Building traffic on a blog is really like building a cartoon snowball; if you can get it rolling, you can soon turn it into a fully blown avalanche… Well, almost.
It’s not always easy to get started and getting those first few visitors is a challenge. Those early visitors are actually worth far more than just their own presence, building a couple of extra readers now could gain you 10 or 20 visitors later – it’s all about making the most of every visitor you get.
This post is a simple guide for anyone who has recently started a blog, or is contemplating doing so, whether your blog is for a business or just a personal one:
There is plenty written about writing good headlines. If you want your blog posts to get noticed or even go viral then your headlines are sometimes more important than the actual content (well, at least as important).
Great content builds repeat visitors, so don’t let it slip; but you need to write titles that grab your reader’s attention if you want your content to actually get noticed.
The main thing to remember is that you need to write headlines to get clicks. Not only will this directly increase the number of visitors that come into your site, but it will massively increase your chances of being linked to by other bloggers / webmasters.
Try to think about the keywords your posts might rank for and include those keywords in your titles. Write the titles for the hypothetical search engine user who has a query about those keywords.
If you want to rank for a specific phrase, try Googling that phrase to see what sorts of headlines are working already. Also, check your own Analytics regularly and see which posts get the highest click through rates.
Commenting on other blogs isn’t exactly a radical new idea. In the past blog comments were used as a link building technique, and they go abused a lot. But commenting for the right reasons can still have a good impact on your site.
The sorts of people who read comments are often the sorts of people who leave them. If you do plenty of commenting, you are likely to gain a few comments yourself, and when you are starting out, getting the first few comments really help to start building your community.
As an added bonus; I often find that the most prolific commenters are also bloggers themselves, so again a good title and some good comments often leads to a link or two. Commenting can be helpful for SEO, but it’s more about community and networking.
A great way to start your blog commenting is by making a list of all of the top blogs in your niche. Pick 5-10 depending on how much time you have to spend on comments. Sign up for Google Reader and add all of your chosen blogs.
Make a habit of checking Google Reader regularly and soon as a new post is posted on one of your blogs, go read it and leave a high quality, helpful comment. By being the first to comment your link will be at the top and you will eventually start getting noticed by the blogger and regular readers.
The best types of links are the ones you get when people decide to link to you purely because they think their visitors will enjoy the content. But it is often difficult to get these links because many bloggers are reluctant to give up “link juice”, especially to a newbie blog like yours…
A great way to encourage a blogger to link to you, is to write a post about them. Find the best blogs in your niche and tell your readers about them. Then just send the bloggers a little note to say that you have written a post about them.
It won’t work every time, but sometimes it can work very well. What blogger wouldn’t want to send their readers to a blog post about how great they are? Use a good headline and do some commenting to make sure the bloggers notice you.
Don’t target the very top blogs right away, instead start with a few medium level bloggers – who will be much more likely to be flattered by your gesture.
It may also help if you target blogs which you have been regularly commenting on. This way, the blogger will already know who you are and be much more susceptible to being contacted.
No list would be complete without guest posting, a lot of bloggers do it very half-heartedly though. When you are getting started, building a lot of links is essential.
I will sometimes spend a week focusing on guest posting. I will write 10 – 15 posts in batch, then I will go out and offer them to bloggers. I don’t always target the most high-profile blogs, but I will target high-quality ones. Remember, today’s up and coming blogs might be tomorrows top flight blogs.
If you do this at least 1 week per month, you will very quickly have 50+ links coming in to your site. It is a lot of work, but if you want to get traffic fast, this is the way to go. Just remember that every post you write has to be top notch, you are building a brand for yourself when you guest post.
Once you start getting a little bit of traffic, you want to make absolutely sure that you keep it. This means getting some Analytics set up and learning how to use the data.
When looking at your Analytics, in particular you should take note of how people are navigating their way through your site.
If you notice that one particular post/page gets a lot of visits then it might be worth spending some time making that page even better; Make sure that the content is as good as it can be.
Also, filter the Analytics data to find your top landing pages. These are the pages where the most visitors are finding their way onto your blog. Again, spend some time tweaking these pages to make them better. Try to add links and make the content more readable – your main goal is to reduce your bounce rate and entice new visitors further into the site.
Look for the pages and posts with the highest rate of exits (pages which people view immediately before leaving) and try to improve the navigation on these pages, encourage people to stay just a bit longer. You can do this by breaking up the content and adding relevant links, or by adding related posts at the end of the post.
Also look for posts which have a higher than average bounce rate. These are posts which are attracting traffic but failing to keep it. Make a note of the posts which are losing the most traffic and find out what sources of traffic are bringing visitors to those posts, you can then tweak your content to make it a better fit.
Just keep working hard and don’t give up. Make sure you pay attention to the data and learn what works best for your blog. Be patient and eventually you will find your traffic picks up.
This list isn’t complete by any means, so have your say. What do you think is the best way to build traffic to a new blog?
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