At the end of a long day at work, traffic is probably the last thing you want to see. But when it comes to starting a blog, traffic is your new best friend. Driving traffic to your blog means more than new readers; it can mean money. Serious money. Let’s take a look at the different avenues of increasing traffic.
Driving Traffic to Your Blog: Search Engine Optimization
A lot of people hold onto the idea that if you write it, readers will somehow find your blog. But your site needs to be optimized if you want people flocking to your blog.
If you’re not familiar with SEO, don’t worry. A quick search on the web will turn up a thousand different approaches to cracking this seemingly mysterious code. And if you want to get into the nitty gritty, that’s great. But the truth is, you don’t need to be an expert copywriter or SEO wizard to get more traffic to your website.
To attract new readers, you need to focus on three simple things.
I am a martial artist and hold a few of black belt ranks. And whenever new students arrive for their first class they always ask about learning the flashy television moves. It’s rare someone wants to spend hours learning a few simple footwork routines. But those boring foot patterns are the foundation that all those spinning-in-the-air kicks we love to watch are built.
Good content does the same thing.
When starting a blog, remember content is your foundation, and you can’t build an active site without it. Optimizing your blog’s content will not only bring in readers for your current blog post, but it will keep them coming back
If content is the foundation of starting a blog, social media is its heart. Social media will help you drive media to your site on a daily basis.
And just like hands that reach out to friends, content outreach will get your content in front of readers you never imagined. And with little more than a few guest posts.
These three steps are the ‘secret’ to increasing website traffic.
Now, let’s take a closer look at each of these three things you need to increase your traffic:
Driving Traffic to Your Blog: Create Compelling Content
Let’s start with the footwork. This part can seem a little frustrating, but trust me, you’ll be pulling off fancy footwork before you know it!
Yes, this is where compelling content starts because before you can start growing traffic to your site, you need to know where your current traffic is originating. Traffic statistics also help you determine which approaches work best for your subject matter and target audience.
In an earlier article I mentioned about the necessary evil of Google Analytics – well, now is the time to set that up if you haven’t done so already. After your analytics account is open, it will take between 3 – 5 days to get a snapshot of the data you’ll be working with.
Google provides a lot of info, but when starting a blog, you only need to look at a few for now:
- Unique visitors to your site;
- Average Time (spent on your site);
- Pages Per Visit;
- Bounce Rate;
- Traffic Sources;
- Exit Pages.
When you’re just starting a blog, you’ll want to check your traffic often (three times per week is great) to get a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t.
A content marketing strategy is a must when starting a blog. All the SEO in the world won’t build a robust site alone. A content marketing strategy will help support all that incredible SEO and traffic info you’re collecting.
How you answer these questions will help you outline your content strategy:
- Who is your target audience? What is their biggest problem or issue? How can you solve that for them?
- How often will you post?
- What sets you apart from the competition? What makes your blog unique?
Are there specific dates throughout the calendar year that are important to your blog? (If your blog is about Santa Claus, for example, you’d want to focus most of your energy on posts in Oct, Nov, and December. If you’re blogging about the NFL, you’d probably want to concentrate all of your energy to lead up to the Super Bowl.)
Congratulate yourself. You’ve just outlined who your target reader is, how often you’ll be able to blog, and what your unique angle is! See, starting a blog isn’t too difficult after all!
Compelling headlines sell your blog’s content. Great headlines help your content get noticed by readers – and search engines. For maximum results, you’ll want to optimize your headline for both Search Engine Traffic AND Social Traffic.
The best headlines:
- Contain keywords (words users search for);
- Are an appropriate length (anything over 70 characters will get cut off by Google search);
- Are compelling enough to make people want to click on it.
Tips for Clickable Headlines
- Ask a question (i.e. Are Your Blog Posts Getting The Traffic They Deserve?);
- Use lists (i.e. 10 Ways to Increase Traffic In 10 Days);
- Create curiosity (i.e. 3 Things You Didn’t Know About Web Traffic);
- Create a sense of urgency (i.e. Why You Need To Increase Web Traffic Today);
- Use Power Words (words that trigger an emotional response in your reader: Lurking,
- Nightmare, Danger, Crisis, Risky, Mind-Blowing, Wonderful, Exposed, Thrilling, Uncensored, Lies, Nest Egg, Surge and more).
Even with a great content strategy, a few well-chosen power words, and a snappy headline – without well-written content, you won’t get continued growth when you’re starting a blog. So how do you create compelling content?
The best stories start with a strong lead, or hook, near the beginning.
Readers will spend an average of 15-30 seconds deciding whether to continue readings your post. So be sure to give them something dynamic at the start of your blog to make them want to hang around until the end.
For example, if your article is about how to plant a garden successfully, mentioning the ‘ten best plants to use’ in your first paragraph will keep your reader interested enough to spend some time on your blog. They’ll want to find out which plants they should choose and why.
If you’re just starting a blog, remember to use short paragraphs, typically between 2 and three sentences.
Proofread your content. Always proofread your content, especially at the beginning of starting a blog. Read your posts out loud before you hit ‘publish, ’ and you’ll catch mistakes, typos, and wrong words. Nothing turns readers away faster than misspelled words and poor grammar. Use an online checker, like Grammarly to look for basic grammar and spelling mistakes.
And as you get more and more blog posts published, be sure to start linking current posts to older, evergreen articles. This encourages readers to hang around and spend more time on your site.
Driving Traffic to Your Blog: Social Media
Social media is a wonderful way to share your content and attract new readers when starting a blog.
- Keep it brief. Even on Twitter, shorter is better;
- Make sure your posts have white space – it naturally attracts the reader’s eye;
- Use high-quality photos;
- Short link to your article. (Consider using a shortener like Google URL Shortener. Your linkwill look better, and it gives a little white space to your post!)
