Jan 16, 2012

How to Increase Visitors to Your Blog

World Visitors - How to increase visitors to your blog: 36 tips at http://pcsourcepoint.blogspot.com/2009/04/how-to-increase-visitors-to-your-blog.htmlSince creating this blog I have used various methods to increase visitors, in an attempt to establish a useful avenue for people to learn something. I started promotion in about 30 forums, blog directories, social sites, commenting on similar blogs/sites, article writing, search engine submissions, and related interlinking from my other similar themed blogs. All these methods involved engaging heavily with other sites and blogs, their visitors, and other bloggers. But this takes a lot of time, resources and passion, which I now only occasionally perform, because of limited time. Image of World Visitors By ilco at SXC.

SEO for blog/website- How to increase visitors to your blog: 36 tips at http://pcsourcepoint.blogspot.com/2009/04/how-to-increase-visitors-to-your-blog.htmlBut have changed for my blogger blog by applying on-page and off-page search engine techniques (SEO), i.e.query searched keywords in content, relevant link gathering (internal and external); template optimization (enhanced visitor usability), visual based customization, html editing, researching/testing other bloggers and blog layout ideas, to name a few. I keep updated for content writing tips, search engine algorithms, keyword research, competitor analysis, back linking strategies, analytical metric and visitor trends, by subscribing to authorative SEO and SEM blogs. Plus use online tools such as Webmaster Tools, Keyword tools, Google Analytics and Open Site Explorer for back link strategies. It seems to be working because of increased targeted visitors for a lot less work, since learning and applying what I have learnt. The again, social out reach is becoming important as well, as I believe (from many articles I have read) Google is using signals from such platforms.Thanks to those who own SEO and related companies, and publish their experiences, ideas, and concepts online. Image of SEO By svilen001 at SXC.

Listed below are avenues to increase visitors to a blog, most of which I have done and seen varying results. Often I found you have to keep bit of a presence in forums and social sites, track query search trends, enhance on page elements for increased engagement, update dated content, read current search trends, search engine updates, and so on. Primarily I do this to increase targeted visitors or audience to satisfy them. This is important if you want to make money, get subscribers, leads, or some sort of conversion, in a niche blog. Each of these techniques below are perhaps at a basic level, as there could be extensive testing (e.g. for template modification, html editing), reworking (e.g. article writing-rewriting, keyword refinement, Google Operator search techniques for back link targets, careful commenting, keyword refinement, and enhanced social media strategies).

Anyway hopefully this list is useful for bloggers to start to get traffic. But you should expand within each avenue, and find what suits you without causing stress, excessive time, and loss of interest in blogging. For me it's now the less demanding SEO approach, which I found gives me more time to create other blogs of interest, rather than forever navigating, following, and even promoting others on social networks. This list is in no particular priority/logical order, but of what I know from 3 years of blogging and SEO and limited online marketing research.

Methods and Avenues to Increase Blog Traffic:

1. Good quality content - Well researched, written, unique content that you believe will attract and maintain readers. "How to" based content, with external tutorial links/references seems to attract visitors for this blog. Sometimes I add relevant videos, charts (if applicable), and link out to relevant web sites. Controversial or Provocative topics can bring attentions. Also I think a series of posts that are focused on a tutorial.
2. Submit your blog or re-purposed article (don't duplicate) to popular blog and article directories. Popular are Blog Catalog, Blog Engage, Go Articles, Ezine articles, Article dashboard, etc. Perhaps get a little involved in their forums, and can get content ideas from directories and article platforms.
3. Comments - contribute, earlier on (i.e. try be the first to comment) with meaningful comments in related and perhaps authorative blogs/sites. If you can, add your link (with anchor text) with your blog url and name. Should really use a mix of anchor text, i.e. diversity for various comments. But make sure if they are do follow links if you want to get ranked, or that it's a authorative site, which may signal trust or authority to the search engines.
4. Also leave a link in forum posts, if highly relevant to the question. I have done so sparingly, knowing that it will intuitively help. Again make sure if do follow links (Don't bother me anymore, because I like to share, and help others). Be a genuine active poster - i.e. a helpful contributor.
5. Also leave a link (with targeted anchor text related to your keyword) to your blog, in the signature/resource box, sometimes with a useful text title reference.
6. Allow visitors to subscribe both by rss feeds and email, and display the graphics/widget box prominently. Visit Google feed burner for optimization ideas.
7. Commenting - As noted above contribute with something helpful on other blogs and sites, with your website's url (and often email address). But also reply in a timely manner to comments on your blog. I have missed opportunities by not replying in a timely manner. Also watch out for repeat commenter(s) that leave the same comment with a link to a company or product they are trying to promote. You may have to delete them (once took me two hours on this blog) if they are solely referring their products or services.
8. Social Media marketing and networking. Maybe join facebook, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Mylot, Pinterest, etc to help promote your blog, though carefully, but consider how much time and work. Probably best to concentrate on one platform (unless if have others to help). It's about branding, reputation management, and engagement to reach out to others. Social media is constantly evolving, so need be kept in the loop (if important to you), by following blogs such as Top Rank Blog, Social Media Examiner, Mashable, Search Engine Land,WebProNews, and TechCrunch. Also embed the "share" widgets to your blog (e.g. add this button - This site has a Google page rank of 10. Proof I guess that social media is important for online web properties), to easily allow visitors to "like" or vote your posts.
9. Perhaps join blog carnivals - communities to share topics of interest. I don't know how much about them today. In fact I rarely hear about them in all the numerous SEO/SEM newsletters I receive. It's always seems to be about SEO and Social media. So I advise to research about carnivals.
10. Create key worded and unique engaging content that relates to your post title, and your url. For  tutorial blogs the "How to" or "Top 10" titles is a good starting point. People often search starting with "How to..." (and Google seems to auto suggest many "How to titles when you enter that term on their search page. Include at least one keyword in the title, and that it relates to your content.

Introduction to SEO
View more presentations from Rand Fishkin

Keyword research is important (well for niche/income related or business/eCommerce blogs and sites), and almost every experienced SEO person/niche blogger/Agency talks about it. Always. Too much for me to explain here, as others have done better than me. But I have read (and learnt) from most of their articles. Examples: Niche Pursuits, Keywords Blogger, Smart Passive Income, and many more. But also read SEO guides, e.g. from Google, (32 page PDF direct link) SEOmoz (Keyword Research, with optional PDF), Keywords Blogger (Beginners Guide, e.g. seed brainstorming, searchers intent, Google's tool tutorial, and finding low competition, high volume queries) and Pole Position Marketing (web site with PDF download). But also follow articles by author, for keyword research, such as Stoney deGeyter (SEO 101 - 15 articles), Tom Schmitz, (higher level keyword research), Josh Dreller, (Refer his article the Giant List of Keyword Tools), and  Brad Geddes, for example. They all contribute to SEO and related blogs, so perhaps sign up to such blogs, and search for earlier articles.

Intensive for first timers, but becomes easier, and even tedious, unless you use automated software (e.g. Market Sumurai, Lontail Pro, etc), online service (e..g Word Tracker), outsource, including SEO agencies, and advertising and display networks. For large websites (e.g. eCommerce) and blogs, this may include enterprise companies such as Google Adwords, BrightEdge, Conductor, Matrix, seoClarity, IgnitionOne, Covario, Efficient Frontier, and Marin Software. But then again, if you are an expert in your field, you may not necessarily need intense keyword research. But probably better to research, or utilize SEO agencies (depending if commercial goals) as searchers may search with queries or brands (that have high number of searches) that you do not know or thought off.

