Knowing how to increase blog traffic is an essential skill, not only for professional bloggers but for anybody who wants to attract the maximum number of visitors to their blog. This complete blog traffic guide will help you to achieve that.
Running a successful blog takes a lot of hard work, passion and commitment. However, it also requires a great deal of knowledge. It can take years of blogging and learning to master the art of generating blog traffic, and even then you will discover something new to you; some technique that you had never used before.
That said, here is as complete a guide on how to increase blog traffic as you are likely to find online now – and completely free of charge, although to be truthful, no such guide will ever be complete. There will always be something …
Here are the main sections:
- 1. Blog Design and Content
- 2. Social Networking
- 3. Advertising Techniques
- 4. Commenting and Guesting
- 5. Videos, Podcasts and Webinars
- 6. Miscellaneous Traffic Generation Techniques
1. Blog Design and Content
Before worrying about how to increase blog traffic, let’s first discuss how you will treat your visitors when you get them there. There is little point in spending a great deal of time and effort, and even perhaps some money, in attracting traffic if they are just going to take one look and then run!
Never begin any traffic generation campaign until your blog looks good, is interesting to read and is stickier than a spider’s web. Your job begins right there – on your blog. Google doesn’t use your bounce rate as one of its ranking factors for no reason – if your visitors don’t like what they see why should Google send its customers there?
1.1. Loading Speed
The day when visitors would wait ages for large blogs to load are long gone. Remember those Flash landing pages that would take forever to load up? Gone! People want fast loading speeds now – around 3 seconds should be a maximum. In fact, around 40% of people will leave a site after 3 seconds if it has not fully loaded. They are more tolerant with cell phones where they expect a delay.
You can check the load speed of individual pages using Pingdom which also provides a very useful analysis of your blog. If your speed seems low, then you may be able to speed it up by following some of Google’s tips here. Here are some other tips:
- Use smaller images if possible – images are often responsible for slow loading.
- Cut out all white space around your image, and use formatting to separate the image from the text.
- If you use PNG, then use the non-interlaced format for smaller files.
- If you have multiple images together, combine them into a single image.
- Save and view your image in various formats, and choose the format that combines acceptable appearance with the smallest file size.
- Use a CDN (content distribution network) to speed up loading time. Check our post What is CDN: Why it is Needed for Blog Speed Optimization?
1.2. Look and Feel
Your blog must look good and feel good to be on. There is little point in driving traffic to your blog if your visitors leave as soon as they see it. People like images, but not too many. Your images should complement your text, not compete with it. The text on the page should be interesting to read, and not just a few words describing an issue in general terms.
Your site must be easy to navigate, without too much complexity. Too many websites and blogs appear to contain more links than useful content. A visitor should be able to reach any page on your site with only two clicks.
The landing page must relate to the page they were just on, before they clicked to reach your blog. For example, if somebody clicks on a link in an article on the topic of Google+, then the blog page or post they land on must also relate to Google+.
1.3. Blog Content
The content of you blog should be informative and interesting to read. There has been a lot of debate about the ideal word count for a blog post – most appear to be between 400 and 600. Do not get bogged down with this: you blog should be as long as is needed to get the message across. More than what is necessary gets boring.
Long posts of up to 2,500 words can result in more traffic and higher conversion rates, but only if every word is meaningful. Such content is also likely to be ranked higher: Google does not generally like 200-300 word posts, but there is no hard and fast rule.
The best blog traffic is repeat traffic, and while blog design and content does not generally attract visitors (because they cannot see it until they visit,) it certainly helps to persuade them to come back next time! This is more likely if your blog loads quickly, looks good and offers good information.
The actual form your content should take is not discussed in depth here. There are two reasons for that: a) your visitors are already here by now, and the topic here is how to increase blog traffic and b) It is too big a topic to be a subsection of this. The same is true of SEO.
2. Social Networking
Social networking has become a catch-all term for many different types of social sites. It is not out purpose here, either to explain how all of these work, or how to register with and use them.
