8 Ways To Increase Blog Traffic Without Blowing Your Budget
As an Inbound Writer for Lean Labs, Melissa writes about high-converting websites and customer-centric marketing. She's an avid traveler, with trips to Iceland, Ukraine, and Portugal under her belt. She currently resides in Wilmington, North Carolina with her dog, Morrie.
Gary Vaynerchuk. Tim Ferriss. Brian Clark.
What do all of these individuals have in common?
They're top influencers and brands with impressive blogs and massive followings. And while many of them make blogging look really easy, in practice, it can be difficult and requires a lot of time and patience.
So how do top influencers gain so much traction? Really great content, right?
Yes and no.
A lot of blog growth does come down to the quality of your content. However, there are a few best practices that every top influencer does really well to increase traffic, and they're some of the most important blogging skills to master.
The 8 Best Ways To Increase Blog Traffic
Content is an investment. Like any other marketing or sales initiatives, it takes a lot of time, effort, and resources. So it's important to get the most potential from your posts, especially while you're still waiting for organic traffic to grow. There are a few ways that you can increase traffic, even if you're new to blogging.
#1. Practice Regular SEO
To perform well, every blog post your team produces should undergo search engine optimization. For companies trying to drive traffic to their website through organic, SEO best practices ensures blog content is accessible and easy to find from search engines.
For marketing teams, conducting SEO is similar to blog housekeeping. It may seem like tedious work, but it's an ongoing practice that only helps you perform better in search results. Over time, optimized, high-quality posts will attract the traffic and high-quality leads that are crucial to growth. These optimizations include everything from structuring headlines to crafting compelling meta descriptions.
For blog content, here's a checklist of optimizations to check off for every post:
- One Long-Tail Keyword. For every post, select a long-tail keyword. Long tail keywords, or a string of three to four keyword phrases, help keep the topic of a post detailed and narrow. If you try to target too many keywords, your post will try to accomplish too much and potentially confuse your reader.
- Title Tag (H1). The title tag is one of the first things a visitor will see, so it needs to deliver a clear expectation of what the post will contain. For instance, an article titled 25 Tips To Optimize Your Blog For Readers & Search Engines better consist of those 25 tips, or you've promised something to your reader that you failed to provide. Title tags should also include the target keyword within the first 60 characters, or will risk getting cut off in search results.
- One H2 Tag. The H2 tag helps lead into the context of your post, and should appear after the introduction. As a best practice, the H2 tag should contain your target keyword, and needs to provide additional context to the title of the post. If the title of the post is How to Revamp Old Blog Content, for example, the H2 tag could be Why You Should Revisit Old Blog Content. A descriptive H2 tag will help set up the entire premise of the post, and hold the reader's attention.
- A Few Great H3 Tags. Your H3 tags will be the headlines within your post. These can help structure blog posts and break up longer posts. These headlines should be engaging and descriptive, as they will guide your reader through the content, and should improve the overall readability. If you're struggling to write better headlines, there are a lot of free headline tools to utilize.
- URL With Your Keyword. The URL of your blog post is one of the first things a search engine will crawl. So the URL should contain the keyword you're targeting, and give context about the subject matter of your post. There are a few additional SEO best practices for URLs, such as using a single domain and subdomain, and keeping the URLs concise and easy to read.
- Compelling Meta Description. For the reader, the meta description will act as a preview of your post. The description must be reader-friendly, interesting, and relevant. These descriptions should be less than 300 characters, and need to include the long-tail keyword you're trying to rank for.
- Updated Images. While you shouldn't include a ton of images in your post, 2-3 should work within a 2,000-word blog post. For each image, make sure it's uploaded with a relevant file name (ideally the keyword) and add alt texts that have the keyword as well.
These practices aren't only for new posts. You can use SEO to take advantage and invest in the content you already have. This process is called Historical Optimization and can be a great way to revitalize old, but still valuable content.
During the process, you'll identify the right content to optimize, and can make sure each one follows SEO best practices. Additionally, you can update any outdated information and republish pieces to provide more value to your readers. Google prioritizes fresh content, and articles that discuss updates or events in 2007 won't seem relevant to readers, despite what they're about.
