Thursday, August 14, 2008

5-5-5-4-5 Traffic Tips

Here's a collection of the traffic and promotion tips that I use often and that work well for me. This first list is about posting in a way that promotes your blog:

  1. Write good content. This one is not as simple as it seems. Take some time to think about what you want to write, and what arre the things you could do to add value to it. You want to give your readers something they don't know. This is not about writing random posts about every trip you take, unless you can also share how they can have some of those experiences, what is different about this trip, information about the place and its quirks that most people don't know, etc.
  2. Write interesting titles - think of them as visiting cards for your blog. They appear in search engines, bookmarks and even in sidebar links of your own blog. If you read the titles you write, do you want to click through to find out what content they lead? Darren Rose (as always) has written an awesome post on how to choose a topic for your next post.
  3. Add tags to your post. Tags are all important. They tell technorati, readers, search engines, etc what your post is about. If you use wordpress, tag lists and clouds can work as an interesting way of navigating your blog. Recommended Tags is a plugin for wordpress that shows all your tags and click to add them to a post quickly. Blogger and other platforms show clickable lists. Be sure to use them.
  4. Take a minute to finish your post. Read it through, fix errors, take a break, take another fresh look. Do you enjoy reading? Change what you don't already.
  5. Link to good resources. Link to other bloggers. Outgoing links are not half as bad as they seem. If you are worried about pagerank, think of the traffic they bring. If you link well and reference people, they are curious about you and what you are (and what you see in them). Think of it as meeting new people and introducing them to those you know. You may know someone briefly, but when you introduce them to more people who like them, it is a step closer in your relationship too. They are just as likely to write about you.

The design of your blog:

  1. Keep it clean and uncluttered. Do you need everything there on your site? Do you need to have buttons to every social bookmarking site on the planet? Do you need to show that your blog has 20 readers? Get rid of it. Remove all distractions from your content (and your ads). Of course, some buttons to populat bookmarking sites are a great idea, but I find that it works better when they are in individual posts (and submit those urls).
  2. Keep your RSS subscription button clearly visible and encourage readers to subscribe. While you are at it, subscribe to my feed as well. Some people choose to have different small icons for different readers. I prefer to have one nice, orange, large one that clearly screams "RSS Feed". I don't really care whether people subscribe in Bloglines or Google Reader, so why should I devote real estate to that? What helps is a link to a post near it that explains why RSS feeds are a good thing, for those who don't know.
  3. Check your theme. Particularly check the styles you use. Ideally, your post should have one main headline, etc. See if the peripherals (sidebar, footer, etc) are using any tags you are using to emphasize stuff in your posts - they will dilute the impact of your titles and important content, and seem like duplicate content.
  4. Use images in your post. They catch the eye, and attract immediate attention to what you have written.
  5. Invite readers to comment on and share your posts if they like them.

These resources now have to do with getting your content out to people who want to read in the online world. Everyday stuff:
  1. Publish RSS feed and submit blot and feed to search engines and directories. This will take time, and sometimes you come across new places that don't have you, so keep an eye out, and submit where they don't have you whenever you find it.
  2. Create online social bookmarking accounts like, Reddit, etc. SumbleUpon is another great resource for promoting, as well as having fun. Get your account in Digg and Technorati. Submit your site once in a while, along with others. Use categories and tags carefully. Ask your friends (and family, neighbours, students, colleagues....) to submit/vote for your posts too.
  3. Get a Twitter account and post regularly. Get followers. Share your latest posts on your Twitter.
  4. Give away something for free that will carry your blog link along. (This is an oldie, but it works). On one of my sites, I share some simple instruction sheets for participants for white water rafting, and I don't know how many people have contacted me because of them. On a more effective scale, creating and distributing themes, plugins, and other stuff that people will find useful are good. Themes give you a link from every page, but I don't know how useful it is for either traffic or as a link. What we are looking for is people liking your content and actively posting about it, sharing it with others, talking about it....
  5. Write one "super-post" at intervals, and submit it absolutely everywhere - including news sites, if it suits. It helps if these posts (at least) have a catchy image to catch the eye of readers as soon as they land up.

Exotic stuff (need to spend money):
  1. Hold contests and giveaways for writing about your blog.
  2. Pay for links/posts, etc. Unattractive, but hey, why not?
  3. Pay someone to promote your content. College kids should be good at this. Many of my students seem to live online.
  4. Pay someone to write articles (expensive, and rarely satisfies me)

Posting and interaction:

  1. Comment on blogs. The more you get out and read what others are writing and share it, the more you will meet new people. All bloggers want to know what the readers think. If you can write a comment that conveys that, it is very likely that people will follow through to your blog (don't forget to put in your url) to find out more about you.
  2. Link to posts you find interesting. This sounds similar, to the earlier point, but this is about you finding something interesting and talking about it on your blog (as different from referencing a resource). Find an initiative to applaud, something to criticize, contribute to, have a different take on, and link to the original post. Do trackbacks where you can.
  3. Submit posts to blog carnivals. This is one way of getting your good content acknowledged as well as a link. Host blog carnivals too. Increase interaction.
  4. Write articles and submit to directories.
  5. Write reviews and testimonials. If you have done a good job, the subject of your attention should be happy to showcase your writing on their site.

In the real world. Make your logo your style statement. T-shirts, caps, luggage(?), Why promote NIKE when you can do it for yourself? I know a friend who has his url engraved on his door. That's one url I will never forget.

So what are ideas that work for you?

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