Driving Traffic To Your Blog

So you have a beautiful, shiny new blog, and you've made a few posts. Each one was crafted lovingly over a short latte at your local coffee shop, while sharing the free WIFI bandwidth with five or ten other websurfers, enduring all the stop-and-go internet action you can stand. You think you have something unique and interesting to say, and you think you say it well - and your friends agree. They certainly enjoy reading your blog posts, and you're positive that others would enjoy your posts as well, if they only came to your website and read them.

Nevertheless, every day when you check the stats, it's the same story. A short spike to a hundred 'real browser' hits after new content is posted; a certain constant level of RSS hits, and the ubiquitous robot hits from all of the various automated webcrawler search engines. You can find your blog via Google.com if you actually google a line of text from a post, but that's about the best you can manage. Nobody is going to come to you from that vector except by accident of word order.

So where do you start? What's your best bet for getting more hits - and the ever-important links - to your site and your content?

Well, first things come first. Blogs create huge networks of links - web-spanning semantic conversations among the technogentsia - that are all inter-related. The web itself has meaning, showing the way towards more controversial or thought-provoking content from many other places, while the least interesting work exists on the outskirts of the dense web-of-cyber-life.

It's the eternal Golden Web writ large across the electrons of modern life. If you want to join that web, you have to participate in the conversation. Participating in the conversation means reading other blogs, and leaving interesting comments that point back to your own blog via whatever mechanism that blog allows, whether via the "website" text box, an actual link in your comment, or a trackback. The important thing is that your comment must be real and relevant, and must cause the person reading it to want to know more about what you have to say.

Let's say you have a blog about radio-controlled vehicles - planes, boats, cars and the like. You talk about what's new, what's old, what's classic, how-to, and 'human interest' stories, all about radio control. You've built up a significant base of good, interesting articles, but your hit rate is stuck at around 100 to 150 per day from real browsers. The next step is to go to other RC blogs, read the articles, and think about them carefully. Do any of your articles add useful information to the discussion? Do you have something to say about the article that's interesting, informative and relevant? This is the point where one must decide whether to comment or "Trackback".

A "trackback" is basically a system for allowing you to post an article on your blog that appears as a comment on someone else's blog. You typically use this option when your comment is going to go more than about 100 to 150 words and the blog you're replying to allows trackbacks. If you decide that a comment is appropriate, post a relevant, useful one, with a link back to a relevant article on your blog.

Some blogs allow you to put a website into a text field and will link your name to the website. Now, rinse and repeat. If you consistently provide interesting, useful, or entertaining information, your hit rate will rise, and so will your link count as people add you to their 'blogrolls' - the list of links to blogs they read regularly.

You don't have to confine yourself to blogs on the same topic. Many popular blogs have posts on all sorts of topics; anytime there are posts and comments relevant to your site, you have an opportunity to introduce your site to new readers. In the example above, you might discover that a blog or website that is primarily about classic cars has a large article on a 1/8 scale radio controlled '57 Chevy. Flipping back through your catalog, you remember that you did an entire article about RC muscle cars. A comment with a link back to that article may find you a whole herd of new readers. Be careful of links - one or two, maximum; more than that and people will start to perceive your post as spam.

Don't neglect social media like Twitter or Facebook. If you're blogging about something that's current and interesting, a tweet like "New blog post on Radio Controlled Zeppelins. Cool images! Http://your.link.here.com" can bring a lot of traffic to your site, from anyone who thinks the idea of a 1/16 scale Hindenburg is fascinating.

The first step is content. It's an absolute requirement that your blog have quality content. Anyone who 'phones it in', who provides thoughtless, keyword-laden, information sparse content won't be able to sustain traffic levels even if they do manage to lure many hapless users. Once you have solid, interesting content, the activities outlined in this article will help you increase the traffic to your blog significantly, and sustain that traffic over the long haul.