We live in a world of instant gratification and validation. In fact, studies have shown that every text or social notification that pops up on our phones actually releases dopamine in the brain. Isn’t that nuts? Anyway, my point is, it’s no wonder why we get a little discouraged when we don’t see an immediate positive response to the content we publish on our blogs. I mean, after all the time we spent creating it, why isn’t it getting the traffic and conversions it truly deserves?
The problem is that just producing good content isn’t enough. You may be able to post an Instagram photo of your avocado omelette and get an instant onslaught of hearts from your friends, but unfortunately, blog traffic doesn’t really work that way. Unless you’ve already built up a big following, it’s going to be a bit tricky to get views, comments, and shares for your content.
Here’s something you should keep in mind: instead of blindly pumping out an endless supply of new content that no one reads, invest some of that time into planning and promoting your content instead.
Take a look at this data from one of our clients:
In just four months, we were able to increase blog traffic by more than 15x.
Keep reading, and I’ll tell you.
CHAPTER ONE: Evaluate Your Audience
Now, if you ran a health and wellness blog for a senior citizen center, it probably wouldn’t make much sense to write a blog post about parkour. Obviously, this is a bit of a “durrr” example, but it does highlight a significant point: Who exactly are you writing for?
If you don’t critically evaluate the interests and needs of your potential customers, it’s pretty likely that you’re going to miss the bullseye. So, the first step to follow to increase blog traffic is writing content that best appeals to your target audience.
Why will this help? For starters, if the topic is interesting and relevant to your target audience, then it’s more likely that they’ll take the time to read it. And that means that the traffic you’re getting to your blog isn’t just comprised of random viewers—it’s people who might actually purchase your product or service. Cha-ching!
You probably have at least some basic understanding of the interests of your target audience. That is unless the parkour example from earlier went completely over your head… In that case, you should probably pay extra special attention to this next section.
In order to best get inside the head of a typical customer, you need to develop a buyer persona. A buyer persona is a fictional profile that outlines the general interests and demographics of your target audience. You can gather this information from surveys, landing page forms, interviews, and other research. Turning your target audience into a fictional person may seem silly, but it can actually be a tremendous help when coming up with content. To get a better idea of what your buyer persona should look like, take a look at this example from HubSpot:
Once you’ve developed your buyer persona, you can start to brainstorm the types of unskippable content. A great way to do this is to come up with content ideas that tailor to the pain points of your target audience members.
For example, remember that client’s major blog traffic increase I showed you earlier? Of course you do. Well, what I didn’t tell you is that the client is an immigration lawyer. We decided that instead of just writing posts about how to get certain types of visas etc., we’d start including some current event pieces that specifically affect the client’s typical reader (i.e. Immigration policy changes). Now, we didn’t do away with those other posts, because they do a decent job of bringing in leads who need the assistance of an immigration attorney. However, writing about hot-button topics like Trump’s immigration plan skyrocketed viewership. And it paid off too—many of those viewers followed through with the CTA at the bottom of the page.
Ok, so maybe it’s not totally fair. Trump is, after all, a very buzzworthy topic these days. But the point is that identifying new niche topics can help you capture the attention of your target audience members and get them to come to the blog and convert.
The trick after that is to figure out how to replicate those positive results. So, after we saw such a massive improvement with the first immigration news post we did, we committed to including at least one current event piece per blog set. Traffic has only continued to rise.
CHAPTER TWO: Make Your Content Searchable
The next step for how to increase blog traffic is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is what you do to let Google know “Hey! I’m here!” See, you can’t just publish something online and expect search engines to know it’s there—or at least, you can’t expect them to know that what you have to say is relevant enough to not be buried on search engine result page (SERP) 3,562.
If you need a basic lesson on SEO practices, check out this post here. Got it? Moving on.
Now, let me run a couple of terms by you: black hat and white hat. No, I’m not talking about magicians and rabbits. If you don’t know what these are, listen up.
Black hat SEO practices are the big no-no of search engine optimization. These are old, “spammy” tactics that, once upon a time, marketers tried to use to cheat their way to the first SERP. Unfortunately for those guys, Google has smartened up. If you try to use black hat practices now, you’ll be punished. Meaning, your site will be penalized and you’ll be shown much lower in search results—or worse, not at all. If you’re doing these like leaving spammy comments with a link back to your site, paying for backlinks, or plagiarizing content, then I’ve got news for you: it’s time to take off that black hat.
White hat practices, on the other hand, are the prized, angel children of SEO. Following these practices will result in preferential treatment from search engines, while the black hat devil spawn gets shunned. In simpler terms, white hat = boosted search value and black hat = decreased search value.
