Thursday, February 14, 2008

14 ways to increase traffic to your blog

Jo left a comment on Instapundit and us asking "Do you have any tips on increasing one's blog traffic?" I've been pondering this question for the last two weeks. Below are my thoughts on how to increase the traffic to your blog.

To give our credentials, Site Meter reports we are currently averaging about 400 hits a day. We're happy with this level of traffic, but be aware that we are not experts. There are hundreds of bloggers who get tens of thousands of hits a day. A few bloggers even get hundreds of thousands of hits a day.

This post includes an earlier post, references another post, and then includes a few new ideas at the end.

The first set of ideas are from a post about 18 months ago:

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I mentioned a couple months back that Glenn Reynolds (of Instapundit) said: "The key to good blogging is simple: having something interesting to say, and say it well." After blogging for over nine months I recognize the truth of his statement. It is very important to write well. Readers will not come back if they can't figure out what you are saying, or if it is dry and uninteresting.

And beyond good writing it is important to spend effort promoting your blog. Gilbert and Sullivan say in Ruddigore: "If you wish in the world to advance . . . you must stir it and stump it, and blow your own trumpet, Or trust me, you haven'ta chance!"

The following are some effective ways for attractring a wider audience:

1) Tell friends and family. Don't be pushy, but mention that you are blogging, especially when you post something they might want to read.

2) Add the URL to your sig file - Most mail tools allow you to put text in what is called a signature file. This gets appended to each and every email you send out. This is a polite way to advertise the existence of your blog.

3) Join a blog carnival - Blog carnivals provide a way for new readers to learn of your blog and check it out. A few readers will come back. Many times after participating in a blog carnival we've noticed an increase in traffic. My rule of thumb is for every hundred readers from a carnival we'll get three to five who will come back as regular readers. (I don't have any hard data to support this, it just seems to be about right.) Click on Blog Carnival to check out hundreds of carnivals. There are sure to be a couple right up your alley.

4) Host a blog carnival - After you've been in a few carnivals you might want to consider hosting one. Be warned, it is a lot of work. To give you an idea of just what is involved in hosting a carnival read Be The Host With The Most. This is the best description I've found on putting together a carnival. If you are a real glutton for punishment you can start up a blog carnival.

5) Comment - Read other blogs and comment. You might provide more information, or ask a question. You might even disagree, but as a guest in another person's blog you should be polite. Most blogs have a way for a reader to follow a link back to your blog. Sitemeter shows us that some readers are coming in from comments we left on other blogs.

6) Use tags - Adding tags to the end of your post can help search engines zero in on the key issues you are writing about. I wrote last week about how to quickly add tags.

7) Use News Aggregators - Some of the more popular news aggregators are Slashdot, digg, and reddit. You can registor and then submit a link. Both Slashdot and digg are focused on technology issues. Reddit is more general purpose. Other people vote on how interesting they find the link. The more votes a links gets the longer it will be visible. I have submitted many Carnival of Homeschooling to reddit. Putting a link into reddit seems to provide twenty to forty hits. (You can check out my submissions. As Judy Aron is often saying, I'd appreciate your vote.) Here is a list of News Aggregators. I haven't checked them all out.

16 Feb 08: Renae reminded me that StumbleUpon can also be good. I'll add one additional thought about News Aggregators: don't spam them with every post you write. Only submit your best writing. News Aggregators get so many submissions that if you submit just average posts, people will vote you down quickly.

8) Use del.icio.us - I just started using del.icio.us. Services like reddit are short lived. You post a link and if you are lucky the post might stay up for a couple hours to a couple days. del.icio.us has a different focus. It is like having your favorites online, anywhere you have access to the interrnet. For example I recently entered many of the blogs and web sites I like and try to follow. The way this can help is as other people enter their favorite blogs and web sites, they may be added to popular and recent.

9) Place an ad - I haven't done this yet, but I wondered about services like Blog Ad Swap and Text Link Ads. One of these days I may give them a try.

If you are still looking for additional ideas on how to promote your blog, check out 101 Ways to Build Link Popularity or Audience Building.

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10) The TTLB communities - A little ago I wrote about the TTLB communites. Being part of a TTLB community provides greater exposure and will generate more traffic.


Here are the ideas I've had over the last two weeks:

11) Have a tool like Site Meter. If you can't measure your traffic, it is hard to improve it. Site Meter can tell you which of your posts are popular, and who is refering visiters to your blog. I learn a lot by checking Site Meter report for our blog almost every day.

