There are 70 million new blog posts each month on WordPress alone. The competition is fierce out there. Every company (and individual) in your industry has clued into this content marketing thing. How do you ever get your work noticed? Is it even worth it?
A look at that same page I linked to above answers that conclusively. For though there might be a lot of posts, there are more than 400 million people reading blogs each month. And there have to be at least a few of your customers in there, don’t you think? What’s more, content marketing is generating $300 billion in sales as per a recent study. Now that’s a big pie and we all want to get our fingers in there!
The trick is, how do you grab that mindshare? After all, you don’t want just an average share of that pie – because that would be only about 6 people viewing your blog per month. Now unless you’re selling airplanes and you’re absolutely certain to convert one of those 6 people, it just isn’t worth your while.
And so, you have to promote your blog correctly.
It’s time to start thinking outside the box. With so much content on the internet, you’ll need tactics much more creative than social media to increase your views.
Luckily, I already did the creative thinking for you. Here are 11 ways to increase your blog traffic:
1. Don’t Sell
Or, at least, don’t appear to sell. People can smell that a mile away. Instead, your blog truly has to be designed to educate, entertain, engage and inform. It has to feel like – rather than there being a business trying to push through a poorly concealed sales agenda – that there is a person or a team of people who want to help by offering valuable information and insights.
Only in this way can you get other bloggers to share your page. After all, they’re intensely sensitive about their reputation and don’t want to run the risk of tarnishing it by linking to sales-pushing content, even if that site does occasionally have good content. And they are the gatekeepers to becoming part of the established industrial conversation. Now this doesn’t mean you can’t use SEO and keyword research tools. It just means you should take the time to make certain it isn’t blatant or jarring.
2. Share 3x
A common mistake made when people use social media is to not share their content enough as they don’t want ‘to be a bother’. This is a shame, as most social media sites do not actually show all of your contacts your adverts. For this reason it’s always a good idea to share what you’re doing more than once. A good strategy is to share your content three times within the first week. So the first day, the second day and then a week later. Repeat on different channels or sites that can bring you qualified traffic for free.
This will mean far more eyeballs will see your unique content, which means there is a far greater likelihood it will get liked, shared and talked about. And that is ultimately the point of a post, isn’t it?
3. Provide Social Proof
This is especially true if you’re selling directly to the public, but even if you’re B2B this bears thinking about. We like what other people like. It’s not a pretty side of our character, but it’s nonetheless true and you can either uselessly rail against it or embrace it.
What this means is that we have to appear to have a following. This can be established by having people comment on the content we’re producing, having a large number of likes on social media or having testimonials. Basically we just want to show off that other people are paying attention to us and are liking what we do.
So in the beginning, when you’re just starting out, it’s important to push hard to get that social proof sorted. Consider putting up some testimonials (with pictures), getting staff to comment as outsiders and pushing your initial social media campaign hard. Also, don’t put up the number of comments and likes pieces get until they’re starting to rise. A big fat ‘zero’ in the comment box will make people believe your content isn’t any good, even if it has nothing to do with that.
4. Create Original Content
Yes, it goes without saying. You’ve got to have new content. If you’re constantly just re-writing what other people are saying your blog posts will not get any serious traction in the community. The bigger question is, how do you do that? What can you possibly do to actually find new content?
First of all, you should get the tools in place so that you can find the right content before it’s been beaten to within an inch of its life by other bloggers. If you can regularly get the drop on new trends and new ideas you don’t have to find as much new content, as most users won’t be able to spot the difference anyway.
To get new content, on the other hand, you need to look elsewhere. A good way forward is to regularly be in contact with experts in the field simply in order to allow them to express their opinions. The experts will appreciate this (we all like to be listened to) and if you’ve got a good editorial team working on your blog, you might well be able to pick up some fantastic nuggets before anybody else does that could be good for your blog and your business.
Besides, reaching out to the experts in the name of your blog is a great way to network. First you listen to them and write about them and when they feel suitably grateful, you can always work on getting something, like a testimonial, for your business as well.
Another good place to look is in your internal statistics. We’re all looking for new trends and with big data being as hot as it is people are always interested to learn how things work. So if you’re collecting data, take a look at it and see if there’s anything interesting to write a story about. You’ll appear more transparent, more interesting and you might just create some of the buzz you’re looking for.
4. Have a Red Thread
There has to be a central theme to what you’re writing about on your blog. You have to have a character, as it were, or at least a character to your information. That way you can create a simple association in your reader’s mind: Blog A = Information about X. Then, when they’re looking for information about X, they know exactly where to go.
It is far better to be outstanding in one niche than to be pretty good in many for the very simple reason that there are already a huge number of pretty good blogs out there. And when you’re just one of many, you’re likely to be drowned by all the noise. So focus your topic and stick with it.
