Well, not just any problems – but the things that they felt were holding them back from being successful with their blog.
The #1 answer I got was “I NEED MORE TRAFFIC!!”
Well, there are lots of things you can do to get more traffic, but some of them are better than others. The secret isn’t just in the raw numbers, what you really want is to build your community.
I’m gonna go over that distinction more in future posts – BUT…
It is true that in order to build a community, you do have to get traffic!
So today I’m going to give you some ideas you can use. This aren’t simple little things; you’re gonna have to roll up your sleeves and put a little work into it. You want to pull in the right kind of traffic, and then you want to convert that traffic into followers.
Here are 7 basic steps that will get the ball rolling and start getting you traffic into your blog.
Feed the Spiders
While you’ve been focusing on how many readers you have coming to your blog, there’s another type of visitor you might not be as aware of – the search engine spiders, also known as “searchbots”. The good news is that if you post on a regular basis, the spiders will like your blog naturally; much like a real spider loves a fresh fly, the search spiders love fresh content.
Once the spiders find your blog, they look at it as a new feeding place and will come back frequently to see if there’s any fresh stuff laying about. The more often you post, the better they like it. As they find your new posts, they start doing their little calculations to decide where you belong in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
Google and the other search engines know that readers love fresh content – so the more fresh content you have, the better your ranking will be.
You can help your rankings by making sure you use strategic keywords and phrases. Keywords are the terms people use when they search for something. You want to make sure you work in some long tail keywords, because they have less competition in search.
A keyword might be “chicken” – but a long tail keyword phrase would be “30 minute meals with chicken thighs”. You’d be hard pressed to rank a word like “chicken” in the SERPs – think how many millions of times it’s used on the internet! But because there are bound to be fewer sites using that exact long-tail phrase, you’d be much more likely to rank and be found by people who search for it.
Building a Buzz Via Word of Mouth
One of the best ways to get traffic quickly to your site is through word of mouth. It doesn’t even matter if your site is really new – because people care more about quality than authority when it comes to spreading the word.
So – how do you create that buzz? First, create content that is so kickass that people can’t believe you’re just giving it away for free. And then, make sure people have a way to share that content.
There are tons of tools – plugins – you can add to your blog that make it easier for people to share. Look at the bottom of my post – I’ll wait here…. Back? Ok 🙂 Those round sharing buttons are from a plugin called Jetpack that I think just about every WordPress blogger uses. It’s SUPER easy to use, and you can set it up to allow people to share on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest; to sites like Tumblr and Reddit, or even straight to email.
Remember up there where I told you to feed the spiders by blogging consistently? Well, despite that, you should never put quantity of posts ahead of the quality. If your content sucks, people don’t stick around to read it – they bounce right back to wherever they came from. The number of people who do that determines your bounce rate – and if yours is high, the spiders will realize your blog isn’t providing value to people and your position in the SERPs will start to fall.
Submit Your Site To Google
This is mostly important when you’re new, and new people are usually the ones that have no idea they should do it. Google allows you to submit your site to make sure it’s been indexed. When we say “indexed”, basically, what we mean is that the spiders have seen it, figured out what it’s about and added to the big directory – the SERPs. You have to be indexed if you want to get any search engine traffic.
If your site is brand new and hasn’t been indexed yet, then go to Google Submit and submit it, simple as that.
Next, you’ll want to register for an account with Google Webmaster tools. Whenever you publish a new page or post, log in and click on your site name. On the left menu, click on “Crawl”, and then “Fetch as Google”. Enter your new URL to have the the Google spiders run out and “fetch” your new page.
Once it’s done, you’ll get a status update – then you’ll choose “Submit to Index”. You can also use this to have Google recrawl a page or post that you’ve made changes to. It’s not really necessary if the spiders are crawling your page regularly – but if you’ve made a major change, you may want to do so just to get it changed quickly in the search results.
Forums and Signatures
And it’s a shame, because it’s one of those things that still really works, even after all this time.
The key is your signature. In many forums (but not all!) you’ll be able to add a signature file which, as the name suggests, adds a signature to the bottom of any posts you make. Your signature needs to be something really groovy, that makes people want to click on it – like a free giveaway or some kind of teaser line.
There’s a fine line to walk here – if it’s something too over the top, it might not be allowed. Look at other people in the forum and see what kind of signatures they use, and then create yours accordingly. Some forums will have a post where they spell out their rules on sigs, so take a look around for that, too.
So you’ve joined a forum (in your niche, of course!!), created a swell signature… Now what?
Participate. Just like driving traffic with social media, you need to reach out and connect with people. Be helpful, answer questions, post helpful threads and be active. If you’re seen helping people out and giving good information, people will want to click on your link and learn more about you, to see what else ya got.
Also – like social media – you don’t have to spend all day in the forum! Pop in, answer a couple threads, maybe share something new, then leave. Forums can be a HUGE time suck if you let them – it’s very easy to pop in for “just a minute” and lose half the day. Be purposeful – go in, do what you need to do, and get out.
For such a tiny little thing of only 140 characters, a tweet on Twitter can pack a powerful punch if done right. The key is finding the right balance of business and personal tweets.
