We all struggle with ways to get more traffic – trust me. It’s a never-ending process of trying to get the content you poured your heart into to be seen and read. I wish there was a simple end-all-be-all process for it but there isn’t. Every site is different as well. What you’re writing about, how you’re writing about it, and how you present it will all have an impact on how you approach promoting it.
Let me preface this by saying that I do not have a blog or site that’s blowing away the competition with traffic. I have a few sites that do well within their niche, and that’s what I want to share today.
Making you #1 on Google for something is not my goal here. Instead, I want to show you ways you can see growth and feel better about what you’re doing. You can find articles that will preach they can double, triple, quadruple your traffic in 3 easy steps but it’s really not that easy to get more traffic; not as easy as they make it sound at least. Not for those of us with smaller blogs, usually writing about niche stuff to a smaller demographic.
1. Quality of Content
While you don’t need to be a journalist, or novelist to be a blogger, the quality of your content will go a long way towards not only helping you get more traffic and readers but keeping them too.
I’m talking the basics here like: proper punctuation, spelling, and basic grammar. I don’t know about you, but if I visit a site and it’s riddled with spelling mistakes, and terrible grammar then I will move on. I’ll find another source of information. It’s just a matter of professionalism, and while many of us aren’t professionals, we should strive to present our content professionally.
Be clear with your writing as well. Present your thoughts and ideas clearly to your readers. People don’t want to guess what you’re trying to say. Everything should have a natural flow to it, like a conversation.
Speaking of, I’m a big fan of informal writing in blogging. The bloggers I enjoy reading the most are usually those who write informally. Basically, informal writing is writing like you speak. You’re speaking to your readers, so things like shorter sentences, lots of contractions and abbreviations, and even incomplete sentences area the norm there. You will also address the reader with words like “you”, and refer to yourself as “I”. Again, conversational writing.
Formal writing, for many topics in blogging, is just not warm and fuzzy like informal writing; and blogging is very much an informal platform – I feel anyway.
2. Catchy Article Titles
Never underestimate the value of an article title. All of us bloggers are competing with one another, whether we want to or not. So, having an article title that stands out in the sea of other article titles is crucial to get more traffic. You really only have a few seconds to catch a potential reader’s attention, and a great article headline is one way to do that.
To that end, there’s a great headline analyzer tool that I use for all my article titles. The tool will really help you refine your headlines to draw attention, with suggestions on ways to improve the headline.
3. Engage with Your Readers
Why do you write articles? Is it to put your opinion and thoughts out there, not caring what anyone thinks, or is it to share your ideas and see what other people think?
If it’s the former then you don’t care about comments on your articles, or engaging with your reader base on social media. If it’s the latter, and I really hope it is, then engaging with your community is how to thrive.
I spend hours working on articles. So, when I hit publish and the world gets to see my shiny new article, I want to know what people think about it. The way you encourage reader response is to engage with the readers; it’s that simple.
If people routinely leave comments on your articles, or on Facebook posts, Instagram, etc., and you don’t respond then those people will stop leaving you feedback. Some may even stop following you completely.
By contrast, if you reply to every comment, if you engage and promote discussion, then people will respond back in kind. You want to create a conversation and draw more people in. An article doesn’t stop when you hit publish; that’s when it comes alive.
4. Ask a Question
Something I didn’t cover in the referenced article was asking your readers a question. This is something I like to do, though it’s not appropriate in every article.
Let’s say you wrote an article about your favorite books. At the end of the article do something like this:
So, what are your favorite books? Do you have any recommendations?
By doing this you are engaging your reader. You are soliciting a comment and it works too.
On one of my sites I started doing that, asking questions at the end of my articles, and making them pop out like that – red and italic. The amount of comments my site got had doubled in a few months of doing that.
Again, this won’t work on every article, but on the more informal articles (things that aren’t tutorials, walkthroughs, reviews, etc.) it works very well.
5. Make Sharing Easy
Letting people share your content to social media easily is a must to get more traffic. There are generations of potential readers who barely ever leave social networks. Meaning, they jump on Facebook and use Facebook for everything: finding recipes, events, web searches, etc. The only time some of them leave their preferred social network is when a friend links an article they find interesting.
You have to be able to get your content in front of people on social media even if you don’t care for it. Whether or not you like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Reddit is irrelevant to getting exposure for your content. Make it easy for your readers to share your content on those networks and let them do the work for you!
6. Use Social Media
Related to the last is actually using social media. I know it’s not something everyone enjoys doing. Honestly, it’s not my favorite part either, but I do it because it works.