2.1. Google+ and Authorship
Google+ is Google’s social networking system which you can reach by clicking on the link +YourName to the top right of any Google application screen (Gmail, Maps, Drive, etc.) If you cannot see it, you have likely not yet registered with Google+. You can do that using the link in the same area of screen.
2.1.1. Google+ Business Page: Once in your Google+ account, scroll down the left hand navigation to ‘Pages’ where you can set up a Google business page. You can use that to promote your blog, particularly if it is based upon a specific business theme such as SEO or any specific niche.
2.1.2. Authorship: Your Google profile should contain a link to your blog, and you should claim authorship for every page and blog post you write. See our post Author Rank and Google Plus 1: Effects on Google Ranking.
2.1.3. Circles: Circles are equivalent to Facebook ‘Friends’ and Twitter ‘Followers.’ You can add people to your own circles, but only others can add you to theirs. In order to maximize your blog traffic you should join circles that relate to the topic of your blog – do not join any that are irrelevant to your blog. Encourage your friends to add you to their circles by first adding them to your circles.
2.1.4. Google+ Communities: Google+ communities are groups of people sharing your interest or your niche. Joining them is a great way to find people to add to your circles. Go to your Google+ main left-hand menu and click on ‘Communities’. You will be presented with a list of communities that Google recommends. Simply click to join one. Communities enable you to add people with the same interests as you to your circles and to persuade them to invite you to their circles. You can join as many relevant groups as you want, thus maximizing your potential for extra blog traffic.
2.1.5. Google +1 Buttons: Add a Google +1 Button to each of your blog posts. This is similar to Facebook ‘Like’ buttons. The best place is above the fold, and many find it effective to add a +1 button at the beginning and end of a post.
Here is how to add a +1 button:
A. Place the following tag in the HTML for your site where you want the button to appear:
<div class="g-plusone" data-size="standard" data-annotation="inline" data-width="300"></div>
You can set the width to anything from 120 upwards, although 300 is a good average size. You can also set the height (data-size) to “small”, “medium”, “standard” or “tall”.
B. You can add the above code for each button you want to add to the page. You can have as many as you like, although one at the top and bottom of a blog post is fine. You can also add a button at the end of any particularly important or interesting image or passage of text.
C. Now place the following tag after the tag for the last +1 button on the page HTML. Note that the HTML source code can appear in a different order to that visible on the screen, so it is easy to make sure of that by adding it just before the </body> tag.
Then that’s you done. Google will take your +1 count into consideration when ranking your blog in its search engine results pages. The higher the ranking, the more traffic you can expect. Such buttons can have an even more profound effect, however. They appear to add a degree of expertise to a page and people like clicking them. They are also more likely to bookmark your post and return to it later.
2.2 Using Facebook
2.2.1. Facebook Fan/Business Page
Whether you call it a fan page or a business page, Facebook allows you to set up a page that can be used to promote your blog. Many people use Google to find information, but many will also check out your Facebook page before visiting your site.
First, click on the admin cog wheel on your Facebook Timeline, then click to create a page. The instructions are very easy to follow from there on. This page can be used to describe your blog, what its objectives are and you can post on Facebook every time you make blog post.
You can use your Facebook page URL in place of your blog link to reduce over-exposure of your blog. In fact, by interlinking your blog with your Facebook page and your Google+ page and profile, you will be creating a very powerful traffic-magnet that will also appeal to Google.
2.2.2. Facebook Community Pages and Groups
Community Pages: Facebook community pages are run by the community and not an individual. You can search for such pages using the Facebook search facility, and add your niche to your search term (e.g. “community pages fishing”). You will be presented with a list of communities, some of which you may be able to join. Those who visit the same community page will have a common interest, which enables you to reach potential visitors that you may otherwise never have found.
Groups: You can create or join groups of people with similar interests. To create a group, go to your Timeline then click on ‘More’. Scroll down and click on ‘Groups’ – you can click to create a group. If you click on the ‘Manage’ button (pencil image) you will see some groups that Facebook has recommended to you. You can joint these if you wish.
Using the settings, you can enable members of your group to add and approve other members. This is a good way of meeting prospective visitors to your blog that you would otherwise have been unlikely to find yourself.
