You work hard on your blog. You spend hours at night thinking of ideas and spend countless hours producing amazing content. Then you pray to the internet gods that they have favor on you and cause people to like it. Sometimes this actually works. More often than not, you are wondering why more traffic isn’t coming to your insanely awesome posts. The biggest question is often, how to increase blog traffic, when that isn’t your main focus. This is why SEO is so important – and it should be done before you do any post. However, a lot of SEO is the behind the scenes stuff you do before ever writing a post.
We call this the SEO post-homework. We’ve boiled down our SEO post-homework into three easy steps that you can take before writing your blog. Think of this as just as vital as getting the ingredients to the baking post you are about to do. SEO is about Google showcasing the best content in the best way that people want to read it. So here are the 3 Easy Changes that you can do to answer the question of how to increase blog traffic!
1. How to Increase Blog Traffic – Know what Google wants to see
I know what you are thinking – how in the world can I know what Google wants to see, don’t they have an incredibly complex algorithm that even the top sites can’t crack. Yep, but Google is still more than happy to show you what they are looking for – you just need to ask it. Let’s say you realize at 3am that no one has made a boozy Disney-like Dole-whip and come up with the perfect idea for one. You test out your recipe the next afternoon and cannot believe how beautiful and tasty it is.
Before you start writing your post about it you decide to Google it just to make sure no one has done it. Now, you are faced with the reality that a ton of people have already written about it. Instead of being upset and moving on, you start clicking around to the sites – and you just know yours is the best tasting and prettiest.
Use the top ranking posts to know what Google wants to see
Well, guess what, you just discovered what Google wants to see from a boozy dole-whip post. So, you start taking notes:
- used a recipe plug-in
- tons of great pictures with alt-text
- excellent examples of how to serve it
- Oh, that person answered a good question that the others didn’t
- It is ranking food sites higher (I have a food site)
- I could think of a few questions people might have
- All the sites have relevant internal and external links
Boom! Now you have a cheat sheet of what Google wants to see in a boozy dole-whip post. Now you know exactly what they want to see in a post, and can put it all together to showcase what you believe is the best one – yours. Along the way you also discovered some long tail keywords that might be helpful as well. Those were all the search suggestions that Google was trying to guess you wanted to see.
This isn’t always easy to do on the spot, so I like to keep a list of possible blog posts I have and do my research whenever I have some time to spare. You know all those times when you are waiting and just pull up social media because you don’t really know what to do with yourself? Waiting for a meeting to start, waiting for your food – you get the idea. These are the perfect time to bring up your list of blog posts. Instead of liking all your friends vacation photos, you are learning how to make your posts awesome for Google. When asking the question, “How to increase blog traffic?” the best and simplest way to answer is by learning what Google wants to see.
How to increase blog traffic is also how you become an expert
Now here’s the best part too! If you keep up this practice something pretty amazing is going to start happening – your going to get really good at it. You are going to immediately spot key things Google wants to see on a topic, and it’s going to make you feel pretty good too. You might notice that it wants to see a long post about bird watching, but it wants something short and sweet when it comes to quotes for a birthday. Your going to see posts answering potential questions about a subject and before you know it you begin asking those questions of every single post you write. There is no shortcut to success, and preparation is the long road that makes you successful. Taking the time to research each post will help you teach yourself how to write like an expert – and Google loves experts.
2. View Keywords as You Ally, not Your Enemy
The goal of keywords is not to turn bloggers into mindless robots – yes, as a fellow creative I also struggled with this a great deal. The goal of keywords is to put your content in front of the people that want to see your content. If you run a chili-dog blog, you don’t want to attract people looking for vegan corn dogs (except for the one post you did where you tried to reach a new audience, and then discovered vegans had a big problem with the rest of your content). You want to know how chili-dog enthusiasts are looking for new recipes or new ideas. That is essentially the point of SEO – optimizing your posts to the people who are looking for content just like yours. At the center of this is keywords.
Most people that start blogs don’t start with SEO in mind. In fact, most people that start blogs are creatives looking for an outlet for their creativity. Nothing stymies creativity like a formula – or does it? Think of using keywords, and doing SEO, like a piano players learning their scales. Or like a baker learning measurements and ratios. At first it all seems formulaic and dull; repetitive and lifeless. Then one day something clicks. Instead of worrying about the scales, the fact that they are in the back of your mind allows you the ultimate flexibility on the keyboard. You have measured so many different tablespoons and teaspoons that you can freely add the ingredients without even using them cause your brain has memorized them. This is the sweet spot of creativity, when the boring tasks of memorization turn into the great joy of improvisation.
Keywords help you measure success
What many of us that have been doing SEO for a long time have reached the sweet spot in this area. No longer are keywords the enemy of creativity, but the measuring tools of success. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had an idea, and then when doing keyword research, discovered a much better way to do or phrase something. Other times I’ve discovered that I had a unique take on something and was able to use keyword research to help showcase that to the world. Keywords, like certain baking techniques, are just a simple tool that all the successful bloggers had to learn at some point. It’s not fun at first, but once it clicks, it’s amazing all the wonderful things you can create.
3. How to Increase Blog Traffic – Be Engaged/Helpful in Your Niche
No one wants to invite their friend to hang out that never picks up a tab. You always seem to forget to include that one person that only talks about themselves to girls night. In blogging, no one likes giving back links to someone that is only in it for themselves. It’s amazing what happens when you dedicate yourself to being a positive influence in your niche. Always liking and making positive comments on posts on people in your niche goes so far. You learn quicker (becoming an expert quicker, and uh-hum, GOOGLE LOVES EXPERTS), you become authoritative, and people are drawn to your content.
This is probably the easiest thing you can do to grow your blog. It’s also one of the things that people tend to ignore the most. Follow everyone in your niche. Do you have a gluten-free baking blog? Follow every gluten free person big and small on Instagram. Go to their blogs and leave positive comments. Ask engaging questions on their posts. Interact with the people interacting. Be nice, be positive.
Now, when you post a beautiful picture of your gluten-free pie crust, something amazing will happen – those people will be there to like and support you. Other bakers will start linking to your blog, giving your blog that expert authority that Google just drools over. Others will start sharing your recipes because they trust who it’s coming from. And before you know it, people will start seeing you as an expert in your field. This won’t happen overnight, but a commitment to it is guaranteed to work.
How to be engaged and helpful in your niche
Here are some of the best ways that you can be engaged and helpful in your niche:
- Create a pitch to bloggers/podcasters offering helpful content
- Email every podcaster in your niche offering them free content
- Email every blogger in your niche offering them free content
- Don’t sell yourself short, email all of them
- Do this monthly (weekly is too much, quarterly is not enough)
Blogger and podcasters are constantly looking for new content (you know this), and here’s a quick tip: they love when good content is produced for them. When a blogger/podcaster showcases you it does 2 amazing things: it gives you authority to their audience, and it gives you blog authority through backlinks. So many people don’t do this, and they are missing out. Once you have been engaged for a while in your niche, reach out. Be helpful and watch the authority of your entire blog rise.