When I started LivingWithBeth.com, I’d already written for Examiner.com for several years, so I had a feel for some of the types of articles that generate a lot of interest. That doesn’t mean I write only articles that I think will result in thousands of page views. It does mean that I keep an eye out for topics that seem likely to attract a broad audience.
Here are the top five things that increase blog traffic for me, in order of importance. Your mileage may vary, of course – what works for me may not work for you, and vice versa.
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Fix a problem
My first big traffic numbers on Examiner.com came from an article several years ago on how to set up Time Warner Cable/Roadrunner email on an iPhone or Android device. Someone had asked me for help in setting up Roadrunner email on a smartphone, and I found almost no good information online, including on the support websites of Apple and Time Warner Cable. I updated the article later and posted it to this blog, and it still generates a lot of interest.
My current most popular article on Examiner.com continues to generate thousands of page views each month, though I wrote it more than two years ago. It shows how to fix a technical problem with a Windows server. I’d encountered this problem and found very little written about it online, meaning it was ripe for a how-to article.
You can see from an example of my Examiner.com page views that my top articles related to fixing some sort of perplexing problem. Not all of my problem fixing articles strike gold. Some of them take months before they start generating a lot of traffic, and some never take off at all.
I’ve also written about how I repaired my dishwasher, working on my squeaky dryer, repairing holes in a popcorn ceiling and getting paint stains off vinyl siding after I repainted my deck and front porch on my own.
You don’t really have anything to lose when you write about a problem you fixed. You’ve already done the research and performed the work. Now, you can help someone else who’s struggling with the same situation.
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Helping others is one of my favorite things about writing. I’ve been helped countless times by information I’ve found online, and I’m thrilled to give back in this way.
SEO and Keyword Research
I not only research keywords using Google’s Keyword Research Tool. I also go through the Google Webmaster Tools to analyze which keywords people have searched for which result in something from my blog coming up in their search results. Then, I consider whether I can use those keywords for another post.
For example, I’ve written a number of Roku related posts. I noticed that a lot of folks were searching for posts related to watching pay-per-view on Roku. At the time, most searchers were probably looking for a way to watch a big boxing match, broadcast on pay-per-view, without a cable or satellite subscription, using Roku device.
I put together an article about how to watch pay-per-view on Roku and what pay-per-view events you won’t find on Roku, at least not yet (including most boxing events). Even long past the big fight, my Roku pay-per-view article remains among my most popular posts. I hope it helps people find what’s available on Roku PPV and stop wasting their time seeking what isn’t there.
Of course, I also conduct keyword research using Google’s tool, and optimizing for certain keywords has certainly helped with traffic. If hardly anyone is looking for what you’re writing about, your potential reach is much lower.
Please note that you can’t trick Google’s search algorithm – nor should you even attempt it. Attempting to rank high in search results by stuffing a post with irrelevant keywords benefits nobody, and Google’s top secret search mechanisms won’t let you get away with it.
In my first year of blogging, some of my biggest traffic numbers came from Black Friday articles. I found this rather shocking, since there are already thousands of websites devoted to Black Friday deals, right? My post on Office Depot/Office Max Black Friday deals really took off, as did an article on Sam’s Club Black Friday deals.
I’ve since written very popular posts for other holidays, including some with links to free Valentine’s Day printables for kids. I loved these myself, and the keyword research showed that other people were searching for them.
Sarah Titus wrote a fantastic post outlining the best dates to start writing posts about specific holidays throughout the year. She also includes tips for blog post ideas for each holiday.
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Special Event Tie-Ins
Some of the items on this list may go hand in hand, like the first one (fix a problem) and this tip, latching onto something big that’s going on.
About a year and a half ago, someone asked me how they could watch the Super Bowl without a cable or satellite subscription. I wrote an Examiner article about it, and the article was a huge hit.
For the Super Bowl article, I helped readers fix a problem (how to watch the Super Bowl if they’d cut the cord on pay TV) and I tied it to a huge event, the Super Bowl. Since this information changes year-to-year, I wrote another Super Bowl article for LivingWithBeth earlier this year.
Hosting giveaways and co-hosting them with other bloggers can draw some good traffic. Co-hosting with other bloggers costs a few bucks (generally $10 to $25), but it can provide a significant boost in social media visits and follows.
It’s important to be very careful about the bloggers you work with on giveaways, though. One very well known blogger was recently exposed for hosting multiple giveaways for which she never distributed the prizes, as well as many other instances of dishonesty and downright thievery. She had apparently been a very powerful blogging voice with a huge network of blogging buddies who admired her.
Also, free blogger opportunities haven’t generated many page views or much social media engagement for me. Free blogger opps generally offer a giveaway entry social media follow or visit in return for your blog promoting the blogger opp and the giveaway itself in blog posts.
These can present a nice chance for new bloggers to get their feet wet in working with other, more established bloggers without spending any money. However, they shouldn’t take too much time away from creating great content that people want to read.
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What About These Popular Tips?
What about social media, link-ups, email lists and commenting on other blogs? I do post on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest, but these endeavors result in far less traffic than the five items listed above. There are some exceptions.
I posted a low carb cheesecake recipe a couple of years ago, and it’s been repinned thousands of times and generated thousands of page views as a result.
It seems like it takes a huge following on social media and/or email subscribers to generate significant traffic from those avenues. And, it’s challenging to build a giant list of followers until you have big page view numbers. It’s like you have to already have traffic to get more traffic.
However, I recently started using Buffer to schedule my Tweets and Pins, and it’s already begun paying dividends with better social media engagement. The Buffer Blog published a fantastic post about using Google Analytics to gauge social media engagement.
Commenting on other blogs generates almost zero additional traffic to my blog, as near as I can tell. I comment on other blogs when I’m moved to say something about a useful post, not because I think it’ll benefit me. It’s also a great way to interact with other bloggers and show appreciation for what they are doing.
It’s disappointing when I spend a lot of time writing and polishing a post, only to have it draw hardly any interest or engagement. Commenting, Pinning or Tweeting is my way of showing appreciation for the time and effort someone has put into her post.
I also haven’t noticed much readership from link-up parties, though I do participate, for the same reason given in the above paragraph – I like to interact with other bloggers and show appreciation for their work. Blogging does take a lot of work! It’s way more than just typing some words and pressing Publish.
Occasionally, I’ll get some traffic to a post that was featured on a popular link-up. Articles that were singled out for promotion weren’t always ones which I expected would draw much attention.
I’ve also read several places that list posts (such as top 5 or top 10) draw more readers, but I haven’t found that to be the case for me. This post is a list because the topic lent itself to a list format, but I don’t make a point of turning something into a list that doesn’t cry out to be formatted that way.
Many SEO and online marketing experts insist that list posts are huge traffic generators, so maybe it just depends on what you’re writing about.
I read somewhere that making the font larger on my site could increase page views, so I tried it. I’m not sure if it was a coincidence or something else at work, but my page views markedly went up when I increased the font size.
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