2.3. Using Twitter To increase Blog Traffic
Twitter is a very popular means of social interaction, but it can also be a powerful method of generating traffic. Here are some tips on how to use Twitter to your best advantage.
Short Tweets: Although you can use 140 characters, tweets of 100 or less appear to get a higher level of response. Make your tweets short and to the point, finishing with a link to your blog.
Use Hashtags: Use hashtags in your tweet. Use them with your blog name: #techlila or with topics, such as #blogtraffic and #blogingguide so that your tweet will be visible in the feed for that hashtag. This can drive a lot of traffic your way.
Retweet: If you see any tweet that mentions your blog’s name, then immediately retweet it. This gets the mention even more exposure.
Request a Retweet: Each tweet has a link allowing a retweet by the reader:
However, if you ask for a retweet you are much more likely to get one. Simply end your tweet with “please RT.” This again provides a lot more exposure and has the potential for your tweet to go viral.
Tweet a Competition: Run a competition on your blog and tweet about it:
“WordPress Themes Giveaway – Check out the #giveaway on #myblog – great prizes! Yourlinkhere Please RT”
Use Images: Images tend to attract people, and if you have an image in your tweet it might persuade readers to click on your link.
Use Your Bio: Your Twitter Profile contains a box for your bio. Use your blog URL in the Profile itself, but also include the URL of a particular post you want to publicize in your bio box. You can change that regularly to promote specific posts. Alternatively, include a link to your Google+ profile page. You have 160 characters to use.
Include @mentions: You can make sure that a specific user receives your tweet by including their user name in the form @username in the tweet. For example, “Read about some amazing #SEOmyths on @TechLilaBlog here: http://www.techlila.com/seo-myths/” Please RT.
The link will be condensed by twitter of course, but you can see how we have a) hashtagged SEOmyths, so that the tweet will appear in the feed for anybody searching for that term, b) mentioned TechLila so that they specifically will receive the tweet, c) requested a retweet and d) included the blog URL.
The @mention would naturally include another person’s personal or business user name, because you would not tweet yourself! That person may then start following you, and is likely to retweet since it motions their name.
2.4. Using Pinterest – A Rising Star
Pinterest is increasing in popularity by leaps and bounds. In fact, Mashable among other sites, has stated that as from a year ago, ‘Pinterest had been generating more traffic to users’ blogs that YouTube, LinkedIn and Google+ combined, and is more effective in this respect than even Twitter.
Whatever the reason is for this, it will pay to get involved. Register using Facebook or Twitter and then start pinning some images from your blog to your board – even if it is only your business logo. You can also pin your readers’ images to your board – ask them for some and keep them involved.
Once you have uploaded your photo to a board, make sure you link it back to your blog. When you edit your pin you can give it a good title, and then complete the ‘Source’ box with your blog’s URL – or even that of a specific post. If you also include your blog’s URL in the Description, it will turn the image into a clickable link.
Make sure that you have a hover Pin-it button on each of your images. You can find out how to add these here: http://developers.pinterest.com/on_hover_pin_it_buttons/. Then, anybody visiting your site will be able to pin any of your images to their board – an image with your embedded URL!
2.5. Using YouTube
If you have videos to post on YouTube then you can use these to attract traffic to your blog. Use the YouTube search box to find channels that relate to your video and blog. Make sure you use ‘Search options’ and click ‘Upload Date’: this makes sure that you can contact recent users.
Now make a friend request to those that you believe may have an interest in your blog. Do this every day, and you will soon build up a good list of friends. Every person on that list is a potential blog visitor. Whether they become a regular visitor and commenter will depend on the blog and how persuasive you are.
You could also make a video offering a teaser of some useful information you have published in a post along with a link for them to follow to find more. Also add an annotation to each video asking viewers to add it to their favorites. Such a request is known to get better results than not asking!
Relevance is Critical: The most important aspect of any social networking activity is relevance. By setting up or joining circles and groups, or creating Pinterest boards that relate in topic to your blog, you will be forming associations with people that share interests with you. You can use these associations to increase traffic to your blog.
