Friday, July 29, 2011

How to Really Build Traffic to Your Blog

My first blog has been up for just one and a half years and while my traffic has hit 1200 page views a day on occasion. I know that it's not close to the 35,000 unique visitors that FashionToast gets, but I can tell you that I worked like a maniac to build my meager 1000 page views.  Emphasis on the maniac because my blog group had to do an intervention to make me focus on editorial themes and quality over quantity. My newest blog is taking the same traffic trajectory but the difference is that I am posting only three times a week which is much less than I've ever dared do on my parenting blog.

So, here's my two cents:

With 3.5 million mommy blogs, you have to focus on a niche with consistent editorial themes. I as your infrequent reader should be able to rattle of an elevator blurb on what you care about if you are doing this correctly.

Branding is important. Does your blog title reflect your niche? How about your tagline? And did you make sure your meta description is your updated tagline? Did you map your URL to get rid of the "WordPress/Blogspot/LiveJournal?" Please do,

Now that you have a niche, tell me what to expect with an editorial calendar and regular unique features. You can deviate, god knows I do, but the reader who found you through Google wants more content of similar ilk.

A picture speaks a thousand words. Include at least one image or video and don't forget to put in alt text behind the image. That's good for SEO. (I know that I don't do this much on this blog but it is my third one and we treat it like an ignored stepchild).

Check your blog load speed time. Tools for that include Pingdom and Website Speed Test. Google punishes blogs with slow load times and so do readers.

Give readers many different options to follow your blog? An RSS feed does not work for everyone. Do you offer the feed via email? You can do this free using Feedburner. Pimping instructions here. Are there links to Twitter and Facebook? And also from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn back to your blog? Don't make it difficult for me to get your content. Networked Blogs through Facebook is another must have. And my pet peeve? Is your Twitter handle different from your blog name and/or Facebook page? Why? That makes me crazy!

An investment in a professional blog template is a small price to pay for displaying more content. Some come built in with great SEO. I am fond of Woo Themes.

Is there a search box for your blog on your blog? How can I find older posts without the capability? It's a widget you add that you most likely have.

Are your posts either very useful or very entertaining? Will I learn something from each one? The longer it takes you to create your post, the higher value added it likely is.

Are your posts evergreen? You'll want to post at least once a week on something that has appeal long after you've posted. That is a huge way to build traffic that works for me.

Are you filling out post summaries and an inordinate number of tags? I don't know Google's super secret search algorithms but I think it can't hurt. Synonyms of key words are also good.

Are you leaving comments--at least five a day? What? Why not? It really works you know.

Your social media presence will directly correlate to your blog traffic. Get more Twitter followers. Join relevant online communities. Discipline yourself to do a little of this every day. The tortoise does win the race after all.

Work your pr contacts in real life. Nothing drives traffic than mentions or features elsewhere. Karma counts. Be nice and use your good manners when communicating online.

At the end of the day focus on great content. Quality will always matter more than quantity.

It's fine to repurpose great content you find. Check their copyright policy (I'm not one to talk), just excerpt a paragraph or so, link back and give credit where it is due. If you say really nice things about the author of the content, chances are you won't get a wrist slap.

Combining ideas from several sources is another way to use great content but make it your own.

I think it all boils down to three words: quality, consistency, and techy (blog speed, SEO, etc.)

My parting words are that growing your traffic is a lot like losing weight. Sometimes you work really hard and the needle doesn't budge but if you keep at it and change your daily habits bit by bit, the change is enormous over a long period of time.

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