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9 Critical Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Blog

Most creative minds shy away from marketing. “I am an artist, not a businessman. I create great stuff, so people will come” a good friend once told me.

But creating excellent content is only one part of the equation. The other is finding an audience. Creating content without reaching an audience is like preparing a fantastic meal for a dinner party where no one shows up.

It sucks. You feel drained. Your energy spent on a party for one.

But once you find the right kind of traffic, marketing becomes less complicated. Listed below are 9 proven methods to drive traffic to your blog from the experts.

1. Publish a Free Kindle Ebook

You heard right. Free Ebooks are the way to go. Entrepreneur Niel Patel elaborates on the idea of launching free Ebooks:

“If your book is free, expect 1,000+ visitors to your blog in about 7 days or close to 6,500 visitors per month. Free downloads make your ebook rank higher and attract the attention of your target audience in search traffic.”

Self-publishing allows you to become the expert in your field. Stop waiting for big publishing companies to come knocking on your door. Use your knowledge to add real value to your audience. When knowledge meets true value you will always have a shot at attracting the right type of attention. (1)

Don’t write just any old book. Write about what you know about. Do some research on your topic before you write. I like to visit Amazon and look at the best selling Kindle books. This gives me plenty of ideas for my own book and I can know right away if an idea is worth pursuing.

I start with a simple keyword search and go from there.

2. Write Better Headlines

8 out of 10 people will click on a catchy headline.

But how can you be sure a headline will work? Start off by testing it on your favorite social media site (otherwise known as an A/B test).

Write two headlines for the same article. Publish both an hour apart on the same network. Track how many clicks each headline gets. Simple.

Another way to write better headlines is to include more action in your title. Verbs grab attention more than nouns, especially on Twitter.

Using large numbered lists also helps attract readers and establish your position as the expert on a specific subject. Most likely not every headline you write will be a winner. But as long as you learn as you go along, you will succeed in the long haul. (2)

Every month or so examine which of your posts perform best and take note of the headlines. One of my best posts is 15 Destinations to Visit in the Fall. I know from experience that numbered lists in the headline work.

Take a step back and learn from the pros. Books, articles, magazines, and newspapers are great sources for catchy headlines that work.

This is a headline we all can learn from. It’s simple. It’s straightforward. And it gets the audience to think.

As a general rule of thumb follow the 4 U’s. Headlines should be:
  • Unique
  • Ultra-specific
  • Urgent
  • Useful
The headline above is certainly unique. How many companies advertise free services? It’s specific. We are talking about the wireless capabilities of a phone. It could be a little more urgent. But it is definitely useful. It makes you think about paying monthly phone bills.

3. Write Viral Content

I know this may seem like a bit of a cliche. But unless you write something worth reading and sharing with other people, what’s the point? Writing viral content is simple:
  1. Find answers to your audience’s questions
  2. Search for best articles on your topic
  3. Use blog post idea tools
  4. Write longer articles
  5. Use images
  6. Elicit strong emotions
Step 1: Find answers to your audience’s questions

How do you get inside the mind of your customer to know what it is they really want? Well, I am no mind reader. But I can tell you that most people like to talk about their interests.

Do some market research. Ask people things they want. Find unmet customer needs simply by talking to people. Let’s say you want to start a dog care business. Go around your neighborhood and ask people what they like or dislike about pet sitters.

Capitalize on the gaps.

Another way is to search Quora. Obviously, I love to blog

From a quick search, I can learn what people want to know about blogging. Some of the most popular questions are how do I start a blog, and how can I use my blog to make money.

I can then write posts to answer these questions.

Step 2: Search for the best articles on your topic

Find the most shared posts through BuzzSumo. A quick search on content marketing reveals the most shared articles on the topic.

BONUS: Buzzsumo is great but it’s also really expensive. Unless your company pays for access it’s highly unlikely that you can fork over $700+ a year. Instead, head over to Alltop.

Alltop allows you to find the top websites in your specific niche. They do all the searching for you, displaying just the most popular articles from around the web.

Step 3: Use blog post idea tools

There are plenty of websites that exist that will help you think of blogs to write. Hubspot’s topic generator allows you to choose any three nouns.

I chose backpacking, photography, and Instagram. In less than five minutes I have a weeks worth of solid blog posts to write about.

Step 4: Write longer articles

We all have short attention spans right? That means you need to write shorter articles right? But just the opposite is true.

