One of the biggest challenges facing any blogger is how to get traffic to their blog and that is even more relevant for individual blog posts. So this article is going to discuss several rules of thumb that will indicate how optimizing blog posts on an individual basis can bring more traffic, what you need to do generally as a blogger to gain more traffic and how to get yourself noticed on the social media sites; another rich source of traffic when used correctly. There are of course separate categories which need to be considered when you are optimizing blog posts. The most important of which are:
- Frequency of your blogging
- SEO or search engine optimization
- Attracting more traffic
- Social activity and signals
- Number of links to your site
- Domain authority
The number and frequency of blog posts you publish will have a bearing on the level of traffic you can generate and the speed at which search engines will spider your site and include your posts in their index of URLs. For example a blogger that posts every day will enter the category of breaking news and as such is likely to be included in Google’s newsfeed.
Clearly not everyone can find the time to post every day, so if you can’t, the next target would be to try and manage every other day or perhaps around 3 times a week. Failing that it is then a question of trying to establish a pattern so that your human audience, at least, knows when to expect the next update or offering.
I have to admit I am guilty of not always following this rule myself, but I can say that when I did post more frequently then I got a lot more traffic and more followers subscribing to my RSS feed.
When you have published new content, one way of getting the search engines to spider your site is to tell them that you have released new information. This can be done using tools that PING your content out to various search engine sites. If you operate a WordPress blog you can use the ‘Update Services’ facility in ‘Settings’ under the ‘Writing’ function. You just add the URL’s of sites like googleping.com or pingoat.net to your list of sites to notify. Optimizing blog posts correctly will also ensure that the search engines can find and understand what you are blogging about when they arrive, but with a lower posting frequency you may have to wait a little longer for them to turn up without that little Ping.
Of course there is always another option and in this case it could be to build a list of subscribers so that you can email them when you make a new blog post letting them know new information is available. It takes a while to build a list and until you do then you have to rely on other methods plus you must never forget that what you post must be useful to your visitors. Neither regular posts or email notifications to inform of new posts is any good if the content you are posting has no value.
Optimizing Blog Posts for SEO or Search Engine Optimization
SEO doesn’t happen by accident, it is a manual process that you need to do each time you create a blog post. The first action you need to undertake is some Keyword research.
What you are looking for are search terms people are actually using in relation to the topic you are writing about.
There are a number of search tools available but probably one of the most popular is Google’s Adwords Planner which can be used to check the volume of people that use a particular keyword or search term each month. There is plenty of advice on this blog describing how to do keyword research so I won’t go into any more detail here, but if you don’t know how to then go check out this category on keywords.
Once you know what keyword you are going to target it is important that you use that keyword in your title and your post URL. For the URL it is better to keep it short and succinct, this can be done by taking out unnecessary words such as – a, the, for, in, but etc. You can do this easily in WordPress by first of all ensuring that in ‘Settings’, under ‘permalinks’ you have selected ‘Post Name’.
Then when editing your blog you will see a facility, just under the title, to edit the ULR, that’s where you change it to an abbreviated version of your chosen keyword.
After that it is just a question of writing your content around your selected keyword but being careful not to over optimize it’s use. You can use an exact match of the keyword perhaps one more time in the content and then use synonyms for headers, image alt tags and further reinforcement of the keyword in your general text.
If you want to be really professional, you can utilize a plugin such as ‘Platinum SEO Pack’ to provide the facility for writing SEO titles, descriptions and keywords (tags) for each of your posts. There is always more you can do of course, but if you do these basics then you will be well on the way to fulfilling your SEO requirements for both search engines and your human audience, who also like to work out quickly and easily what a post is actually about.
Attracting More Traffic
This is always a tough cookie to crack, but one way of ensuring that you gain more traffic is to spread your message far and wide across a range of different medias. Social media is probably the most popular and everybody on the planet has now heard of Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. But there are others and they can specialize in different medias, Youtube for example where a very simple video can be used to attract visitors to your blog to find out more, Pinterest where a graphic or infographic can and often do go viral.
