How to Boost Your Blog Traffic
Photography by Georgia de Lotz on Unsplash
How to improve blog traffic could also be called ‘how to make Google love you’. Because that’s where most organic traffic will come from. Forget about complicated tricks and gimmicks, here is some common sense advice. There are a set of rules and if you follow these, you have the best chance of gaining organic search traffic. You can amplify traffic through other means, but this is by far the most reliable.
It took a long time figuring out how to get traffic for this site, because so many people say so many different things. One caveat: it does depend on your own site, on what decisions you make to get traffic:
A local niche blog will find it easy to get traffic, because you can tell all the locals, form bonds and network with others. If you run a sustainable fashion blog in Camden, it won’t be long before people know about it. But if you are writing to a national (or international) audience or to a particular niche which has other similar blogs, it will take months of regular posting of original content, for Google to fall in love with your blog. Tips to make Google love you include:
- Avoid duplicate content. Google employs people to weed out spammy sites. So if you have posts that are packed with ‘duplicate content’ (either lifting from other sites or repeating things you’ve already said in your own posts), it will block search results.
- Short or Long Content? This is a tricky one, as it depends on the kind of site you have. If you are selling a few goods that you create within a niche, go for long-form content (ideally 2000 words or more), with long key tail words (where to find handmade lavender soap’ will go to top of google search for people wanting lavender soap than if you write ‘where to find soap’). However, there are a few ‘buts’. Ensure you use plenty of images to break up text, and use bullet points for lists, and short paragraphs. If you don’t fancy writing posts this long, you could bunch together shorter posts to make one long one of at least 800 words.
- Avoid lots of links in one post. Long posts are good for SEO, but Google does not like more than is necessary links in one post. Sometimes you have to use them, but don’t stick in more than you need. If you put in too many, Google may block you, thinking you’re a spammy site. Our most popular post ‘clothing brands that help animals‘ breaks all the rules. It has 10 to 20 links, makes no money and is under 800 words. But Google features it (it’s even been a ‘featured snippet’).
- Don’t always follow the rules! The site The Story of Telling (by an Aussie business coach) is a wonderful example of how sometimes the opposite applies. She makes income from her books on ‘meaningful work’, and her posts are hardly longer than a paragraph. But she does already have a strong audience, which helps.
- Try creating a balance. Write posts well over 300 words (crappy for SEO). Say 500 minimum, 800 ideal or 1000 and more for longer posts. This ‘covers all the bases’ of a subject, but is not too long to read, especially if you break up content with a pretty image or two.
- Only use one/two affiliate links per post. Taylor Stanford says only use a few in each post, for brands you you would recommend anyway, to build trust. She earns a very healthy affiliate income, nearly all from two companies. She doesn’t recommend everything to all and sundry.
- Be patient! When you start a blog, Google puts you in a ‘sandbox’ for 3 to 5 months, to ensure you are not spammy. So don’t despair. Keep ‘writing to no-one’ and your old posts will eventually also be read. Google is reliable traffic and keeps on coming, once it decides to love you. It’s said that you start getting traffic when you have around 60 (consistent over time, not all published in one week) quality posts of original content (at least 500 words, see above).
- Don’t change your URL unless you have to. We did this as most posts were about zero waste. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but traffic built up over a year just vanished, even with assurances it wouldn’t. So we changed it back again!
- Write titles that make people want to click. Don’t do all gimmicky ones, people are fed of ’10 ways to do this’ or ‘why you should not do this’. Just go with what feels right. What would someone type in the search box, to find your article? If people want to find a lost pet, they are searching ‘how to find lost pets’. Not ’15 ways your audience can learn how to find lost pets’. Your readers don’t want ’20 simple ways to deal with acne’, they just want ‘natural ways to get rid of acne’. Write for readers, not search engines.
- Keep Your Site Simple. People read slower on the web, and they skim articles (sorry to say, but most people won’t read your entire article, they will just look for what they want, and then be off’). Most also won’t start surfing your site. Just like a bakery, they come in for what they want, have a quick ‘sniff around’, then leave. They have other things to do. So ensure your posts are easy-to-find (no more than two clicks back to the home or any page), with readable fonts, H2 headings (Google likes these), easy-to-see link colours and bullet points for lists. Use nice pictures, to break up longer text.
- Join Pinterest? This is a visual search engine that can bring in free traffic. But it recently changed its algorithms and now you have to ‘engage with the site’. One idea is to just let others who ‘engage on social media’ to do the pinning for you. They likely have more followers, so it’s better for them to pin and share. You can then go outside, and enjoy the sunshine. If used keep it for work, not to look at images of houses you can’t afford.
Books to Boost Your Blog
How to Write Content That Goes Viral is a beautifully designed 71-page e-book by a successful blogger, whose posts have received hundreds of thousands of social media shares. Learn how to find the best ideas and write posts that get shared.
Skyrocketing Your Blog Traffic is a wonderful e-book for any local or niche blogger, who wants to write posts that get seen, and do good. And if you want to earn a passive income from your blog, you can only do this, once you have traffic. This e-book by a successful blogger in India, shows you how (she’s also a professional illustrator, so the book has fun design throughout, to make the medicine go down more easily).
Launch with a Bang is a nice little e-book by a theme designer. Many ‘online launch’ courses are out of the budget of many small bloggers, but if you still want to quickly get readers, this is the book for you, as it combines years of experience to give you all the tools you need. Learn how to write your first blogs and create an ongoing content plan, choose categories and brainstorm blog topics. Includes a complete blog launch checklist.