If all your tweets are business related, people tend to turn it off. People joke about how Twitter is all people talking about what they had for lunch, but the truth is, your followers DO often get a kick out of reading the mundane details of your life. That’s the very stuff that helps you build a relationship.
Of course, every time you add a new post to your blog, you should tweet it out with the appropriate #hashtags. Try using the Google Chrome extension Rite-Tag to find the best tags for your posts. It will help people interested in your topic find your tweet and follow you.
Follow other people in your niche; use the search to find people who’ve been tweeting about it. Comment on their tweets, and don’t forget about the “favorite” – you can get a lot of follows from people simply by favoriting their tweets.
Even though Facebook is going through some serious changes, it’s still king. Throw a stone up in the air, and I betcha when it lands, it’ll hit somebody with a Facebook account, that’s how popular the site is.
Create your own fan page or group for your blog and start commenting on other people’s pages. Much like with forums, the key here is building relationship. You can find some amazing groups of like-minded bloggers who are happy to share your page, your blog posts and more. And really, it’s the ability to easily share information that makes Facebook so amazing. It’s the easiest way to get something to go viral.
If organic sharing isn’t working for you, you can consider boosting or promoting your posts on Facebook. This gives you the opportunity to share your posts with thousands of other people who may be interested. It’s easy to do and can be done with as little as $5 to start – it’s a great way to start learning the ropes of paid advertising.
Comment on Other Blogs
Commenting on other people’s blogs is a great way to connect with people and to get your links out to the world. But you have to do it right, or you could wind up being labeled as a…. SPAMMER (gasp!.. NOooo!)
Start out by finding blogs in your niche by searching for your keyword. You can use the search tools to limit your search to only show recent posts, that’ll help you find fresh content. Look for sites that are getting plenty of comments.
What you’re specifically looking for are blogs that let you leave a post URL with your comment – It will ask for your name, your email and then will have a third spot for an optional website. For our purposes here, we won’t waste our time with Facebook or Disqus comments, and personally, I don’t even like leaving comments on Blogger blogs. (I do for my friends – that’s a whole other situation – but we’re talking ’bout getting traffic here, not hanging with our friends).
Do NOT post random, boring comments like “Nice post” or “Thanks for this information”. I will hunt you down and smack you with a flounder. Read the post and think of a way to add to the conversation, for heaven’s sake.
You want people to click on your link and come to your blog, right? That’s the whole point of this! So offer some insight that makes other people go “Well I’ll be danged, that is one pithy comment! I want to go see more of what this gal has to say!” and then click on your name and come to your blog and fall in love with you.
You will not get that kind of response with “Great post”.
But I’m not really talking about that kind of viral here… I’m talking about something a little more subtle. I’m talking about creating something – something of value, something that people can’t believe you’re giving it away because they would have gladly paid for it.
This isn’t something you want to cut corners on – when you create something like this, whether it’s a infographic, a PDF or a video series, you have no way of knowing how far it’s going to travel, and if it’s crappy, that’s your reputation being damaged forever, because there are no takesy-backsies once it’s out on the interwebs.
So let’s say you’re going to create a PDF with the intention of it going viral:
- Don’t make people jump through hoops – the goal here isn’t to get people on your list. This is to get yourself known and bring traffic to your site. Have hyperlinks to your site or opt-in forms inside the PDF, yes – but give it to people for free and encourage them to share it with all their friends.
- Don’t worry about how long it is. Make it as long as it needs to be in order to be freaking amazing. Whatever you choose to write about, be thorough.
- Images, pictures, graphs whatever – not as important in this – but make sure that the formatting is correct and that the grammar and spelling are checked and double checked.
- Pour as much effort and value into your freebie as if it were going to be a $1000 product to sell on your blog. We are going to impress the bejesus out of people with this thing, and they’re going to say “Holy crap, I’ve got to send this to Barbie!” or “I’ve got to post this on my Facebook page!” or “I’ve got to retweet this RIGHT THE HECK NOW!”
- Again – tell people to share it. Let them know this is free for anyone who wants it and they are welcome to send it to every single person they know who might be interested. Plant the idea in their head like a little worm. They might not think of it on their own, but if you tell them to, they’ll be like “Oh yeah! I bet Barbie would love this!”
Consider Writing a Press Release
You might think that press releases are only for big companies – but there’s no reason for you not to use them with your blog.
There are a lot of things you can write a press release about:
- Launching a new service
- Introducing a new product
- Launching – or relaunching – a blog
- Announcing a contest
- Offering a new free product
- Introducing new blog team members or co-writers
- Participation in an event
- Media appearance
I think you get the idea. There are literally hundreds of sites out there to submit your press release to for free, and if it works for you, you can pay later to upgrade for even more exposure. What’s really groovy is that press releases get ranked by Google and can definitely help generate long term traffic for you.
If you aren’t sure how to write a press release, just remember that it should be written like news story, not like a blog post. You want the important info at the beginning, give your contact links later. I know this is something that’s really new (or even unheard of) for a lot of people, so I found an article that has great info on it and a list of 20 free places to submit your press releases – Free Press Release Distribution
It can take awhile to build a healthy stream of traffic to your blog, so don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t happen overnight! The only secret to success is to keep creating kickass content that brings targeted traffic – and then focus on turning those visitors into loyal readers!