If you build it, they will come…
If only this sentiment were true. Oftentimes, people start blogging as a hobby, and they’re not concerned with how many hits they’ve received or where their traffic comes from. But, if you’re using your blog as a marketing tool or you plan to monetize your blog, knowing how to get traffic is going to be the key to your success.
Here are 20 steps I have taken to generate traffic to my blog. By no means is this list comprehensive, but it has helped my blog to achieve some decent rankings on both Alexa and Google. But, before I tell you about the 20 ways to drive traffic to your blog, I thought you might like to hear a little about my personal blogging journey.
I had been a stay-at-home mom since the day my daughter was born, but after nine months of play-dates and mommy-and-me classes, I felt the need to exercise my brain and make some additional money. I started looking online for different work-at-home opportunities, but was disappointed with the lack of quality resources out there. That is when I decided to launch my blog, The Work at Home Woman.
From the start, I knew that I wanted to monetize my blog by selling advertising space, and to do that I knew I’d have to attract as many visitors as possible. I started scouring the Web for the best ways to generate traffic and here is what I came up with.
Content is King: Individuals and search engines love unique and interesting content, and generally the more useful the content is, the more successful your blog will be. Along with creating high-quality content, posting consistently and regularly will need to be part of your blogging regimen.
Word of Mouth: Start with what you know. Tell friends, family, and colleagues about your new blog and ask them to spread the news to others who would be interested in your niche. Not only do these people want to see you succeed, but the support and encouragement that you will receive from them is priceless.
Search Engine Submission: Basic link building starts with submitting your blog to the major search engine directories: Google, DMOZ, Yahoo!, and Bing. By submitting your blog to the search engines, you ensure that your pages and posts are indexed, and that your blog’s overall traffic is boosted.
Sitemap: Make sure the search engines can crawl your blog effectively by adding an XML Sitemap to your site. An XML Sitemap is a file that lists all of your blog’s URLs and alerts the search engines about new URLs so that they can be crawled and indexed into the search engine’s database. If you are using WordPress as your blogging platform, they have a free plug-in that will automatically install the XML Sitemap to your blog.
Site Analytics: Traffic analysis tells you where exactly your web traffic is coming from. It shows you how many page views your blog receives, how many visitors visit your site on a daily basis, and what pages are the most popular. Site analysis is especially important because it lets you know where your marketing efforts are paying off, and it can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
Spread the Love: Make it a point to comment on similar topic/niche blogs. At the end of your comment, you will be able to leave your name and blog’s URL (www.blogname.com). Look for Do-Follow Blogs where the no-follow HTML attribute has been removed. No-follow attributes are attached to hyperlinks to ensure that the specified link does not achieve any value within the search engine rankings.
Facebook: You’re probably already one of the 400 million active users keeping up with family and friends via Facebook. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Facebook, it is the Web’s leading social network where people can share daily status updates, photos, and personal information. But, did you know that you can link your blog’s RSS feed directly into your Facebook account and it will automatically send out updates from your blog? You can also create a separate Facebook Business Page specifically for your blog that allows your readers to share, connect, and comment. Make sure to include a Facebook icon on your blog home page so others know they can connect with you on Facebook.
Twitter: If you’re not already tweeting, you’ll need to set up a free Twitter account. Twitter is a fast-paced, micro-blogging platform where you can promote your blog to a wide range of individuals. Just like Facebook, you’ll want to include a Twitter icon on your blog home page so it is easy for others to connect with you on Twitter.
Participate in Forums: Find some popular forums in your niche and reply to questions and conversations. Remember to add value to the conversation; you don’t want to be kicked out for spamming. In many communities, it is appropriate to leave a link back to your website or blog within your signature at the end of a response — double check each community’s guidelines before posting.
Article Marketing: Submit your articles to free content sites such as EzineArticles.com. These sites tend to have good rankings and most of them allow you to leave a short bio and active URL back to your blog, which provides you inbound links that are so valuable in Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Alexa: Alexa is a free online traffic and analytic search tool that provides information about the Web and how it is used. If you want to drive more traffic to your blog, you can download the Alexa toolbar for free; it will track the sites that you frequent and record them into their database and then recommend your site to other toolbar users when relevant.
Blogging Communities: Add your blog to Blog Catalog, Technorati, and My Blog Log. Not only does this allow you to add your RSS feed and place an active link to your blog, it easily allows you to connect with other like-minded bloggers in the same field.
Participate in Interviews: This is a great way to distinguish yourself as an expert in your field, as well as promote your blog/business by providing answers to frequently asked questions. Most often, you will get to include an active link back to your blog and various social networks.
Press Release: Send out a press release when you first launch your blog or reach a special milestone. This is a great way to gain some extra exposure and create a buzz around your blog.
Link Exchanges: Getting quality inbound links back to your site is very important. In fact, it is one of the ways that Google determines your page rank. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to do this. When you find a site you’d like to exchange links with, start by developing a relationship with the publisher of that site. For example, take the time to learn more about the individual and let them know what you admire about them. Being abrupt will undoubtedly end up in a deleted link request. Site Build It also offers a free program where they will connect you with others who would like to exchange links.
SEO: Search Engine Optimization is the process of using technical components, such as an XML Sitemap, strategically-placed keywords, and high-quality inbound links to improve your blog’s overall ranking in the search engines and thus attract more organic traffic.
Craigslist: For those of you who are not familiar with Craigslist, it is a free online classified listing site and it is HUGE! List your new website, blog, or business on there under general community. The process only takes a few minutes and it does generate a small but significant amount of traffic.
Book-Marking Sites: Add your blog’s best pages and blog posts to social book-marking sites like Delicious, Digg, and StumbleUpon. Users can rate posts. Top-rated posts get featured the front page of these popular sites. If your post is featured, you’ll more exposure and traffic.
Alltop: Known as the online magazine rack for blogs, Alltop allows you to submit your blog’s RSS feed to a specific category. Bloggers, marketers, and readers can use Alltop as their one-stop-shop for the best blogging content on the Web. Another perk to having your blog listed is Marketing Guru Guy Kawasaki tweets out the top stories from Alltop on his Twitter account. Oh, did I mention that Guy has over 245,000+ followers on Twitter?!
Guest Blogging: Yet another way for you to boost your expertise is to submit guest posts to same niche blogs. Make sure to look for blogs with good Google and Alexa rankings. Besides getting to have your blog’s URL listed, most bloggers promote their content on Twitter and Facebook, which brings you more traffic and exposure.
By working on a few of these marketing techniques each and every day, you’ll slowly but surely build your traffic and readership. With a little time, patience, and persistence you’ll soon be on your way to blogging success.
Holly Reisem Hanna is the Publisher and Founder of The Work at Home Woman, an online business resource dedicated to helping women and moms acquire the knowledge and skills to be able to successfully work from home or to become self-employed while providing support, inspiration, and motivation.