There are a ton of social networks out there. What I would suggest is trying a handful of them and seeing which ones you enjoy using. If you don’t like using a particular social network then rule it out. If you don’t care to use it then you aren’t going to want to share to it, so why waste your time?
Some networks are kind of a given depending on what you write about. For example, my other blog is very image heavy, so I have a lot of luck with Pinterest and Instagram to get more traffic.
Of the networks you like using, start narrowing down the ones that work. Give it a few months of posting to them and see if the return, the amount of traffic you get, is worth the time you’re putting into it. From there you can either drop the ones that aren’t very rewarding, or just invest less time into those ones while spending more time on the networks that work.
Either way, get yourself out there on some social networks. Once you’re there you want to invite your friends. They will in turn invite their friends. Eventually you’ll have a following. The bigger the following the easier it is to get more traffic.
What to Post?
There’s no single answer for what you should be sharing on social media, but I will say you should share things other than what you’re writing. My social posts that sees the most traffic, and responses are those unrelated to anything I’m writing. I could ask what everyone is doing this weekend, or what they think about some new technology, etc.
Basically, ask your readers for responses and you’ll be surprised how many respond.
Of course you also want to share the things you’re writing, but I would caution against the automated sharing. I used automated sharing for a while too until I realized that nobody cared for it. Now, I take a few minutes and write something interesting to accompany the link I’m sharing; something to catch attention. Trust me, take the time to do that because people get blinded to the automated sharing.
7. Reach Out to Other Bloggers
Your mileage with this will vary industry to industry, but getting in touch with influencers in the area you’re writing about can really help promote your blog. I won’t rehash what’s been said a million times, but instead give an example with my wargaming blog.
My other site, Creative Twilight, is a wargaming blog. If you’re unfamiliar, basically I buy models, put them together, paint them, and then play games with them. It’s a very niche topic, and an extremely friendly community. Wargamers are some of the best people I’ve met.
Anyway, I was trying to grow my site and not having a lot of luck. So, I started a blogroll. Yep, that old-school system of linking to other sites! I then started approaching sites that had more traffic than I did and asking them to join their blogroll if they had one. I would in turn put them on my blogroll. Now, I had a link from a much more popular site pointing to my small site.
Aside: I recommend using WP RSS Aggregator if you’re on WordPress and looking to setup a blogroll.
I also started promoting my blogroll on social media, which I still do today. I tell people they can join my blogroll, and get their site linked, if they only return the favor. My blog may not be the most popular wargaming blog, but there are smaller blogs than mine, and those folks are happy to get listed on a blogroll – same as I was when I started!
Now, this isn’t about creating backlinks and SEO. It is quite simply about getting your name out there and getting people to visit your site.
8. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Ah, SEO – the thing we love to hate!
I’m not going to give you a course on SEO. Others have already done that, and done so better than I could. However, I do want to say that it’s something you have to look at.
SEO can be a rabbit hole. Oh, you can lose days, weeks, and months doing SEO optimization on a site. It’s also a never-ending process as it’s ever evolving. However, you should at least be doing the basics.
True story. My wargaming blog I mentioned, the reason that site does as well as it does is SEO. When I started Creative Twilight, I quickly realized that nobody was doing any SEO in the wargaming niche. It was painfully obvious that people were just writing content, hitting post, and that was it.
So, I set myself the task of learning how to do SEO effectively and implementing it. I started off with the basics: meta title and meta description with my keywords. Because the wargaming niche was so lacking in content that was SEO optimized, my articles quickly started getting picked up by Google. I then added a few more basic things like making sure my keywords were in my content, and that I had images with those keywords in their filename, as well as alt and title text.
My traffic started to skyrocket with some very simple SEO steps because the niche I blog about wasn’t utilizing SEO tactics.
For the WordPress users out there I would recommend using Yoast SEO. It will help teach you everything you need to know.
9. Take it Seriously
If you don’t take yourself seriously, or the articles you write seriously, then nobody else will. I’m not saying don’t have fun! By all means, keep things light, humorous, or whatever suits your personality; just be real.
If you’re faking it and writing articles for the sake of writing articles, creating content you don’t care about, then everyone will see it for what it is. The way you get readers to come to your site, and to stick around is by creating unique and passionate content. If you pour yourself into your work then it will show and you will be rewarded for it.
I feel that covers the major points on ways to try to gain more readers for the smaller blogs out there. It’s useful for a blog of any size honestly, but small blogs hold a place in my heart. We’re often the ones pouring our souls into something we love and creating amazing content that so few get to see.
Is there something I didn’t cover that you’d like more info on?