I’m beginning to receive more and more emails from readers asking me questions about their blogs and websites. I’ve generally been responding directly to these emails, but I’m going to change things up a bit: For more general questions, where a wider audience may benefit from the answers, I’m going to start answering the questions via a post here on Side Income Blogging.
If you have a question and you would like me to respond to it here on Side Income Blogging, just contact me with your question. I can’t promise I’ll respond to every question via a blog post, but if you have a question and that I think others may benefit from the answer, I’ll try to publish it.
The first reader question is from Frank who asks:
Hi Larry, I am a small self-employed online Sports Books company who sells used (good condition) Sports books online. I would like to write blogs and put them onto my website, then let people on Facebook and Twitter know about them.
I would like to ask if you can give me any other tips to help direct people to my website so I can sell my books? Many thanks for taking the time to read my email’s Larry.
I responded and asked Frank if he minded if I used his question for a blog article. Unfortunately I never received a reply, and thus I only used Frank’s first name and didn’t include his website. So Frank if you read this, I sincerely hope it helps.
How to increase website traffic
Franks question really boils down to this: How do I increase traffic to my website? This is probably one of the single most common blogging/website related questions.
The reality of increasing website traffic is that there are no hard and fast rules. Generating traffic to your blog is tough, and honestly requires a bit of luck mixed with a great deal of hard work and some trial and error.
Even though there are no hard and fast rules, I can provide some direction at a high level based on strategies that have worked well for me in the past and seem to work work well for most people.
Provide high quality, valuable and unique content
As a blogger or website owner, your primary product is your content. That content has to be high quality and must provide high value to the reader. If your content doesn’t provide immediate and high value to the reader, why would they continue to visit your site? The reality is, they wouldn’t.
People visit your blog to learn something or gain some new insight. If you aren’t teaching your readers or sharing something with them that they don’t already know, they won’t waste their time visiting your site.
But these two things alone aren’t enough…
Your content must also be unique. You can’t regurgitate the same old stuff the same old way and expect people to return to your site or even stay for very long. You must provide a unique idea, unique approach, or unique perspective. Being unique with your content is what sets your site apart from the hundreds or thousands of other sites on the internet in your same niche.
Providing high quality, valuable and unique content is the foundation for increasing website traffic. You must give people a reason to visit your site.
Social media is all the rage right now and for good reason. Social media provides an online way of meeting, talking to and engaging with people both inside and outside of your niche. Social media allows you to build and foster relationships that can really help you and your blog or website.
Social media can also drive a tremendous amount of traffic to your blog. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for me … yet. Social media currently constitutes about 12% of my overall traffic. That number is slowly growing and I would expect that over the course of the next few months, social media will become one of the key traffic drivers to my blog.
Jumping back to Frank’s email, Frank mentions that he is active on Facebook and Twitter, which is good. I would add Google+ into that mix as well. Google+ is now the #2 social media platform and I strongly believe that Google+ will be critical for a blog’s success in 2013.
A big mistake that new and even experienced bloggers make on social media is not being engaging enough. Social Media has the word social in it for a reason and in order to be successful on social you must be social. I know that seems really obvious, but I’m shocked every single day by people I see on social media that really don’t understand this simple concept. These people toss out links to their blog or website and that’s it. They aren’t social and they aren’t engaging.
To be successful on social media, you must:
- Talk to people – this means participating in groups and communities and respond to people’s updates and posts. I don’t just mean saying something like “Great article”, you must have engaging conversation with them.
- Make sure less than 20% of your posts are self promoting – This is the big one. I see many bloggers create a social media account and do nothing but drop links to their own blog posts. Do this, and I promise you that you will fail on social media. Dropping links to your posts is fine, but make those link posts a small percentage of your overall posts. Also, do more than just throwing out a link. Provide a summary of the article, tease the reader a bit. Entice them to click through and read the article.
