These are the actions I recommend you take in order to start getting visitors to your blog. They are the tactics I have used successfully for my own projects.
Nobody likes that feeling when you publish what you think is a great and very useful post but nobody shows up to visit it, let alone share it. Unfortunately this is a feeling many bloggers are familiar with, especially those that are just starting out.
Attracting visitors to the articles is what every blogger wants. A blogger friend of mine told me that his wish is to have 500 unique readers per day within the first six months of launching his new site. This is a very ambitious goal that is not easy to reach as most websites will never attract this large audience.
In a world of millions of websites, starting a new blog is not news but growing it to attract hundreds or thousands of visitors is. Enticing people to visit is the hardest part of blogging, but even though it is difficult to achieve, it is definitely possible to do.
This post features my lessons learned from attracting 1,000,000 visitors in less than four years after starting my blog. These are key traffic driving principles that will help you get visitors to your blog too.
Let’s get started with a nice and sweet infographic for a quick overview. Below the graphic you can dig deeper into all of these areas.
You are a dinner host; get your house ready for guests first
Think of yourself as a dinner host. The first part of my advice is here to make sure that your house (your blog) is ready to host your guests (visitors). Here’s how you do that.
Get a domain name
You need a domain name in order to brand yourself better. If you don’t have one, register it and you won’t regret it.
Also search engines can be a valuable driver of traffic in the long run and you should optimize your blog for them. This is called doing search engine optimization or SEO. For this purpose you should get a domain name too as it will help you rank better.
In my experience a unique and descriptive domain name has proven to work better than one of those free domain names that many choose to use. Here’s my guide on picking a memorable name.
Another thing you should do for your long-term search engine results is to use WordPress. According to Google it helps you optimize your blog for SEO out of the box.
Earn attention by creating thrilling articles
Regularly produce valuable content that your target audience wants. Creating great content is the most effective thing you can do to generate online buzz. Every other step you can take to attract visitors relies on this the quality of articles that you publish.
Create thrilling content that wows people. Inform them. Entertain them. Educate them. Make their lives easier. Solve their problems. Help them reach their goals. Something that is timeless and that will stay relevant for a long period of time. Something that people normally charge money for (but give it away for free).
This can be in many different formats. You could create a simple blog post, an ebook, a case study or a report. You could create a plugin, an app or a tool that people find useful. You could record a podcast, you could do amazing videos or even a simple but valuable newsletter.
What’s the easiest way to creation of great posts? In some of my best visited posts I have used popular names and events to draw attention to myself. I profiled big names and wrote articles about lessons learned from big bloggers, writers and businessmen. I have done case studies on what makes some of the biggest websites great.
This is a great strategy as the popular names, topics and events are interesting to many people, so it becomes much easier to attract these fans to visit your posts and share them with their friends.
Focus on quality and not on quantity. One quality post will mean so much more to your traffic numbers than several unoriginal posts that get no visitors. That’s how you earn attention.
Without awesome posts the rest of the steps in this article won’t be able to help you much.
Check out my complete guide on creating awesome quality content.
Write clickable and shareable post headlines
Creating great content includes writing great headlines.
We are bombarded with too many choices for things to click on in our Facebook newsfeeds, in emails, on Twitter streams and in Google’s search results. The only way to attract attention among tons of other choices is to write remarkable and irresistible article headlines.
Spend just as much time creating your headline as you spend on the main article itself. Don’t just write a headline at the end of the process as an afterthought.
List headlines work great, so do how-to’s. They are very clickable and shareable.
Publish socially snackable pieces
Social media plays a big role in the viral spreadability of your content. Aim to publish social media shareable assets within your posts.
These are pieces of content such as interesting quotes, curious stats, cool facts, nice graphs, funny videos, statements that get reactions and stunning imagery and infographics. These are the types of content that work very well in social media, they get people to talk about them and make people share them.
See my advice on creating snackable posts.
Have optimized design with social sharing buttons
Allow your existing visitors to help you out and spread the word for you by sharing your posts to their networks.
