1. Be Strategic About Your Content
If you want to increase blog traffic, the best thing you can do is quite simply create better content. You’ve probably heard this before – the term “content is king” is thrown around more than a funnel at a frat party. But creating “better content” isn’t just about quality. It also means being more strategic with your content marketing efforts.
The most successful content is the kind that meets a specific need. Think about your audience and what they love. Content these days almost always falls into one of two categories: cool and funny or useful and educational. Choose either and you’re probably off to a good start.
If you need ideas, check out Quora and see what questions are being asked that relate to your industry subject. Also try using Buzzsumo to see what others have written about in your field, then make something even better. Or use one of these eight handy blog topic generators.
When it comes to content style, shoot for shocking statistics, beautiful infographics, and rich storytelling via video. Create stuff people want to link to and share.
Create Evergreen Content For Your Blog
Try to make sure that most of your content is evergreen. Evergreen content is the kind of content that can live forever on the web and that time won’t make irrelevant. For example, a post about this year’s Oscar nominations will become useless in a few months time. A post about the greatest movie classics will continue to be relevant over the years, making it evergreen.
Crafting Kickass Headlines
As a blogger, you should always ensure that you’re creating irresistibly awesome headlines. Your headline is what gets visitors to your site and captures their interest.
Some even suggest that your headline is more important than your actual post! If you have a great content piece hiding behind a shabby headline, it’ll die a quick death. Appearances are everything, and just as you wouldn’t show up to a wedding wearing your stay-home-sick clothes, you can’t rely on lackluster headlines to promote your blog posts.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different headlines. Share your post multiple times with different headlines and see which style works best.
Create a Newsletter To Showcase Your Best Blog Posts
Promotion needs to be a big part of your content strategy, so that your hard earned blog posts drive that traffic you so desperately desire!
One quick and easy way to start driving more traffic to your blog is to start collecting emails for a blog newsletter. Once you’ve captured those contacts, you can send them weekly or monthly emails featuring your best posts, bringing already familiar visitors right back to your website. Since these users are already comfortable with your blog, chances are they might explore a bit more on their next visit. Who knows what they’ll find?
2. Don’t Fear the Keywords
If you really want to drive big time traffic to your blog, keywords and SEO have to be a part of your strategy. People get really nervous these days when you suggest doing something in the name of SEO, but remember, search engine optimization is fine when done right. More than fine – it’s wonderous! You get targeted traffic from Google, and users find the information and answers they’re searching the web for.
So go ahead, shout it from the rooftops, “I care about keywords!” Be loud and proud my friend.
They key thing to remember with SEO is all good things in moderation.
Use keywords in your context text? Yes!
Use keyword stuffing to saturate your content completely with search queries? No.
Link to other related blog posts you’ve written on a specific subject? Yes!
Include so many links that every other sentence is dotted with blue hyperlinks? No.
Let keywords influence your outline and help conceptualize your post? Yes!
Put keywords and search bots before user experience? No!
Google drives billions of searches a day. Trust me, you want to use keywords to get a piece of that pie.
With more sites and advertisers online than ever before, all competing for the most popular keywords, how do you stand a chance of competing? Long-tail keywords of course!
Why Do Long-Tail Keywords Matter for Bloggers?
Long-tail keywords are search phrases composed of 3+ keywords. They’re easier to target long-tail keywords (and cheaper when it comes to PPC) because there is less competition for these phrases. Targeting long-tail keywords is really your only chance of getting a top SERP spot in Google.
Long tails are cool. They’re also fire types.
For example, maybe you’d love to rank high in Google for “health food” because your business is a health food store. Well fat (or slim) chance of that happening – “health food” is a pretty competitive term. However, if you focus instead on “health food meal plans” or “health food on a budget,” your chance of ranking for those longer keyword phrases is tremendously higher.
SEO for Bloggers: Finding Long Tail Keywords
How do you brainstorm these awesome long-tail keywords? Start with Google. Begin typing in a phrase and see what Google’s auto-complete suggestions are. Make note of the “eureka!” suggestions.
Next, put a few of those terms into Google and scratch down some Google’s related search suggestions (you’ll find them towards the bottom of the page).
Next, take all the long-tail phrases you’ve come up with and put them into the Google Keyword Planner.
