Over the past year I have seen a dramatic increase in traffic on my blog. It more than doubled from November 2010 to February 2011, and has nearly tripled from this time last year. (This month I’m actually on track for a record month which would more than triple the traffic from the same time a year ago).
This isn’t something that just happens by chance. I pour a lot into my blog, and have worked hard at facilitating that growth through a variety of methods.
Growth on my blog was fairly slow and steady from October 2009 thru September 2010. Then started seeing a nice uptick from September 2010 thru January 2011, with a dip in November 2010 (due to one week of no posts!), followed by a dramatic leap in December 2010. Then my highest month ever in February 2011, despite it being a short month, and my numbers have somewhat leveled off since that point. I expect to see a bit more of an uptick in the coming months due to some of the newer things I am implementing.
Here are 13 specific things I have done that I know are contributing to the growth of my blog:
1.Time & consistency – I’ve been doing this every day for about 2 years now. Some of the growth that I’m seeing is due to just plugging away and forcing myself to blog every day, hopefully creating good, relevant content that people want to read. If I take a day off, I notice a drop in traffic. In fact, I always see a drop in my November traffic because I go away for Thanksgiving to an area with no Internet access. I could schedule some blogs to be posted, but I don’t have the ability to “work” them throughout the day to gain more traction. I may try something different this year, but we’ll have to see. Overall though, it is important to give it time and be consistent with whatever schedule you settle on.
2. Be Social – I’ve mostly done this since day one, but I figure that if I’m going to put the time and effort of writing every day, I want to maximize those efforts in simple ways. I’ve outlined much of this in Just One Click to the World, as I make sure that when my post publishes each morning, it automatically gets sent out to my Facebook profile, Facebook page, two Twitter accounts, my LinkedIn account, as well as an RSS feed and to email subscribers. By doing this I’m getting my blog in front of more people, and a number of those people have the opportunity to see it on multiple platforms, thereby giving them more “reminders” to read my post.
3. LinkedIn Groups – While I automatically publish my blog to LinkedIn, I’ve found one more step that really extends my reach, and maybe adds another one-minute of work to my day. I have joined quite a few LinkedIn groups that deal with my business area. No matter what business you are in, there are probably LinkedIn groups which you can join and in which you can participate in discussions. Each morning, after my post is published, I go to the page and click on the LinkedIn sharing button (you’ll see it at the bottom of this page). I then choose to share the post in anywhere from ten to fifteen different groups, depending on which ones are the best fit for the topic at hand. I see a lot of traffic coming from those groups, and get comments on my posts within those groups. I’ve even had the benefit of connecting with some of those people on other platforms.
4. Use Social Sharing Sites – One other thing I do after publishing my posts is I submit them to a few social sharing sites, such as Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, or Delicious. While this doesn’t generate a lot of traffic for me, I do get some additional visits, and every once in awhile one of my posts will catch on and gain some traction on those sites. It’s definitely worth the 30-seconds or less that it takes me to share them there.
5. Register on blog and ranking sites like Technorati or AdAge150 – Registering on these sites gives you greater exposure, as well as goals to shoot for. It makes it kind of like a game, as long as you don’t obsess over your rankings. It might not mean much but it gives you a “prize” to shoot for. For instance, on Technorati, I’m now in the Top 100 Small Business Blogs (and often rank in the top 50). I’ve also been climbing nicely among all business blogs. I’m not big on awards and rankings, but they do give you some benchmarks and goals.
6. Watch your analytics – I’ve never been a big numbers person, and partly because I don’t always understand them. Google Analytics are important, but boy they make my head spin. I also use WordPress Stats, Google Feedburner, Clicky, and PostRank. As long as you don’t obsess over the numbers, they can be very beneficial. It’s important to know which types of posts get the most traffic, and which get very little. It doesn’t mean I’ll avoid certain types of posts, but at least I have expectations on performance. I love knowing how people find my site, and how they are using and sharing it, and how they are engaging with it.
7. Comment on other blogs – This is something I’ve always been told to do, but haven’t really done until more recently, and it ties into a few of the later points I’ll make. But by commenting on other blogs you get your name out there, and people will often visit your blog to find out more about you. And some sites will even link to your blog automatically when you comment on their posts. The more you comment, the more you’ll become known by other bloggers.