Include Twitter share button, Facebook “Like” button and any other “share” button that is relevant to your audience on each of your posts. This is easiest done with one of many free WordPress plugins. Mashshare is a great option as it displays the total share count for each post and by showing this social proof gets people to share as well. Social Sharing By Danny is a simple but great alternative.
Don’t just put 20 random share buttons on the bottom of each of your posts though. That will decrease the impact the buttons have as your visitors will be overwhelmed with choice and it increase the loading time of your blog.
Be selective, think which of these network your target audience spends time on and only select those buttons.
My complete guide on picking the right blog design.
Retain your first time visitors by turning them into loyal followers
Have prominent subscription options available on your site and make it easy for people to sign up. This will help you retain a good percentage of your first time visitors, which will then help you reach out to them again and get them to return regularly.
This is easiest if they bookmark your site or subscribe to the newsletter, or add you in whatever way they prefer: via email, via RSS feed reader or through your Facebook page or your Twitter stream.
Consider giving them an incentive to subscribe on top of the quality content – free ebook for example. This can help you get more subscribers.
It’s the right time to send out guest invites
When your house is all tidy and ready for you guests, it is the right time to send those invites out. Without invites, no guests will show up. Here’s how you do that.
Actively share your blog posts
Writing quality articles is not enough as visitors do not come automatically. You need to promote your content, you need to send those invites.
Create a marketing routine and follow it after publishing a new post. This ensures that you always spend time on reaching out to new people instead of always thinking about new content.
Creation of your content should only take 50% of your time. Promotion of that content should take the rest of your time. If the creation process takes you too long I recommend you limit your output, focus on publishing great posts only and spending the rest of your time promoting your new but also existing archives.
Where do you share these posts? Go where your audience is and actively spread the word about your work. Explore relevant forums, Pinterest, Tumblr, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Q&A sites like Quora and any other platform that you find relevant.
Don’t spam but do push your site when you can, while also sharing interesting information, helping people out, solving their issues and being a part of a wider community discussion.
See places I go to share and promote my articles in this post publishing marketing routine.
Comment on popular and relevant articles
In early days you won’t have a large social media following and search engines will not be sending traffic to you, which makes commenting on other sites a potential source of tactic.
Commenting is such a simple tactic, anyone can do it and it can be very effective in driving clicks, building a connection with other content creators and getting more comments on your own articles too. I used commenting extensively in the early days of my blog and was very happy with the results. My first visitor other than myself was someone clicking over from a comment I had left at another site.
Here is a 5-step plan to follow in order to drive traffic to your own site through comments:
- Find sites related to your content. Search Google or explore Twitter and other social media. Subscribe to the relevant sites, follow them in social media and explore their content. If possible try to make sure the post has and will have a lot of visitors. To drive traffic you must comment on a high-profile site that normally has lots of visitors. Keep this in mind when selecting sites to comment on.
- Comment early. Most comment areas list their comments from first to last. You must comment on the post soon after it has been published. If you do that you will expose your comment to thousands of people who are going to read the post. The earlier you are, the more people will see your comment.
- Brand your comments and make yourself easily recognizable with a globally recognized comment avatar from Gravatar. Don’t use a keyword rich description in the name field. Use your own name instead. Make sure to include the URL of your site within the URL field in order to have a clickable link pointing back to your site.
- Don’t just comment for the sake of it. Make sure that your comment provides value and helps people. Only write a comment if you like the post and if you have something relevant and interesting to say. Write a quality comment that creates value and grabs the attention of readers. Add something substantial to your comment. Add your thoughts about the post, provide additional information from your personal experience or from a post you have on your own site. Some comment platforms allow people to vote up and down on comments and this will contribute to your comment being votes up and being listed higher up the page.
- Stay connected to these sites. Get involved in discussions multiple times over the next few days, don’t just post one comment and never return. This will get the attention of the content creator and will help you build a connection and a relationship.
