Increasing Blog Traffic

Y’all, I’ve been pondering the mystery of “blog traffic.” For those of us new to the “blogosphere,” finding ways to bring traffic to our sites is always a conundrum. For the first three months I was writing, I felt like I was talking to myself. I do that all the time, so it was nothing new.

My Big Bubba occasionally read my posts, and a few girlfriends looked at them. Some of the librarians who hired me saw my blog (because I put my blog address in my signature on my e-mails). My husband had to read it before I posted, because he is my “editor.” But, nobody ever gave me any “feedback. Non-bloggers don’t comment, because a) they don’t know they can, and b) we don’t often make it possible for them to do so in the beginning stages. I just kept writing on my Blogger site hoping that someone would click “next” and find me and that maybe someone would talk to me.

Helloooo! That doesn’t happen.

So, I’m trying to put together the pieces of the puzzle and determine how one finds an “audience.” I’m learning a few things, but most of it is still beyond me. So, if any of you have ideas you want to share, feel free to jump right in here. Of course, if you really know how to do this, you haven’t read this far, have you?

The most important thing, of course, is to put content that someone besides your mother will perhaps want to read. Yes, you are writing for yourself, but if you want an audience you are also writing for them. Look at your posts and ask yourself, “If this were about someone I didn’t know, would I take the time to read?” That’s always hard to know. I understand that well. My interests are so varied and weird, I never have a clue what people will want to see. In a case like that, I just do my best to write well on the topic that comes into my head.

Then you might consider discovering memes. Now, I assure you I don’t care for the ones that ask doofus questions like, “What color shirt are you wearing? When was the last time you got a hug? etc.” Frankly, nobody cares. But, Thursday Thirteen and Wordless Wednesday are what got the first bursts of traffic for me. Little bursts, but when your visitor count is a flat line, anything is welcome. There are other memes out there, but I haven’t gone in search of them. I don’t want to participate in a meme every day. I’m blogging because I want to write. Does someone else want to name a meme that they think is worth mentioning?

If you want to have a “successful” attempt at a meme like TT or WW, post something that lets your character shine through. If you can do that, people might read another post and get hooked. I discovered that last Thursday, with a ridiculous post about bacon. I was overcome with a case of “the sillies” and just went with it.

Then, I noticed in my stats that I was getting a lot of hits from something called “Stumble Upon.” In fact, I got over 100 visits from that link the first day. It seems that someone read that post, thought it was funny (actually, they listed it as “bizarre,” but I don’t think loving bacon is so strange…is it?), and listed me on the Stumble Upon site. I’d never heard of this before. But, Leanne added Stumble Upon links to my site when she re-did it so that now any of my posts can easily be nominated. I want to investigate Stumble Upon some more. Does anyone know anything they want to share?

When you participate in a meme, get out there and visit other participants. But, don’t just post your link, shoot off a mindless comment, and move to the next. If you see a post you like, investigate the blogger a little more. Read their profile or a post from their archives. You may have found an on-line kindred spirit. When you find those blogs you like, start giving a little Link Love. Everything that you “give” comes back to you, tenfold. I promise it’s true.

But, memes and linking are simplistic ways of increasing traffic. I see that there are more sophisticated ways to dramatically increase traffic, but I don’t understand them all yet. Other bloggers do, and they share it. For example, Scribbit generously posted about Technorati and the use of Technorati tags. Since following her advice, there has been a greater increase in my traffic. I’m not sure I understand much about Technorati, but I’ve started trying to add my blog links to my Technorati “favorites.” I’m working on trying to figure it all out. If you want to write a post explaining how to use it, I’ll be delighted to link to it.

When she was re-doing my blog, Leanne told me I needed a Feedburner RSS feed. I told her I didn’t speak geek. She tried to tell me that some people have their favorite internet sites on feed, so they can read it on their e-mail without clicking to the site(which I still haven’t figured out, but it’s on my “list to ponder” for the week). She pointed out that my RSS feed wasn’t even linked to me. I hadn’t signed up for it, and it was on my site automatically…but not pointed to my site. Anybody that signed up was reading someone else’s feed! Duh. So, that’s repaired, and you can read my feed if you want.

I thought I would set up my own feed this morning. My friend, Jen, had posted that there were too many blogs to read and no time. I agree, so I thought having my favorites “fed” to me would be good. But, some of my favorite Blogger blogs don’t make their RSS obvious, if they have it. You should have that RSS feed button smack dab in the middle of your sidebar, so that those of us with A.D.D. can find it easily. If you need help, I bet that Annie, over at Blog U or CeeCi at Geeky Streak will be happy to tell you what to do. Those ladies can figure out anything.

