These are the actions I recommend you take 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 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 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. 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 e-book, 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 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 news feeds, 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.
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. Add inviting text-based call to actions to share on strategic points on your site and in your content such as saying “if you enjoyed this article, please share it to make more people aware of it”. These are some of the ways to do that:
- Facilitate sharing by including share buttons. Make it easy for them to share with their networks. Use one of the many WordPress plugins. Include prominent share buttons, such as Facebook like and Twitter tweet this (whatever network that is relevant to your audience) at the top and bottom of your content. 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.
- Add hover over image share buttons. If you create visual content add one of the plugins that allows visitors to “pin” or share images in other ways when they hover over the image. Plugins such as SumoMe help you do that.
- Add mobile friendly one-to-one share buttons for your visitors from mobile phones such as email and messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Snapchat. WordPress plugins are always your friend with options such as this one.
- Highlight most important points as quotes or quotes-on-image and ask people to share them. WordPress plugins such as Better Click To Tweet helps you do this.
- Leverage social proof and show people how many others have found value and shared your content to increase the chance of them sharing it too. You do this by prominently displaying how many people have shared the article.
Here’s my complete guide on picking the right blog design.
Retain your first time visitors and grow your own community
Focus on building your own following on your own terms – this could be as loyal visitors to your site, subscribers to your mailing list and ideally your customers in your own database. Have a clear strategy on how you are leading a first-time blog visitor to become a loyal visitor by becoming an email subscriber.
Have prominent subscription options available on your site and make it easy for people to sign up. This will help you keep 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.
Email is an open platform. Nobody is controlling your access to an email inbox of your subscribers. Email open rates are higher than reach and engagement on Facebook and Twitter with many marketers seeing open rates of 30%+. Do you run a mailing list? Having a direct communication line also means that you are free to contact your database at any time you wish in any format that you wish and the contents of your message can be whatever you wish.
Consider giving them an incentive to subscribe on top of the quality content – free e-book. 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.
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 who 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 sites for syndication and guest posting
You could also write guest posts and syndicate your content on other popular sites. Many bloggers accept guest posts as it is a nice way to automate their blogging. Sites like LinkedIn, Forbes, Medium and many more host articles from a variety of writers. Here’s a list of places that accept content syndication. And this is guest posting process that I follow myself.
Syndicating content and submitting guest posts not only sends you traffic, it gives you authority, spreads your name to a targeted audience and 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.
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.
Post socially snackable content 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 visual and attractive pieces of content. 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. Some marketers call these “snackable content”. Gary Vaynerchuk calls them jabs.
Create several valuable social media posts from each of your articles. These can be practical tips from the post. They can be inspirational quotes. They can be impressive stats or other facts. Could be provocative statements. Or stunning pictures and graphics. Any talking points really. Anything that opens more social media sharing potential. Whatever it is that your audience finds interesting, useful and share-worthy.
These social native pieces help get more engagement. I always make sure to include my link in there too which leads to my site being introduced to new people.
Comment on popular and relevant articles
In early days you won’t have a large social media following and search engines won’t 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.
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 life, you should treat someone’s site with respect in the virtual world when you leave a comment. It will help you build the connection with the blogger.
Build connections with other big bloggers
Try and build relationships with influencers who have an engaged audience relevant to your field. Be it in social media, on their own websites or in forums. 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. Get them to share your content for you. One message an influencer sends to their list recommending your piece of content can result in a cascade of traffic and shares coming your way.
It does take time but it is a very strong strategy. 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.
“How I went from 0 to 700,000+ blog visitors” presentation
Taking these actions will put you on the road towards getting 500 unique visitors per day and even more. Here’s my story on how I got my first 700,000 visitors. 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 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.