There is nothing more frustrating than putting loads of hard work and effort into your blog and barely seeing any increase at all in your traffic numbers. Putting so much into something, especially when it’s a creative endeavour, and having little to no response to it is completely disheartening. You know the work is good, and you know there are people out there who would want to read it, the question is how to get them to the site.
Whether your blog is about sharing your ideas or your work, or it’s a channel to direct traffic to a website where you’re selling a product or service, you need visibility for people to be able to find your work. These are the primary ways to drive more traffic to your blog.
Optimise your blog for SEO
SEO is search engine optimisation, the practice of making web pages as visible as possible to search engines, and thus getting higher placement in search rankings. The primary way to do this is through what’s called on-page SEO, basically formatting your text correctly in the page’s HTML. Even if these abbreviations make your head spin, don’t worry; optimising for SEO requires no coding skill at all. For proper SEO, just writing well gets you about 80% of the way there (good content is what search engine algorithms are designed to find, after all). The rest of it is making sure your keywords appear frequently enough and in the right places.
If even doing this sounds complicated, fear not; blogging platforms provide tools to help ensure you’ve ticked all the boxes for on-page SEO. Every platform should offer SEO tools either built in or as a plugin (We recently wrote a post comparing different blogging platforms). The Wordpress plugin Yoast SEO is a fantastic tool for anyone blogging with Wordpress. You input the keywords you’re targeting, and they help make sure you’ve got them in all the right places in the text. All the technical details like sitemaps to help the search engines are done automatically. It really couldn’t be easier, and even pros who know all the ins and outs of SEO use tools like this as time savers.
Using the right keywords
Deciding on which keywords to target is actually a bit harder than it may seem. If you blog a lot, it’s not such a worry as the amount of content you generate should ensure you start showing up a lot in search engines. But if you’re using a blog to drive traffic to your commercial website, you’re likely only posting once or twice a week, and you need each post to be effective. When you pick a target keyword, you’ll be competing for the top spots in the results pages against other sites using that word or phrase. If they aren’t huge sites (of if you think you’ll eventually compete with them on traffic numbers) you can try to take them on and overcome them.
Small companies and niche products often can’t compete against the giants directly on short keywords, so they go for longer phrases that are searched for less often, but are a better fit for the product or service. Say a boutique travel agency is selling adventure tours in Spain. They’re not going to compete with the bigger agencies plus all the travel websites on “Spain travel” “Mediterranean holiday” or “adventure travel”. But posts about kayaking or cliff jumping adventures near Barcelona can more easily get to the top of search rankings. While these “long-tail keywords” - as they’re known - are seen by a smaller audience, they are a much better fit for your target reader, and will tend to convert at a much higher rate than more generic keywords. Basically, you’re casting a narrower net, but right at the school of fish. The Google Keyword Planner is a great tool for researching the competitiveness of different keywords.
Participate in the discussion
Whatever field you’re in, there are blogs, social media platforms, forums, subreddits etc. where the community comes together to ask questions, share ideas, or occasionally just rant a bit. Your blog will be successful if you can come to be seen as a leader in your field, and it will be difficult to achieve that without participating in the wider discussion, that is, the discussion outside of your blog. Part of your blogging strategy should be to engage in these places. Ask and answer questions whether in blog comments or on forums. It’s okay to link to your posts occasionally, but only if the post is really relevant to the question or issue at hand. If you’re posting your links in half of your comments or more, you’re spamming.
You should approach this not as a way to promote your blog or your brand, but as a way to add value to the discussion. Doing this in a genuine way will end up promoting your blog. Never spam, and never pretend to be a random reader so amazed by that incredible post you had to share it. When you link to your work, specify that it’s yours. People’s BS detectors will sniff out phony shares straight away, and you’ll have accomplished the opposite of what you set out to do.
Share your work
The final, and maybe most important part, is to share the work you write. It’s great to ensure you’re appearing as much as possible in Google results, and being a thought leader in your industry is important. If you can do those things simultaneously with establishing a social media presence as a place where you can share your work, then you’ll have hit the blog traffic motherlode. You don’t have to be on every social media platform (because damn, there are a lot of them) but at least pick two to focus on. Part of this can go hand in hand with what’s mentioned above about engaging in the community. Twitter in particular is a great place to stay on top of the happenings in your field without getting caught up in long-winded posts.
Once you click ‘post’, it’s easy to feel like your work is finished, but if you can get into the habit of then going and sharing the post, it’ll quickly become second nature. Even better yet, automate this process as much as possible to make it easy on yourself. Hootsuite and Buffer are both great ways to schedule posts, manage social accounts, and monitor the ROI from each channel and campaign.
Our product Missinglettr uses the HTML of your post to figure out the important parts, and automatically generates Tweets for you. All you have to do is approve the wording and the post schedule. It literally lets you promote your blog on Twitter in just a couple of clicks without actually having to write anything yourself. It’s crazy easy to set up, free to get started, and can also post to places like Reddit and StumbleUpon. We think a lot of blogs can benefit from the the automated promotion we have to offer, and we hope you’ll give us a try. Optimising your blog’s visibility isn’t easy, but a careful and dedicated strategy combined with a bit of patience will see you there eventually.