While writing articles for a blog is as easy as putting your thoughts into written form and then publishing them online, getting readers on the other hand can prove to be quite a challenge.
When you start a blog, it is important to think on the type of traffic that you will be aiming for. Blogs come in different varieties and believe it or not so does their traffic. If you want your blog to represent you as an online personality then your Readers will potentially be followers and soon-to-be followers. For blogs that are generally informational and competitive as an authority on a topic or series of topics, your readers will consist mostly of new visitors to your site. While there are challenges with either style of blog, the general blog will rely heavily on search engine optimization while the personal blog will rely more on organic methods to grow its readership.
Growing Traffic for A General Blog
When you own a general blog, you should first determine whether or not your blog topics are unique and important enough to rank well in Google search. It is not enough to just write what comes to you, or what you assume readers would love to hear. You can easily waste your time writing yet another “10 Ways to Something Your Something” Article if there are hundreds of them already out on the internet.
Research more than anything else is the key to growing traffic on a general blog. You need to know what it is that people search for yet get no answers on, what topics are hot but under-served, and how to write in an informative and entertaining way. Google searches are your first line of offense in bringing new readers to your site, and since you will most likely not have the advantage of a community, you will need to be competitive on the highest level. Clean, professional, and engaging content will be the key to retaining your readers once they arrive.
The basic rules for search engine optimization are very important for a general blog because – like a website – Google/Bing search is where your readers will find you.
A few good rules to follow:
- Titles are the exterior signage of your blog building – they are THAT important. It doesn’t matter how great or helpful your article is if it lacks a title that immediately identifies the topic and influences clicks … yes, it’s that important and that difficult to master. A boring title will have people ignoring your blog even if you are at the top for a search term.
- Be serious about your images and videos: When you write your articles, use photos and videos that pique interest. It is not enough to have a microstock photo of a perfect person in a perfect pose looking perfect, a photo should make you stop and think, It should grab your attention, and most of all, it should be memorable.
- Show your face: Though I use the term “general blog” and separate these tips from the “personal blog”, it is still important for readers to see a face alongside the words that they’ve just read. Having social links by that face with a short bio goes a long way too. If you are an authority on a topic, people want to do a little sleuthing into who you are and why they should listen to you. These additions to your blog will help to make you trustworthy.
- Encourage comments: End articles with a nudge or reminder to readers that they can comment (if your blog allows for it).
The following list will help you to bring in more traffic:
- Guest blog on authoritative sites: If you’re a technology blogger, you want to link yourself to the bigger and more reputable technology blogs online. This is where guest blogging comes in to sites which will allow for signature links or more. Google search engine looks at links as a referral from one site to another, and you blogging on one of these spaces is akin to them giving a formal referral to your site.
- Leverage Social Media: As intimidating as Social Media can be for bloggers who aren’t personalities, it is still a powerful funnel for bringing in new readers – especially Twitter. Even though your personal following may be smaller than you’d like, your social posts can still be found through search, and if someone is looking for something that you’ve written about, you want them to be able to find you quickly. Whenever you post a new article, you should tweet about it, post about it on your Facebook and Google Plus timelines, and get your partners to share it.
- Link relative blog articles: Linking words (keep this to a 3-5 minimum) to articles that are relative will lead people to reading more of your past material. Google search engine now measures the length of time readers stay on your site which in turn influences a lift in your blog’s visibility.
- Keep guest blogs super-relevant: As your blog grows in popularity you may be solicited by websites and businesses that wish to leverage your traffic for their product(s) and blogs. Some of these sites will ask to pay you for posting their articles, but since the cost of taking money is you losing your rank in search (if Google finds and punishes the offending site that you are now linked to), I strongly advise against this. Guest posts should be on topic and written in a way that makes you feel proud to share. It is also important that it is unique content and not a copy/paste from several other blogs.
- Monitor your search results closely and leverage them for future articles: With Google analytics we are able to see what people search for in order to land on our websites. Bloggers should be watching these results on a weekly basis. Search terms can drive new content easily. If someone found your site for a specific query and left because the article they landed on was off-topic, you should be writing an article to answer the original query.
Growing Blog Traffic for A Personality
People whose blogs are more personal (strong opinions and latest news) tend to end up with a community of readers. The same people will come back to the blog week after week, they will give their own opinions in the comment section, and they will talk to one another. This frequent visitation means that the blog becomes their community home, and they will in turn rely on you, the blog owner, to respect their wants and needs.
When blog owners don’t recognize or respect their community, they can do things to turn-off and eventually lose their readers. Some of these things include:
- Making drastic changes to the functionality and design of the blog space.
- Devaluing the commentary and the ability for readers to communicate with one another about the articles.
- Inviting in guest bloggers that are not of the community or who don’t understand it.
- Breaking a regular blog schedule without warning.
- Lack of moderation or allowing certain individuals to disrupt the comment section.
- Introducing pay per click ads on the blog where they haven’t been before.
If you’re reading this and saying to yourself “it’s my blog, if I want to make changes I’ll make changes,” then you misunderstand the power of your readers and the fact that they can make and break your blog space easily. Much of the traffic that comes in once a community is developed will be there for your veteran commentators as much as they are there for your articles. Word of mouth is the greatest form of advertising, and your weekly readers and veterans are the ones who will be spreading the word about your blog.
Take care of your readership and they will take care of you. The way you do this is to:
- Update the community before making any major changes to the blog.
- Communicate with your readers. Do not post on every single comment section (you can look like a robot if you’re this active), but if something needs your voice, you should 100% comment on it.
- Highlight spectacular comments. Once in a while you will run across an opinion from someone on the blog which should be an article (it’s that good!) Reach out to that commentator and ask for permission to post it. People like to feel appreciated, and that one gesture can lead to more people commentating.
The most important thing to remember in the maintenance of blogs that are community-driven is that it is community-driven.
How to grow your community organically:
- Stick to an unwavering schedule of posts. If you post articles every Monday at 9:00 AM… stick to it!
- Only invite guests that understand your community and/or are a part of it.
- Do not take money for “guest articles” from businesses or anyone that spams your inbox asking to do so. Guests should make sense to your community.
- Reach out and communicate with other bloggers in your niche. Invite them to post an article and/or comment. Before asking, you should be commentating on their spaces regularly.
- When you guest blog on other sites, do not “sell” your blog. Writing something funny, helpful, or useful will bring people back to your blog to read more from you.
- Do not beg your readers for money or fool yourself that they will click on jarring, Pay-per-Click ads. There are much more natural ways to monetize a blog.
Applying these tips and tricks should give you a nice rise in traffic as your blog ages, and for general blogs with evergreen content, you will continue to see traffic even if you’re unable to add new content for a while. Nonetheless, the bottom line is to give yourself goals and know your readers for your blog’s success.
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