See which phrases drive the most traffic (also take a look at other keyword phrases Google suggests) and siphon out the ones with high search volume and low competition. Those are your gold nugget long-tails! Try to create content targeted around those keywords.
SEO WordPress Plugins for Bloggers
There are some great wordpress plugins designed to help bloggers with SEO. They make it easy to set up your URL slugs correctly, help you craft perfect meta descriptions, setup sitemaps, and aid you in navigating other SEO technical bits that may not come naturally to bloggers.
Two favorites are:
- WordPress SEO by Yoast
- All in One SEO Pack
3. Find Your Flock: Hunt Down Your Audience’s Nest
When it comes to promoting your blog, it’s essential that you’re strategic about where you spend your time. While it’s nice to establish your presence across a range of social networks, you’ll quickly burn out trying to excel with every social site.
Dip your feet and see which social networks work best for you. Is your blog heavy on the visuals? You’ll probably want to set your sights on LinkedIn. Is your blog catered more towards nerd culture? Find the right subreddits and you could strike it big.
If you’re looking for seagulls, you go to the seashore. To drive blog traffic, you need to go to where your flock hangs out. Know where to find your bird of a feather. Understanding your audience is also key for building strong referral links from relevant websites.
Use Google Analytics to see which websites are driving the most referral traffic. Find the forums and sites your target audience visits, and get active. Engage in discussion and post links or blog comments when appropriate. This is big – you can’t come off as spammy. You need to be seen as a valuable member of the community who is sharing something of merit. If someone mentions needing advice about scheduling healthy meal plans for each week, go ahead and point them to your resource! If they’re discussing their struggles in mastering the fine art of clowning, you can probably move along.
Once You’ve Found Your Family, Go All In
Once you’ve discovered your key networks, make those your focal point. Neil Patel points out that Upworthy, in addition to utilizing curiosity-focused headlines and emotional content, also limits the number of social sharing buttons they have on a given page.
The choice paradox shows that too many choices can overwhelm and stress users. While we may assume more choices are better, studies have shown that most individuals are happier with a few different options, rather than hundreds.
Upworthy only has two share buttons – Facebook and Twitter. Consider limiting your social sharing selection to the sites you get the most leverage out of.
Want More Blog Traffic? Just Ask.
Sometimes getting what you want can be a simple as asking for it. A study by Social Bakers found that users who asked their followers to “RT” their posts on Twitter received 73.48 average retweets per tweet. Those who didn’t ask for retweets received just 2.09 retweets.
If you want people to share your content, ask them to!
This goes for just about all call-to-actions. While your intentions may seem obvious to you, reiterating the course of action for visitors greatly increases the likelihood that they’ll follow through.
4. Optimize For Speed and Mobile
Your visitors aren’t going to wait around for your blog to load. If your page isn’t coming up fast enough, they’ll hit the back button and move on to the next Google listing (ie your competitor) before you can flip a flapjack.
Need to check your site speed? No problem! Google’s Page Speed Insights tool will give you your speed score, as well as tips on what you can do to give your site the kick in the pants it might need.
In the same vein, modern users spend nearly 3 hours a day on their tablets or mobile phones. Going mobile is a no-brainer for bloggers. If you don’t think your current blog is up to snuff, consider checking out one of these fine WordPress plugins that help create a version of your blog that is optimized for mobile devices.
- WPtouch Mobile Plugin
- Jetpack by WordPress (there’s a mobile theme option baked in)
5. Play Nice With the Other Kids
Good manners go a long way online. If you’re looking to build blog traffic, you’ll want to establish good relationships with other bloggers in your niche. Sometimes you’ll even want to team up with your enemies, Game of Thrones style.
Comment on other blogs and be active in various communities. Consider interviewing major industry loggers or including other bloggers in a “best of” post (for example, Top 10 Blogs Rocking Pinterest). Once you have a blogger cited or featured in one of your posts, tag them in a tweet to let them know. Chances are that blogger will retweet and share a post mentioning them, getting more shares and more traffic as a result.
Linking to your own blog posts is great for SEO, but it’s important to link to outside sources as well. This signals to Google that you’re not a spammer and helps build positive relationship with the others blogs you’re linking to. Establishing good relations also makes pitching guest posts a ton easier.