If you make the mistake of become involved in groups that have little interest in your niche, then you will dilute that effect and negate a lot of the benefits of social networking. The secret is not to associate with anybody and everybody, but only with those likely to be interested in your blog.
3. Advertising Techniques
Advertising is another excellent Blog traffic generation technique. However, you must be careful with advertising, particularly paid averts which can be expensive if you take your eye off them. Also, be careful of the Google Panda and Penguin algorithm updates. Treat adverts as links, which means that you should minimize their exposure on sites unconnected with your niche. If you follow the advice below, you will avoid annoying Google while enjoying the benefits that this type of blogging traffic can give you.
3.1. Email Marketing: Building a List
Email marketing normally involves building a list of subscribers to which you can email regularly with information on your niche and make occasional product offers. That’s the reason for all these subscription forms you see on websites and blogs.
If you are successful in driving traffic to your blog, what do you with them when they get there? That’s a very important question, because most will read a post and then disappear forever. Very few visitors are repeats, unless you either catch their interest or catch their contact details.
You do the latter using a subscription form. Sign up for an autoresponder service (AWeber, GetResponse and MailChimp are three popular options) and create a form in your account. They provide you with the software to do that. Offer visitors a free course, an eBook or a newsletter in return for their name and email address.
Using your autoresponder, you can manage and broadcast mail your entire list on a regular basis, providing useful information, tips or advice, and occasionally make them a product offer – your own or an affiliate product. This is a form of advertising to a captive audience. It is also a way to get lots of repeat visits to your blog!
3.2. Solo Ads
Solo ads are a very popular form of paid email adverts, usually offered on a PPC (pay-per-click) basis. Not everybody has their own list, and even if you do you should still use solo ads to maximize your blog traffic. This is a technique whereby you find somebody with a list of subscribers who are interested in your niche and pay for your adverts to be emailed to them.
By paying such people a fee, they will send your email to their lists. There are many solo ad sites to be found online, but make sure you speak to the list owner first. Make sure that their list members would be interested in what you are marketing. If they won’t talk to you then avoid them.
You need to know the cost per click, how many clicks you should receive on average, how the list was compiled, how old is this list and is being added to regularly? If a list is old, and has been regularly used for solo ads, then all the members are likely emailed-out!
Make sure your email is compelling and interesting, and track how many are opened and how many click through to your site. Your autoresponder should provide this service. This information may indicate if you have to make any changes to your advert. You can get 100 clicks for around $25 upwards. Keep in mind that these are actual clicks and not just emailings, which is less than most Adwords ads will cost you.
3.3. Google Adwords
Google Adwords are another form of PPC. If you check Google’s search engine results pages, the results on the right of the page are Adwords. You decide on a price you are prepared to pay for each click: the more you pay, the closer you are to #1 on Page #1. It is critical with PPC advertising that your advert describes exactly what you are selling.
If you are selling blue Nike running shoes, then state that. You will waste a click if the visitor is looking for red Nike running shoes! If you sell both, state that or have a different advert for each (seriously!).
PPC can be used to direct traffic to your blog, because that is what every click you pay for will do. Whether they remain long enough is up to you and how compelling you make your landing page.
3.4. Facebook Ads
Facebook also offer PPC adverts, although it is more difficult to get targeted traffic on Facebook. Unlike Google, visitors did not get to your advert through a keyword-driven search. Facebook ads are more appropriate for people offering items such as Facebook themes, web design and blogging advice. However, they can be very productive, and many people use nothing but.
3.5. Reciprocal Adverts and Links
Reciprocal adverts and links can be productive, as long as you are sharing ads with another website or blog that is related to the theme of your own. Generally, Google does not like reciprocal links, but they are fine if you don’t overdo it.
It can be very useful if you share links with another blog that has a lot of traffic. Look upon an advert as a link: you might offer to publish a free advert in return for a URL link from their blog to yours for example. If you restrict this to only one or two links on your blog then Google will not bother you, but each link might get you heaps more blog traffic.