Put in the time to write longer articles and you will automatically be ahead of the curve. Last year there were 16 times more blog posts with 1,000 words or less than articles with 2,000 words or more.

When I read longer posts I know that the article is…
  • Well researched
  • Thorough
  • Offers more tips than I could find thinking in the shower
Step 5: Use images

It doesn’t take a genius to discover that most people enjoy content with at least one picture more than content without.

Buzzsumo, an online marketing giant, found that articles with pictures are shared two times more than articles without pictures. For my website, I use royalty free images that I find from multiple websites: Unsplash, Picjumbo, and Pixabay.

Flickr is great for royalty free images that focus on specific destinations.

Step 6: Elicit strong emotion

A 2011 study conducted by two marketing professors from the University of Pennsylvania found that positive content attracts more attention than negative content.

But even if you don’t have a positive bone in your body, you can still find a way to attract more readers to your content. The study also found that intense emotions, positive or negative, create a bigger buzz than no emotion at all. Here are just a few of the emotions you can use in your articles:

Fear: Tell about a time when you were afraid. Maybe you lost a job, your house, or even your car keys. People connect with fear because it’s a shared emotion.

Anger: Write a story about something that frustrates you. I know for me, I hate it when people put the empty milk jug back in the fridge. Who does that?

Joy: Think of a time or place where you felt happy. It doesn’t have to be intense. I feel joy waiting in line for fast food. Does that make me shallow?

4. Use Longtail Keywords

You probably already know that you should be using keywords in your articles. But how do you go about that?

Start with really defining what type of blog you want. Then write about a specific subject. Let’s say you really like to cook. Cooking is not a good keyword because it’s been used so many times.

Insert the longtail keyword. A longtail keyword is a string of three words or more. You can find these by typing in your initial keyword + one other word on google.

Now you can start to narrow down your article to a specific field. Find a couple of different options using the related search box. Plug the longtail keywords into the Google Keyword Planner.

You’re looking for longtail keywords with high monthly searches and low competition. In the example above we know that cooking is going to be too competitive. But cheap healthy meals seems to be perfect for keywords.

5. Write Guest Posts

Blogger Silvio Porcellana used guest posts to boost his monthly traffic by 20%. But with so many blogs available where do you start? First, build a simple spreadsheet that allows you to track your targets.

After building a decent spreadsheet, start to search for blogs in your niche. At this point, you are not interested in how great the blog is. You just want to find as many potential sites to pitch a guest post in your target niche.

Next, rank each blog yourself by scanning through the main page. Are the articles well written with plenty of in-depth details? Has an article been published in the last 2 months? Are the articles shared often on social media?

6. Share Smart on Social Media

So many people say you need to post often to social media to get noticed. What if the opposite was true? What if more quality over quantity lead to greater reach?

The marketing gurus at Buffer needed to shake things up. Their reach on Facebook had been declining for months. So they decided to run a crazy experiment.

In October of 2016, they decided to post once per day instead of multiple times per day. The results were shocking. Daily engagement doubled while weekly reach tripled.

The takeaway here is that you really only have to post once a day. Especially if your posts add lots of value and include a solid headline. This means that you can spend more time creating articles, podcasts, and videos and less time trolling social media.

7. Invite Influencers to Write on Your Blog

Attract more attention to your blog by offering influencers to write a post.

People like to hear from authority figures. There are only so many hours in a day. Use the talents and resources of others to post excellent content on your website. Readers like to hear from people with different opinions and writing styles on your blog.

Plus, when you reach out to influencers in your niche you build connections. They may return the favor in the future and allow you to post on their site. Always remember though to find the right people to post on your blog.

Make sure you enjoy their style and tone and that they focus on the same type of content you write about.

8. Conduct Interviews

Maybe you are not sure about allowing others to post an article on your blog. A more proactive approach is to ask authors, photographers, and thought leaders if you can interview them.

The key to getting great interviews is being prepared. Think of a set of 10 smart questions in advance. To get smart questions think of the things your audience will want to know about the individual and their craft. Write them down on a piece of paper.

Pick a time that works well for you and your interviewee. Use your phone or computer to capture the audio. Transcribe the interview on your blog and you’re all set.

9. Convert Blogs into Video, Slides, or Infographics

Plenty of people love to read. But plenty of other people prefer video or visual content to longer blog posts.

Take a past post and convert it into a winning slideshow with Slideshare. The content on this site range from art to automotive to engineering. Reach an entirely different audience by posting on a specific topic.


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