Nobody likes that feeling when you publish what you think is a great and very useful article, 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 is what every blogger wants. A 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’s not easy to reach. Most sites that are started will never attract this large an audience.
In a world of millions of sites, starting a new blog is not news, but growing it to attract hundreds or even thousands of daily visitors is. Enticing people to visit is the hardest part of blogging, but even though it’s difficult to achieve, it’s 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 the key website traffic-driving principles that will help you get visitors to your blog too.
1. You’re a dinner host; get your house ready for your guests first
Think of yourself as a dinner host. Before inviting guests, you need to make sure that your house (blog) is ready to host your guests (visitors). Here’s how you do that.
Get a domain name that helps people discover you
You need a domain name for your site. That’s how your visitors will find you and remember you. In my experience, an inviting and descriptive domain name has proven to work better than one of those free, long domain names that many choose to use.
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 (SEO). Having a domain name helps for this purpose too as it will make you rank higher in search results.
If you don’t have one, register it, and you won’t regret it. Here’s my guide on picking a memorable domain name.
Earn attention by publishing thrilling articles
You should post valuable content that your target audience wants. Inform, entertain, and educate them. Answer questions. Solve problems. Make their lives easier. Help them reach their goals. That’s how you earn attention.
When it comes to content, you should focus on quality and not quantity. One excellent article will mean so much more to your traffic potential than many dull and uninviting posts.
Creating great content is the most effective thing you can do to generate visitor interest. Every other step you can take to attract visitors relies on the quality of articles that you publish.
Check out my complete guide to creating excellent, high-quality content.
Write clickable and shareable post headlines
We are bombarded with too many choices for things to click on in our Facebook news feeds, mobile app notifications, and Google’s search results. The best way to get attention among tons of competing choices is to write remarkable and irresistible headlines.
Spend just as much time creating your headline as you devote to the main article itself. Don’t just write a headline at the end of the process as an afterthought. Without eye-catching headlines, your content will be ignored.
Turn first-time visitors into true fans and build direct connections
A visitor that comes to your blog, spends a few seconds on it, but clicks on the “back” button and never comes back, is a lost opportunity. You need a clear strategy on how you’re leading a first-time visitor to become a loyal and true fan.
If you get a good percentage of your visitors to become fans, you’ll be able to reach out to them again and get them to return again and again. Much easier than starting from zero every time.
Having a professional domain name and publishing useful content on a regular basis play a significant role in this. So do prominent “subscription” options. You should make it easy for people to give you permission to stay in touch with them. Social media follow buttons are one option, but it’s difficult to reach people on social media. Social networks have algorithms that determine how many people can see your posts, and on average it’s in the low single-digitals of people that follow you or like you.
Email is an open platform and very easy to start with. It’s a direct lines of communication. Nobody is controlling your access to the inbox of your subscribers. Open rates on emails are higher than reach and engagement you get on Facebook and Twitter. You’re free to contact your fans at any time in any format and the content of your message can be whatever you wish. You’re in control. Here’s my complete guide to starting a mailing list.
You can also ask visitors for permission to send them web push notifications through their browsers? Plugin such as OneSignal can help you enable this feature in Safari, Chrome and Firefox. The Washington Post has a 10% opt-in rate on push notifications and a 33% click-through rate of notifications they’ve sent. Web push visitors also spend 10% longer on site compared to other visitors.
What about getting people to subscribe to you via private chat apps such as Snapchat, WhatsApp, WeChat and Line? Can you get your users to install your mobile app and turn the notifications on? Notification bar is the most personal area you can get your message into. Everyone checks their phone notifications in real-time. It is as near as 100% “opening rate” or “reach” as it can get.
Facilitate social media sharing
Your fans love your content. Enable them to help you spread the word and attract even more visitors. Fans can spread the word about your content by sharing it to their networks. Word of mouth and social media are critical to the viral success of your content. Getting the fans do the marketing work for you is more authentic, trustworthy and gets you around the issue of low organic reach on social networks.
Facilitate and encourage social media sharing by using one of the many WordPress plugins for this. Highlight most important points of your post and ask people to share them. Better Click To Tweet can help you do this. Include social media sharing buttons, such as Facebook Like, on your content too.
