If you own a blog, and you like to fill it with glorious content, then chances are you want people to read what you have written. Sure, you might have created your blog as a bit of fun, or as a welcome distraction from the world, but it is still nice to know that someone is reading your work.
But attracting traffic isn’t easy, is it? And it doesn’t matter how much time and effort you spend on your posts, sometimes it seems as if no one is paying attention.
Well don’t be disheartened – I can help.
When I started blogging, my traffic was only so-so (and that’s me being generous). However, I’m now 2-3 years in, I have passed the one million views mark, and the traffic on my blog continues to increase – and yours can too!
In this post I am going to provide a few handy tips to help you increase your blog traffic. I can’t promise you a million views over night, but I can help you on your journey.
Start as you mean to go on
If you want to increase your blog traffic then it is important to really understand what works and what doesn’t. When I first set up this blog, I wrote lots of content that I presumed would catch the attention of the entire internet, and boy, was I wrong.
In fact, a lot of my early content only received a limited number of views. I still kept writing similar posts, expecting things to suddenly change, but of course they didn’t, because life doesn’t work that way and neither does blogging.
A friend once said to me:
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
In short: Stop doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different outcome.
And ‘stopping’ is the first thing I want you to do. Before your type another paragraph, another sentence, or even another word, I want you to stop. Just stop.
Here is tip number one: Stop what you are currently doing with your blog, and before you start again, do a bit of research about your own posts. Take a look at your blog and your posts, and get to know them inside out.
Whether you have published 16 posts or 60 posts, I want you to look at everything you have written and focus in on the traffic. Which of these posts have brought in visitors and which haven’t?
Now take a look at your most popular posts and compare them to your not-so popular posts. What are the significant differences?
Do the posts vary in length? Are some written in a different format? Is the information you provide more detailed in one post than the next? Is the subject matter unique?
I guarantee if you have 60 posts, 20 receive lots of traffic and 40 don’t, the 20 that are doing well will look and/or feel different to the rest – you just need to discover what those differences are.
Once you see the differences, then here is where you begin to make a change. And this is top tip number 2: Don’t go back to writing your posts like the 40 that don’t work, write your new posts like the 20 that do!
Let me give you an example. When I first set up It’s A Stampede!, I published multiple posts about the release of new movie trailers. These were short posts that contained a brand-new trailer, along with some information about the forthcoming film.
The trailer posts would get a little bit of traffic when they were first published, but after a couple of hours they would get no traffic at all. And yet I would spend time putting the posts together because I assumed people would want to watch the trailers.
People do want to watch movie trailers, but they largely do this when they scroll through Facebook, after people re-post/share them. And if people don’t see the trailers on Facebook, then Twitter, Instagram, Reddit and various other platforms do the job, including big entertainment news sites.
Creating posts about trailers might have seemed like a good idea, but it was time consuming and largely pointless. Ultimately for me these posts were dead-ends for traffic and detrimental to the development of my blog.
The time I spent on this type of post stopped me from writing other content. As soon as I realised the pointlessness of these posts, I ceased publishing them – and have never looked back.
It can be difficult breaking habits and abandoning posts that you are used to publishing, but if something isn’t working and you want your blog to progress, then it is time for a change. Breaking the cycle is important and is the first step towards a better blog.
Update and upgrade
While you’re at the “stop what you’re currently doing with your blog” stage, now is the time to see if any of your popular posts need a tweak. This doesn’t mean you need to alter the content, but it might be worth checking those 20 successful posts to see if there’s something useful you missed.
Let’s imagine you wrote a post about a delicious tuna casserole that you wanted to share with the world. Your post included an image, a discussion about where you bought the fish, why you decided to make the dish, and a rough methodology for readers to follow. But what your post didn’t include was the list of ingredients – something very useful to anyone interested in your food.
So, to improve this post add a list of the ingredients, making sure to cover everything that went into your masterpiece. You should also add in some additional photos of the dish, to ensure it is shown off to perfection, and give the methodology the once over to check that it makes sense and is easy to follow.