Social Media Schedule
The best successes come with a schedule.
Determine how often you want to share posts and set up a schedule to complete your task. Hootsuite offers a free plan that’s ideal for scheduling tweets freeing up your time for other things, like writing.
Peak Hours for Various Platforms
When you’re first starting a blog and start posting on social media keep track of traffic to your site. You’ll see which tweets or posts attract the most traffic, and what time your readers were online. Begin to streamline your social media posts for maximum traffic with your research and some excellent data from Hubspot.
Hubspot had done some of the heavy lifting for you and figured out the best times to post on each social media platform:
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 12:00 noon – 3:00 p.m.
Wednesday: 5:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday: 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Thursday: 7:00 onward
Friday: 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday: 12:00 noon – 1:00 p.m
Tuesday: 7:30 – 8:30 a.m., 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. 12:00 p.m., and 5:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday, Thursday: 7:30 – 8:30 a.m., 12:00 p.m., and 5:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.; 7:00 p.m. onward
Friday: 5:00 p.m. onward
Saturday: 8:00 – 11:00 p.m.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: Anytime except between 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Make Your Blog Posts Shareable
If your blog has a social media share feature, be sure to include those share buttons clearly on your blog. You’ll see beautiful results when you make it easy for others to share your blogs!
ClickToTweet is another great way to embed a share option. To do like they say – just “Click To Tweet” a quote from within your blog
And always use hashtags. Studies show that three is the perfect number of hashtags for best results.
Driving Traffic to Your Blog: Outreach
When we talk about outreach, we’re talking about getting your content in front of new audiences. This is extremely important if you’re starting a blog. And one of the best, and easiest, ways to do that is having existing content republished on larger sites. It’s a great way to maximize on work you’ve already created, meaning you don’t need to spend precious hours writing a ton of guest posts for exposure.
Spend a little time online looking at leading publications in your niche. Larger online publishers often have significant requirements for content and will be open to using republished relevant content. A simple Google search on the term “write for us” will bring up a bunch of options. Some sites clearly state their policy on republishing others will require an email. In general, however, the following publications republish content:
- Huffington Post
- LinkedIn Pulse
In addition to republishing existing blog material, you’ll grow your blog by giving yourself a goal to publish two guest posts per month. Target blogs and online magazines that also write about your general area of interest for best results. And you might even earn a few buck to help offset the cost of your web hosting or domain.
Groups: Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
Online communities are becoming more vibrant every day, with greater involvement and member interaction. Groups provide an opportunity for like-minded people to gather and share ideas, passions, debates, and latest news. These groups can be a great asset to you when you’re starting a blog.
Monetize Your Blog
There’s a reason they say ‘money makes the world go ‘round.” The good news is there are a few very easy ways to monetize your blog and make money: Ads (CPM or CPC).
- CPM Ads
These ads are “cost per 1,000 impressions,” and the companies behind these type of ads pay you a fixed rate based on the number of people who view (number of impressions) the ad on your blog.
- CPM Ads
- CPC Ads
CPC stands for Cost-Per-Click (sometimes also called PPC or Pay-Per-Click), and these ads are typically banner adds that you put in your sidebar, or directly in the body of your blog’s content. You are paid for every time someone clicks on the ad.
The most common method of adding CPM and CPC ads is through Google AdSense. Through this program you don’t need to be in direct contact with the vendors, Google does that for you. All you have to do is put the banner on your blog. Google even determines the ads to use based on your blog’s content. You just need to sit back and let the money come to you. Infolinks, Media.net, and Chitika also offer similar CPM and CPC ads programs
If your niche is super narrow, you might want to consider selling private ads. The downside to this is you’ll have to spend a little time and effort selling the ads, but as an upside you’ll get more money – there’s no middleman.
Private ads can take a wide variety of formats and styles, everything from buttons to banners to in-blog links. Depending on the type of blog you run, you might even consider writing a sponsored blog post or review about an advertiser’s service or product.
Another powerful tool for monetizing your blog is through affiliate links. Here’s how affiliate marketing works:
An advertiser, with a product or service to sell, agrees to give you a percentage or commission resulting from each sale that originates with your site.
The advertiser will give your blog a unique affiliate code. When someone purchases a product using that code you get a payment.
Affiliate links can also be banners or links directly in the body of your content.
Amazon is the most common affiliate program, but many private advertiser’s offer affiliate programs. Contact relevant companies and see what you can set up for readers. The more unique the offer, the better the chances of generating significant ad revenue.
Driving Traffic to Your Blog: Using Quora and Reddit To Build Your Online Authority
Have you ever been puzzled by something enough to turn to Quora or Reddit? I do it all the time, and I love it. You not only get great personalized answers but you can learn a lot of background information from other people’s comments. And that’s good news for you because you’re an authority on your niche.
When you’re starting a blog, try taking your knowledge to Reddit and Quora. Settle debates and resolve disputes over whether Buffy is the better vampire slayer, or does Blade leave her in the dust? Over time you’ll see your followers grow and traffic to your site increase.
Developing your site is necessary to running a successful blog, but it’s also great fun. You’ll connect with people from all walks of life, all of whom share your passion for your niche. You’ll be helping those who are starting out to avoid the mistakes you made, and you’ll learn new things from unexpected places.
But perhaps the best thing about growing your site is knowing that your words are getting out there and finding a home of their own. They’re jumping from the screen into the hearts and minds of new readers. Will you change someone’s mind? Will you reinforce a shared belief? Will you crack the sky letting light shine on a dark issue?
How far you grow your blog is up to you.
Now, get growing!