As soon as a blogger publishes their first post, their first question is: Where’s all my traffic? Everyone assumes they’re the only one seeking attention, when in truth nearly everyone is. It takes time to build an audience and no one gets much traffic without putting in the effort.
Here at WordPress.com we want you to get more traffic, and we build features and services to help. It’s been awhile since we’ve told you about them, so here are our top recommendations:
- Update your About Page. One of the first things visitors to your site will want to know is something about who you are. If you don’t update your About page to include a short bio, and they find a generic page instead, they’ll be disappointed. But if you briefly explain (two paragraphs is plenty) what the blog is about, and who you are, they’ll be more likely to come back.
- Turn on Publicize. You can easily set up your WordPress.com blog to automatically share new posts out to your Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo or LinkedIn accounts. This increases your reach every time you publish a post.
- Turn on Sharing. With a few clicks, you can make it so any visitor can share a link to your post out to their social networks, their blog, or through email.
- Let readers subscribe by email. Email is often forgotten as a source of traffic. If you turn on the Subscriptions widget, people can choose to get notified of new posts on your blog, automatically, via email. It’s a great way to keep them connected to your blog without any extra work for you, or for them.
- Post regularly. Pick a schedule that works for you – once a day, once a week, once every two weeks, and stick to it. Mention that frequency in your About page, and put reminders on your personal calendar. It’s only when people can expect regular posts that they’ll be compelled to come back to see what you’ve written next. If you need ideas for posts, read and subscribe to DailyPost, where we give topic ideas and blogging advice every day. You can also use PressThis to quickly generate new posts while you are browsing the web.
- Write Well. It’s often unsaid, but better posts get more traffic. There’s no sense in posting every day, if every post is boring or poorly written. It takes time to develop interesting ideas, and to edit posts to be concise and typo free. If people find a careless writer at work, they won’t be back. What good is more traffic if the content they see isn’t good enough for them to choose to return?
- Pick good titles. Blog post titles are like newspaper headlines. They need to be short and interesting to get people to want to see what’s inside. It takes some thinking to get a title down to a short sentence, but it’s time well spent. On Facebook and Twitter, all people will often see is the title and your link.
- Link to bloggers like you. When you link to another blog, they’ll typically get notified (via a pingback) that someone has mentioned them. This will encourage them to visit your blog and, if they like what they find, link to you as well in their posts. But do it sparingly; too many links and we call it SPAM. If you find a post you like, excerpt a paragraph and link to the rest. Also check out Freshly Pressed and ourGlobal Tags to find blogs with similar interests, and subscribe to their blog. You can use tags in your own posts so your work will surface there as well.
- Comment on other blogs like yours. Every comment is an opportunity to show how well you write and think. When people read a great comment, they’ll see your name, and the link to your blog, encouraging them to see what else you have to say. Identify good blogs on topics similar to your own, read and contribute sincerely.
- Respond to every comment you get. When people comment on your blog, they’ve invested a lot of their time. Reward them by answering questions and taking their feedback, and they’ll come back again. Also see how to get more comments.
- Take requests. Write a post requesting your readers (or your friends) to suggest topics to write about. Reach out to Facebook, twitter, or friends, for suggestions. Then let them know you’ve written about what they asked for. It’s a great way to make sure everything you write will have at least one reader.
- Pay for traffic. Web applications like StumbleUpon can bring visitors to your posts with rates starting at $.05 per visit. If you’ve just published a great post and you really want some feedback from visitors, this can be a good way to get started. Companies looking for broader distribution, including getting content seen by journalists, should try services like PR Newswire.
Often you’ll hear about get traffic fast schemes, but we don’t believe in those sorts of things. There’s not much magic or secrets necessary. The advice above, used thoughtfully, is more than sufficient to increase visitors to your blog.
Update: see what our latest research says about getting more pageviews.
Have other suggestions for what we can do to help you build traffic? Let us know.