Get More Blog Traffic with These 3 Tips

Sometimes I feel like those of us in the blogging world must rely on the kindness of strangers to be successful and get more blog traffic. You know what I mean? You have to find your tribe, engage with other blogs, encourage people to share your stuff, cross your fingers that you’ll go viral…

And so on.

Get more traffic on your blog. Learn how to optimize your posts for search.

And I’m not saying these things aren’t worthwhile or won’t help you get more blog traffic. Networking is important in any industry, and the personal connections you make with people you would otherwise never meet is one of the things that makes blogging a worthwhile and fun endeavor. But last month, I started to think about how I could have more control over my blogging destiny. What could I do to get more blog traffic that didn’t have anything to do with how I was engaging with other blogs and bloggers?

3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Get More Blog Traffic

1. Write more content.

This was such a “duh” moment in my blogging life. If I want to get more blog traffic, it stands to reason that having more content would help accomplish that. I realized this in November when I participated in Blogher’s NoBloPoMo challenge. NoBloPoMo challenges bloggers to post every day during the month of November (traditionally it’s November, but Blogher actually does a NoBloPoMo challenge every month). My blog’s pageviews doubled in November in part because I was cross-posting on Blogher, but also because I simply had more content to promote, for the search engines to index, and for people to discover, share, and link to.

Duh, right?

But writing more also means that I have an archive of content, much of which is evergreen — more than two-thirds of my content is relevant year-round vs. content that is seasonal or tied to a specific event. I want as much content as possible to be read every single day. Typically 30+ articles a day get accessed on Mommy Sanest — I know that probably doesn’t sound like much, but that’s one-third of my archive. Some are only getting a handful of hits, but a couple of those articles, even the older ones, drive 50-100 pageviews every day.

So if you want to get more traffic, try posting more. You have to balance writing more with writing good content — you shouldn’t compromise quality for quantity — but if you can manage it, try writing one additional post a week or every other week. Or, if you can, work with a guest writer or contributor to share the load.

2. SEO the sh*t out of every single post.

Last month, I decided that I was going to go through Mommy Sanest and search engine optimize every single post in an effort to get more blog traffic from organic search. Holy hell, this is an undertaking, and I’ve only been blogging for eight months. You’re reading post number 89, and I’m about halfway through my archive. But it’s been worth it. My organic search traffic doubled last month.

So, where do you start with search engine optimization? There’s a lot that goes into search, but to improve your rankings, here are some basics:

If you have WordPress and you’re not already using the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin, go install it right this minute. I’ll wait.

Once you’ve done that, learn a little bit about keywords. Keywords are queries that people are typing into search engines to find stuff — if you can figure out what words people are using to find the kind of content you’re writing, then you’ll have a better chance of showing up higher in search rankings.

You’re going to want to get a Google Adwords account and learn how to use the Keyword Planner Tool. Go to Tools –> Keyword Planner –> Search for New Keyword and Ad Group Ideas, and type in the topic of your post. Click “Get Ideas.” Switch to the tab on the right that says, “Keyword Ideas.”

Adwords: Get more blog traffic

Here’s the thing though: As a smaller site, optimizing a post for a common search term isn’t going to help you get more blog traffic. For example, if I were to write a post using the word “toddler” as my keyword — even if I did all the “right” SEO stuff, I’d be pretty disappointed with the results — everyone, including approximately 1 million sites that out rank me, has written about toddlers. So what’s a small blogger to do? Long tail keywords. So for me, I’m better off writing about a more specific topic with a long tail keyword… such as…

Keywords: Get more blog traffic

You can also scroll down in Google Adwords to get ideas of what other search terms are being used. I tend to go with terms that get a few hundred searches a month and have low competition. You can ignore the other columns.

Keywords: Get more blog traffic

Once you’ve figured out your keyword, go back WordPress and draft your post. The SEO plugin should appear below your post. Here’s what mine looked like for this post before I added a meta description:

Yoast1

Type in your “Focus Keyword” (for this post, it’s “get more blog traffic”) then click on the Page Analysis tab.

Yoast: Get more blog traffic

The SEO plugin tells you exactly what you need to do to better optimize your post. See all of those red and yellow dots? The goal is to turn them green. Do I ever get them all green? No. But I try. The key is to use the exact keyword phrase throughout your post. The SEO plugin likes to see a keyword density of 1 percent, but I’m typically lower than that. Again, you have to balance good writing with optimization. At the end of the end of the day, you want a human to be able to read your post, not just a search engine.

Keep in mind, this is a very 101 version of search optimization, but it will get you started. If you’re interested in learning more about SEO, follow Moz Blog. And if you’re looking to make money as a writer online (separate of your blog), understanding SEO is a legit skill, and it’s kind-of interesting.

3. Link to related content manually within your posts.

When you want to get more blog traffic, you not only want more users and sessions, you want users to stick around, view multiple pages, and read lots of content. This is why, as I go through my content archive auditing my pieces for SEO, I’m also adding links to other related-Mommy Sanest content within posts. I do this wherever it makes sense, but again, it’s not something that needs to be forced. Try going through your archives to see where you can point people to other content that might interest them. For example: Do you have a series on your blog? You know something like my Work | Life | Mom profiles? Add links to every post to each article in the series. It can’t hurt.

