Every business owner who's ever hosted a blog has experienced the frustration of trying to gain readership. Though we’d all like it if readers just magically came to us, the reality is, it takes some work to build an audience.
It’s easy to get frustrated and just give up on blogging, but once you experience the benefits, you'll understand that your blog can have a tremendous impact on your business by attracting traffic to your site, helping you build a social media audience and making an impression on prospects and clients alike.
Following are 20 proven strategies that can help you boost readership and increase traffic to your blog.
1. Write more.
Studies show that the more often you update your blog, the more traffic it will receive. Google gives higher priority to websites with fresh content, so if you want to get more attention from the search engines, update your blog at least twice a week.
2. Promote with social media.
Share each new blog post across your social media networks, including Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest. If you spend time cultivating your networks and share great content, social media sites can become some of your top traffic sources.
3. Write better titles.
The titles for your blog posts are almost more important than the content itself. That's because titles help potential readers decide whether they should click and read more. Pay attention to the article titles you see on magazine covers. They entice readers with promises and solutions. When you do the same, your readership will increase.
4. Know your niche.
While you may be interested in sea life, exotic travel destinations, Little League baseball and weight loss, you'll confuse your audience if your content doesn’t follow a clear theme. Decide who your target audience is, what they want to read and what specific messages you want to convey.
5. Include photos.
Studies have shown that photos in blog posts boost readership. Not only does a photo make the post more visually appealing, but you can also include keywords in the Alt Image tag on the photo, boosting search engine optimization (SEO) for your site. Keep in mind that you can’t just pull any photo from Google because you risk violating copyright laws. Instead, locate royalty-free images from a site like Clipart.com.
6. Incorporate keywords.
Speaking of SEO, keywords are at the heart of SEO. One of the easiest ways to generate more traffic to your website is to ensure that every page on your site has a keyword strategy. So for each blog post you write, choose one key phrase that you believe readers would use to find that post. Next, incorporate that phrase into the title of the post, the headline on the page, within the content on the page at least two times, in a featured image on the page and also as part of the page link. Keyword concentration helps Google understand what that page is about, which can ultimately lead to more traffic from the search engines.
7. Incorporate links.
When you mention another company’s product or service in a blog post, include a link to that company’s page. Not only does Google like to see outbound links on your site, the company you mention may also notice your post and link back to you. Plus, readers appreciate it when you provide resources to make it easier for them to find the things they're looking for.
8. Add social sharing buttons.
At the top and bottom of your blog posts, make sure you include social sharing buttons for Twitter, LinkedIn and the other major social networks. Make it easy for readers to spread the word.
9. Retweet past content.
We aren’t all looking at Twitter at the same time, so when you share a new blog post link, the majority of your fan base won’t see it the first time. Repeat your tweets, and don’t be afraid to share past content. Readers don’t care when it was written as long as it’s still relevant.
10. Invite guest contributors.
When others write for your blog, you add more content that you didn’t have to write yourself. As a bonus, those contributors will also share with their networks and may ask you to write for them, opening up new readership avenues for you.
11. Add video.
Google owns YouTube, which is one of the many reasons that videos can drive more traffic to your site. Supplement the written content on your blog with short videos that are informative and entertaining.
12. Invest in promotion.
If you believe your audience is spending time on Facebook, occasionally invest in sponsored posts. For as little as $10, you can “Boost” a post and increase its reach significantly.
13. Conduct give-away events.
Create fun theme days such as “Free Book Fridays” where your readers can win a prize by submitting a comment or sharing your link via social media. You can provide prizes yourself or invite companies to donate or sponsor these promotions.
14. Write guest posts.
Locate other blogs that reach your target audience, and offer to contribute guest blog posts. If the site has a substantial audience, you can bet that readers will in turn want to engage with more of your content.
15. Cross-promote to your mailing list.
Instead of writing all new content for your electronic newsletter, share the first paragraph from several recent blog posts and include a link to continue reading on the site. Not everyone is taking the time to read your blog each week, so this will help get your subscribers invested in your blog.
In addition to the tips above, the following smart strategies will also help increase readership:
16. Make your content easy to read by using plenty of subheads, bullets and numbered lists.
17. Promote your blog in your email signature and your bio in any online profiles.
18. Make it easy for blog visitors to subscribe to your RSS feed.
19. Invite readers to leave a comment, then respond and let them know you’re engaged.
20. Finally, have fun with your blog. If it feels like drudgery, your readers will notice. But if you enjoy producing the content, that will come across and have a tremendous impact on your success.
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A version of this article was originally published on September 02, 2013.