I’ve been there. It was seven years ago. I’d had a blog for about six months and people just weren’t coming. I’d heard that all I had to do to boost blog traffic was to create a blog and the visitors would magically appear. I’d put keywords into it, right?
So, I waited. And waited. And waited.
The people just weren’t coming!
I tried a lot of different tactics to increase blog traffic to my fledgling blog. I tried forum posts, autoresponder campaigns, videos, linking everything I could to social media accounts, even some “black-hat” SEO techniques.
Some things worked, and others much less so.
I tried system after system, hunting for the magic combination of marketing and technology that was supposed to unlock the ultimate secrets to increasing blog traffic. After all, I’d heard that more traffic meant more money.
I learned a lot, but I wasn’t getting the type of traffic that I had heard about.
I knew deep down that I could make money online so I decided to give it one more shot. I took everything that I had learned and studied what worked and what didn’t.
I tested everything, tweaked what I could, and it started working.
Visitors were trickling in to my site. As I did more, that trickle turned into a small stream. Then a river. Then a flood. I knew that of all the things out there, I’d discovered something special.
I had discovered how to get blog traffic.
A lot of people with great ideas quit writing in their blogs when they find out that blogging isn’t a fire and forget proposition. Google is littered with the remains of online businesses that never got off the groune, their owners discouraged. Do a search for anything, then the word blog – I bet you’ll find many of these starting with page six.
It’s sad if you think about it, because they just gave up.
What many new bloggers don’t realize is that there’s a system behind having people love your blog. If you want to make money with your blog then you have to treat that blog like a business. What you may not realize is that even though the platform changes, the rules of business don’t change when you move from offline to online.
There is one major difference: It is far easier to make an online business than a physical business.
As all these abandoned businesses show, ease of access does not mean ease of success! Here’s a rule of thumb: If your online blogging business isn’t advertiser interest or significant traffic within six months there is a serious problem with your business model.
The big problem that this ease of access has created is that there is far more competition now than there ever was in the physical world. Success in the online world is predicated on commanding the attention of other people.
It doesn’t matter if you have the best product on the market.
You could be selling the cure for cancer, but if no one can find you, you are invisible.
This is why SEO and Social Media Marketing are so important. However, they are just a part of the success story. Want to know the others?
The Pieces to a Successful Business
There are five core pieces to every successful business, online or offline. They all need to work together in order to make a business flourish. They are:
• Site Design
• Business Knowledge
If any one of these is missing, your business will be hampered severely. Lack two of them and you’ll fail. Let’s go through what each of these mean.
Whether you want to sell something through your blog, or just want to get a popular following, everything starts with the site design. Marketing is the menu. Site design is the appetizer. That site design sets the mood for the whole meal.
If you know your web metrics, you might know a term called bounce rate.
It’s a measure of how quickly someone leaves a particular web page. In a nutshell, the bounce rate tells you how good or bad your content is. A high bounce rate means that your visitors are finding something unappealing about that page and leaving fast.
A bad website design will damage all your attempts to increase blog traffic. Avoid these errors:
• Poor site design (e.g. looks ugly, can’t find links, broken links, shopping cart interface has a bad design, downloads don’t work, etc.)
• Over-aggressive marketing tactics. What “over-aggressive” means will depend on your demographic. An example is a pop up as soon as a site is visited. You’d have to offer something of very high value to not annoy the visitor.
• Lack of valuable content. More on this below
It’s not as hard as it used to be. WordPress has thousands of free themes to choose from and thousands of professional ones as well. Take a few for a spin and see what’s out there.
Content is the meat of every website. Without content, all the marketing and design in the world won’t keep the attention of your visitors. There’s really only one big key for making excellent content:
Write for your audience, and not for yourself, but while still being yourself.
Don’t know who your audience is? That’s a big problem if you’re running a business. That’s why market research is so important. Where is market research done on the internet? Social media websites. Don’t like social media? Unfortunately, you’re probably not going to succeed with your blog to any great level unless you engage with your audience where they hang out.
Also, if you have problems with spelling or grammar, then it’s time to consider a course in copywriting or hire someone who is able to write to your message.
If you need a definition for marketing, it’s all the activities that you do to attract customers that don’t currently know or care about your business. Marketing also includes promotional activities for people that may already be familiar with your business.
There is a pervasive attitude of “if you build it, they will come” in online businesses that still hasn’t been uprooted yet. It is an extremely dangerous attitude to have. More savvy individuals may know about SEO and Social Media Marketing, but they cling to a different mantra. “If I’m on page one in the SERPs, they will come.”
This is a more accurate statement. Most people only look at the first three links in any Google search. According to a study done by Chitika, an online ad network:
• 91.5% of all clicked links in Google are from the first page. Only 4.8% are clicked from the second page. It gets much worse from there.
• The top link gets 32.5% of the clicks. The second gets 17.6%. The third gets 11.4%, and the fourth gets 8.1%.
That means that nearly 70% of all clicks in Google are done in the first four results.
However, what most businesses fail to realize is that it’s not just about targeting the proper keywords, collecting back links, having proper anchor text, and all the other nuts-and-bolts of SEO that pushes a site up to these levels. There has to be something of value on your website that make people want to come back to it again and tell others about what they’ve found. These create social indicators, and they’re very important. Google is increasingly using social indicators in their ranking algorithms.
They’re weighed almost as heavily as backlinks!
The overall goal of marketing is to get people to come to your website, boosting blog traffic. Therefore, your marketing must appeal to your target audience, and it must also communicate value to them. If you want people to give you attention, you must give them something they consider worthy of attention. Without attention, you’ll never make a sale.
Once you get traffic, you have to keep the conversation going. Your customers are not going to be shy about praising or complaining about your business or your viewpoints. Gathering customer feedback allows you to change your content and marketing approaches to match what your customers want. This is another place where social media comes in.
Social media shines the best when it is used as a feedback tool.
Each social media website appeals to a different type of person and is suitable for different marketing opportunities. If you want to learn them, the best way is to jump in yourself and get involved. In a nutshell:
• Facebook: Mass-market appeal generation
• Twitter: B2C conversations
• LinkedIn: B2B conversations
• G+: People who want to build brands around an individual and people in IT.
Use social media to actively listen to and engage with your customers. Gary Vaynerchuk built a wine empire by going out onto Twitter and answering every question he could find about wine. He’s gone on to be one of the main role-models for learning intense social media interaction with an audience. If you can be just as aggressive in your own niche, you’ll see the results for yourself.
Since running a blog is running a business, having knowledge about running a business is a must. Business skills can be learned from courses, hiring a business manager, getting a mentor, or even reading business blogs. You may be at the point where you don’t yet know what you need to know – that’s where voracious reading comes in handy.
100% of the shots you don’t take, ,don’t score. You’re not going to get visitors coming to your blog by reading about the ways that blogs should work. It’s best to have a system in place and follow that system – one that adheres to the five business principles.
If you don’t, it will be like trying to get visitors to a lemonade stand that you set up in a deserted alley. To really get in the game, you have to attract attention, draw them in and get them to love you.
I know that there’s a lot of people out there who are overwhelmed with information about blogging. Are there any places where you’ve got questions? Are you wondering where to start? Do you have some tricks that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.