#2. Promote On Social
It's likely you're already posting your blog content on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn, but you may or may not be seeing results. Why? Because you can't just publish content and expect it to drive traffic. To drive long-term results and build an audience, you need some additional content promotion.
By investing time into testing various social platforms, brands can promote content in a way that drives traffic back to their website. All it takes is an understanding of the messaging, content format, images, and hashtags can hook your audience through various channels.
Facebook is a go-to platform for most brands. However, with so much content already on Facebook, it can take awhile to gain traction and start driving traffic back to your site. Facebook's Newsfeed update also gives priority to posts from friends and family, rather than brands. So while it'll be challenging to get consistent website traffic from Facebook initially, it's not impossible.
Let's say that you're targeting the keyword "shipping container homes." Rather than churning out content about shipping container houses, you should actually focus on providing useful information to your audience. By focusing on developing meaningful interactions with your followers, you can position your brand as a resource, rather than a company pushing a product or service.
For instance, what would be the most beneficial for them to learn about shipping container homes? What do they want to know? What expertise can you provide about financing? When it comes to Facebook, building the content that will foster a helpful, trustworthy community should be the goal.
A tool like Buzzsumo can be a great resource for finding potential topics and content your ideal audience is already responding to on Facebook. For instance, the top performing article for the keyword "shipping container homes" is You Can Now Buy Shipping Container 'Tiny Homes' On Amazon.
Buzzsumo will show the number of Facebook engagements that article got in the past year, six months, or week. You can also see backlinks the content generated, and which users shared the content. All of this context can help establish ideas for article headlines, stay informed about competitor content, and over time, enable a more effective content and distribution strategy for Facebook.
Twitter can be a great place to reach a new audience. For brands looking to promote content on this channel, there are a few important things to understand. First and foremost, Twitter is a place users enjoy having conversations. Users are always looking for feedback or initiating discussions about hot topics. But with all of the conversations going on, many brands get lost in the noise.
For any brand looking to generate traffic using Twitter, it's crucial to make sure messages are relevant, interesting, optimized, and visible. When promoting content, there are a few tips that can help drive engagement, which includes:
- Timing - Schedule tweets during daytime hours, as well as weekends. That's when you're likely to engage with Twitter users. HubSpot has a great social media scheduler that helps brand quickly schedule out and set content for certain times of the day.
- Images - There's a lot of content swirling around Twitter, so images matter. An eye-catching image can attract readers and stand out from a sea of less enticing imagery. Canva is a free graphic design resource many brands use to generate great social media images, with a wide variety of free and $1 one use photographs and illustrations.
- Hashtags - Don't just stuff a lot of hashtags into your tweets and expect them to go viral. Study the popular hashtags that your personas typically use. Hashtagify.me is a resource that can help users find hashtags that relate to your content. Use those relevant hashtags to slowly integrate yourself into relevant conversations.
- Length - Twitter is a place for quick, concise thoughts. Keep that in mind while you're drafting tweets. Treat a tweet like a shorter meta description for the content you're sharing. It'll be the thing that hooks the reader and intrigues them enough to check out your blog post or content, and go to your site.
For new Twitter users, there's also a ton of free tools that can help get you started.
Instagram is a solid platform for brands, but might not be a great fit for any industry. So before getting started with Instagram, think through your intended use of the platform. Is your customer even on Instagram? If so, what kinds of brands, topics, and subject matter are they engaging with?
Given the image-driven nature of Instagram, you should also evaluate where images will come from, and how equipped you are to regularly take photos and distribute them through the platform.
Let's use HubSpot as an example. HubSpot's Instagram could easily be filled with screenshots of their platform, customer stories, and plugs about their product. Instead, the HubSpot Instagram focuses on topics such as entrepreneurship, professional development, and learning.
Here's how HubSpot is killing it on Instagram:
- High-Quality Images - Instagram is driven by imagery. For brands, this can be a challenge, so you have to get creative. HubSpot uses original, yet exceptional photography and catchy descriptions to draw in users into their brand.
- Focusing On Users - Instagram is another platform that a lot of brands get too promotional on. Since a lot of people get inspiration from Instagram, HubSpot digs into what inspires or motivates their personas, frequently using aspirational quotes, messages, or encouragement as the topic of their posts.
