Whenever I speak on the topic of platform-building, someone always asks, “How can I generate more traffic for my blog?” Most are hoping I have a silver bullet, something that will instantly get them the recognition they deserve.
The bad news is that it’s not quite that simple. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a platform. It takes doing several things right—and doing them over a long period of time.
The good news is that it’s not rocket science. I have used these basic techniques to increase my blog traffic every year since I started tracking it in 2008 using Google Analytics. Some years have been better than others, but all have shown an increase:
Based on my experience, I believe you can dramatically increase your blog traffic by following these ten suggestions. (Forgive me if I cover some of the basics.)
- Write content worth sharing. Nothing I suggest in 2–10 below will compensate for weak content. If you are not writing stuff people want to read, smarter marketing will not fix the problem. Begin by creating a killer headline that makes people want to read what you have to say. Read Advertising Headlines That Make You Rich. It’s my secret sauce.
- Adhere to a consistent schedule. You can’t expect to increase your traffic if you don’t blog regularly. By this, I mean at least once a week. Three times a week is even better. Five times a week is best—but not if the quality of your content suffers. Frequency equals visibility.
- Get your own domain name. Make it easy on your readers to pass along your blog name. What do you think is easier, “yourname.wordpress.com” or “yourname.com”? This is the foundation of branding and making your blog memorable. If you can get your name or a short phrase, it is worth paying (within reason) to do so.
- Include your blog address everywhere. In the beginning, you are adding readers, one at a time. You never know when someone with a bigger audience will quote you or link to you. Include your blog address in your email signature, on your business cards, and on your stationery. It should appear virtually everywhere your name appears.
- Make it easy to subscribe to your blog. You don’t want to depend on your readers to remember to come back to your blog. Instead, you want them to subscribe, so they get every new post you write. They should be able to do so by either RSS or email. (Use both.) Position these two buttons prominently so that those who want to subscribe don’t have to hunt for them.
- Optimize your posts for SEO. You want people to be able to find you when they Google one of your key words or your name. I use two WordPress plugins for this: All-in-One SEO Pack and ScribeSEO. The latter analyzes every blog post you write and suggests how you can optimize it for the search engines. It is not cheap but worth every penny.
- Utilize social media. If you want to build visibility for your blog, you must go where the people are. In days gone by, people gathered in the marketplace at the center of the city. Today, they gather online in places like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+. Which service is best? The one you will use regularly. Use social media to network, build relationships, and announce new blog posts.
- Engage in the conversation. Start by making it easy for your readers to comment. People today want to participate. I recommend the Disqus commenting system. (It’s what I use.) Don’t make them register. This only adds friction. Engage in the conversation yourself, reading your comments and replying as appropriate.
- Comment on other blogs. As you read other people’s blog posts, leave comments. I’m not taking about spamming people with invitations to read your blog. Instead, engage in the conversations that interest you and build credibility. Make sure that you register with their commenting system if possible, so there is always a link back to your blog.
- Write guest posts for other bloggers. Frankly, this is not something I have done. But most successful bloggers swear by it. Jeff Goins wrote a guest post for me on this very subject. He claims that it grew his own blog traffic more in six months than in the last six years. (If you are interested in guest posting on my site, here are my guidelines.)
You will also want to use a good, SEO-optimized blog theme. There are hundreds on the market. I use StandardTheme for WordPress and love it.
Finally, be patient. Building traffic takes time. Like anything else, the ones who win are the ones who stay at it after everyone else has quit.