8. Be a sharer – I always preach the concept of “others first”, and I feel it is one of the most important aspects of Social Media. When you see something you like, share it. Think about it: when we read a good book or hear a good album, we tell others. We go out of our way to tell others. We should do the same with blog posts we read that strike a chord in us. Retweet, Like, Share, +1, Digg, etc. If you like something, tell others about it. And when people learn that you are sharing their content, they like it. And they may reciprocate.
9. Link to Others – In addition to sharing, link to other blogs when you are writing your posts. I’m doing this much more, and believe me, the people you are linking to will find out. And many of them will check out your blog. And often, that’s how relationships start. Note: when I was working on this post Monday night, I accidentally hit the publish button. I had to scramble and unpublish it, but not before “pingback” notices went out to those blogs to which I linked here. Sure enough, Tuesday morning I get an email from Gini Dietrich asking “where’d this blog post go??”. Yep, other bloggers know when you are linking to their content!
10. Become a part of a community – One of the stories I love telling people these days is about the great community of bloggers that I have discovered. It started with my friend Marijean Jaggers down in Charlottesville, who I met on Twitter. From there I was introduced to Gini Dietrich in Chicago, Shonali Burke in D.C., Joey Strawn in Nashville, Justin Brackett in Asheville, and Samantha Collier in Vancouver. (There are a few others, and I’m not trying to slight anyone here, but I’ll tell you about all of them in a future post). And I didn’t even have to try. I can’t even tell you how it happened, but I was welcomed, with open arms, by these people who quite honestly didn’t even have to give me the time of day. They showed genuine interest in my work, and we hit it off. Someday I hope to actually meet all of them in person. But I generally talk to each of them almost every day, either via some form of chat, or Twitter. Becoming a part of this community helped me do a number of things: it encouraged me to “up my game”, it gave me a great support system of like minded individuals, and I’m in a community where we all read each other’s blogs. Which takes me to the next step…
11. Extend your reach with the help of your community – Gini introduced me to an online platform called Triberr, which I was a little hesitant about at first, but now love. You can read her review of Triberr, but the basic gist is you band together with other bloggers and form “tribes” where you automatically share and tweet out each others’ blog posts. Some people don’t like the idea of tweeting out posts you haven’t read, but I have two answers to that: First, only get in tribes with people whose work you trust and would tweet out even if you disagreed with them, and second, while I may not read them before I tweet them, I actually DO make a point of reading them at some point. I am a member of two tribes, one created by Gini, and the other created by Justin Brackett. On Twitter I have a reach of about 3,800 followers. Through Triberr and these two tribes, that multiplies to over 60,000! That many more people have the opportunity to read my blog, and possibly add to the numbers by retweeting. It’s not perfect, but so far I’ve been extremely happy with how it works.
12. Livefyre – I mentioned this, and point 13, in my recent post on how to breathe new life into your blog, but I thought I would mention them again because they have been an incredible source of traffic for me. Livefrye is a real time comment plug in that does a great job of bringing readers back to my blog, as well as increasing the amount of time they are spending there. And if you get into the practice of replying to the comments people leave on your blog, you’ll see even more traffic.
13. Recycle old content - Most of the traffic I get on a particular blog post happens the day I post it. The next day I see a decent amount of traffic, but not nearly as much, and then it tapers off to the occasional visit. There are a few occasions where an older post might see a bit of a resurgence, but that is rare. But while posts age, I still believe they are good content. For that reason I use the Tweet Old Posts plug-in that randomly tweets out some of my older content. The beauty of this is that I get new Twitter followers all the time, so while this may be old content for some, it is new content for others.
I’ve seen several growth areas in terms of traffic on my blog, each followed by a bit of a plateau. Right now I have indications that I’m heading toward yet another growth area. It gives me something to shoot for, and in my head I have personal goals that I want to reach. I know there may be the occasional setback, but that’s part of life. Onward and upward!
What sorts of things have you done to grow your blog traffic? Are there specific things that have worked and others that haven’t?
- 5 Ways To Leverage Your Company Blog (searchenginepeople.com)
- How To Get Huge Traffic From LinkedIn (webpronews.com)
- Launching Blog? Seven Steps to Kick it Off Right (marijeanjaggers.com)
- Take a Blog, Leave a Blog (marijeanjaggers.com)