are long enough in this business you should know by now that getting traffic to a website is not a once off process but it is something that needs a lot of patience and hard work.
On the other hand, a website (or blog) with a lot of traffic can make you money and create a number of business opportunities for meeting your goals (and dreams).
To finish this post with a positive message, when you do everything correctly you will be able to see these kind of traffic statistics in your analytics (yearly statistics for one of my other websites).