This site Social Media Examiner has some even more interesting ideas on new and modern ways to drive traffic. The bottom line is that you have to get the message out there in ways that catch the eye and get the clicks, just writing about it doesn’t hack it anymore. There is way too much competition from people getting innovative and funky about the ways they share their news, especially through mobile platforms.
Social Activity & Signals
Social signals are all about authority and credibility, every share, like, +1 and Stumble you get increases your social footprint and sends a signal to the search engines. These are signals the search engines can no longer ignore because they demonstrate the human perspective on your blog.
Social signals are created by real people who are indicating they like what you are saying or publishing. Clearly providing information in formats they like, text, video, audio etc. and making your posts easy to share will contribute to ensuring that visitors will share your information across their preferred social media sites. And the more they share the better it will be for your blog.
If you are not having the success you would like with your social media engagement it might be time to start looking at one or two advanced tools that might just help you make your site more appealing. Twitter Cards are a great way to present the media on your blog via Tweets for example. If you are a developer, especially of mobile apps you might well need to consider using Facebook’s Open Graph Tool.
Links to Your Blog or Website
Believe it or not the social signals we have just been discussing are now one of the primary ways of getting links to a website and they are recognized by the search engines. It also goes without saying that, if you know anything about SEO, that links are still the main indicator to search engines about whether your site has any authority. In other words you need lots of people from different sites and domains linking to your site.
But beware the linking must appear natural and organic not contrived or indicating they are there purely to manipulate search results. If the linking looks unnatural and fabricated for the purpose of fooling search engines then you are likely to be penalized as a result. You may even get a message from Google telling you as much and if you do you will need to take action to rectify the situation.
So how do you know what is natural and organic? Well for a start links need to come from sources that would normally have an interest in your subject, they may possibly be using you as a source of additional information to expand on a subject they have been discussing or perhaps citing you as a good resource for supplying specific products or services their visitors may be interested in. The same rules apply if you are creating links for yourself e.g. if you are commenting on blogs and leaving a link to your blog (or post) make sure that the blog has a relevance to your own blog and that you engage in some real dialogue of value.
Needless to say there are any number of ways for building back-links legitimately, but whenever you undertake this process for yourself then just be sure the end result fits what would be considered a natural profile with quality engagement and added value.
Domain authority is effectively a measure of the level of trust your domain has gained in the ‘blogosphere’. A little authority comes with the age of your domain registration i.e. 4 years is better than 4 weeks, but there is a lot more to it than that. It will also depend on who is linking to you, who you are linking to, whether you have some sites registered to you that are perhaps a little (or a lot) ‘spammy’ in nature and finally whether your site looks like it has grown and developed, here we go again, naturally and organically.
What that means in practice is that you should only link to good quality sites, you should try and ensure that only high quality sites link to you and don’t believe big brother isn’t watching you when you register a few extra sites that you think you can possibly treat with a little less respect when it comes to publishing content on the Internet.
To explain the last point a little better…..if you register or create some sites that you think you can use in a ‘spammy’ way to promote your clean, high quality site or even sites pointing links at your high quality site, then think again. There is a good chance this will be spotted and even though you have a perfectly legitimate ‘A’ grade site, it may suffer as a result of your association with the ‘spammy’ sites. So in a word, whatever you publish on the Internet needs to bring quality and add value at all levels if you want to be sure you are not incurring any penalties from the search engines.
Some other important aspects of domain authority relate to the diversity of your incoming links, they shouldn’t all come from a single domain (that’s not natural), they shouldn’t all arrive at the same time (also not natural) and they shouldn’t all just link to a single page on your site. The latter effectively suggests no-one is interested in the majority of what you publish, they are only interested in one article or perhaps the home page…..that would not be good.
Of course all of this requires some effort to achieve and stay on top of, no doubt mistakes will be made and when they are it will be a good idea to correct them. Search engines have been learning their lessons for a long time now and the world of the Internet has changed quite significantly, especially over the last year or two. So if you want to get traffic to your blog, optimizing blog posts should be done in a way that doesn’t upset the organizations that can deliver that traffic!
Images courtesy of PhotoXpress