If there’s one thing that keeps bloggers up at night, it’s solving the mysteries of site traffic. There’s a reason, after all, we check the stats on our WordPress sites every five minutes, and it’s not just neuroticism (though that’s in there too). But with so many blogs out there scrabbling for readers’ eyes, it’s not enough to sit around hoping that your site will be discovered. Instead, it’s important to treat your blog like a real business and market accordingly.
Don’t worry, that’s not as dry and boring as it sounds. Marketing is actually fun when it’s for a cause you believe in. Here our top 3 tips for getting your awesome work onto the screens of your ideal readers.
1. Create Great Content
First things first: If you want to find loyal and repeat visitors, you’ve got to create findable, shareable and actionable content. So, learn how to start a blog.
Fill a Niche: Blogs that generate a lot of traffic know their audience and give them the content they’re looking for. This is certainly a lot easier if you’ve got a unique niche with a quirky and passionate following, like, “Mushroom Artists” (I’m not sure if that actually exists, but I would assume a mushroom artist subculture would be pretty avid). But it’s also something you can do even within a flooded genre like lifestyle blogging, as long as you…
Zero in on Specific Audience Demographics & Highly Focus Your Presentation: For instance, while an article titled, “Decorating Tips for Living Rooms” might not have a chance against the millions of similar posts, an article called, “How to Fake Like You Have a Living Room When You Live in a Brooklyn Studio the Size of a Cardboard Box,” just might. Content that makes readers go, “Hey, that’s me!” will keep them coming back to your blog and sharing your material. If you don’t already have a clear sense of your audience, try making a fake Facebook profile for your ideal reader, filling out demographic data like age, gender, interests, and so forth until you really know who they are and what they like.
Make Good Use of the Google Keyword Tool Of course, making your blog search engine optimized is a must. The Google Keyword Tool is great for this, as it will identify key terms you can then integrate into your siteâ€”though keep in mind you’ll want to do this subtly and naturally rather than stuffing in as many as you can, otherwise Google will consider your site spam. More than just this, try using the keyword tool as an idea generator. Type in a term you’re interested in writing about, then see how this syncs with what your potential readers are searching for, and let your inspiration take it from there.
Vary the Format: No matter how compelling your words, the blogposts that keep readers’ eyes glued to the page also embed photos, videos and infographics, which also work effectively on their own. Varying formats can also help prevent blogger burnout and writer’s block, as you keep your creative juices flowing.
Make an Editorial Calendar: The more you mix things up, the greater the need you’ll have for an editorial calendar, which will help you produce content on a regular basis your readers can rely on. It can also help nurture creativity, as you can set regular features like, “Tall Tales Tuesdays,” and so forth.
2. Use Email Marketing
Email marketing is where the business and creative aspects of blogging merge. Email is really the only platform that’s both personal and professional, allowing you to engage your readers in unique and interesting ways. Email marketing can:
Engage Readers Directly With Your Blog: One effective way to drive eyes to your site is by sending blog digests to your email lists. This way you can make dual use of your blogposts while still luring readers with tempting headlines and summaries to your site.
Create Reader Loyalty With Contests and Promotions: This is where the business side of engagement really comes in. Sending readers competitions and promotions from sponsors or your own coffers can keep things fresh and really motivate readers to engage meaningfully through photo submissions, comments and, really, any creative idea you can brainstorm.
Individually Target More People: One of the best things about email marketing is that it enables you to create highly segmented lists, meaning you can curate your emails to target individual readers. The more personally relevant your content, the more likely readers will be to engage.
Hook Readers Into Your Sales Funnel: Yes, again, I know this sounds too business-like, but newsletters will really put you on your readers’ radar, even if they drop off the map for a while and return later on.
Work Well in Conjunction With Social Media: No good marketing plan focuses on one method of distribution to the exclusion of all others. It’s important to combine your email marketing efforts with social media campaigns, as it’s on social platforms that you can nurture more casual relationships, become a part of a community, and naturally post links to your own blog without anyone feeling like you’re spamming them. Your best route for using social media is to know the kinds of audiences that flock to each site, tailoring your messages and efforts accordingly.
As fun and effective as email marketing is, there’s a lot to it. For that reason, I highly recommend taking a browse through this extensive email marketing guide as an easy way to get started.
3. Measure Your Progress
Of course, there’s no use going to all of this effort unless you’re actually measuring the impact of your experiments. If you’re on WordPress, the dashboard is a great place to start, as is linking your site with Google Analytics. A few stats you’ll want to keep your eye on:
Number of Visits: Yep, this one is a no-brainer, but it has to be said. Look at the raw numbers to see just how many people are visiting your site, and how those stats sync with your promotional efforts to get a deeper sense of whether or not they’re spiking in conjunction with your big campaign pushes
Traffic Sources: This will give you an indication of just how people are finding you, which will help you better concentrate your efforts in the places that matter most.
Demographics: This will tell you just who is reading your blog, and can reveal a target audience you may not have even known was there.
Bounce Rate and Time on Site: This will give you some indication about whether you’re actually providing the content your target audience wants to read.
â€¢ Site Speed: The richer the content you curate onto your site, the slower your site may be, especially as your readership diversifies and grows. Keep an eye on the site speed to make sure it doesn’t take more than a few seconds to load. To prevent bleeding readers, consider using CDN services to distribute your content and get your readers the content they’re seeking at much faster rates.
Increasing your blog traffic can be a fun and creative endeavor. In fact, it’s a great way to merge creative and analytical intelligence into one. Take the time to learn the techniques of the craft, and you’ll have both a successful blog and a new source for inspiration.