Monday, 16 April 2012

Blogging Pt III: 12 Steps to More Traffic on Your Blog

This is the third and final part of the blogging series by Ruth from Nice Day Designs, these pieces were originally posted on her website and were republished here with permission. This installment is about increasing your traffic, make sure to follow the links to read part 1, blogging basics, and part 2, blog design.

I don't claim to be an expert in getting traffic to my site, to be honest it's probably the thing I'm weakest at. But I've made lots of mistakes along the way which means I've learned loads too. Here are some tips that I picked up:

1. Use Your Tags:
When writing a post make sure to use your tags, it will help people who are searching on Google. On blogger there isn't a categories option but I used tags as a way of making easily defined topics, each of my posts uses one of my 12 set tags. Try to think about your article and how a reader might describe it if they were trying to find it.

2. Share on Facebook and Twitter:
Make sure you share all of your new blog posts on your social networking sites. My facebook business page has been a massive help to my business and my website, it is a large source of my daily traffic. Some people prefer to comment on fb or Twitter on your posts rather than comment on your site, make sure to engage in these comments. I also like to share specific links with other users if their conversation is relevant to one of my older posts. For example if people are talking about good films they have watched recently I might comment with a link to a review I wrote. Be careful not to do this too much or in a spammy way, only post it if you genuinely think people will be interested.

3. Join Pinterest:
Pinterest is an amazing site where people 'pin' or bookmark images from sites, and create virtual mood boards that are catagorised by topic. It has been great for bringing new traffic to my site, from other members pinning my posts. I also pin some of my own posts too, like this series on blogging and other crafty how-to's. I will be doing an in depth post on the ins and outs of Pinterest in the next two weeks for those of you unfamiliar with the site.

4. Ditch Your Networked Blogs Feed:
I used to use Networked blogs as an automatic feed for my Facebook page, and I thought it was great as I didn't have to manually post the link. But I noticed that Facebook has started to group topics in the news feed, so all posts from Networked Blogs would come up as one single update. This means that if 10 people that I follow were using this tool had new blog posts in the same day I would just see one update in my news feed, something that could be easily missed. To avoid this just uninstall the tool, and go back to manually linking from your Facebook.

5. Guest Post on Other Blogs:
A great way of reaching a new audience is to do guest posts on other blogs. Lots of people that have never heard of you before will be able to see your site. I really enjoy writing for Etsy Ireland, and last year I was thrilled to guest on my favourite blog Lupin.

6. Add an RSS Option:
To be honest I've never used RSS, and didn't know what it was until recently, so I didn't pay any attention to it. But other people use it to follow blogs and find out about new updates, so you need to add the option to your site. Blogger have a gadget which you can add to the sidebar. I noticed that Wordpress sites have welcome box that can be added to each post with invites people to follow via RSS. I tried to get a posh one online but it wouldn't work, so I just added a basic text one. A simple bit of text can be added to the body of each of your posts by going to Settings-Posts and Comments- Post Template, in there just enter your html for your RSS welcome message.

(Note: I created my html by going to New Post, typing in 'Did you find this post helpful or interesting? To follow my other posts here is my RSS feed'. I changed the background colour to blue, and changed the text colour to white to make it stand out. I then highlighted RSS and added the link to my RSS feed. I then switched to html view and copied this text over to the Post Template. Here is the code you will need for the atom feed, just make sure to replace your own address in the text)
(Also note that RSS feeds do not work for Google Chrome)

7. Do Featured Posts:
I regularly do posts based on a theme usually around something that is trendy at the moment, like beards, alternative weddings, or tattoos. I usually feature lots of images from Etsy shops or crafty how-to's. I make sure to link to these shops, and then I let them know via a convo to their Etsy shop. I normally say that there is no need to reply but a comment on the blog or sharing on the fb or Twiiter would be greatly appreciated. I prefer to do these posts than make treasuries on Etsy, as I think they get seen by more people. They also help traffic to the site as people will find them in Google searches, I still get lots of traffic from my post about weddings.

8. Host a Giveaway:
I haven't done a giveaway in ages but it really helped me at the start to get some followers. Make it a condition of entry to become a follower, and give bonus entries for sharing on Facebook or Twitter. If your prize is from your Etsy shop make sure to post it on Etsy Giveaways to let people know about it. Or alternatively you could host another persons goods as a guest giveaway, Ruby Clover did this with great success, and even hosted one of my own giveaways many moons ago.

9. Add Your URL to Your Email:
It's such a simple thing but lots of people forget to do it. Create an email signature with links to your site and your shops. Also when ever you send a convo  on Etsy make sure to have a link to your website, fb and Twitter, it's annoying that you have to type it out each time, but it's worth the effort. Here is a great article on creating an email signature.

10. Business Cards:
If you are blogging for your business make sure you have a card, or even if it's a personal site it might be fun to have cards too. I hate when I meet bloggers in real life and we have a great nerd chat about blogs and neither of us have cards on us. Even though I have my flyer that I use for work with all my details on it, I still get Moo cards printed just so I can always have my business cards handy in my key ring. I also enclose my flyer in every online sale, and in the bag with every real life sale, you never know who will hang on to that info or pass it on to someone else.

11. Add Share Buttons:
Make sure to have share buttons on your posts, both Wordpress and Blogger have options for this, so there is no excuse not to have them. You want to make sharing your posts as easy as possible for readers.  To add the tool on blogger go to Template, and click the middle box that says Blog Posts, and you will see the option there. I also added a Pin It button to all of my posts since I became a Pinterest addict. This is a little bit of code I grabbed from the site and added below my RSS signature, so that it comes up in each post.

12. Use Images:
I talked about using images before and how important they are in breaking up the space and making your blog look prettier. But images are also great for searches too, a lot of people do Google searches through images instead of text. Getty Images is a good source of free images if you don't have your own graphic or photo. Always make sure to link back if you are using somebody else's image.

I hope this series has helped you all, I mostly did it for fun, and I must say I learned loads while researching it. If you have any more tips please leave them in the comments section, I certainly don't claim to know it all, and I'm always hungry for more information, so please share!

Helpful Links:
21 tips to increase blog traffic
25 tips for blogging
Creating an email signature
Hosting a blog giveaway

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