A friend, who has had an on-again / off-again blog for more than a year (mostly off-again) writes to say he’s now determined to blog every day and asks how should he go about getting more traffic to the blog. It’s a pretty basic question, one to which I have only some pretty basic points of advice, namely these:
The main thing I’d say is to stick with it. After you’ve been at it diligently for a month or so, you may be able to reach out a bit more to get in-bound links. But until folks have confidence you’re really dedicated to it they may be reluctant to link to you, if they fear you’re going to lose interest after a few weeks.
Also, periodically produce a really utilitarian post (like, for example, this one) that people are going to find particularly useful, not just interesting. Dedicate an hour or more to rounding up a lot of links on a theme or analyzing a trend in detail and debunking common misperceptions or otherwise really doing some real work of investigating, aggregating or articulating something that a lot of people are going to find useful. That is more likely to get you a lot of links to a particular post than just general posts along the lines of “Here’s an interesting article” or “Boy am I steamed about what Bush said today” or whatever. How-to pieces are good for this. Read the lists of most popular links among bloggers on DayPop, Technorati, Blogdex and Popdex to get a sense of what kind of blog posts get lots of people pointing to them. It’s a law of nature that people love lists.
1) Definitely publish an RSS/Atom/XML feed. Are you still using Blogger? If so, you can click a button and turn on
RSS [make that Atom, another version of XML feed, as Mike clarifies in the comment section of this post]. (For that matter, you can start an XML feed with pretty much any standard blog publishing platform.) You’ll get a lot more pick-ups that way.
2) Engage with other bloggers, particularly in their comment sections. Also email them. Politely make them aware of your blog, especially in context (e.g., “Joe, nice comment. You may be interested in something I wrote along similar lines…”)
3) Register your blog, and your RSS feed, everywhere possible. Here’s a list of such sites to start with.
4) Create a “blogroll” list of your favorite bloggers in the margin. Bloggers like the quid pro quo when it comes to links. Just by virtue of listing a bloggers does NOT mean s/he will link back to you, but it certainly improves your chances. It also makes it more likely that you will come to their attention, as they will likely see traffic from your site in their logs and maybe the link itself on Technorati.
5) Of course, plug your blog in your email signature, and, for that matter, on your business cards, if it’s really that important to you.
6) Consider your headlines carefully for the kind of phrases that people may search for on search engines. Remember, B.L.O.G. stands for “better listings on Google.” Also, along these lines, make sure to set your archives to list each entry on a page of its own (possible with Blogger only in its more recently updated version).
Here are some other similar pieces of advice:
- Eugene Volokh on Promoting One’s Blog
- Blog Search Engine’s Blog Promotion for Newbies
- Blog Business World’s Observations From a ‘New Blogger’
- Blog Business World’s Website Marketing Plans: You Need One
- Blog Business World’s Three Quick Ways to More Visitors in One Week
- WizBang’s How to Get an Instalanche
- Nurse Ratched’s Notebook’s Drawing Blog Traffic
- The Truth Laid Bear’s Blogging for Links
I’m sure there are lots of other posts out there along similar lines. I welcome anyone who can point some more out to please do so in the comments, and I’ll update the good ones here in the main body of this post.