Will this increase the amount of views on this post? It certainly won’t hurt! More importantly you have now made sure your post is an informative read and offers value to your readers. Not only can they read about how you made the dish, they have more information about how they can make it.
Now take a look at your other posts and see if they need tweaks. Could some of your wording be a little clearer? Could your titles be stronger? Could you be providing a bit more information?
You should also make your content evergreen. You don’t want your content to date too quickly, so be mindful of this when you are working on your posts and ask yourself the question, would this information still stand up in two years’ time?
Put yourself in the shoes of someone who has stumbled across your blog, looking for a write-up. Does your post knock the socks off everyone else’s and will it last the test of time? If not, give it a little modification so that it does.
This whole exercise is about adding improvements if required and making your successful content that much stronger.
Find your niche
OK, so you have looked under the hood, you have a clearer understanding of what you are doing, and now is the time to move forward – and that means it is time to find your niche.
But what the heck does that mean?
Finding your niche is about finding your corner of the internet. What can you offer to readers that no one else can?
Now most people will tell you that you should decide what your niche is before you set up your blog – and of course this would be most helpful. But if you have already set up your blog and are looking to increase your traffic then working out your niche is what you need to do.
Maybe your most successful posts are about the times you repaired your car, and the subsequent advice you offered to readers. This could be your niche. Maybe all of your popular posts are about your crisp packet collection. This could also be your niche.
Some niches will be more popular than others, and that means there are many bloggers covering the same subject. The key here is to find the subject which YOU excel at and improve in this area.
If you are already getting some traffic for a particular subject, then you know readers are interested in what you have to say on this topic and this is where you find your niche. You just need to pinpoint where your strength lies and as previously mentioned, make your work sparkle!
And always remember that whenever you write something, always write about what you know. Lean into this knowledge, become an expert in it, and share your experiences.
Compiling your posts
You have your niche – congratulations! Now it’s time to start putting together your new posts.
Let’s start with a title. It needs to be something which is clear, invites readers to open up your post, and makes sense.
I’ll give you another example. Let’s say you are writing a guide on the best ways to score more goals during a five-a-side football match. You might weigh up some titles and think ‘Net result’ is a great title, as it is a play on words (i.e the result of the ball hitting the back of the football net); but let me tell you now, this isn’t a good title for your blog post.
If you are writing a headline for a newspaper, then ‘Net result’ would be fine. But you are NOT writing newspaper headlines, you are writing blog content, so abandon this way of thinking immediately.
‘Net result’ could be about scoring goals, but I would argue the title could equally be about finance or even fishing. Either way, if I’m looking through my web browser for a post on how to improve my goal scoring techniques, I doubt I will click on a post called ‘Net result’.
Your title needs to make your subject instantly recognisable and obvious. So, a better title would be ‘How to improve goal scoring techniques’.
Now, while this is a better title, it’s still a little vague. So, try ‘How to improve goal scoring in five-a-side football’.
You’ll notice that when I added the words ‘in five-a-side football’, I also removed the word ‘techniques’. I did this because a.) it wasn’t really needed and b.) it stopped the title from becoming too long.
Don’t make your titles too long. If your title is too long (i.e. over 60 characters) it gets lost in online searches. Keep it to the point!
Now you’ve got your title, you can begin compiling your post. It is entirely up to you how you do this, and what you talk about, but aim to be informative.
If you want to talk at great length about a subject, do it with a goal in mind – you want to entertain AND inform. You can have as much fun as you like with your words, it’s your post, but give your readers a reason to read.
If you built something then show them how you made it. If you experienced something, then explain what that experience was through a review or a discussion. Don’t just write random content without knowing why you are writing it.
How long should your post be? That depends on how much you want to write, and the subject you are covering. Some posts don’t always need a lot of words, but short posts of a couple hundred words aren’t going to attract that much attention.
At a minimum I would recommend aiming for between 600 to 1,000+ words. Posts of this length ensure you are taking your time to fully explain your subject, and reading your posts feels worthwhile.