- Weekly Events - On Fridays, HubSpot offers a chance to be featured on "Fan Fridays." They invite their followers to submit fan art and select one to share on their channel. The fans are tagged into the post, giving users a reason to continue to follow and engage with the brand for Fan Fridays.
Posting content can be challenging on Instagram. It can be difficult to find a platform that schedules posts for Instagram, so many brands choose to do it manually. Since you need a phone and the app, it can be hard to remember to always insert the right hashtags, add your location, or tag users in photos. Adding in these little details are actually really important to get found by users and drive more engagement from the platform. A quick tip is storing groups of hashtags, per topic, somewhere on the device to simply copy-paste.
For Instagram, it's also important to understand you won't be able to link to a specific blog post unless you change the URL in your bio. But the right mix of photography, descriptions, and hashtags can help drive brand awareness, and drive traffic back to your site.
LinkedIn is an exceptional resource for brands to demonstrate expertise and build up authority with thought leadership pieces. Since it's a professional space, it's even common for brands to talk more about themselves, since everyone on LinkedIn is there to network and find solutions.
If you really want to stand out from the chatter on this platform, and potentially reach top influencers, creating more memorable engagements is the way to go. There are a few ways brands can use LinkedIn to drive traffic from their personal or business page, including:
- Adding Visuals - Like every other platform, posts with images will perform better on LinkedIn. When a post has an image, there's typically a 98% higher comment rate. Sharing YouTube videos can result in a 75% higher shares.
- Participate in Groups - LinkedIn Groups can be extremely valuable when used to their potential. Just like any forum, groups should be used to provide context and useful information, and not to blast potential customers with information about your product. Focus on providing value, and the traffic will come.
- Use Their Content Tool - Articles that users post on LinkedIn have a lot of potential for reach. Users can find your content easily via LinkedIn search, and the content will be saved to your profile. It's a great way to indirectly demonstrate your expertise and attract new potential customers or clients.
Additionally, LinkedIn publishing shares content with your entire network. With the right content, you can achieve exceptional reach and build up a following.
#3. Promote on Forums
Forums can be great for engaging with inquisitive customers within your area of expertise. The key is providing value without expecting anything in return. If you sign up for a forum and immediately start spamming people with links, other forum members will quickly become irritated. You could even get banned from that site if you're too self-promotional.
A few forums that businesses and startups can start with include Biz Warriors, Startup Nation, Startups.co, Reddit and relevant subreddits (such as r/startups, r/entrepreneur, r/BusinessHub, or r/growmybusiness.)
Forums can be an additional tactic for building up credibility within an industry, which in turn, can direct forum users back to your brand and blog.
#4. Answer Quora Questions
Quora can be another great way to reach people looking for answers in your area of expertise. On Quora, people are likely looking for a direct answer to a specific problem, so there's a lot of potential to build rapport within your industry. Start by browsing through the topics that you can offer guidance on, and provide thoughtful answers. If you have a blog post that relates to it, wait until the end of your response to link to it.
For instance, an answer to Quora question, ‘What should entrepreneurs never do?,’ received nearly 6.9k upvotes on the platform. The answer was thought out, and relevant for the topic. The writer could have linked to a blog post after the response with an article such as "The X Things Entrepreneurs Should Never Do in Business," and recommend the asker read the post AFTER offering a majority of the expertise.
Quora is also another way to find the topics, sub-topics, and questions that your customers have that aren't being answered by another brand. All of these topics can be used to inspire blog content that your customers will really engage with.
#5. Boost Content
Many people also boost content on Facebook, which means paying for content to reach a wider audience. Depending on your budget, these posts can have tremendous reach. Using Facebook's targeting, you can create a custom audience that reflects your audience, or a specific buyer persona you want to reach.
The characteristics within a customer audience can include:
- Pages Liked - You can select pages that your ideal customer "likes" on Facebook. Users that like a competitor page, for example, could also be interested in your content.
- Age - Using your buyer personas, you can refine the audience to the exact age and demographic you want content to reach. If you don't sell a service or product used by 21-25-year-olds, you can easily omit them from the group.