4. Commenting and Guesting
You can improve traffic to your blog by making a contribution to other blogs and forums. This can offer at least two benefits: you get your blog address published and you have the opportunity to present your credentials as an expert in your niche.
In each of the possibilities below, better referred to as opportunities, you should link your name to your Google+ Profile page if such a link is permitted. Many blogs and forums allow the name to be linked to a profile. Not only does this enable readers to check you out, but it also provides Google with a link to your blog – assuming you have not failed to list it on your profile!
4.1. Blog Commenting
You can present your knowledge to the readers of other blogs in your niche by commenting on these blogs. Sometimes you can be lucky and spot an issue that has not been satisfactorily resolved yet. Even if you don’t know the answer immediately, it pays to carry out a bit of research and suggest a solution.
If traffic is your main objective here, then try to find the top blogs in your niche and comment on these. Why comment on a blog with only 50 regular readers if you can do so on one with 5,000! If you are seen to be able solve problems, then this could be a good source of traffic for you.
4.2. Guest Blogging
Guest blogging can also be very profitable in terms of traffic. You might be invited to guest blog if you are already a known name in your field, but even if not, some good comments might result in an invitation.
You might find sites offering guest blogging opportunities, but you should be careful with these. One or two might be OK, but by and large it is best to become a regular commenter on some good blogs, and then ask.
Many bloggers are prepared to accept guest bloggers from time to time, particularly if you have already proved yourself, and run a well-written blog of your own. This can bring a good deal of extra return traffic. Make sure that you write on a topic you know well, but check on recent posts to make sure you are not copying or repeating anything the blog has recently covered.
4.3. Forum Participation
Forums can be a rich source of blog traffic. Draw up a list of forums that relate to your field of knowledge, and then check for posts or threads that are still active, but where the problems have not yet been resolved. Follow the thread from start to finish before making a comment.
If you are seen to be able to help people with issues in your niche, then they are more likely to click on your link to see who you are. That link should lead directly to your blog or to your Google+ profile, according to the policy of the forum. Some will only permit a link to your forum profile – so make sure your blog URL is published there.
Where a photograph is required, do not use an Avatar. Let people see who you are, and display your blog URL whenever possible. A good ploy, when the opportunity arises, is to demonstrate the solution to a problem on your blog and provide a link to show the solution in action. A video demonstrating this might be even better.
4.4. Answer Sites
A site such as Yahoo Answers can also be a useful way to increase blog traffic. Restrict your answers to topics related to your niche, because the objective is catch those who would be interested in your blog, not your general knowledge! There are many other similar sites, such as Quora, Amazon’s Askville and Wikianswers. Check them out online.
5. Videos, Podcasts and Webinars
No blog traffic guide would be complete without mention of the power of video and sound in persuasion psychology. The written word is very powerful, although may find video to be easier to understand. Here is how to increase blog traffic using videos and podcasts.
Posting a video on YouTube is a sure way to get traffic, and gives your audience a feeling of being more connected to you. Videos seem more personal than adverts and other written content. They tend to keep people engaged for longer since few tend to stop a video part finished, so make sure your blog link is displayed at the end.
Videos can be produced using a video camera, webcam or software such as Camtasia which is useful for screen recording. Camtasia is useful for explaining how to use software, set up and optimize a blog, publish adverts, etc.
Videos are likely to be shared through social sites and get you known across the internet. If your video is particularly instructive, it can be used by others on their websites and blogs both to demonstrate a point and as an example of how a video should be made and presented. A series of “How to …” videos can be particularly useful in attracting traffic to a blog.
Podcasts are also very useful, and a series of podcasts is a good way to keep your visitors returning time and again. A subscriber podcast series is an excellent way of getting listeners familiar with your blog.
Making a podcast is not difficult, but you will need a decent microphone and should cut out extraneous sound and echoes. Script what you want to say, then practice speaking it before you finally record it. You will need sound recording and editing software: Audacity is a good, free sound editing packaging.
Your podcast can be published on your website or blog, or on a podcast hosting service and directory. Hipcast is good option, offering a 7-day free trial and then monthly from $4.95 to $199.95/month.