Infographic of Keyword Research
(Click image and zoom for a larger view)

Keyword Research Infographic

From: Promodo.com

Videos of Google Keyword Research Tool
(Expand to full screen - bottom R/H corner - for better view)

Keyword Tool Part 1/2Keyword Tool Part 2/2

Promote your Blog - Link back to your blog with targeted anchor text

11. Write with good grammar, medium fonts, maybe a white background, and with paragraphs. Readers want to read clear posts, if that, as many would skim through a post. Matt Cutts (Youtube Video) from Google said that grammar is a "fair" quality signal. Maybe read Google's Webmaster Guidelines and refer to what counts as a quality site (from Google Web Master Central). Has questions relating to trust, relevancy, authority, and interestingly about providing information for your credit card. Such questions, I think means you need to put in a lot, with research for your content, to make it more insightful, engaging,original and useful to your visitors. Content needs to stand out today to last for tomorrow and beyond.
12. Include relevant or interesting images (free at sxc with link attribution) and use the alt tags to describe/reference your blog's post. Maybe title tags and captions. Aslo helps break up long posts (like this one!), rather than too much wall to wall text. I once spent 2 hours on a blog found randomly, published by a Chinese couple, because they had fantastic luxurious images of their countryside. Break from tech stuff I guess.
13. Use a language translator - Visit Google gadgets or Google Translate to embed in your blog. This might be important, for example if you are targeting non-English speaking regions.
14. Add your blog link to your emails if suitable. It's about spreading your blog. Then again you can get readers to sign up as well to your blog (e.g. email sign up from feed burner, Google Reader, etc by using rss feeds), and perhaps get visitors to opt in for marketing initiatives (once you are established online), e.g. for creating and selling eBooks. One blogger (or affilate marketer) I found recently who is good at this, and helpful from his posts, is Steve Scott. If interested visit his How to Earn Money Online. He has good info tutorials. Approach I feel like doing, i.e. eBooks, as a "next step". I felt like adding that info, since niche blogging I can do, but want a change.
15. Include a easy to remember name in your url, and include a relevant topical or business name. Though of course you should use your own domain. Hopefully visitors remember it. Apparently I read, not to include numbers (e.g. might get misrepresented as dates). Google recently included a "freshness factor" for ranking. So having numbers in a url may erroneously indicate a older article post. Not sure though. But I have removed dates from some of my url's.
16. Perhaps use your url name (if appropriate) as your user name in forums, directories, etc. These can show up in search engine results. It's a form of branding and visibility. This also ties into Google Places, Directories, Yelp, Yellow pages, etc where you want consistency not only for your url, but consistency for contact details across the web
17. Maybe create hub pages/squidoo lens, articles (e.g. ezines), etc, to promote your blog. Many interlink them strategically in due course to their main sites/blogs. Perhaps don't make them too popular relative to your main blog, as they might rank ahead in the serps (search engine results pages). Happened to me. However I think Hub Pages got demoted in the Panda updates. I have seen the odd article appear on page 1 of the search results. I also read somewhere from a senior Google employer, to primarily write content for your own blog or sites. Build authority, trust and credabilty within your own domain, blogs, and sites. I also read about owners of article directories using their members articles by "spinning" them for their own use. Also I have read the pro's and con's of automated article writing to submit to numerous directories. To do or not? If your online positive reputation or brand is important, or if avoiding true insightful content, then maybe avoid article submission as described as a somewhat shady practice.

Perhaps apply different types of good and unique content formats (including text, graphs, infographics, images, slideshows, embedded documents, Google fusion authority data tables, etc) for your blog and perhaps re-purpose it (key content initiatives) on article, video, document (e.g scribd), blogs, and slideshow sites, etc. I now hardly generate articles for directories. Why? I believe I have got better in writing and engaging visitors from my blogs, don't need articles any more, but I know that pro affiliates (and perhaps SEO agencies) use them excessively (with article writing software) for ranking and traffic purposes to their main sites.