- Location - Depending on your business, location can be very useful for boosting content. Companies that provide a service to only specific regions, for instance, can narrow down the geographic areas.
- Job Title - Job title is one of the most useful tools for targeting Facebook content. While there isn’t a ton to choose from on Facebook targeting, titles such as "Marketing Director" or "CEO" are on there.
You can also promote to the people that already like your page, and run the ad on Instagram.
#6. Run Content Ads
Running paid ads for content may seem challenging, but a lot of platforms make it easy and affordable. Facebook and Twitter both offer content amplification ads, as well as Reddit and Hacker News. As long as the content is extremely rewarding and well done, content ads can do well. However, running content ads for bad or poorly written content is like putting lipstick on a pig.
Even if you get some clicks, potential customers won't find value in the content. That's why brands that try out content ads need to commit to making them great. Aside from attracting customers, another reason why ads need to be creative and well thought out is something called a quality score. Most sites that run content ads will grade the ads you submit and assign them a score. The terminology ranges by platform, but on Facebook, for example, this is called a relevance score. A relevance score will determine how visible your ad is on the platform, so writing great ad copy, using awesome imagery, and linking to a great landing page are all important factors.
When it comes to cost, experimenting with paid content ads don't cost that much. For $20 per post or less, you can see significant results. To find a channel that works for your brand, it's all about testing out a few platforms, and seeing how audiences engage.
#7. Tease Content
A lot of social platforms have stories and go live features, which can be great for connecting with potential customers. There's one for nearly every platform, such as Facebook Live or Instagram Stories. Brands can use these methods to promote high-quality blog posts and drive engagement with their pages. Although, due to restrictions with hyperlinking, you'll need to get creative.
Only verified Instagram accounts can hyperlink to blog posts, and the same goes for Facebook Live. If you haven't achieved this status, don't panic. Facebook Live and Instagram Stories still result in a notification that goes right to your followers. If you provide context and share how to access a short URL, using Facebook Live and Instagram Stories can still be an exceptional strategy, despite not having a hyperlink.
Stories and Live Feed are also perfect for explaining the context behind a blog post, or offering additional expertise on the topic. These videos can add personality to your content, providing customers with a face behind the name. It will feel more personal, and can increase your social following on platforms.
#8. Guest Post
Despite Google suggesting it, guest posting isn't dead. If you're using black hat or spammy tactics to guest post, there's a risk of being penalized by Google, of course. When done correctly, there's still a lot of benefit to finding relevant blogs to post content on. The key is finding the right blog, and pitching an enticing content that will bring a lot of value to that site.
To craft pitches that result in guest posts, here are a few overall tips:
- Target Active Blogs. When looking for potential blogs to target, make sure they consistently post and distribute content. An active blog can give you a huge step in the right direction in driving more traffic and rising up in ranking.
- Social Media Influence Matters. Ideally, the blogs you guest post to will also have a lot of social media followers. When your post goes live, and it's shared, there's a lot of potential traffic that could be sent your way.
- Google Your Headline. To find blogs that are writing about your topic or keyword, Google a title that you'd like to pitch. See who is already ranking for that, and determine whether or not your headline is different or unique enough to potentially get posted.
When pitching a guest post, there are a few ways stand out. Blogs with massive followings get pitched all the time, so it's important to think through what you're pitching, and craft a memorable request.
The Resources Needed To Increase Blog Traffic
Using all of these tactics, you can incrementally increase blog traffic. The incremental part is important to understand. It's possible for a post to go viral in a short period, but the average blog post will take time and patience before it's bringing in a significant amount of traffic. Anyone invested in long-term blogging should apply that mindset when promoting posts and optimizing for SEO. More often than not, these practices will help bring in additional traffic, but it's not a one and done thing.
To increase blog traffic, you need a plan that goes beyond just a few tactics. It's an ongoing process that should be a part of a larger inbound plan. When your blogging initiative is a link in a bigger chain, you're much more likely to drive better results and attract more qualified leads. For teams looking to build that kind of overarching marketing strategy, we can help. Check out our exclusive Game Plan offer to see if we’re a fit.