The days of easy Google traffic are over and I hear the complaints all the time.
How can I attract more traffic? Will Google ever notice my blog posts?
Well the answer is YES, you can attract great traffic and yes Google WILL notice.
Well…sort of. Someday.
In this post I’d like to address a couple problems holding you back from getting more traffic.
I’ll help you look at blog traffic in a different light.
As usual, feel free to comment.
Here are some useful terms before we get going.
- Traffic = Online visitors to your site
- Returning traffic = People who come back to your site 2 or more times
- Target audience = People who will take action on your messages
- Online graveyard = Where thousands of traffic-less blogs end up every day
Ok, “online graveyard” is one I made up 😉
To find the solution to a lack of blog traffic I’d like to look at two problems I commonly see. These problems prevent bloggers from attracting returning traffic and building it into a target audience. That’s something you need after a bit of time. You need people to take action.
Problem 1: We only look at the numbers
I feel like a lot is wrong with the whole “gimme more traffic” world nowadays.
The first problem is we see traffic as just a number.
75,000 pageviews a month, 60% returning visitors, 140 entrances, etc.
It’s a number we all obviously want to increase and if you run a huge blog your traffic number probably looks great. Go ahead, brag about it.
But as a new blogger your traffic number can be really depressing. It’s growing, and needs time.
It’s risky to focus on this number too much. Why? Because you may start to compare it to what you think it should be. You’ll probably feel it’s not enough.
And if you feel like it’s not enough, your blogging will suffer.
You’ll get desperate to create more content and will stop enjoy the little gains in your work. You might even decide to stop blogging.
So what’s the solution?
I’m no Seth Godin traffic expert, but I think I have something that could save you from the traffic blues.
Try viewing your traffic as a actual person, or group of people. That’s all traffic is afterall, right?
It’s sort of like the old “glass half empty or half full” adage. You’ve got to look at your traffic count as half-full of awesome readers who you get to interact with.
It’s awesome if anyone reads your blog. Even just…6 people a day.
If you take these 6 people for granted they’ll probably vanish. But if you take them seriously they’ll probably turn into 6 more.
Here’s what you can do:
- Respond to every single comment at your blog and on guest posts
- Thank people for tweets and retweets
- Be available to answer questions over email
By giving your entire attention to just a few readers you will secure them as fans. Then, they’ll be more likely to recruit others.
They’ll comment, and people will notice. They’ll share your work to a couple hundred others!!
It’s all about starting small and appreciating the small gains.
— Greg Narayan (@gregnarayan) January 16, 2013
Problem 2: Not enough self-promotion (80/20 rule)
This next problem comes with a fancy rule, a proven one.
The second problem I see among blogs is a lack of self-promotion.
Bloggers assume that just by pumping out content either a lot of people or Google or maybe both will notice them.
Trust me, people won’t notice. Google won’t either, unless you can get a lot of actually people to notice first.
The result is often just a lot of under-appreciated blog posts
Sound like your blog at all?
The DearBlogger launch
When I launched DearBlogger I had three posts up. The first was a basic Welcome Post. It served it’s purpose to explain the site and that’s about it. The other two posts were equally as basic. They were helpful though and conveyed my mission to be a blogging answers community.
I did important Google things, like building backlinks and earning some social stats.
It was sort of a gamble; I had to hope when people arrived they liked my three standing posts. But it paid off.
And it’s paying off as I write this.
So, what’s your strategy?
How much time do you spend building content on your blog? 50% of your time?
Any more would be crazy!
You should spend at least 80% (4/5s) of your efforts as a new blogger away from your blog. This is of course assuming things like design are working well enough at your blog.
Assuming they are, you’ve got to get out there.
More marketing off your blog + less content on your blog =
- More comments per post
- More klout
- More authority (at least a perception of it)
- More excitement for your next post!
I’m not the only one blabbering like this either. Check out Derek Halpern’s post on Why Blogs Fail.
And of course I’ll note that my bounce rate eBook has tips on scaling blog growth too. Like turning 100 visitors into 10,000 visitors kind of growth.
— Greg Narayan (@gregnarayan) January 22, 2013
List of traffic generation strategies
I figured now would be the time for an living list of traffic generation strategies. By “living” I mean I’d like you to add to it in the comments.
Guest posting is my favorite so it’s first, but the rest are in no particular order.