A webinar is an excellent method for directing masses of traffic to a blog. You can run a webinar on just about any topic in any niche. Because attendees must register in advance, you also get their email addresses so you can remain in contact. Webinars can be advertised online and by email – you could use Solo Ads to advertise your webinar.
OnWebinar.com offers a free platform for running a webinar and it is very easy to use. You can run a webinar on the topic of promoting a blog, or even on how to increase blog traffic! There are other free webinar services to be found online.
The first step is to try it out – running a webinar is like most other things that seem difficult from the outside. Get to know how to do it, try it with a few friends first and then run a real webinar to direct traffic to your blog.
6. Miscellaneous Ways of Increasing Blog Traffic
There are many other steps you can take to build up your traffic. Each one of these below will only help a little, but when you add them together they could result in a sizeable increase. Each of the following is an essential part of any complete Blog traffic Guide.
Create a Squidoo lens on your subject. Include a link to your blog, and update its content at least once a week. All it takes is a post each week that could summarize your blog activity for the previous week. This might persuade some visitors to also visit your blog.
6.2. Email Signature
Many people fail to include their blog address on their emails. That is a lost opportunity. Include your blog name and URL in your email signature. By doing that, you will never forget to add it.
6.3. eBay About Me Page
Many people are unaware that eBay offers you an About Me page. Start by going here: http://cgi3.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?AboutMeLogin
Then click on the ‘Create Your Page’ button. Follow the instructions and you are all set. This not only offers you a valuable link back to your site, but you can promote your blog. This is particularly valuable if you use eBay regularly, since buyers can easily be led to view your page.
6.4. Web Directories
Web directories are useful in providing you with a backlink, and also the potential for the listing to be viewed by a potential visitor. Here are three of the best:
6.4.1. Yahoo Web Directory: You can generate links back to your blog, and each listing also offers the chance of clicks to your site by publishing it on web directories. Yahoo is one, although a listing here will cost you an annual fee of $299. However, you are guaranteed a ranking on the Yahoo search engine.
6.4.2. DMOZ: A listing on DMOZ, generally regarded as the definitive web directory, will also help your Google ranking. The problem with DMOZ is that it is very difficult to get a listing since it depends on the opinion of individual human editors and the correct choice of category from the large numbers available. The positive is that it is free.
6.4.3. JoeAnt: There are other web directories to be found online, of which the most authoritative is likely JoeAnt. This costs a $39.99 one-time fee for registering a URL.
There are other web directories, but the above are the more useful ones on which to be listed.
6.5. Viral eBooks
If you write an eBook on the topic of your niche, make sure you put your blog URL on both the title page and at the end of the book. You could also add a few links to various blog posts to the text, then convert it to PDF format. Now offer the book for free!
You could advertise it as a free ebook available from your blog, and give the recipients permission to pass it on free to their visitors, clients and prospects. You will then have your book available throughout the web, with all you blog links included. If you are able to, write a new book every year, or even add a chapter every month and redistribute it to the original recipients.
6.6. Social Bookmarking Sites
Social bookmarking does not have the impact on blog traffic that it once had. The days when ‘tag and ping’ were killer techniques are long one. However, it doesn’t harm you to use them.
6.7. RSS and Feedburner
Another way of leveraging your posts to get more traffic to your blog is to convert it to RSS format and send it to Google’s Feedburner for publication to those that subscribe. You can also use the Feedburner Feedsmith and the Primary Feedburner plugins.
What About SEO and Blog Content?
Many may ask why more emphasis has not been placed on blog content, and the use of competitions, treasure hunts and polls to create anticipation and interest.
The reason is that these are all great for keeping visitors on the site, but that is a different skill to increasing traffic to your blog. The same is true of SEO. Each of these is too big a subject to be adequately covered here.
Maintaining a successful blog takes commitment and passion, but is a highly rewarding process. If you’re looking to increase blog traffic we recommend you to try out some of the techniques we’ve listed above and see which ones work for you. You may already be using a number of these techniques, although it does pay to do a review of your past work to make sure you’re doing the best job you can.