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5 Killer Tactics to Increase Your Blog Traffic

We’ve all been there. We’ve hit publish on our latest blog post and expected the comments and shares to start rolling in. But instead we get… nothing. It seems that no one has even seen our beautiful article, let alone read it. A piece of tumbleweed seems to blow across the screen and it feels so lonely out there on the World Wide Web…

No one cares about my blog

I see this phenomenon happening all the time with company blogs, and it’s not hard to see why. In most niches you’ll be competing with hundreds of other blogs for the attention of the same few readers, and to stand out you’ll often need to produce something truly exceptional. Making great content can require serious time and money, but as Rand Fishkin shows in this Whiteboard Friday there are many tactics out there that anyone can use to improve their blog readership.

Today I want to follow on from that post by sharing five more of the smartest tactics I’ve read recently around the web. None are hard to implement and all could have a significant effect on your traffic, links and shares. So let’s get started!

1. Share More Than Once

This first tip comes from Garrett Moon, who suggests in a post on KISSmetrics that companies aren’t sharing their blog content nearly as much as they ought to. Many of us have the mentality of “share once and forget”. We publish something on our blog and distribute it across all our social media channels once. But what about all those people who missed that initial communication?

A much better solution is to share each blog post multiple times, depending on the platform, in a timely fashion. For example, you might tweet, Facebook share and Google+ you article as soon as you hit publish. Then a day later you might want to tweet it again. Perhaps the following week it’s time for another Google+ share, and so on.

In his post Garrett shows how you can easily double your traffic from social media in this way. Check out the handy visual they put together:

Social sharing timeline

Image credit: KISSmetrics

Some marketers would call this spamming your audience, but I would say it’s more like giving them the value you’ve promised them. Even Rand in his Whiteboard Friday mentions how he will tweet a post he wrote months if not years ago, just to remind people that “this still matters”. No one notices every little thing you do online, and by sharing more than once you’re just making sure no one misses anything.

However, you should definitely make sure not to publish the same message on social media more than once, as this does comes across as spammy. Instead, deploy a range of different tactics to catch your reader’s attention. For example, if you wanted to tweet this blog post you could try…

Tweeting the title:

Tweet the Title

Posing a question:

Pose a Question Tweet

Quoting the author:

Quote the Author Tweet

Or citing a fact:

Cite a fact tweet

Happy sharing!

2. Get Influencers to Write for You

Elmore Leonard, influential writer

This is an excellent tactic from Matthew Barby. If you really want to grow your audience, the key is to get influencers to write for you. This means reaching out to the bloggers in your niche with the largest social followings and the ability to write consistently excellent stuff, asking them to become contributors.

By getting these guys and girls involved, you’ll not only be getting exceptional content for your blog (content that will hopefully earn you links and shares); you’ll also be getting access to a powerful distribution channel in the form of the influencer’s social network.

Of course, unless your blog is super prestigious you will probably need to pay these bloggers to write for you, and you should definitely specify as part of the arrangement that they share the posts on social media. That being said, I think this option makes so much more sense than hiring a “general purpose” content creator.

As well as payment, you could also offer bloggers the following perks:

  • Offer to share content on their own site (but only if you have a large social following)
  • A link back to their website from every post they write for you
  • Give them free use of your products or services

Working with influencers is a fantastic way to improve blog readership. A nice bonus is that often these guys write for other big media sites as well, so they may be able to link to something they have written for your blog from a third party site in the future.

For more information, check out Matt’s comprehensive guide to finding influencers using Social Crawlytics, BuzzSumo and Followerwonk: The Power of Authors and Content for Link Building.

3. Feed the Hummingbird

Google Hummingbird

Out to Razvan Gavrilas of cognitiveSEO for this one. In the Hummingbird era, there are opportunities to optimise your content for synonyms that many bloggers are missing. For years now Google has been ranking synonyms in its search results. So, for example, if I search for “SEO agency” I will also see results for “SEO company” and “SEO services” highlighted in bold:

SEO synonyms example

What is interesting is that since the Hummingbird update, a page optimised for “SEO company” can rank for “SEO agency” even if the keyword “SEO agency” doesn’t appear anywhere on that page (i.e. in the source code) or off the page (i.e. in anchor text, co-citation or co-occurrence). See Razvan’s original post for more detail.

However, the page optimised for “SEO company” would rank a whole lot better for “SEO agency” if it also actually contained the keyword “SEO agency” somewhere. What this means for marketers is that we can get some quick and dirty wins by making sure our content is optimised for important synonyms as well as for the main keyword.

For example, if I were to write about “New York coffee shops”, I might also make sure to include the synonym “NYC cafes” in the text. I’m sure I would rank for “NYC cafes” anyway thanks to Hummingbird, but by explicitly including this keyword I could give myself a cheeky ranking boost.

The simple process is as follows: find the synonyms of your targeted keyword (using Thesaurus.com if necessary); identify the ones with high search volume using Keyword Planner; finally, make sure to include them in your content. This isn’t keyword stuffing. It’s about helping people find our content who are searching using similar but not quite exactly the same keywords.

There will come a time when Hummingbird understands what we have written and there will be no influencing rankings. But it’s not quite there yet and for now we can help the algorithm learn to be more accurate by creating the correct semantic relations in our writing.

4. Get Your Tweet Text Right

Hat tip to Ross Hudgens for this one. It’s really important to make sure you have your default tweet text optimised to encourage users to click on the link and follow you on Twitter. A survey by Siege Media found that a massive 73% of company blogs weren’t taking advantage of this technique.