Finally, I’m going to get on my soapbox again and remark about your “comments” section. I have a list of blogs that I like to visit every day or every other day. This week, I marked a couple of them off my list(even though I like them), because they don’t allow me to sign in with my Word Press url and comment. I told you before about those comment boxes. If you want people to keep coming back, you have to make it easy for them to join your own little blog community.

So, I’ve rattled on long enough. Let’s open this up for comments. If you have written a post about increasing traffic (or if you want to write one), please comment and leave a link to it. I’ll amend this post and link you on the front page. If you just want to tell me what works (or what doesn’t), then go ahead and put your two cents worth into the pot. I’m waiting with ‘bated breath (or “baited” breath).

[UPDATE:] Leanne has just posted a comment with information that rocks!
[UPDATE @:} Thanks for all for the comments. Thomma Lyn, I appreciate the info on the different blogrolls you have joined. It’s hard to figure out what is worth the effort sometimes.

  8 comments for “Increasing Blog Traffic

  1. April 16, 2007 at 8:00 am

    Aaah blog traffic. Go see Darren over at ProBlogger for some really great tips, but here are mine for you:

    1. Yes, get that feedburner ticker. Why not? In fact, you should really have a feed button on every single post. All it takes is one single post to get a reader to want to stay. I read through Bloglines, so make it easy for me. I click on the feed button, I subscribe. You’re in. I’m a happy blog surfer.

    2. Comment on other blogs. That is a must. Who even knows who you are when you don’t go hang out with likeminded folks? I created the TT with that in mind. When people do creatively original TT’s that show their personality – those are the blogs you go back to. I was never big on lists of books or movies because everyone has varying tastes in those. That’s not going to hook me. What does it for me is that reading that list is like talking to that person on the phone, or in person. That’s the good stuff. The stuff you come back for more of if you click – and you can tell if you click right away.

    3. Meta tags and keywords. Now, I’ve given you a good start – but it’s up to you to expand on that. Have a look at the source code on my site. Look at the keywords in the header information. That’s the stuff that Google likes.

    4. Have a look around at those hot sites. What are they doing? They’re writing. Every day. Regardless of who reads or comments, they keep putting it out there. That you’re doing it for you is the first step – that you keep doing it and be consistent makes you reliable.

    5. What’s your topic? Primarily, what kind of content are you going to have? Random bits and pieces of thoughts and reflections in your life? Do you have a primary topic? You could make that known (even if it involves revamping the header a bit) so everyone knows what to expect overall.

    6. Do something that gets your readers involved. You can talk and talk and talk, but if you’re not asking anyone to talk back, not many people will. I know, I’m one to talk – my readership is good but my comments are low. I don’t ask for much in return, I just like to share my eye candy. Once in a while I’ll pop a deeper more thoughful post up and that’s when I know I’m loved.

    It’s a tough gig, you have to carve out your own space and it takes time. I’ve been blogging for over 4 years- I don’t have anywhere near 4,000 subscribed readers (like dooce or problogger or some of the most popular blogs), but the readers I have I love dearly and it’s enough for me. My blog has become less personal and more professional over time, but with what’s been rumbling around in my brain this weekend, I think that’s about to change.

    Anyway, I hope I’ve at least given you some new ideas. Now that you’re on wordpress, the world-wide-web is your oyster, so to speak. You can maximize use of the platform to serve you and your readers extrememly well (did you know there’s a forum plugin?!?!) and really take you to a level blogger can’t reach with it’s limitations.

    Whew! That’s a lot of information…do you know I print these off and have a folder with ideas? Your section is an inch thick!
    I gotta check out Bloglines. I’ve been trying to figure out “feed” for two hours and am getting nowhere.
    I didn’t know you created TT!!! I bow to you, I am not worthy!
    I hope you are not suggesting that I change my header to tell people what’s in this blog. If “eclectic” doesn’t say it, I can’t help them!
    Those are all great ideas, and I can’t wait to see what has been rumbling around in your brain this weekend.
    If the world-wide-web is my oyster….I better get to work trying to be a “pearl.” Thanks for the info!~skt

  2. April 16, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    I wish I could keep up with all this technology!! You’ve done a good job trying to explain things, but honestly RSS sounds like a foreign language (wahhhhhh!)
    Can’t I just stick to the “I blog, therefore I am” philosophy?
    😳 πŸ˜• πŸ˜₯ πŸ™„

    Wylie, you don’t have to feel that you need to build your blog with technology. Content is the key. But, for me it’s hard to keep coming up with content if there isn’t a readership. It’s that storytelling thing in me that likes the instant feedback! RSS is pretty wonderful for reading all the blogs I want to read, I’ll tell you that—and I only discovered how to do that today!

