This guest blog post is by Social Media Marketer for Silicon Beach Training Natasha Stone. Silicon Beach Training are a UK based training company who provide a wide range of Business, IT and Management courses, including Blogging Training.
I won’t bore you with reasons why you should be blogging – hopefully that is obvious by now. I’d like to talk about the problem inevitably encountered by many of us new to blogging – no one actually reading your blog. I’m sure nearly all of us have stumbled upon a perfectly good blog with a good layout and interesting material, but with no comments on the posts.
Internet users are generally very passive and will read a blog post without commenting or sharing. But Internet users are also sheep: a blog with several comments will encourage another to comment; a blog recommended by one person will encourage another to recommend it, and a blog with clear invitation to bookmark / share / comment will encourage a person to do so.
So how do you start off? Here’re my 20 tips to get you on the road to growing your blog traffic, comments and subscriptions:
Ways to get blog traffic
- Enticing titles: this will pull people to click when you’re sharing the posts around the Internet (“linkbait”) and it will encourage those who arrive on your blog to read the rest of a post.
- SEO basics: you need to choose the keyword(s) that you wish to optimise for and ensure that your URL, title, image alt tags and introduction are all optimised for it.
- Long-tail optimisation: I’ve covered long-tail SEO in greater length elsewhere; optimising a post for a long key phrase will attract more targeted visitors (more likely to know what they want, thus less likely to click “back” on the browser) and will also be less competitive to rank highly for in Google.
- Interlinking: mention related posts in each blog post; good for Google rankings as well as encouraging people to stay on your site.
- Host on your own domain: if you have a website your blog should be part of it so that you can interlink, establish trust and also establish (in the search engines’ eyes) greater authority of everything within that domain.
- Search engines and directories: check that your blog is crawled by the major search engines and aggregators like Google Blog Search. Also submit your blog to some lists, with many found by typing “top blog lists” into Google.
- Google Analytics: you need to be using this to anaylse which posts attract most traffic and have the lowest bounce rate, how people are arriving at your site, and what people are doing once they get there. I can tell you the SEO basics but real blogging success depends on analysing this unique data.
But it’s a three step thing; it’s all very well getting people to your blog, but you want to keep them there once they arrive. One way to get them to engage is to encourage comments.
Ways to get blog comments
- Ask a question: using a question as your title is not only engaging, it also gets a reader thinking about your topic right from the offset and thus be more likely to have an opinion to offer when they finish reading. It’s also effective to be slightly controversial or to create a “X versus Y’ type post that will spark debate.
- Be open ended: you want to look knowledgable but leaving something unanswered come the end of a post or not covering every aspect will leave room for comment – Social Media is all about egos – let your readers show off their wisdom too!
- Invite comments: you will see more comments by finishing a blog post with something like “Thanks for reading. I am interested to know what you think about… ?”.
- Make it easy to comment: whether you’re going to use a Captcha or allow dofollow comments is up to you, but no one will comment if it’s too difficult! Make it clear where to comment and never require a log in.
- Moderate your comments: you can use plug-ins for this or do it yourself, but it’s important as a blog post covered in spammy comments looks like one the writer doesn’t value.
- Respond: this is tricky if you have dozens of comments, but before this happens be sure to thanks and engage with each comment – you should be humble and always respond to criticisms.
Okay, so you’ve drawn people to your blog via the search engines and you’ve encouraged them to comment. But how do you now establish a regular readership and keep those eyeballs coming back?
Ways to get blog subscriptions / a regular readership
- Social Media Marketing: build up networks on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, and share your blog content here. Remember to be generous; share others’ blog posts and they’ll be more inclined to share yours.
- Regularity: have a blogging pattern (at least once every week) so that people know which days / times to check back.
- Join the blogosphere: comment on others’ blogs and link back to your own; if you leave a valuable non-spammy comment they will most often comment back.
- Guest blog: write to other bloggers in your niche asking to guest blog (I’ve written previously on the advantages of guest blogging); you will reach new eyes and be able to link back to your blog at the end of the post.
- Write a post on your favorite industry bloggers: then you can tell them on Twitter and get them to link back to your blog (this works for other types of lists too e.g. “top places to grab a coffee in…”). Also try recommending blogs on related subjects in all of your blog posts – then you can leave a link on their post telling them.
- Write your best: last but definitely not least, you should offer something useful and shareable – a successful blog offers something other than just opinions. Right about what you know well and if you’re paying someone to blog for your business, pay them well; your blogger is your business ambassador.
You may have noticed I only made 19… oops. “20 ways to get blog traffic and comments” sounded better than 19! Let me know if you have the #20 to add, I’m always looking for blogging tips J