This is lesson 3 of my 90 Days of Blogging series, highlighting the lessons I’ve learned in my first 90 days of blogging.
So, here’s the big question: what does it matter what you write if nobody reads it?
If you’re blogging, you’re obviously interested in getting people to read what you have to write. Otherwise, a traditional diary would do just fine (or at least you’d have a blog that’s password protected). So how do you generate traffic?
The key question you need to answer is just how much do you want lots of traffic, and how much are you willing to give up to get it. I think there are three major types of traffic-hounds in the blogosphere:
- More traffic = good traffic: Lots of bloggers are traffic addicts. And its understandable. Maybe it’s cuz traffic is measurable with the reports you get with your blog, but there’s just something exhilarating about writing something or doing something that drives people to your blog. For some people, that’s all they want. This group usually falls into the category of affiliate marketers who have Google ads and affiliate ads all over their blog. Most of these ads pay out on a per click basis, so it makes sense to want more traffic. More traffic means a higher likelihood of those ads getting clicked. The problem (at least to me) is that I’ve found most people who are generating income via their blog aren’t really giving the reader great content. So I rarely return.
- The right traffic = good traffic: This is the category I fall into most of the time. Don’t get me wrong; I want lots of traffic. But I want the right kind of traffic, not just random people who come to the site and find out they couldn’t care less about what I have to say. To me, it’s more important to talk to 50 people a day who are vaguely interested in what I’m talking about and can carry on an educated conversation about than 500 people a day who couldn’t care less about what I have to say and just happened upon it cuz they searched a certain key word. So, my approach to traffic in most cases is to get the right people to read.
- Any traffic = good traffic: There are lots of bloggers who are just fascinated that anyone would read what they have to say in the first place. So they’ll take what they can get. God bless ’em.
With mindset of driving the right kind of traffic, here are some tips I’ve either put to use or learned in 90 days that have helped drive some decent traffic (in April, I averaged 61 view a day + 17 feed readers). I’m no expert, so I’ve also left some links below on some really good posts about driving traffic from guys that know a lot more than me.
- Write very, very, very consistently. Blogs might not cost money, but they do cost a little time. If you want traffic, the best thing you can do is write often and on point. If you can’t commit to at least 4 times a week, don’t expect much traffic.
- Commenting is the catalyst. Commenting on other blogs and responding to comments on your blog is so important that I’m gonna save the details for the next post in the series, so check back later this week for that. In the meantime, know that the best way to generate traffic is to find blogs like yours, make relevant and appreciated comments, and be sure readers can somehow link back to your blog from your comment.
- Links are the key. Remember this is the web – treat it like one. Don’t be satisfied with people just staying on your site. Point them to other great stuff on the web – they’ll remember you for it. Plus, the author of whomever you’re linking to will see that people are getting to his site from your site (it’s in the stats) and will then check out your site.
- Don’t forget the trackbacks. I personally like trackbacks more than comments. What’s a trackback? Basically, when I link to someone’s blog from my blog (see #3), I can also copy and paste their trackback link into my administrative tools. When I do that, not only is their link live on my blog, but my blog entry is now live in their comments section on their blog. Which then means people reading their blog will click over to my blog to see what they thought about it. As an example, here’s a great explanation of trackbacks. Within a day, you should see a mention of this blog post in the comments as a trackback.
- It’s the feeds that matter. If the right kind of traffic is the goal, then it’s your returning viewers that really matter. Which means your feed stats (your subscribers) should be held in much higher esteem than other traffic. Do everything you can to make it easy to subscribe, and give various ways of doing it. At the very least, I suggest using FeedBurner for RSS and FeedBlitz for email feeds – they’ve done me right. Interestingly enough, since starting my series on blogging, my subscriptions have grown by 50% . . .
- Can you Digg it? There are lots of sites out there today that allow users to determine what news is important. Digg.com is one of them. I’m no expert at all in leveraging Digg on your site, but I have gotten a little traffic from it, and I know I could get lots more. By the way, if you’re reading this and think it’s halfway decent, just click on the Digg icon here and help a brother out.
- Remember your search engines. My top post so far on this blog has been this one. Which is odd, because it’s unlike any other topic on my blog. But, I did it to gain search engine traffic. Here’s the story: Dr. Preuss was featured in USA Today a few months back and mentioned an AdvoCare product, Carb-Ease. Accept it was spelled CarbEase (no dash). Obviously, the AdvoCare website had the correctly spelled version, but if I read that article and wanted some of it, I would type in CarbEase, not Carb-Ease. So I misspelled it on my blog post on purpose with the intent of finding some of that traffic. It worked. To date, that post has been viewed 483 times, and there have maybe been 5 days since February that it hasn’t been viewed at all. Point is, figure out how to leverage search engines. There are tons of sites out there that can help with that.
- Tag it Like It’s Hot. Tags your posts so people can find you. Tags (at least on this blog) are the same as categories. But they’re much more useful and noticeable on keyword searches on Google and Technorati, which means more traffic. So, tag enough to make a difference, but don’t overdo it.
- Use Catchy Headlines. It’s amazing to see how many hot blog posts are provocative in nature, only to present something that is completely irrelevant to the headline. I’m not advocating that, but you do need to make your headlines stand out (esp. since most people will see your posts through an RSS Feed). Having a list in your headline (like in this post) or a “How to . . .” is always successful. Outrageous headlines like this one and this one and pretty handy, too. And, of course, if you’re fishing for some search engine traffic, then be sure to put your keyword in your headline.