  3. April 16, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    With a full-time job it’s really hard to post, much less work on getting traffic. I’m going to print out this post though and see if I can use it when I get some time. I really don’t care if I get a lot traffic, but it’s nice on those days you feel like you are just talking to yourself. LOL. I just try to think of my blog as a work in progress – a public journal.

    That’s OK, too, Kristy. It will grow of it’s own accord. Some people like me, though, have no patience at all (lol) Thanks for the visit!~skt

  4. April 16, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    Leanne is right. It’s work, but you can do it. I cannot add anything to what she said. Just a big good luck. Your new site design is awesome.

    Thanks, I am really enjoying it. In fact I sit here admiring it instead of writing, tee hee. I kinda have my Scarlett O’ Hara thang going on today: “I’ll think about that tomorrah, for tomorrah is anothah day.” If you tell me “Frankly, My Dear I don’t give a #^*!…”you are in trouble! Thanks for stopping by. ~skt

  5. April 16, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    I’ve been blogging since June of last year, and for the first few months, except for my friend Wylie (Hi, Wylie! πŸ˜€ ) and my dear mother-in-law, my hit count was pretty much flatlined. Over time, it’s gotten better (though still very modest), but I can’t point to any one technological widget that’s caused the improvement, i.e. Technorati, The Truth Laid Bear, Feedburner, etc. Participating in Thursday Thirteen has been the most helpful thing I’ve done to get more traffic as is being a regular, posting member of a popular writers’ board (Absolute Write — I have a link to my blog in my signature file and participate regularly in its blogging forum).

    Thanks for a great post! Good food for thought — after all, we bloggers are all in this together, and all of us want to increase our traffic. πŸ™‚

    Thank YOU, Thomma Lyn, I have never hear of the Truth Laid Bear. Is anybody a member of Blogging Chicks? I am told I should investigate that. I know what you mean about the flat line. You are a writer, so you understand that need for a readership. On just your regular e-mails do you put a link to your site?~skt

  6. Jen
    April 16, 2007 at 7:49 pm

    Great comment from Leeanne, it’s true about the writing though. It is getting the “you” out there. At this point, I am all over the place, but at least I think I got my by line right. I am in a transitional place with so many changes immediately in front of me, not just years away. I like writing because I am sharing what is affecting me today, love the comments b/c it means someone is reading. And if I get some pearls of wisdom from others going through the same thing or those “t-shirt” wearers (been there, done that…), then I take their comments into the mess going on in my head.
    Thank you for writing so eloquently the questions about readership.

    Thank you, Jen. You are the one who has helped me brave up to facing trying to get more readership. I know that you are feeling a little stress about getting your blog posts out there. You have so much going on right now with the kids and a new job. Just take a deep breath and keep writing. People are commenting, and more will. Your post tonight made me weep. I hadn’t seen the news. ~skt

  7. April 16, 2007 at 8:11 pm

    Wow! What a great design!!!!!!!! Leanne is amazing, isn’t she??

    Yes, she is! I had seen the designs she did for you, and was impressed by them as well. I like YOUR blog!

  8. April 16, 2007 at 8:26 pm

    Hi, Shelly! I’m a member of Blogging Chicks and Blogger Chicks and because of that I’m on two great big ol’ cool blogrolls, but I don’t get much traffic from either place. The blogrolls make my Technorati rank go way, way up, but a high Technorati ranking is not an indication of heavy traffic. Truth Laid Bear is much like Technorati but they rank according to an “ecosystem”, which gives a cutesey widgety watchamacallit to put on your blog. I get traffic from Technorati but virtually none from Truth Laid Bear.

    And Google searches — I get traffic from Google searches because Google seems to like my blog quite a bit. πŸ™‚ Optimizing your blog with search engines is super helpful.

    I’m also a member of StumbleUpon, but I have yet to figure out what the heck to do with it, LOL!

    I don’t put a link to my site in my regular emails, but anybody I email regularly knows about it. I get okay traffic these days (for me — I don’t care about being Dooce or anything), but my current readership, I believe, has been garnered over the long haul by visiting blogs, discovering new ones I like, and leaving comments. That seems really to be the best tried ‘n’ true method.

    I think the trick with Stumble Upon is to get someone to NOMINATE one of your posts lol! Tried and true, but slow. I wouldn’t mind being Dooce (I think I mentioned that I lost a gig because I was too busy blogging, so I’m on my way ROFLMAO). But, mostly I just want to be able to write and eventually get it to pay for itself. Thanks for more info on Blogging Chicks. I really DO like the new look at your site. And YOU did it all by yourself!~skt

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