Videos of Google Engineer Matt Cutts - "Great Content has to be the Foundation of a Good Site"
(Expand to full screen - bottom R/H corner - for better view)

Content or Links?Get Better Visibility on Google

18. Similarly maybe create a simple promotion site to refer to your other blogs/sites. Perhaps a free host/web creation site might help, like WeeblyGoogle SitesSnap Pages, Edicy Pages, etc. I have read of bloggers, doing this if they decide to abandon a blog, then use those articles on such a website, and linking to their niche blogs. Perhaps issue press releases if you have something newsworthy. Though of course today, social media platforms seems to be the way to go for reaching out, engagement, communication, etc.
19. Get fresh ideas/news from rss feeds. I have embedded a rss Google gadget for articles from popular tech blogs and freeware. I use news feeds (from Google code) in blogs of mine to provide recent and relevant information.
20. Sign up for Google alerts or similar if you do product reviews. Get the latest to help generate fresh ideas. Perhaps visit shopping sites for ideas from products, and reviewers, top selling products, etc. Amazon comes to mind.
21. Give a link if relevant, - helps to be more community based. Google perhaps ranks sites based on links that are useful to visitors. So having a few relevant outbound links to authorative sites (or even as I do, link to non authority but relevant blogs - help a blogger out I guess helps, like a resource gateway. Hopefully such visitors may link to you if they see you as a resource, or inform others.

Learn and apply Search Engine Optimization Techniques (SEO)

22. Apply SEO techniques. I have learnt a lot. Still do. Sign up with authorative SEO/SEM/Content tip blogs. Also read and bookmark the articles (I have read many from experts on search engine land (good articles on research tools - Google algorithm, B2B conversions, search queries, back links, etc - from people that make a living in such industries), search engine guide, and search engine journal. SEO can be a research intensive process (if done manually by yourself), reading articles and applying various tools and techniques on keyword research, back link strategies, content optimization, competitive analysis, call to action, landing page optimization, blog visitor statistics, trending and segmentation (e.g. new vs returning visitors), goals (e.g. increased visitor traffic, niche authority, increased subscribers, etc). See the guides above (No. 10) if you are new to SEO. Otherwise you need pay for SEO services (e.g. Agencies) or use specific software.
23. Do link exchange, but better to get a one way internal link if you can, based on link worthy content, without asking for it. Avoid links farms, paid links, link manipulation (of sorts), as Google frowns on them, and you could get banned from their search engine database. Again great articles to be read at search engine guide and others. You also have to follow about link strategies, Google algorithms, and techniques to get a maximum but optimized back link profile. Again this is another topic (like keywords) described extensively. Always. Because back links are seen as a ranking signal, or vote of confidence from the search engines. Unsolicited endorsed back links are the best I guess. See article by Eric Enge about the changing nature of back link strategies based on Google's signals.
24. Following SEO techniques, use and understand Google's tools for analysis and customization - they are very helpful: Google's Webmaster Tools, Keyword Tool, Google Trends, Google Insight, Ad Planner, Google Analytics, Google Alerts, and Website Optimizer. There are SEO tools like SEO for Firefox,  Quirk's Search Status, SEO Quake  and I have seen/applied many more. There is also SEO Book (my affiliate link) and many others. There are paid software and online services to dramatically speed up research, but generally used by pro niche publishers and marketers. Many might be running dozens or hundreds of blogs, web sites, and other web properties.

Infographic of All in One SEO Guide
(From Datadial View Full Version then Zoom In)

Infographic for SEO Guide

Customize and Streamline your Blog: Template Modification, HTML scripts, Add On, etc, - To focus sections for readers and searchers

25. Ask visitors to bookmark/email a friend, etc, and link back. There are widgets for these. But as noted earlier use social media buttons. They are everywhere on the web it seems.
26. Cross promote your blogs or relevant posts within a blog. The aim is to help your visitor with extra but useful information. This includes linking out to relevant and authorative web pages.
27. Add recent comments box. Lets you know to comment back as soon as. Or at least view/read comments on your dashboard (and posts), and as noted earlier follow them up by replying.
28. Perhaps create regular polls or surveys - helps to engage your readers. But also gives ideas for content, if you ask visitors what they want. Some use PPC (Google Adwords), or sign up online with survey software, or even use Google Docs.
29. Customize/modify or import/upload a template if suitable, including editing html. This is to allow easy navigation, add more useful page elements/widgets, and perhaps to have a attractive template. This can be a big field to tackle, but their are excellent blogger blogs to help: blogger tips and tricks (step by step help for hacks), Blogger tipandtrick (plenty of mods/hacks), Blogger Know How (easy layout of tips/hacks), Blogger Buster (plenty of concise tips, hacks, and templates), Tips for New Bloggers (mods, hacks for overall template) and the full on blog doctor (massive topics on javascript/html to change about anything in blogger- might suit advanced users).

