Run a quick Google search on ways to increase traffic and you’ll find dozens, if not hundreds, of methods listed across nearly as many blogs and websites. There are tips that work for brand new sites, tips that work when you’re recovering from a penalty, tips that help revive a dead blog and tips to help the Fortune 500s grow even larger. There’s something for everyone.
This article is not for everyone. The tips that follow specifically apply to growing a new website, from scratch or from a low ranking position. They will help you kick-start a new site into relevance, possibly faster than you can handle. Most will be free, or will be cheap and scalable.
Building a Foundation
These first tips work best if you haven’t started to build your site yet, or if you’re planning to launch a new site. A good foundation can let you hit the ground running, so to speak.
- 1. Do your research. Find a niche. If you’re looking to blog for the cash, you’re going to want to find a niche with a high number of monthly searches but a low cost per click for advertising. If you’re blogging for passion, you’re going to want to find a niche that resonates with you. If your website is going to focus on a web store or corporate emphasis, you need to find something that ties in with your business.
- 2. Invest in quality hosting. Invest in a well-coded site. If you have a fast, smooth, slick site with a good user experience, you’re better off than a significant percentage of websites out there. Speed is a potent search metric that too many people take for granted.
- 3. Create a keyword database. Once you have your niche, do a lot of keyword research. Look for primary keywords you can’t hope to compete against the established blogs. Look for long-tail keywords, anything related to your niche, regardless of current coverage. Look for tertiary keywords, ways you might be able to expand your niche over time. This keyword document will help you brainstorm content ideas. Make sure to keep this up to date every few months
- 4. Establish a content schedule right out of the gates. You don’t necessarily need to publish a new blog post every day, but it doesn’t hurt. You build a backlog of content quickly that way. Treat every post as an opportunity for incoming links and traffic. As long as you can keep up and support your content schedule, go for it.
- 5. Make sure you’re visible on mobile devices. Never underestimate the power of new technology. Mobile is very quickly dominating the Internet, and if you’re advertising a local business, it’s even more important. You simply cannot afford not to have a mobile site.
Creating the Best Content
These tips focus on the content you create for a blog. Some will apply for static content you create, such as product pages for whatever you may be selling. Most focuses on blogging because, in the modern online world, blogging is essential for search ranking.
- 6. Focus on the basics. Your headline, your meta description, your subheadings, your formatting; it’s all important. Establish a pattern for writing, or a guideline for the writers you hire. Allow for some flexibility, but make sure you have a minimum level of quality.
- 7. Have a target length, but don’t be afraid to shake things up occasionally. A typical post should never be under 500 words. An ideal length is around 1,000-2,000 words. Anything longer needs some strong foundation, such as a case study or a collection of statistics and examples. The longer you go, the more information you need to pack in to keep your users reading.
- 8. Find industry related blogs and respond to their content. If you’re ever in need of ideas and a quick traffic boost, look for other industry blogs who aren’t direct competitors. Find something in their recent posts you can respond to and write a response post. Link to their blog so they’re notified, and post a comment on their post with your response. You can’t do this too frequently, but it’s a good shortcut to a boost in traffic.
- 9. Don’t stress over keywords. Your keyword document isn’t a bible. Treat it more as a source of potential inspiration. Ideally, you will be blogging frequently enough that you’re going to cover most bases easily and constantly. You don’t need to invest heavily in a single piece of optimized content when you can spend the same amount of effort creating 10x the number of posts at a high but not perfectly optimized level. It’s the 80/20 rule in effect.
Analysis and Iteration
These tips deal with monitoring your audience and how they behave. They also deal with how to find flaws in your site and fix them up. Skip ahead if you’re already familiar with analytics and the concepts you need to apply.
- 10. Install and monitor analytics software. Google Analytics and, when you’re designing or redesigning a site, a heatmap. Analytics should never be removed, but can be supplemented with other suites. A heatmap is good for extracting data about the user experience to optimize your navigation.
- 11. Avoid abandoning old posts; spruce them up instead. Content isn’t dead once you post it. It’s not like a flower you clip and put in a vase. It’s more like a tree you plant. Nourish it, keep it up to date, and it can grow long after it’s originally posted. Only the most trend-reliant content should be abandoned; nearly anything else can be improved as necessary.
- 12. Identify popular content in your industry and do it one better. One decent way to pull in traffic is to identify resources in your industry, particularly slightly outdated resources, and do them better.
The most basic advertising you can do revolves around social media, and it’s completely free. It’s only when you get into PPC that you start to need a budget, and even then, you seldom need to spend more than a few dollars each day until you’re certain you can turn a profit.
- 13. Share your posts on social media sites. It’s simple and easy to establish a basic social media presence on the major networks. Use some of the common social scheduling apps, such as Buffer, and post your content on the various sites when you upload it to your blog.
- 14. Make use of low-cost PPC advertising options. PPC through Facebook can be incredibly potent. It’s all about learning how to target the right audience with your advertising. PPC can turn a few dollars into a full newsletter list, a boost in traffic or a slew of new conversions.
- 15. Guest post around your industry. Guest posting, done carefully, is perfectly acceptable to the search engines. If you’re going to guest post, put value above all else. A link is secondary, even tertiary to your purposes. Your goal is name recognition and information value, not SEO ammunition. For added value, interview industry veterans. Interviews lend your site legitimacy and give you an easy source of good information.