5. Shoot Videos
Most companies that focus on text-based articles don’t appreciate how much people like video. And yet they do.
500 million people spend 100 million hours watching over 4 billion videos every single day.
On Facebook alone.
That’s an astounding number and that is something that you have to take advantage of. At least create video content occasionally and then share it far and wide across the social networks to draw more people to your site.
Now, this doesn’t mean you only need to use video. Once they’re on your site and the rest of your content is good enough, some will stick around. But nothing works quite as well as video to get them to come there in the first place. And that has to count for something.
6. Promote Content in Blogging Forums
Blogging forums are websites where members discuss various aspects of blogging, such as how to grow readership and how to monetize a blog. Many of these forums also encourage members to promote their content and engage with each other’s content, just like how you would in a Facebook group.
Here’s an extensive list of good blogging forums. Try to join one or two that encourage blog promotion.
While you’re at it, also look for other free sources of traffic, albeit qualified.
7. Promote Content in Facebook Groups
Facebook has plenty of groups that are exclusively for bloggers trying to promote their content. To participate in one of these groups, you will be expected to also read and comment on other people’s blog posts, in addition to promoting your own. In exchange for your engagement, you will get other people’s engagement.
You can also try joining Facebook groups that are dedicated to “niche” topics that you cover on your blog. With these groups, there is no guarantee that other members will engage with your posts, but if you write good content that they are interested in, you could gain a lot of new followers.
8. Write Guest Posts for Industry Blogs
Make a list of well-known blogs that are dedicated to the industry you write about on your blog. Then reach out to their editorial teams and pitch a guest post that you could write for them.
“I’ve made a name for myself by offering guest contributions to blogs relevant to my industry,” Chris Brantner, founder of CutCableToday.com, told Marketing Insider. “My site focuses on watching TV without cable. I’ve found that many cord cutting products have websites with neglected blogs. I provide them with content and gain exposure in the process. It’s a win-win.”
Writing a guest post for a popular blog allows you to tap into that blog’s audience and direct some of their traffic to your website. Guest posting is also a great link building opportunity, so remember to include one or two links to your own blog in your guest post. However, BE CAREFUL not to overdo this. As with any digital marketing strategy that works, it has been spammed to such an extent that Google has warned marketers and webmasters against guest posting in their quality guidelines.
So, remember to only write for blogs that are of good quality, just as you’d only allow good quality content on your blog. Quality is of the utmost importance when you’re trying to grow your audience.
9. Invite Experts to Guest Post for You
Having an industry expert write a guest post on your blog is just as effective as you writing a guest post on someone else’s blog. Hopefully, your guest blogger will share the post with their social media followers, and maybe even link to it on their website. This allows you to tap into their following and build links.
Having someone you respect guest blog for you will also increase the legitimacy and authority of your blog. First time readers who recognize your guest writer will be more likely to return.
10. Write Round-up Posts
A “round-up” is a blog post that consists of a list of links to other content. For example, you might write a round-up called, “My Top 5 Favorite Food Blogs.” When you write content like this, you should reach out to the bloggers who run those food blogs and let them know that you featured them. Hopefully, they will share your article on their social media accounts, or link to it from their website.
This technique and the one described in number six are also known as “ego baiting”—appealing to the ego of another blogger or internet personality to get them to share your content.
11. Feature Readers on Your Blog
Featuring readers on your blog is a way of saying thank you to your loyal followers, encouraging them to keep coming back, and encouraging them to promote your blog. One of the easiest ways to feature readers on your blog is to create a blog post that highlights the most insightful comments that you have received from readers.
You can also do a Q and A, which will stimulate reader engagement. Announce that you are doing a Q and A, collect questions, and publish a blog post with your responses to the best questions.
If you have any readers that are particularly interesting, you can reach out to them and ask if they would like to be interviewed. You can post the interview as a podcast or a transcript.
As you probably noticed, you don’t have to spend a dime to implement any of these strategies. They only require time and dedication. To increase traffic, you don’t need to spend money; all you need is the willingness to step outside your comfort zone.
Content marketing is rarely a short-term, quick-fix thing. It takes time, patience and dedication. Only if you’re willing to put in the hours to make it work will you actually get the returns that you’re looking for. So don’t expect it to work out immediately. You’ve got to keep plugging away and wait for it to take off before you’re going to see the returns that you’re looking for.
That said, those returns will be impressive if you can stay the course, stay consistent and produce high-quality material. If you’re on the inside and your blog is a site people regularly refer to, you will barely have to push your content as people will be pulled in by other websites making use of it. What’s more, it will actually be fun, as we all like to have a mouth piece for our views and our ideas. And yes, that might not be what you’re after but should be a nice bonus. And besides, it might be useful if you ever decide it is time to reshape the industry.