Wordpress has several themes and templates, and of course plugins for SEO, content writing and much more. Note: Over a long time, I have noticed that the most content rich blogs have the least widgets/add ons, etc. In other words don't over do your blog with fancy gadgets/ads/images - you could deter visitors from your blog or it may load slowly. Site speed is a ranking factor in Google.
30. Use video if practical and try promote on YouTube. There are now Youtube channels. Refer How to promote content on Youtube (from Basic Blog Tips).
31. Have an affinity with your visitors, i.e. be helpful in comments. I also include links to the above blogs, tools, and relevant sites to help visitors that comment. Mention to come back/subscribe and to book mark.

Engage with your readers and forums - Try a Pillar Post (like this one) and learn from other blogs

32. Try Entrecard and Blog Engage to help promote your blog. I notice both are relatively active, and will increase visitors to your blog, but not sure if targeted/relevant visitors.
33. Perhaps set up other writers/bloggers to create a community/group blog. You get more ideas, and of course content to generate. Tech Crunch I think is a example of this.
34. Include a popular post/link page to your popular posts. Because blog posts create separate url's that display in search results, you increase chances of visitors navigating from one of your post's (url) to another post (url).
35. Get forum members to review your blog. I think Digital point and Bloggeries have a section, because you might get new ideas.
36. Use a favicon ( explanation and tutorial) to help brand your blog, and easy to find in someone's browser book mark list. You need a graphics program, some coding and maybe a FTP program like CoreFTP lite. There are also online generators to create favicons.
37. Similar to Popular post category, create a categories page/links to showcase. You can edit/customize the coding in categories and other blogger elements for visitor ease of use. Refer the above blogger tutorial links.
38. Occasionally research Google's keyword tool (queries may change over time, particularly in technology topics) and insights for trends to help find popular (or loss of popularity) keywords/topics relevant for your blog, if you want to keep blogging. It might show for visitors and your regular readers, if not updated or not with current trends, and readers may go elsewhere. You need to focus on why you are blogging. Perhaps to share, educate, monetize, advertise, display writing skills, or whatever. Just think how to approach your blog in a holistic manner, but trying to employ at least some of the above methods.
39. To help your blogging in terms of content writing, marketing, monetization, SEO, etc then search and try to find tutorial blogs, and specific blogs in your niche/topics. Currently I subscribe to about 10 optimization and specific/niche blogs. Visit Skelliewag, Problogger, Blogger Tips and Tricks, Blog Doctor, and the blogs noted above, including individual contributors. I still do. They all have relevant content for general and specific blogging and SEO concepts. Once you learn the basics, you still have to keep tuned in, if you want to increase visitors, rankings, ideas, and visibility in search results. That's why I edited this post, to try regain visibility, as it was a little outdated. Perhaps refer these articles relating to semi advanced SEO and Blog traffic:

1. 10 advanced SEO tactics to increase blog traffic  2. 21 quick actions for your blog's massive success
3. 10 SEO mistakes to avoid  4. SEO strategy for small business sites 5. How to get free website traffic

Blog for Purpose...But perhaps with passion

Hope the above helps for those getting in to blogging to increase visitors, and remember many say it takes time, effort, and passion to sustain a quality blog. This will be evident once visitors become regulars, accompanied by quality inbound links and hopefully your blog evolves into a authority or well regarded blog for all visitors. This will be reflected in the page rank/comment numbers/subscriber numbers/ and general visibility for your blog. But for now, any additional avenues/methods to add to the above? Please add to the comments below...

Related Post -
SEO Tips (Keyword and Meta Description Optimization for Blog Post)