Mashshare is a great plugin for this. It leverages social proof by displaying how many others have shared the post. This increases the chance of others sharing it too. Social Sharing By Danny is a more simple alternative.
2. Now is the right time to send out those guest invites
When your house is all tidy and ready for your guests, it’s a good opportunity to send out the guest invites (promote). Without invites, no guests will know about you, and nobody will show up. Creation of your content should only take 50% of your day. Promotion of that content should take the rest of your time. Here’s how you do that.
Share your content to appropriate social media communities
Create a marketing routine of places where you share your content, and follow it after publishing a new post. This ensures that you always actively spend time on reaching out to new people and spread the word about your work.
Social media plays a significant role in the viral spreadability of your content. That’s where your audience is. Explore relevant forums, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Reddit, Q&A sites like Quora, and any other network that you find appropriate.
Post visual and attractive pieces of content that your audience finds interesting, useful and share-worthy. Inspirational quotes, curious stats, impressive facts, nice graphs, funny videos, provocative statements that get reactions, and stunning imagery and infographics.
Which social media platforms should you be on? If you’re everywhere, you’ll end up nowhere so consider a few of the most relevant. Setting up an account on a social media platform doesn’t automatically get you anywhere. You have zero followers and zero reach. Having a minor amount of influence on a large amount of inactive social media profiles is not something to write home about or something that will give you more traffic or more revenue.
Here’s a list of places you can go to share and distribute your content.
Join conversations that your audience participates in
Actively sharing your content doesn’t mean that you send spam. You only mention your site when it makes sense, while also sharing interesting information, helping people out, solving their issues, and being a part of a wider community.
One possible community could be Twitter. I joined Twitter shortly after starting my blog. I searched Twitter for keywords and phrases relevant to my content and my target audience. I would then follow, interact with, and help all the real people who talked about and asked questions about these topics. My full guide on how to get traffic from Twitter is here.
I used to spend hours on this every day. It’s a great and real-time way of getting visitors and spreading the word about your content. It also helps you establish a name in your field. You should do the same. Either on Twitter or on a different platform that is more appropriate to your topic and your audience. How about Facebook Groups? Or LinkedIn groups? I’m sure you can find many others for your field.
Reach out to big sites and syndicate your content on their platforms
The idea is to go to big sites that are popular with your target audience, publish excellent content as a contributor, and use it to attract new visitors to your blog. Sites like LinkedIn, Forbes, Medium and many more host articles from a variety of writers. Many blogs accept posts from guest authors too.
This not only boosts your reach, but it also gives you authority, spreads your name to a wider audience, and you even get high-value links that will help you rank in search results in the future.
Choose a site that’s relevant to your topic. See what their syndication or guest posting guidelines are. Write a targeted article that’s useful and attracting to that particular kind of audience (some sites even allow you to repost your existing content). Include a link (or two) to content that’s already published on your blog to make it easier for readers to click over and visit you.
Build relationships with influencers and other prominent bloggers
Build relationships with influencers (other bloggers, journalists, forum moderators, or Twitter and Facebook power users) who have the attention of an engaged audience relevant to your field.
One tweet from an influencer recommending your content can result in a cascade of traffic and shares coming your way. This does take longer time than the other advice in this post, but it’s a robust strategy.
Commenting on posts is a simple tactic that can be very useful when building a connection to another blogger. Proper commenting etiquette is all about respect.
When you’re on someone’s site, you’re on their “property.” Just as you would treat someone’s home with respect in life, you should treat someone’s site with respect in the virtual world when you leave a comment.
Show up regularly. Feedback on their content. Contribute with your opinion. Answer questions other visitors have. Be an authority and you will be noticed. Eventually, you can reach out to the blogger in private too, and start a conversation from there. Take a look at things you need in your outreach pitch.
On the road to 500 (or even more) loyal visitors daily
I was asked to do a presentation on the early days of my blog and the activities I did to attract visitors. Here’s the recording.
There you have it. All the easy and practical advice that you can follow to attract people to your blog. Taking these actions (and putting in the time and effort over a longer time) will put you on the road towards getting 500 or even more loyal daily visitors.