If you need to discuss something in great detail, you should also break down your information into smaller, easily digestible sections. This makes it easier for readers to consume, and will help you stay on topic.
Amongst your content also include links to any past posts that you feel are appropriate. If you are talking about the best way to paint a fence, and you have previously talked about different types of paint, then insert a link back to this post as this information would be extremely useful for your readers.
And that’s something you should come back to time and time again – how do my readers benefit from this information? Now that doesn’t mean only write content to please other people (where’s the fun in that?), but it does mean you should think about the end user.
Whether your post is 100% informative or it is purely about entertainment, think about why you’re posting, who might be reading it, and what you both are getting out of it.
We all know the old saying ‘a picture paints a thousand words’, but how many of us think about this when we are putting together our blog posts?
If pictures are the last thing you consider, or you barely even use images in your posts, then you are missing out on an important part of storytelling. A strong visual image at the top of your post will encourage readers to start reading, while assorted images inside your post will help to illustrate your content.
If your blog is about food and recipes, then you simply must include photos of your dish. Readers want to see what you have made, and if you’re proud enough to write about it, then you will certainly want to show it off through some well-lit, well focused shots.
The more images you use, the better, but when you are saving images for use on your blog, be sure to give each picture a descriptive name – don’t just label them ‘Image 1’ or ‘Image 537’ etc. For example, if you are including a shot of you repairing a chain on your bicycle, then save the image as ‘man/woman repairing bicycle chain’.
Naming your photos correctly will help readers find your content when they are doing an online search. The easier you make it for your readers to find you, the better!
But what if the topic of your post is not a recipe or a ‘how to’ guide, what do you do about images?
If the subject of your post is obscure, a little more personal, or it is quite cerebral, then sourcing images can be a little trickier, but it is not impossible – so no excuses. WordPress has a collection of free-to-use stock images available, with many offering great alternatives if you are short on pictures.
A few pictures dotted through your post will break up the text, help put your words into some context, and will make your work more appealing. So use some images and make your posts visually appealing.
Categorise, tag, and share
OK, so you’ve got your title, and your content, and you have included images in your posts. Next you will want to put your posts into the correct category.
Categories are used as a way for bloggers to group together likeminded content. If you are uploading a lot of Christmas posts, then you can create a category called Christmas, and when visitors search your blog for Christmas content, they will get all of your festive writing in one place.
I know that most people already use categories, but not everyone does. Make sure that if you aren’t using categories that you start. Now.
Once you categorised your post be sure to add tags. Tags are effectively keywords that help visitors gravitate towards your blog and they are important.
If you write a post reviewing a tennis match, then use a bunch of related tags such as ‘Tennis’, ‘Tennis review’, and ‘Sport’, as well as the names of the players in the match. You could also add in a few additional tags such as ‘Tennis match’ or even ‘Wimbledon’.
It is recommended that you use between ten to 15 tags. Don’t go crazy, but do make sure you include tags in all of your posts.
If you’re using WordPress you will also be given an opportunity to write an excerpt, which is a short paragraph that appears below the image of your post once you publish it. This is your opportunity to write a short summary and include a few keywords about the post, for those who might be scrolling through.
Do I always use the excerpt feature? On some posts yes, on some no, but it can be useful as it can entice readers.
Once you have all your categories, tags, and excerpts sorted, you are ready to publish your post. Which leads to the question: When is the best time to publish your content?
The answer to this question is a little tricky as your post is being made available globally and the world operates at different time zones. You may live in the U.K., but find you get most of your traffic from the US which is on a different schedule.
Until you have a clear understanding of where your blog traffic comes from, then for now it will be a case of publishing your content when you feel is best. This is a little bit of trial and error.
The general rule of thumb is that Sunday is the strongest day for traffic, as this is when most people have time to read online content. But that doesn’t mean Sunday will always be best for you.
Some content, such as a movie review, is best publishing as soon as possible, as more people are likely to be looking for reviews during the first few days of a film opening at the cinema. If your post is about fixing a car, then this type of content isn’t time specific and you should post when you are happy with your content.
