One of the most popular questions I get about blogging is this, How do you get traffic to your blog? Often it is followed by a series of other statements or questions like:
I have been writing for a month but only have like four visits each day. I have so many articles but nobody reads them. How do I get people to read my posts?
So I decided to write some posts about that and hopefully it helps you out. This is the first in the series explaining How Do You Get Traffic To Your Blog.
How Do You Get Traffic To Your Blog - Part 1 - Let's talk about basics first
First let's debunk some myths
Back in 2006 I started teaching some businesses about blogging and this was the title of the first slide I would share with them:If you build it they will NOT come. This was true again in 2010, and even more true today.
Just because you built a blog and wrote in it, doesn't necessarily mean that people will come to visit it. There's a lot of content out there published everyday, why should they spend time on your content?
I wrote original content but Google doesn't like it. If you write original content and you have made your blog accessible to the search engines then they will index it. But indexing doesn't mean traffic.
Search engines love content that is indexable. But they may or may not send you traffic, that depends on other factors which I'll cover in another post.
Also, stop thinking about Google as the only search engine. There are others out there so think of your whole approach as search engine friendly instead of just Google friendly.
Nobody cares to read what I have to say. Sorry to break it to you, but as much as some people tell you that you're a unique snowflake in a snowstorm, you aren't when it comes to how you think and feel about the world, or in this case a specific topic.
With over 7 billion people in the planet, and over 1.6 of them online, other people will be interested in reading what you have to say. They just don't care much about you, so you have to make an effort to get your blogpost in front of them.
People want to read about my everyday life. Although blogs have a history of being a bit of a journal type of outlet, nobody really cares what you had for breakfast, what dream you had last night, or whether your cat meows or purrs when it's raining. Seriously, nobody GAF.
The exception to that last paragraph is if your blog is about food, the psychology of dreams, or pet psychology. But from a personal experience type of thing, most personal blogs will not ever get a lot of traffic, or make any money.
Most successful blogs aren't personal blogs. In order to make a successful personal blog where you talk about your personal daily experiences, you need to have a knack for witty writing and entertaining others. It's a tough gig and one that I don't recommend you start with.
Improve your SEO but don't overdo it
Spend time learning how SEO works and apply the techniques you learn to your blogposts. But don't overdo it.
The search engines look for hundreds of signals in order to give your website a score. If your articles are too full of keywords, or have too many links, or they are too perfect, this may hurt your site too.
The rule of thumb is to make sure you write for humans, but welcome the search engines. Good sources to read about SEO include: MOZ, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal. Also the keep the official Google Webmaster's blog in your bookmarks and read it periodically.
Write good content and try to make it evergreen
A key to getting traffic to your blog is to have articles that are worth reading. They don't have to appeal to everyone but make sure they are well written. They don't have to be perfect, but at least check your spelling before hitting publish.
Try your best to write it in a way that is entertaining or informational. Avoid ranting, or rambling. And make your best effort to make sure your articles are relevant for a long time to come.
This is what we call evergreen content. Content that is good today, and it will be good tomorrow and in a month and even a year. But getting to the core of this post, following are my best tips for you.
My #1 rule of thumb to get more traffic to the blog
I will cover other topics in upcoming blogposts, but first I want you to think about this and let it sink in. I don't want what I'm about to tell you to scare you from blogging, but to encourage you and explain what you've been missing all along.
The key to getting traffic to your blog is promotion. You have to write your blogposts and then work on promoting them.
Unless you have thousands of dollars to pay someone to do this for you, you need to put in the work to distribute your blogposts.
At first, it will seem like it is a lot of work and you may even feel like blogging is not a worthy endeavor.
I hope you don't quit and realize that with practice, you'll be able to do the promotional work very easily with minimal effort.
For every hour of writing, spend five to eight hours promoting it
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
-- Thomas Edison
Most people scoff at this and think I'm crazy. But that's what I've found to be a good amount of promotion for a blogpost, give or take.
The shock usually wears off when I explain that you don't have to promote the blogpost for 8 hours straight. That wouldn't work actually.
What you have to do is publish your post on your blog, and then promote it for 5 to 10 minutes at a time for the next few months. A little bit at a time, on different places. This builds a good backlink profile and it's gradual which the search engines love.
The bulk of the promotion work happens in the hour or two following your publishing time and in the upcoming days.
Where should you promote your blogposts?
This is the tricky part and where you'll spend those five hours or so. At first, you have to cover all the basics when you publish your post.
The basics include social media and email. More advanced places to get traffic to your blog include: word of mouth, bookmarking sites and forums.
Email the blogpost to your readers
Share your blogpost via email. You should have an email list setup where you have people that want to hear from you. An easy way to set that up is with Aweber, you can set it up for free for a month.
DO NOT use the built in WordPress.com or Jetpack subscription plugin for this. I'll explain why in an upcoming blogpost; you need a proper email list.
Post in social networks
One of the best ways to get traffic to your blog is to use the major social networks. Share the post in Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+ and Pinterest. The easiest way to do this is to install something like the Floating Social Bar plugin and go through each of the buttons on your own article after publishing it.
On Facebook, you should also go into relevant groups you belong to and share it there. If you have any Facebook pages that are relevant then share your article there as well. In groups, make sure you follow the etiquette set forth by the group admins or else you may get banned.
On Twitter, you can do a search using http://search.twitter.com/ and see who is asking about what you wrote or talking about it and see if you can politely introduce them to your new article.
On Google+, share it to your timeline and also look for groups you should be a part of and share it there. But read about my warning with social media sites below.
Linkedin is another site where you can share your articles. This one is tricky because people consider it a "professional" network where only "work stuff" should be shared but I don't agree with that. Use at your own discretion.
On Pinterest, make sure you have some boards that meet the criteria of your different topics so you can share each blogpost to the right area. Boards should be simple like "food" "travel" "photography" etcetera.
Warning about posting to social media sites
A warning about social media sites. Most people in social media who aren't bloggers or marketers may find your attempts to share your blogposts with them spammy or annoying.
This is particularly true with admins of groups, they often feel like they have to police their group a lot because people try to spam it all day long. Don't be a spammer.
Make sure you build a good rapport in each group, and make sure that the blogpost you're about to share actually gives some value to the readers, if it doesn't then skip that group for that post.
Another mistake with social media sites is sharing only your content. Post other people's content too, interesting articles and stuff like that. You have to make an effort to be social too, interact with other people's posts by liking, comment and sharing their articles.
I feel like this is a good start to get you an overview of the things that need to happen for your blog to grow. Ultimately, your goal with any blog is to get more traffic. Traffic equals eyeballs, which means whether you want to make money, or spread your ideas, you need more of it.
Key takeaways to get more traffic to your blog:
- Don't believe in the myths of blogging.
- Dot your i's and cross your t's when it comes to SEO, but write for humans.
- Share your content via email.
- Share your content in social networks. If you build it, you need to tell people about it so they come.
- Learn the nuances of each social network so you have better results when sharing.