- Include a picture – The old saying is still very true today: A picture is worth a thousand words. Including a picture with your social media posts can really increase engagement. Make it a goal to have all of your social media updates include a picture.
- Be yourself – Share a little of yourself. Post about “off topic” things. For me, most of my posts are about earning income online and blogging, but I also share photos I’ve taken, bluegrass and banjo posts, food posts, stuff I find funny, movie interests I have, etc. Allow people to get to know the “person behind the blog”
- Be active – The more you post and are active on social media, the more successful you will be.
Search traffic has been and continues to be one of the primary areas of focus for bloggers and website owners. Search engines, like Google, can drive a huge amount of traffic to your blog. The traffic they send also has the advantage of having a high conversation rate – meaning, search engine visitors click on ads and buy stuff. If earning an income blogging is your primary focus, than search engine traffic should be as well.
Getting search engine traffic to your blog is all about writing content that ranks well in search engine results. You do this by figuring out what search engine users are looking for, and writing content that ranks well for those searches.
Easy to say, often difficult to do. I won’t dive into the details of SEO optimizing your articles here, as I’ve already written a pretty thorough article on the topic: How to write an article for SEO. I search engine optimize every single article I write.
There are a number of things that factor into getting your articles to rank well. Here are just a few high level tips for ranking well with search engines, and in particular Google:
- Don’t sell links on your blog – I see new bloggers make this mistake often. Eventually, you will get a request from someone to buy a link (called a text-link) on your blog. These “used car salesmen” often sell tell you they want to buy an ad, but in reality it’s a text link. Google came down hard on paid links a few years back, and having your site blacklisted by Google hurts.
- Provide high quality and valuable content – Google is smart and getting smarter. They know if your content is high quality or not. High quality and valuable content gets ranked higher, period. High quality also means writing for people, not search engines.
- SEO optimize each of your articles – Again, you can read about how to do this in my article: How to write an article for SEO. I would strongly advise that you use an SEO optimized WordPress theme like Genesis (affiliate link) along with the WordPress SEO plugin from Yoast. Remember, always write for people first then tweak for search engines second.
- Set-up Authorship – Google Authorship allows Google to know your blog and your content is yours. Authorship also allows a picture of you to be shown on Google search result pages, which has proven to increase trust and click-throughs. You can learn how to set-up Authorship in this article: How to show your author photo in Google search results.
- Be active on Google+ – Google+ activity on your articles now plays into Google’s algorithm for ranking your articles. Those that are active on Google+ will have the advantage and have a chance of being ranked higher than those not active on Google+.
- Get links – Links to your site and content are still internet gold, so work to build high quality, natural and credible links to your blog. A great way to do this is by writing articles for other sites and blog’s and linking back to content on your blog. Using social media to foster relationships is also a great way to get high quality links.
Referral traffic is traffic that comes from other sites outside of social media and search engine traffic. These are sites that link to your blog either directly or by linking out to individual articles on your blog. Links bring you traffic not only from people clicking on them, but they also give you more respect from Google which can result in more search traffic coming your way.
Referral traffic can be generated in many ways, but here’s a few of the key ways:
- Someone linking out from their blog or website to your blog or website because they like it (remember: high quality, high value and unique content)
- You publishing an article on another website or blog that contains links to your articles or website
- You or someone else linking back to your blog or article from a forum
- You making comments and leaving the URL for your blog as part of that comment.
New ways of generating traffic to your blog are literally created almost everyday and you could easily spend all of your time learning about these new techniques or strategies. That is not what I would recommend. My recommendation is:
Create high-quality, high-value and unique content that is search engine optimized and promote that content on social media where you are an active and valued member. Publish this content on both your blog and also on other blogs and websites (not the same content) and link out from that content to your website or blog.
While certainly not revolutionary, generating traffic by following this simple process is highly effective. This strategy generally won’t create a sudden rush of traffic to your site, but will generate traffic over the long term. Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare?
Slow and steady wins the race every single time.