How To Increase Blog Traffic

This past weekend, I spent some time researching how to increase readership on a blog. I looked up everything from rss feeds, blog ads, site design, layout and content.

So here’s a few things I’ve found:

1) RSS Feeds
I found a great article called 50 Ways to Gain RSS Subscribers. It’s a great article and definitely worth the read. I’ve even decided to try out some of the suggestions:

  • Place an RSS Feed icon above the fold… At the top of my blog you’ll see that I’ve removed the outdated “Boobie-thon” ad and have replaced it with an eye catching RSS Feed Icon (animated too!) – DONE
  • Have an animated RSS Feed icon – DONE
  • Explain that subscribing is free… Hey guys! Subscribe to my blog – it’s free! DONE
  • Write a post asking readers to subscribe… I guess that would be this post – DONE
  • Have a “subscribe to” link at the bottom of every post – DONE
  • Allow readers to subscribe via email… You can do that in one of two ways, you can use the subscribe by email form in my sidebar courtesy of feedburner, or you can subscribe on my “SUBSCRIBE” page via the “subscribe2″ plugin, either way you’ll be emailed whenever my blog is updated so you’ll never miss any of my fantastic content! – DONE

2) Blog Ads
I signed up for and am trying out Entrecard.com – a blog ad exchange service. You create an ad for your site (aka your card), and buy ad space at other blogs with entrecard credits called “ec’s”. You can earn more ec’s by visiting blogs and dropping your entrecard at the sites that you visit, or by selling space on your site. Unfortunately you can’t really change your asking price for hosting ads, other than by dropping a heck of a lot of your “cards” and therefore increasing your blogs ranking. I created my ad (aka card):

motr

And spent 2 days with entrecard, dropping my “card” all over the blogosphere. I earned quite a few credits and have purchased ad space at a number of blogs for this week. Though, after 2 days I can say that it hasn’t really increased my blog traffic, # of comments or # of subscribers. I’ll have to wait and see if the blog ads this week do anything at all. I seem to believe that entrecard.com doesn’t target the right market and that everyone on there is just there to do exactly what I was doing – trying to increase blog traffic, with no interest in discovering new blogs.

3) Site Design/Site Layout
Through my research in rss feeds and blog ads I encountered discussions on site layout, specifically above the fold and below the fold, and whether your sidebar should be different on your home page than on an article page.

What is the fold? Essentially the fold is the point at which blog readers need to begin scrolling to see the rest of your site. Anything above that point is called “above the fold” – everything there can be seen without having to scroll. “Below the fold” is anything that can only be seen by scrolling.

I must admit I never gave much thought about where stuff was on my site – all I cared about was whether or not its there. I have a “subscribe to this feed” link, so why does it matter where it is? Essentially you want your RSS feed link to be easily found, you want readers to be able to subscribe easily, while other stuff you want to be a wee bit harder to find so that visitors see more of your site, like the entrecard “drop box”. So I spent a few minutes moving things around my sidebar, an RSS link above the fold, and the entrecard drop box below the fold. If you host pay-per-click ads you may want them to appear above the fold.

Another thing I never considered was that most visitors don’t enter your blog via your main page, instead they usually land on an article page. They come by via Google searches, track backs or links to specific posts of yours from other blogs. Based on what that visitor sees on that article page, they’ll decide whether or not to continue surfing around your blog. If they do continue surfing, chances are the visitor will head over to either your “Home” page or your “About” page. The article I read on Yoast suggests that your home page should be different from your article page, yanno – to keep it fresh and interesting.

4) Blog Content
This seems to be the one area I struggle with the most. Should I write long, detailed, witty posts or short to the point posts? Should I post every day, every other day, at the same time, or at different times through the day? What should I title my posts? What do you want to read about? Do I write in an effort to try and capture more readers, to entertain you or to simply satisfy my own ego? I spent some time this weekend reading articles on this very question and found that there is way more information on this topic than I could possibly cover in this post, so if you want to learn more, you might want to check out some of these articles:

img_0278Basically after all of this research I’ve come to the humble opinion that if you want to increase traffic, you need to visit other blogs in your blog niche and leave comments – participate in blog communities, spend some time tweaking your layout for easy navigation, as well as write good, consistent blog content. My biggest traffic increases have come through commenting on other blogs – bloggers love to feel the love, and often will share the love back! I’ve spent some time this weekend on my layout and design, taking into account my research. My header image needs mucho improvement, but other than that I think I’m in pretty good shape. As for content, that seems to be my trouble spot – I’m not really funny, or insightful, or even all that entertaining. My kids are cute – and I seem to get a lot of comments on my posts about my family, so I guess I should stick with what I know!

11 thoughts on “How To Increase Blog Traffic

  1. I have you on my google reader… and sometimes your blog shows up on twitter faster! I have always enjoyed your blog. I also have no ideas about increasing traffic. My blog on Vox seldom has a public posting, I always use neighbor or friend designations because I feel protective of my grandchildren when I bog about them. Good luck!

    grandmeres last blog post..Gratitude: Day 1

  2. I used to worry about traffic, now I am just blogging for fun. I got so worked up it wasn’t really worth it. I love having a community that I am part of no matter how many times we have moved and the “Friendships” that I have developed are priceless. The writing practice and creative outlet are awesome. Those are my focus now. Have fun.

    chelles last blog post..What a Weekend!

  3. I just wrote a similar article, more about monetizing, but I touched on building readership, too.

    I think Entrecard is not a saviour, by any means, but it helps. I have met some nice bloggers through there, but yes, most people just click and leave. I am now trying to focus on clicking on sites that are more in line with my site, because that just makes sense, if we have the same interests, than we may become fans of one anothers’ blogs. Although, I do still click on people who click on my site as well.

    Twitter is also a great way to meet and connect with other bloggers. I love twitter!

    Entrecard says my ad is on your page right now, but it’s not, weird. lol. Hmmmm….

    Nice to meet you!
    Bella

    Bella Casas last blog post..Decorating Bloggers…Are You Monetizing Your Blogs?

  4. Well, according to my stats, I get about 2000 unique visitors a week. Out of those, nobody comments – just about 5 of you who drop by and say something.

    So as far as increasing traffic, I stopped caring long ago, how much more traffic would I need in order for people to say something? I appreciate those who comment – it makes me feel less alone in the blogosphere, and I’d like to hear more from others, but I imagine I’m not writing the kinds of things people want to say something about.

    I did read an article that said to use excerpts instead of the whole damned long stories (like I usually write), but it pisses me off when I start reading something and I have to click on another link to continue reading, so I don’t do that a lot.

    I guess I’ll be forever stuck in my own little blog world with lots of traffic and nobody saying anything.

    jafers last blog post..Dental Buzz

  5. I agree with jafer – traffic and subscribers is always nice but I would prefer more participation (comments). Subscribers are a bonus and tangible, but stats are that only about 11% of blog readers subscribe using RSS – or something like that… – point is it is low… The masses just haven’t started “subscribing”.

    Some great points on layout and content. People will certainly come back if you give them good stuff.

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