12) Post a lot - Site Meter reports that Google generates about half of our traffic. Over the last year, 1% to 3% of our hits are due to our post Answering one of Peter's questions - attitude towards public schools. We found out that people were looking want Peter Answers. The more posts you have on your blog, the greater chance you'll have of some of your posts being high on Google's ranking system. For example we rank high on opaque gorilla video and Susan Wise Bauer.

13) Provide a service - This one may be a little harder to apply to your blog. As the organizers for the Carnival of Homeschooling hundreds of blogs over the last two years have linked to us. We do a ton of work behind the scenes, organizing the schedule, providing guidence, arranging hosts, and so on. This effort has push our blog a little higher and given us greater exposure. There are hundreds of blog carnivals, so another carnival may not be the answer, but there may be ways you can provide a service on the internet which will led to more traffic.

14) Have something to say and say it well - After all is said an done the best advice I have it to follow Glenn's line - "The key to good blogging is simple: having something interesting to say, and say it well." Ever so often someone will craft a post that spreads like wildfire. Hundreds of other bloggers will link to it. Thousands of people will email it to their friends. For example last year Dawn put some pokemon cards up for sale on eBay, with a hilarious story. Over 200,000 people came to read the story. By writing well people will keep coming back to your blog, to be entertained, to be englightened, and to be uplifted.


If you have any thoughts about increasing traffic, or other tips, I'd love to hear them.

(Update I: 16 Feb 08)

15) Be free in linking to other blogs - Dana of Principled Discovery in a comment reminded me that it helps to link to others. They are more likely to then link to you, and thus send readers your way.

And I added Renae's suggestion for StumbleUpon to suggestion 7.


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11 comments:

FatcatPaulanne said...

I think it's interesting that you get so many hits, but not a lot of comments. I wouldn't have thought that so few would leave comments. Makes me want to look at how many hits my blog gets a day. Maybe I get more traffic than I think?

Henry Cate said...

We're getting over a hundred comments a month. It would be nice to get more, but this is enough to keep us busy.

Many of our comments come in on older posts. Since Google often directs people to posts from months, and even years ago, often the first post someone reads on our blog is old. For example we just got a post today that is almost two years old: Audio books - Bruggie Tales has links to free.

Dana said...

The relationship between visits and comments is interesting. Most people just read and go on...and a lot of people read through a feed reader and may not even come to the site at all.

For a #15, I'd say don't be stingy with links. People generally check out who is linking to them and a lot of sites display the trackback which can account for a bit of traffic on its own, depending on the site.

For blogger, you can use Wizbang for sending trackbacks. I have definitely noticed a difference since switching to Wordpress which automatically sends them out. : )

Mrs. C said...

Wow, 100 comments a month is a lot! Specially since I write about 50 of 'em.

Thanks for the advice on the increased traffic. If only I had something relevant to say, and could say it well LOL!

I really like looking at the carnival posts and I come across a lot of blogs I'd have never seen otherwise. You really do offer a great service for absolutely free - thanks!!

Jo said...

I appreciate your answering my question so thoroughly! You have some good suggestions that I hadn't thought of. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

StumbleUpon is also excellent for promoting blog posts and for receiving traffic, as well.

Renae said...

Whoops. Anonymous was me.

Henry Cate said...

Dana, thank you for reminded me the power of being generous with linking to other blogs. I've updated the post.

Mrs. C, it looks like we'll have to develop a frequent comment program for you. Something like the fifth comment is free. :-)
Seriously, thanks for all the comments. We enjoy them.

Jo, you are welcome. I'm glad we can help. So many have helped us, I'm glad we can pass it along.

Renae, good suggestion. I've also updated the post and included StumbleUpon.

hero said...

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Anonymous said...

Alexa Internet, is a California-based subsidiary company of Amazon.com that is best known for operating a website that provides information on the web traffic to other websites.
Alexa collects information from users who have installed an “Alexa Toolbar,” allowing them to provide statistics on web site traffic, as well as lists of related links. It uses these data to form Alexa ranking. There is some controversy over how representative Alexa’s user base is of typical Internet behavior. If Alexa’s user base is a fair statistical sample of the internet user population, Alexa’s ranking should be quite accurate. A known source of bias is the self-selecting, opt-in nature of Alexa traffic tracking software installation, but the significance of this bias on rankings is not reported. Alexa ranking measures traffic ranking collected from Alexa toolbar users. High alexa ranking has no relationship with high google ranking, yahoo ranking, and etc.
Ranking in Alexa is significant as it can significantly increase your bargaining power when it comes to selling advertising on your site. If advertisers see that your site has a higher ranking, they are likely to think that they can sell more of their products and services by having a link on your site. This means that you can charge them higher fees for that link.

Henry Cate said...

Thank you for the information about Alexa. The internet is so vast, it is hard to keep up even with the basics.