How to get traffic to your blog in 2018 and beyond
You’ve just started a restaurant.
You’ve got some pretty good food – what kind doesn’t matter – and the prices aren’t bad either.
Only problem is, your restaurant is in the middle of a swamp.
No foot traffic.
No traffic of any kind.
There’s not a major highway in sight – just a little country road, miles off, across the swamp. You can sometimes hear the traffic whooshing by late at night…
As you sit, alone, without customers.
Maybe you need to get new menus printed, you think. Maybe it’s the decor.
Meanwhile, your food is rotting in your fridge.
One of the most common questions I get as a blogging guru is something like:
“Daniel, I want to monetize my blog. What do I do?”
I know it’s impolite, but I like to answer that question with another.
So I ask, “How much traffic do you have?”
More often than not, the answer is a resounding “not much”.
If you’re going to monetize your blog, I’ve got an article just for you.
But first, you’re gonna need traffic.
Wanna sell something?
Sponsored posts more up your alley?
Well, for that you need traffic too.
Thinking about monetizing with ads?
Guess what… you need a lot of traffic to make that work. Especially if you’re hoping to make a full time living.
Here’s the truth of the matter: if you can’t get eyeballs on your website (or people in the door of your restaurant) it doesn’t much matter how good your design is, or how many calls to action you have, or where you put your ads.
Without traffic, you’re not going to monetize.
So now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about solutions…
How to get traffic to your blog
There are several different ways to get traffic to your blog.
And I’ve gotta admit…
I’m not great at all of these myself.
But I’m really good at one or two, and that’s enough to pay my bills. I’ve been a full-time blogger for two years and counting now.
And before going on, let’s be clear – being a successful blogger is work.
I’m basically unemployable myself, so I can’t say if it’s more or less work than selling insurance, or being an undertaker, or whatever it is that “normal” people do.
But it’s definitely work of some kind. And anybody who tries to sell you “get rich in an hour a day online” is probably (ok, definitely) lying.
If you want the full story, buy my book The Zen of Blogging. I can’t promise you’ll be as rich and famous as me after reading it – but I can promise you’ll be entertained.
(Also, you’ll learn valuable lessons about how to start a blog and make it successful. But yeah. It’s work, any way you slice it.)
So here goes: how to get traffic to your blog or website…
Create more content and be more useful
A lot of beginning bloggers have a content problem.
They post occasionally: when the mood strikes them, Mercury aligns with Saturn, their Muse comes back from four months’ vacation in Tahiti, whatever.
They have so little content on their blog that someone can read it in an hour.
The solution: get into your ideal readers’ heads and think of what they want or need to read right now.
Then go about giving it to them.
If you’ve only got 12 articles on your blog, that’s (roughly) 12 keywords you might show up for on Google.
120 is better than 12.
Or better yet, try 1200.
Write more. Create great content that people want to come back for. Not all of it will be good, but if you create more stuff, you should be able to get traffic to your blog.
It’s a cliche by now, but content is king – kinda.
If your content sucks, nobody’s going to come back. If it’s mediocre, they might come back. If it’s great, they’ll beg you for more.
But only if they’ve somehow found you first.
Caveat: I’m sure there’s some great content out there somewhere that nobody’s reading. That’s why I’ve got more than one strategy here.
Ok, so here’s another one…
Bow down to the gods of SEO
By which I mean, figure out how to optimize your website so that Google can find it…
And rank it highly.
Here’s another hard-to-swallow truth: if you’re not in the top 3 search results for your keyword on Google, you might as well be dead.
(Ok, ok… “dead” is kind of a strong word. But you get my meaning.)
My basic advice for SEO boils down to two things.
- Install the Yoast SEO plugin on your site and do whatever it tells you.
- Start reading Backlinko by Brian Dean… and then do whatever he tells you to do.
But just in case you only have 4 minutes to spend on SEO, I’ll give you the very basics right here.
If you’re wondering why I keep using the phrase “how to get traffic to your blog” then you can stop wondering now – because it mostly comes down to keywords:
- Make sure you’re using a keyword in the title of your post. A relevant keyword that people are actually searching for.
- Repeat that keyword a few times throughout the article.
- Use your keyword again in the alt tags for your images (really easy to do on WordPress).
- Use the keyword in one or two subheadings throughout the article.
- Make sure your article has at LEAST 300 words. I usually shoot for 600 to 1200 – or more.
- Pray to the god of your choice. I hear Ganesh is good for increasing blog traffic.
All of which brings us to another important strategy…
Get good at social media
A lot of people go crazy on ALL the social media platforms and worry about who’s Instagramming their Snapchat on Pinterest or whatever.
My recommendation will make your life easier:
Just get good at one or two platforms.
I do pretty well at Facebook and YouTube.
So I don’t need to be huge on the ‘Gram. (Although I can teach you how to be an influencer on Instagram in 6 easy steps.)
And in any case, different channels are good for different things.
And I use Facebook because everyone’s on Facebook. I have a page with about 15,000 followers over there, which isn’t bad at all.
I don’t do much on Twitter. I’ve barely even looked at Pinterest or Linkedin. And I enjoy Instagram because of the bikini photos, but I’m not spending a lot of time on it.
I just use Buffer to post automatically and then I get back to work – making more useful content.
Here’s another thing you should do if you want to increase your blog traffic…
Get links and reach out to other bloggers
Like I said earlier, I’m not good at all of these.
I get so much traffic from SEO and social sharing that I don’t do much blogger outreach.
But I should.
Links drive traffic to your blog, and shares do too…
Especially if the people linking and sharing are influencers in their own right.
A lot of the big dogs online have realized that there’s not a lot of need to compete with other bloggers – in fact, it’s often better to cooperate.
I can’t write every article that needs writing. There are some very useful topics out there I just know nothing about. And interesting perspectives I’d never voice as well on my own.
So I’m happy to link to others and to share.
So here’s a quick tip: get in touch with other bloggers in your niche, and try to make friends. Link to them and ask (nicely) if they’ll link to you. Offer to guest post. Yadda yadda yadda.
(If you want to guest post here, drop me a line.)
I’m not a networking genius, but let me tell you – I’ve made some pretty good friends just by randomly hitting up bloggers with something thoughtful about how I appreciate their work.
Give it a shot, and tell me how it goes.
And please, remember this final caveat…
The internet is always changing
A few days ago there were a articles everywhere about how Facebook is changing their algorithm again, so pages are going to get screwed…
For about the 5th time this year, probably.
Google changes its algorithm, too. Pretty regularly.
If you start to follow the SEO blogs and such, you’ll see the news when it happens. The Googs changes from Penguin to Baby Seal to Beluga, and a lot of serious bloggers take a serious hit to traffic.
(Google’s algorithms are named after animals, usually.)
So here’s the big philosophical takeaway for today…
If your business model is based on the idea that nothing’s going to change, you’re not going to be in business very long. Especially on the internet.
And if your life is based on the idea that nothing’s going to change, then I’m sorry… you’re going to be one disappointed little puppy.
Accept the change.
Roll with the punches.
You’ll be better for it.
Mr Chorizo AKA Daniel.
P.S. On the topic of rolling with the punches, you could read Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. But you could also read the story of my life, which is just as good, and has a bit more sex, too. Check it out: Days and nights of love, wine and cholesterol.