My advice, and the advice you will probably read/hear quite frequently is to publish regularly and often. Keep your blog active, upload posts on a regular basis, and in turn your traffic will start to look at lot healthier.
Share and share a-like
Once your post is published don’t forget to share it with your friends and contacts through social media. Sharing your content doesn’t cost a single penny, but is really valuable for helping drive traffic.
A social media share will make people more aware of your work, and it could attract new visitors who didn’t even know they needed to read your post! This is great for drawing in potential long-term readers.
And don’t be afraid to share your post more than once. This doesn’t mean sharing the same post 12 times a day, but if you share a post on your Facebook account on Monday don’t be afraid to re-share it on Saturday, as some people will have missed it the first time around.
So yes to social media shares, but – and this is an important ‘but’ – not all forms of social media will work for you, so be aware of this.
Facebook tends to be a great place for most blogs, as people who use Facebook tend to click on links and read longform content. Instagram is a much tougher nut to crack as the platform is not set up to encourage external reading.
The best thing to do is try out different forms of social media and see what works for YOU. Once you have found the social media platform that increases your views, then work at it and start posting on this platform regularly.
The waiting game
If you have followed my advice so far, i.e. you’ve written your content, and shared and re-shared it, you are now doubt expecting to see a huge upswing in traffic. And while you might expect this, I hate to break it to you, you still have one final hurdle to overcome – it’s called ‘the waiting game’.
Unless you have millions of followers on your blog, the chances are that when you publish your posts, each post will start off with a small number of views. Sharing your posts on social media will result in a bump in traffic, but after a couple of hours (or if you’re lucky, a couple of days) the traffic will stop.
The way you will get the majority of your traffic is through online searches. The people who will find you will be the people who have searched for a specific topic and have stumbled across your blog in the process.
It is for this reason that I have offered you the advice that I have – all of my suggestions are designed to help boost your long-term traffic. All of the little adjustments here and there are to help you play the long game – not the short one.
And it’s a long game because it takes up to six months for Google to properly rank you content for online searches. So, if you write a post today, don’t expect it to start getting really good traffic until six months down the road (slightly longer if your content is themed around a specific season).
Sharing content on social media will help you attract traffic while you wait, but it really is just a case of writing, publishing, then waiting. It can be frustrating, but it is how these things work and so long as you have written great content people will come to your blog.
Often new bloggers give up their blog after a couple of months because they don’t get much traffic straight away. It’s a shame – because if they stuck at it, they would see their traffic increase month on month.
And remember, the successful bloggers didn’t become a success over night – they spent hours, days, and months working very hard building up their content and playing the waiting game. So, if you have been at this for a little while now and with little joy, hang in there and your efforts will pay off.
Time for a quick recap now (with bullet points no less):
- Take a step back and re-evaluate your existing content – whatever doesn’t work, let it go
- Tweak your popular posts – make them informative to read, visually appealing, include links to past work, and ensure your posts are evergreen
- Find your niche – whatever you excel in, make it a big part of your blog
- When compiling new content don’t forget a strong title, good word count, and a reason for the post to exist
- Upload images to all your posts to better illustrate your words
- Make your posts easier to find with categories and tags
- Publish, share, and re-share your content on the social media platforms that work for you – don’t waste time on the platforms that don’t work
- Play the waiting game – allow time for Google to do its thing and your hard work will pay off
If you do all of this, then you should see your traffic increase. You may not become the No.1 blogger on the internet, but over time you will become a better blogger and this will drive your content forward, and in turn attract more visitors.
I hope this post about increasing your blog traffic has found you well. Those of you who read It’s A Stampede! on a regular basis will know my posts tend to focus on movies and general geek content rather than improving everyone’s blogging abilities, but I believe this is an important topic to cover.
If you find this information helpful, then please do me a favour, and give it a social media share. A share will make a big difference to me and hopefully to bloggers still finding their way.
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