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