Proper commenting etiquette is all about respect. When you on someone’s site, you are on their “property.” Just as you would treat someone’s home or business with respect in real life, you should treat someone’s site with respect in the virtual world when you leave a comment. Avoid these commenting habits:
- Comments are not about SEO. Links in comments should not be seen as a way of building links to improve your search engine rankings. Search engines have devalued the importance and authority of links from comment sections many years ago so they do no longer have much (if any) SEO value. This was done because of many dubious link builders automating this activity and spam commenting across the web. Links from comment sections of other sites should be seen as a traffic builder and a relationship builder. It is an opportunity to get traffic from sources other than the search engines.
- Not reading the entire post before commenting. It is only common courtesy to read the entire post before leaving a comment. This is especially important in controversial articles because the author may actually give indication later on in the post that either shows sarcasm or evidence of satire, which can be entirely missed if the reader does not bother reading beyond the first sentence or two. If you leave a comment without reading the entire post, it is usually obvious.
- Not reading the post at all before commenting. This offense is even worse than only reading the first sentence or two before leaving a comment. The comments box is meant for readers who have something to say about the material presented. If you did not read the post at all, then the comments box is not meant for you. Commenter who cannot even bother to skim through the post should avoid commenting on that post in general. It is likely that their comments will only make it blatantly clear that they are spammers.
- Shamelessly promoting your site in the comments. Promoting your site is essential, but you do so by simply commenting on other sites and letting readers click on your URL on their own, not by flooding other people’s sites with “COME VISIT ME” please spam.
Use Twitter search to join relevant social conversations
I joined Twitter shortly after starting the site, immediately started looking for and following people in my audience and got 55 unique visitors from there on the first day. Twitter has continued to be one of my main traffic sources to this day.
A tactic I have used very successfully in the early days of my site was to search Twitter for relevant keywords and phrases. I used to search for phrases like “start a site” or “install WordPress” and then follow, interact and help all the real people that used those phrases.
I used to spend hours on this daily as it is a great way of getting visitors and spreading the word about yourself. You can do the same.
More details on how to get traffic through Twitter is here.
Reach out to big blogs for guest posting
You could also write guest posts for other popular sites. Many bloggers accept guest posts as it is a nice way to automate their blogging.
Submitting guest posts not only sends you traffic, it gives you authority, spreads your name to a targeted audience and also gives you a great value link for your future search engine rankings.
It is important to carefully choose a site that is relevant to your topic, and write a very targeted article to that specific kind of audience. This gets the attention and interest of the right audience, and that way you can get visitors who are very attracted to the content of your site, which leads to higher engagement and retention.
Syndicate your content to bigger platforms
You should also syndicate your content. Sites like LinkedIn, Forbes, Medium and many more host articles from a variety of writers. Similar to guest posting but more free as you could even repost some of your older articles.
This is a great way of boosting your reach with not much effort as you’re just using the articles you have already created.
Always make sure to link back to your original post in order for Google and other search engines recognize that this is just a copy of your original piece.
Build connections with other big bloggers
Try and build connections and relationships with other bloggers and influencers that are relevant to your field.
What you do is find influencers in your industry, get in touch with them, connect and build relationships. This can be other bloggers, can be journalists, forum moderators or simply Twitter or Facebook power users.
Being close with influencers gets you the ability to get your content spread to a larger audience. It does take time but it is a very strong strategy and both commenting and guest posting could be a part of the relationship building process.
If you need advice on how to reach out to someone influential take a look at things you need in your outreach pitch.
And this is it. Taking these actions will put you on the road towards getting 500 unique visitors per day and even more. Continue reading for my own story on how I got my first 700,000 visitors.
“How I went from 0 to 700,000+ blog visitors” presentation
My presentation below can serve to give you even more inspiration for things you can do to drive traffic to your website. Have a look.
Slides of my presentation are here:
There you have it, all the easy and practical rules that you can follow to get visitors to your blog. I hope that these tips can help your site gain a momentum in social media and search engines.
If you put in the time and effort and do it over a longer period of time it is definitely possible for you to achieve similar or even better visitor numbers.
Always keep in mind that writing quality articles is just a part of your blogging job, while promoting your work is just as important aspect of having a successful site. A good rule of thumb is to spend half of your time producing content and the other half of your time promoting your articles.