If there’s one thing all bloggers have in common, it’s a desire for readers. Whether you’re posting about vegan recipes, B2B businesses or horseback riding, you want someone to care about what you have to say. So, how can you drive more traffic? What are the best ways to bring new readers to you?
From a business standpoint, the good news is there are plenty of free strategies that can boost organic site traffic. If you can dedicate time and energy toward building your blog’s value and promoting it online, over time you will reap the benefits.
From using long-tail keywords to guest blogging on other sites, here are 10 great traffic-building ideas to try. Whether your site is brand new or slow to grow followers, these tips can help you cultivate its reach.
- Optimize your posts for keywords. Every time you write a new post, you need to pick keywords you’d like that post to rank well for online. (If you want inspiration, try Google Keyword Planner, and go to the “Keyword Planner” tab under “Tools.” With this tool, you can compare keyword search volume to see how often certain words or phrases are typed into Google.) Then, implement your chosen keyword(s) into your URL, post title, headers, image ALT descriptions and paragraph copy. It’s also helpful to add an SEO plugin such as Yoast to your blog — it gives you built-in reminders for keyword optimizing each article.
- Pay special attention to long-tail keywords. What’s great about long-tail keywords (i.e., longer, more specific phrases) is that they can be less competitive than short, simple options. While a huge number of websites are already writing posts about “blog traffic,” for example, there are likely fewer optimizing for “free ways to increase your blog’s organic traffic.” Choosing long-tail keywords helps you achieve higher search rankings faster, as you’re competing for a less saturated market.
- Optimize your images. In today’s visually focused Internet, every blog needs good pictures. However, huge images can slow a site’s performance — and search engines notice. If images are reducing your site speed, search engines will be less likely to rank you well in results. So, what can you do? Always adjust your photos to the desired display size before uploading them to your blog. Likewise, compress the images so they’re the smallest file sizes possible. You can use the “Save for Web” feature in Photoshop and/or free tools such as ImageAlpha, JPEGmini or TinyPNG to ensure your images are optimized properly.
- Guest post on other sites. When it comes to search engine optimization, backlinks (links from other sites pointing to yours) are important. Why? To put it simply, the more sites linking to your blog, the more authoritative it becomes to search engines. This is where guest posting comes into play. When you contribute articles to other sites online, you’ll typically get an author bio that allows you to link back to your site. This helps you keep building online authority to rank higher in search results. To find sites to which you can submit posts, look for established blogs in your industry that accept articles. Then, create guests posts that are high in quality and offer real value to readers.
- Link internally. Just as search engines pay attention to what external sites link to yours, they also watch how you link within your own site. Use your navigation menu to highlight the most important five or so pages on your site. Make it a habit to link to related blog posts within your new articles. These practices communicate a hierarchy of content to both visitors and search engines.
- Promote your content on social media. Part of marketing your blog content today involves being active on social media. Every time you write a new post, you should promote it on your blog’s Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram profile and Pinterest. A tool such as Buffer can streamline this process for you. Social networks are so important because they act as discovery tools online. A new reader may find your post while searching for something else on Pinterest or Instagram, for example. Social media platforms also allow you to build connections that drive traffic to your site.
- Post consistently. For the best long-term traffic results, you need to blog routinely. Whether you post once a week, twice a week or every other Monday, set a schedule and stick to it. Regular posting keeps your site fresh and gives readers a reason to return to your site.
- Post evergreen content. With all the work you put into writing blog posts, you may as well write them to last. There’s no reason an article you create today can’t keep generating traffic a year from now. The key is making it evergreen. Write posts that will stay relevant rather than be limited by a current trend or topic.
- Engage with other bloggers. The same principles of networking that apply to business apply to blogging. Relationships are the bedrock of growth. So, whatever your blog niche, tap into the community of bloggers writing about it. Read their posts, comment genuinely and build connections.
- Answer questions online. Online forums such as Quora are a goldmine of opportunity for driving traffic. Find a question someone is asking, and write a post that answers it. Then, go back to the forum and respond to the question, including a link to your site.
Even without investing upfront cash, there’s a lot you can do to drive blog traffic. Start with the free strategies above, which focus on two main goals: making your site more authoritative and promoting its content. What’s beautiful about these strategies is they keep paying off over time. In other words, follow them consistently, and watch your traffic grow — and keep growing — well into the future.
Author bio: Shanna Mallon is a contributing writer for Straight North, a Chicago Internet marketing firm providing specialized SEO, web development and other online marketing services.