Doing this is different than installing a related content plugin — which don’t get me wrong, a related content plugin is valuable, but I find that the content isn’t quite as a related as I would prefer. I also find that related content plugins are becoming so ubiquitous that they are getting easier to ignore. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. I personally use LinkWithin, but Shareaholic offers a related post extension and so does Jetpack.

OK… that’s all I got for you today. Hope it was helpful!

Oh, one more thing… you know what else helps if you take on a content audit? A content calendar.

Just saying.

33 thoughts on “Get More Blog Traffic with These 3 Tips

  1. SEO has been the hardest for me. There’s so many tips out there about what I should do, but they’re too hard to follow. This one seems pretty straightforward, thanks! 🙂

    • I know… SEO can seem super complicated. There’s definitely more to it than this, but this is a good place to start.

  2. THIS is so true: “you have to balance good writing with optimization.”

    When I first started using Yoast, I got a little keyword happy 😉 and I definitely overdid it. So important to balance out SEO with great content!

    Good tips here – I like the idea of searching keywords in the keyword planner.

    • I find it takes a little practice to figure out how to get the keyword in a post multiple times without going overboard. And some posts lend themselves to using it several times and others just sound weird. Content first, always.

  3. I have also been going through some of my older content and freshening it up for SEO and everything else (better images, etc.). I think that balance and consistency are super important for building traffic!

    • I’m doing my images as well. It’s such a process, but I’m glad I started now instead of six months from now.

  4. Super glad I read this one too today! Not only have I been trying to convert my wordpress.com to .org (without success because I AM SOOO slow at all of this stuff) but I also have been attempting to understand SEO’s. Do you have wordpress.com or .org because I was under the impression that you couldn’t have plug ins with .com… maybe I’m wrong.

    • So I have a wordpress.org, which means that my blog is not hosted by WordPress. But yes, my understanding is that you have way more control and functionality when you have a self-hosted WordPress blog.

  5. So funny, I was literally doing all of this just yesterday! Glad you expanded on the AdWords tool, though – that’s something I haven’t gotten into yet. I also need to go through my old posts and check how optimized they are. Thanks for sharing these tips!

    • Hi Laura! OMG This process is so daunting and it’s taken me awhile to understand SEO and Adwords to this point. Keywords is so valuable, but not very intuitive in my opinion. The day I realized that chart in Adwords was completely useless for my purposes, it’s like I heard angels sing. Suddenly the tool started to make way more sense.

    • It’s definitely important. SEO will keep shifting and writing good content is the most important part of optimization, but I tend to want to place my bets of search rather than social for long-term growth. Just my thoughts.

  6. This is really helpful, Lou, and included some things I did not know. I’very been working on getting my SEO much more squared away in the last several days and, while it is helping, I think that your tips will boost things that much more.

    I absolutely understand what you mean about trying to control your own destiny, too. I think I do a fairly solid job of networking, and I know that helps me, but we’re all very busy people trying to get by here. Folks can have the very best of intentions in helping you out, but if they’re just trying to keep their own head above water with all they are doing in a day then there just isn’t going to be enough time. So you have to do what you can on your own.

    Writing more content is a solid plan too. I want to do this a bit more. It is like you say, however, trying to balance quantity with quality can get to be really tough. Especially if you’re going through some personal things (like a much too long winter slowly sapping the color out of your life). Still, though, the effort must be made and you make a clear case as to why. It’s simple, but I never really thought about it enough to connect the dots.

    So, have you cross posted this to BlogHer or submitted it to SITS Girls? 😉

    • I’m glad someone is feeling me on this. I believe in what I’m doing here and have decided that this does not all have to be left to chance. Take control where you can, right?

      Writing more is tough. And I hear you on winter. I recently tried to start posting three times a week instead of two, and there are some weeks that it’s just not happening, and that’s fine. Quality over quantity always,

      • Two words: MIcroblog Mondays. You get a post in, you put it in the linky on Melissa Ford’s personal page, you leave a few comments on other folk’s posts — it’s where it’s at. Highly recommend for getting that third post in. 🙂

    • Make sure you link to your site in every post. I put something like, “Read more at Mommy Sanest,” on every post. It doesn’t drive tons of traffic, but here and there, and especially if your post gets featured.

  7. This was GREAT info! Are you able to sign up on Adwords without creating an ad?!? Are there any other keyword tools that don’t require that process?

    • SEO is a great skill for writers, blog or no blog, and I tend to think it’s pretty interesting. Google is such a mystery.

  8. This is AWESOME!!! I “get” SEO, but have still been confused on how to really use that to my advantage to optimize my posts. I have that plugin, but, um…I never noticed that 2nd tab!!! I am going to use your tips to slowly optimize my old posts and definitely going forward with new posts. Pinning an sharing this! Thanks for sharing your knowledge! 🙂

  9. Thank you for this! I found this post on pinterest and I have to say that before I read it I felt like SEO was so over my head. And you just made it so easy and straightforward! I am following all your advice literally as I type this and even decided to start a google ad. Why not right? 🙂

  10. Pingback: Blogging Tips for Newbie Bloggers

  11. AWESOME! I found this via a pin on pinterest, and have re-pinned it as well as linked back to this article in my own article on blogging tips for newbies, I am now working on SEO on my posts, thank you SO much for sharing this advice!

  12. THANK YOU!!! Especially for Moz Blog, I need to understand SEO so much more than I do, so thank you for the tips 🙂
    Also, I also new about NaNoWriMo, I never knew there was one for bloggers! I think instead of waiting for November, I’m going to set my own goal before then 🙂

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