- Guest post on major blogs:
Big traffic hubs exist in any niche in the form of established blogs. The concept is simple: write guest posts for them and meet a new audience. Making your guest posts really stand out nowadays is the tricky part. Put the time in though, this one is well worth it if you want more traffic.
- Encourage shares at your blog:
I like asking readers for a bit help here and there. By encouraging readers to share your work you’ll create more social proof and find more like-minded readers too.
- Build your Google+:
With Google Authorship looming, a stronger G+ profile will most-likely rank you higher in Search. Read my guide to Google+ for more.
- Twitter mining:
Twitter will always be a good source of blog traffic but not everyone does it right. First you should make your bio awesome, and brief. Then, go find like-minded tweeters. Engage them or offer a retweet. I’ve actually met a lot of long-term blog readers directly on Twitter.
- Organic traffic from Google:
Yes, the holy grail of blogging. Organic traffic from Google will keep your business going and at some point, you’ll fail without it. I recommend using Keyword Tool by Google to create posts with “Google Titles” (aka permalinks) that are heavily searched. This naturally helps posts rank based on trend frequency. Even if your posts don’t hit the Google top 10, they’ll get clicks lurking in the 20s and even 30s. Google is a big place, ya know.
- Write a niche-narrow eBook:
Writing an eBook positions you as an expert. Being an expert is a crucial step to getting returning traffic, and people can willingly share your eBook to new readers.
- Create video content on YouTube
My recent focus has been building pillar content on YouTube. The kind of evergreen videos like this someone will always want to watch. Getting on YouTube opens the floodgates to a whole new audience and is a great way to diversify your online promotional efforts.
- Do a live demo
Know anyone that owns a bar, restaurant, or a bit of open presentation space? Post an invite to your Facebook friends, create a PowerPoint, and set up a live demo of how to blog. You’d be surprised how many will turn out and the word of mouth that results will be phenomenal!
- Mention other bloggers
Even as a small blogger, you can link back to other websites you admire. If they notice and like your work, they’ll probably throw you a link too. This kind of cross promotion is what blogging is all about!
- Build another website
Have some spare time and a diverse set of interests? Create a new website and leverage the strength of your existing one alongside of it. When Dear Blogger was brand new I linked to it from my other blogs and the result was much quicker traffic growth.
- Post blog timely comments
In my earlier days of guest posting some comments from ProBlogger were the largest source of traffic at Dear Blogger. Get comments in early, at the top of a list, and make them sassy. People will click the name to see who done said that!
- Write for article directories
Writing for sites like Ezine, Squidoo, and GoArticles can boost your traffic stats. These sites let you build your writing portfolio and offer a couple links back to your blog. The top authors per niche get LOTS of attention and probably get offered paid blogging opportunities too.
- Email a celebrity about a blog partnership:
I even emailed Seth Godin at one point asking for a blog partnership. I’m going to save that topic/email for another post though. This was a crazy-creative-moment that I think we bloggers can learn a lot from.
So what do you think? If I missed your favorite traffic gen strategy just drop a comment and let us know. Again, think “avoid online graveyard” people.
How to fail at getting traffic
I thought we’d end with some traffic-gen strategies you should avoid.
a. Begging for links: You’ll lose a lot of respect
b. Twitter mass following: You end up following nonsense robo-accounts
c. Facebook spam: Usually irrelevant
d. Comment spam: Totally pointless (thank god for Akismet)
e. Forum spam: Will get you swiftly banned
f. Content over-stuffing: Mass producing articles won’t magically bring the traffic
If you’ve tried any of these don’t worry, I probably have too. But realize that these activities may actually harm your image and send people away from your site.
Healthy traffic: Where will it get you?
Increasing traffic levels will open doors for you as a blogger or online entrepreneur. You can do virtually anything with it.
You can do a couple things straight away to get more traffic:
- Set up your Google Analytics profile and see how your website is currently doing.
- If your bounce rate in Analytics is too high (over 20% is high) grab your free copy of my bounce rate eBook.
More traffic comes from small adjustments today, that pay off the next time Google hits the Search “refresh button”. It’s a moment we bloggers and SEOs look forward to
I’d really love to hear how you work to find more traffic. Grey-hat, white-hat, red-hat, whatever. I think if we bounce off some ideas here we may actually develop a new traffic gen strategy or two.
Post a quick comment and help us avoid the ol’ blog graveyard.