The best way to follow white hat SEO practices and get on Google’s good side is to create quality, keyword-driven content. This, of course, requires a bit of research on your part.
When choosing keywords, I find it easier to brainstorm blog topics based on keywords rather than keywords based on blog topics. In other words: Unless you have a topic in mind that you think will absolutely slay, identifying high-traffic keywords first and then coming up with topics based on them will save you a lot of time and agony. Plus, it’s an excellent way to find niche topics, which can help bring in new traffic.
If you’re not doing any keyword research at all, you’re going to have a tough time getting eyes on your blog—even if the content is Nobel Prize worthy. You’ll end up wasting a lot of time and effort on topics that people just aren’t searching for. This isn’t to say that you can’t write about a subject that doesn't have a lot of searches. In fact, if it’s something you know your current readers will enjoy, then go for it. But that kind of content certainly shouldn’t make up your primary game plan.
Here’s an example of why it’s important to do keyword research:
I’m a big fan of The Office (which you could probably tell from that link I used to describe Parkour). One day, I decide that I’m going to write a blog post about The Office. Everyone loves that show, right? How could my post not increase blog traffic?
This is why…
But, Erin! It says right there that the competition is low!
Ah-ha, I thought you might say that. A few problems there.
While the competition may be low, there’s also 368,000 monthly searches. Given that level of interest, there’s obviously going to be a lot of other content out there on the subject. A quick Google Search will confirm that.
The second problem is that “the office” is not only a short tail keyword but a very generic one at that. It could be referring to any number of things aside from the NBC show.
And finally, the first four results on Google are NBC, Wikipedia, IMDB, and YouTube. Those are some big contenders there.
So, back to square one. I still have my heart set on writing about The Office, but I need a niche angle that will set my content apart from the competition. This is where we would use niche keyword research.
By searching through forums, search suggestions, (or in this case, my own fandom), we could discover a number of related subcategories. For instance, my favorite episode, “Threat Level Midnight.”
While the number of monthly searches is significantly lower, it’s still a healthy amount. Plus, it’s a long tail keyword with low competition. And look at this…
Now that we have our keyword, the next step is to actually use it in the content, title, and meta description. But be forewarned—this is another place where you need to watch out for those nasty black hat practices. Overusing your keyword is called “keyword stuffing,” and it can lead to your site being penalized by Google.
Here’s an example of a good keyword use in a meta description: The Office “Threat Level Midnight” is by far the best episode. Relive the greatest moments of the episode and learn how the show writers brainstormed the idea.
And here’s a bad example: The Office “Threat Level Midnight” is my favorite. The Office “Threat Level Midnight” is funny. Here’s the best jokes of The Office “Threat Level Midnight.”
Again, this example is a bit hyperbolic. But you get the idea. As a general rule of thumb, try not to let the keyword density of your content surpass 10 percent (even that is a bit high, in my opinion). And your meta description should only use the keyword once or twice.
CHAPTER 3: White Hat Link Building
We mentioned earlier that spammy backlinking practices (like paid links and spam comments) are no bueno. But, when done right, link building is actually a very lucrative practice that can help you increase blog traffic big time.
So how do you do link building the right way? The main and best way is through content outreach.
Content outreach is basically just a fancy way of saying “networking.” Essentially, you want to reach out to other sites with higher or equal domain authority to your own and ask them to add a link to your content in one of their relevant posts. This can be a laborious process because A) It’s hard to find people who will actually give a rat’s behind. B) You’re going to have to get a lot of links to really make a difference.
In order to simplify the process for yourself, do a few things before you just dive in head first:
- Create a content outreach template.
- Start networking and warming your prospects BEFORE you ask for a favor.
- Prepare yourself for rejection and misery.
The first step will save you time because you’ll already have a general outline of what you want to say. The second step will save you some of the rejection because people who you’ve established a relationship with may not write you off lickety-split.
Your initial template should look something like this:
If you really want outreach brownie points, don’t mention your post at all in the initial communication. Instead, get that dialogue going, build a relationship, and then call in your favor.
Unfortunately, they may reject your offer (or not respond at all). People are busy, and sometimes they don’t even see your email. But, don’t despair! That’s why you just have to keep building those relationships. Because someone will say yes—I promise! And don’t be afraid to send a follow-up email if you hear nothing but crickets (but just a couple, ok?)
So, now that you’ve got the basics under your belt for how to increase blog traffic and boost conversions, I release you. Fly, fly, my pretties! Get out there and start driving traffic! Of course, if you ever need help, my team and I are ready and available. Just drop us a line to find out how we can help you get those coveted views.