So what does optimised tweet text look like? A simple best practice solution would be to include the post title, URL and your Twitter handle like this:

Tweet the Title

Among the common mistakes people were making were including the entire title tag instead of just the post title, which takes up valuable space and dilutes the message:

Tweeting the Page Title

Using a generic message like “Currently reading on the @VerveSearch blog”, which doesn’t give the reader any information as to what the post is about and doesn’t encourage them to click:

Generic Tweet

And mentioning a Twitter handle that isn’t relevant to the article, meaning that people probably won’t follow your account:

Irrelevant Twitter Handle

So optimise your default tweet text so it includes the post title, URL and your Twitter handle, and watch your Twitter referrals roll in!

5. Repurpose Your Content

Content Repurposing Ideas

In the Hummingbird era, I’m a firm believer in writing fewer longer posts rather than frequent shorter ones. I definitely think this is a better use of one’s time (in terms of getting links, traffic and shares) than blogging daily and simply regurgitating in 600 words what’s already out there. 

In the SEO industry, for example, stand out content tends to involve case studies, new experiments, research and opinion pieces (take a look at what I’ve been linking to in this article). But how do you generate traffic while you’re researching your next big piece?  

The answer is to repurpose your existing content by transforming blog posts into other content formats. Each of these new pieces could then be uploaded to its own separate channel, where it would be seen by a new audience and help to generate more traffic. For example, you could turn a blog post into:

  • a podcast: record yourself reading your post aloud and upload to iTunes 
  • a screencast: record yourself doing something on-screen, add a voiceover and upload to YouTube
  • a slide presentation: create a slide show out of your post and upload to SlideShare
  • a ebook: turn a series of posts into an ebook, which is available to download as a PDF for a tweet

This is just scratching the surface. There are many other ways to re-skin your content and you will also find a host of niche-specific content formats. For example, in the travel space Jauntful helps users to create their own personalised maps containing their favourite things to do in an area and can be uploaded to its own dedicated platform.

It makes perfect sense to want to repurpose your content after all the effort you’ve put into creating it in the first place. Just remember to always add value by making each piece more digestible and easier to understand than its predecessor.

Further reading: The Ultimate Guide to Repurposing Content by Kevan Lee

Summary

Obviously there’s no substitute for producing great content (yawn) but I hope this post has shown that there are many other ways to increase blog traffic independent of the content itself.

Most of these tactics are simply about squeezing the most out of what you have already. So in terms of sharing, you can make sure you post more than once and optimise your tweet text. In terms of SEO, you can ensure that you’re Hummingbird-friendly (in a natural and non-spammy way, of course). And in terms of strategy you can make sure that influencers write for you and that you come up with smart ways to repurpose this material.

If you’re currently running a company blog that no one cares about, I hope these tips can help put a smile on your boss’s face. But most of all, I hope you never have to see the tumbleweed or feel that lonely again.

Follow me on Twitter, where I tweet mostly about content marketing and creativity, with the odd music tip thrown in: @MattELindley

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12 thoughts on “5 Killer Tactics to Increase Your Blog Traffic

      1. Andy

        Thanks MAtt. I’ve heard it’s better to tweet the full URL string to your blog rather than a shortened link like buff.ly; is that true?

        Reply
        1. Matt Lindley Post author

          Hi Andy, cheers for getting in touch :-)

          I would always tweet the full URL string rather than a shortened link where space allows.

          I think this would improve click through rate as the reader has a clearer idea of what the resource is about. It’s also good for branding. And if the resource is on a well-known and trusted site, this fact alone may also boost the number of clicks.

          Hope this helps. I would be interested to see some case studies on the comparative CTR of tweeting the full URL vs tweeting a shortened link :-)

          Reply
  1. Aimee Doyle

    Great article. People forget how important social media is. If you produce the right content, your information will be spread across all platforms. Key is to make sure everyone sees it.

    Reply
    1. Matt Lindley

      I couldn’t agree with you more, Aimee.

      I would also add that people often equate the number of shares with the quality of the content, when in reality it’s just as much about what site the content is published on, how influential the author is and how the author has chosen to promote it.

      This article is a case in point. It looked set to get around 50 tweets, but thanks to a highly authoritative source getting behind it, it has reached over 1,000. That’s 950 more tweets from telling one relevant person about it.

      As long as your content meets a certain quality standard, I would say it’s not just what you write; it’s how you promote it.

      Reply
  2. Somali Chakrabarti

    That’s some useful information. One has to find the right balance between creating new content and promoting old content and that takes planning and effort. Besides tweeting what are the other most effective ways one can use to promote blog content? Are there any SEO tips or specific blogging communities that you would recommend?

    Reply
  3. John Chapman

    Interesting, but you might also want to check the emotional marketing value (EMV) of your Twitter posts also. In your tweet:
    ‘5 killer tactics to increase your blog traffic http://www.vervesearch.com/blog/5-powerful-tactics-to-increase-your-blog-traffic via Vervesearch’ you get an EMV value of 25% – a little better than the average of 20%
    Adding just two words ‘Use these’ at the beginning gives a much clearer ‘call to action’ and increases the EMV score to 40%

    Reply
  4. Arjunsinh Chandravat

    Excellent and to the point written post.I totally agree with you @MattELindley, specially with point no #2. Get Influencers to Write for You. This is the best way to increase blog traffic and drive more readers. Apart from that is there any way or can you share any post you have written on how to pitch Industry influencers to for us?

    Reply
  5. Gaurav

    Hi Matt,
    Well, I read your article and i can say its a genuine way to increase traffic without using any seo tricks or tips,
    Specially the last point, your twitter strategy,

    Thanks for sharing,

    Reply