How To Generate More Blog Traffic (Updated for 2022)
In 2012, New York Times bestselling author Michael Hyatt published his book, "Platform: Get Noticed In A Noisy World". In it, he describes how to make yourself standout in an increasingly crowded digital world. I bought the book in 2016 and it remains surprisingly effective even into the year 2022.
I'm highlighting a particular chapter, although I would say over 90% of this book would be helpful for you if you're trying to improve your analytics on any platform. Where practical, I've tried to edit or update the resources he mentions, although most of them are still working. If you have any questions, shoot me an email and perhaps we can help you reach a solution.
From Section 35, Michael writes:
In a recent thirty-day period, I watched my blog traffic jump by 81.3 percent. In fact, I have seen steady growth since I converted from TypePad to self-hosted WordPress a few years ago (up 338.6 percent). But that thirty days represented the largest single jump in my traffic ever, according to my Google Analytics report.2
I believe there are some clear reasons why this happened.
For one thing, this traffic increase wasn’t the result of a single post that caught fire. Nor was it the result of a large site linking to me. Rather, it was the result of several specific changes I made to my blog. Even here, I don’t think it was a single change, but rather all of them working together that accounted for the impact on traffic. The good news is these are things you can replicate.
First, the facts—directly from Google Analytics. (By the way, if you don’t have this installed on your blog, do that first. It’s easy, free, and essential if you are serious about growing your traffic.)
• Absolute unique visitors went from 71,885 to 130,320 in one month (an 81.3 percent increase).
• Page views went from 173,794 to 284,192 (a 63.5 percent increase).
What did I do to make this happen?
As we’ve discussed in previous chapters, I had already decided to install Standard Theme (a WordPress theme for serious bloggers). This had an immediate, positive impact on my traffic. This was due primarily to faster page-load times and better Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Other bloggers I know have had similar results from this premium theme.
Then I asked myself, What actions can I take to significantly grow my blog traffic? I came up with a list of four:
1. Increase blogging frequency. I have always known there is a correlation between frequency and growth in traffic, but I proved it to myself empirically. For most of last year, I posted three times a week. I decided I would post five times a week, Monday through Friday.
2. Write shorter posts, shorter paragraphs, and shorter sentences. I owe this insight to a post at CopyBlogger called “Shorter Is Better.” I determined to keep my posts between five and six hundred words. Each paragraph would include no more than three to four sentences. And I would avoid compound sentences wherever possible.
3. Improve my SEO metadata. I started using Scribe*. This WordPress plug–in analyzes your posts and gives you a score, based on how Google will rank it. Best of all, it tells you how to tweak your metadata to improve your score. It’s expensive, but I think it’s worth every penny.
*note: Scribe is no longer available, but the link will now take you to a list of 10 alternatives that you may consider for your use. Good luck!
4. Become more engaged in comments. I changed my commenting system from native WordPress to Disqus. This is the system used by most of the larger sites I visit. I believe it is the easiest, most elegant commenting plugin available. It also allows me to reply to comments via e-mail, which makes it super easy to engage with my readers.
The results were encouraging. But there is no silver bullet that will instantly generate more traffic. It takes doing several things right—and doing them over a long period of time.
I have used the following basic techniques to increase my blog traffic every year since I started tracking it in 2008 using Google Analytics. Some years have been better than others, but all have shown an increase:
Based on my experience, I believe you can dramatically increase your blog traffic by following these ten fundamental suggestions. (We’ve already discussed some of them in other contexts, but they bear repeating.)
• Write content worth sharing. Nothing will compensate for weak content. If you are not writing stuff people want to read, smarter marketing will not fix the problem. Begin by creating a killer headline that makes people want to read what you have to say. Read Advertising Headlines That Make You Rich. It’s my secret sauce.
• Adhere to a consistent schedule. You can’t expect to increase your traffic if you don’t blog regularly*. By this, I mean at least once a week. Three times a week is even better. Five is best—but not if the quality of your content suffers. Frequency equals visibility.
*note: Get yourself a good planner. I recommend the Panda series of planners, and if you use "PANDAFAM" you can get 10% off your purchase.
• Get your own domain name. Make it easy on your readers to pass along your blog name. What do you think is easier, “yourname.wordpress.com” or “yourname.com”? This is the foundation of branding, and it makes your blog memorable. If you can get your name or a short phrase, it is worth paying (within reason) to do so.
• Include your blog address everywhere. In the beginning, you are adding readers one at a time. You never know when someone with a bigger audience will quote you or link to you. Include your blog address in your e-mail signature, on your business cards, and on your stationary. It should appear virtually everywhere your name appears, particularly in your social media profiles.
• Make it easy to subscribe to your blog. You don’t want to depend on your readers to remember to come back to your blog. Instead, you want them to subscribe, so they get every new post you write. They should be able to do so by either RSS or e-mail. Use both. Position these two buttons prominently.
• Optimize your posts for SEO. You want people to be able to find you when they search one of your keywords or your name. I use two WordPress plugins for this: All-in-One SEO Pack and Scribe. The former assists you in optimizing your metadata (i.e., post title, description, and tags). The latter assists you in optimizing the post itself.
• Utilize social media. If you want to build visibility for your blog, you must go where the people are. In days gone by, people gathered in the marketplace at the center of the city. Today, they gather online in places like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+*. Which service is best? The one you will use regularly. Use social media to network, build relationships, and announce new blog posts.
*note: Google Plus is all but dead and when Michael wrote this, several other platforms have come and gone. In 2022, I highly recommend a very strong presence on TikTok.
• Engage in the conversation. Start by making it easy for your readers to comment. People today want to participate. Don’t make them register. This only adds friction. Engage in the conversation yourself, reading your comments and replying as appropriate.
• Comment on other blogs. As you read other people’s blog posts, leave comments. I’m not talking about spamming people with invitations to read your blog. Instead, engage in the conversations that interest you and build credibility. Make sure you register with their commenting system, so there is always a link back to your blog.
• Write guest posts for other bloggers. Frankly, this is not something I have done. But most successful bloggers swear by it. Jeff Goins wrote a guest post* for me on this very subject. He claims it grew his own blog traffic more in six months than in the previous six years.
*note: If you'd like to guest post on the Blue Collar Consulting Group blog, we would love to consult with you on a topic. Please email me to get started.
You will also want to use a good, SEO-optimized blog theme. There are hundreds on the market. As I’ve mentioned, I use Standard Theme for WordPress and love it.
Finally, be patient. Building traffic takes time. Like anything else, the ones who win are the ones who stay at it after everyone else has quit.
Thank you for reading this blog post. Blogging is still incredibly powerful in 2022 and it is my belief that it is a big driver for action. Which of Michael's tips are you going to improve upon?