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  • There Are No Rules

How to Meaningfully Grow Traffic to Your Site/Blog

Categories: Blogging, Blogging for Writers, Build a Platform & Start Blogging, Building Readership, Digitization & New Technology, Freelance Writer, Article Writing, Marketing & Self-Promotion.

It’s a problem that every new blog or website faces in its early days—or every day (!): How to get readers (also called traffic).

There are a few well-worn pieces of advice in this area, such as:

  1. Comment on other people’s blogs. Virtually all comment systems ask you to leave your name and site URL. If you leave valuable comments, people may visit your site.
  2. Link to other people’s blogs frequently and meaningfully. If you link to someone, and you send them
    significant traffic, they’re going to notice! They might link to you
    one day, or pay attention to your work if you’re within the same community.
  3. Add your URL to your e-mail signature, business card, book, etc.
  4. Offer guest posts on sites/blogs with more traffic than your own.
  5. Be active on relevant community sites, which can interest people in what you’re doing, which can lead to visits to your site/blog.
  6. Ask for a link trade, where others agree to permanently link to your site/blog in their blogroll, and you return the favor on your own site. (This is by far a less popular method nowadays; it’s pushy and can damage credibility if you don’t believe in the links you’re sharing. Better for this to happen naturally, over time.)
  7. Be active across social media and alert people when you have a new post. (And/or make sure your URL is clearly listed on every social media profile.)

Your mileage will vary on No. 7 depending on your social media presence, how savvy you are, and if you’re reaching out in the right areas.

But I’m a strong believer in the breadcrumb method, where you have accounts on multiple community sites. That’s because you never know how people might find you, and the more doorways you have leading to your site, the more traffic you will get over time.

Even if you’re not active or devoted to a particular community site or social media channel, you can still appear to be active if you adjust the settings in your favor.

To help explain, let me show you where my site or blog traffic comes from, then explain how that traffic happens.

Here are 5 key, continuing sources of traffic for this blog (No Rules) in the past year—aside from search engines and direct traffic.

1. TWITTER

Both Writer’s Digest and I have active presences on Twitter (130K and 50K followers, respectively). When a link is broadcast that a new post is up, it reaches thousands of people initially, and then thousands more through retweets and mentions.

2. FACEBOOK

New blog posts are automatically fed onto my Facebook personal page, as well as the Writer’s Digest fan page (without any help from me, because it works through NetworkedBlogs). Other people also commonly post links to my blog content on their own Facebook walls.

3. WRITERSDIGEST.COM
There’s a permanent link to all Writer’s Digest blogs on the homepage, and it’s a consistent driver of traffic to No Rules.

4. BLOGGER MENTIONS (and permanent bloggers’ links)
When taken individually, one person’s blog or site may send just a handful of visits per day or week. But when you multiply that effect by dozens or hundreds of bloggers, that’s a huge impact. But you only get to enjoy this dynamic if you’re blogging for the long haul. It rarely happens overnight.

5. STUMBLEUPON
To tell the truth, this is one site where I am not active, and only recently did I even start an account. But over time, this site has started sending MORE traffic my way as my most popular posts are tagged and catalogued. (Right now, this controversial post that’s tagged is sending me a few dozen visits a day from StumbleUpon.)

Some other important sources of traffic this past year have been Writer Unboxed (where I offer guest posts) and Alltop, where this blog is catalogued as part of the writing and publishing pages.

Here are the top 5 sources of traffic for my personal site (JaneFriedman.com) in the past month. They constitute about 80% of my traffic.

1. THERE ARE NO RULES (this blog)
This make sense since NO RULES is where I focus most of my time and energy in producing new content. I rarely link to my personal site in my posts. Instead, it’s a static link on the lefthand sidebar if people want to know more about me.

2. GOOGLE (organic search)

The No. 1 search term that brings people to my site is “Jane Friedman.” I am probably attracting a considerable number of visits from people looking for The Other Jane Friedman.

3. TWITTER

Traffic from Twitter comes from 3 areas:

  • from the static URL on my Twitter profile (see above)
  • from the tweets I send with links
  • from the retweets and mentions from my followers

4. DIRECT VISITS
These visits are from people who have bookmarked my page, click on direct links from e-mail notifications, or otherwise type in “JaneFriedman.com.”

5. FACEBOOK
Traffic from Facebook comes from 3 areas:

  • from the static URL on my profile page
  • from the links I post to my site
  • from the links other people post to my site

Some of my biggest traffic bumps happen when a major Facebook group posts a link to my series, When Mom Was My Age—which shows you the value of consistent series or features on your site/blog.

If you look at the long tail of my site traffic—on this blog as well as my personal site—I’m getting a significant number of visitors, over a year’s span, from:

Does it take me any effort to get this traffic?

No. I simply make sure that I use all settings and opportunities for auto-updating, when applicable.

Take my LinkedIn profile as an example. I don’t spend time on this site. But I’m “active.” See below; the top red arrow points to my Twitter updates, which are automatically fed into my profile and provide constantly refreshed information about what I’m doing. I don’t lift a finger.

The bottom arrow points to a mash-up of things I’ve told LinkedIn to report, based on my other activity online.

On LinkedIn, I also feed in my blogs, which appear under my profile summary.

This keeps me active on the site without requiring my time. Look for these types of feeds and settings on every site you use!

This is why I give the appearance of being everywhere at once, while really just focusing my energy on a few things: my professional blog, Twitter, Facebook.

Why
those 3?

Because those places give me the most return on my investment of time and energy. Everyone’s results will be different, though, which is why you absolutely must find out where your site traffic comes from. (Use Google Analytics to get started.)

People will find you in a hundred different ways, and it’s more important than ever to have your own site—so you can direct people to your “home,” where readers and community influencers have an opportunity to find out where you’re most active, and choose their preferred means of staying updated.

I can guarantee that after this post, I’ll have a lot of people joining me on Facebook or LinkedIn because they didn’t realize I was there!

And that’s a good thing.

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23 Responses to How to Meaningfully Grow Traffic to Your Site/Blog

  1. Dalice says:

    Good practical advice. Thanks

  2. Thanks for the tips, Jane. I started my blog last September and have been pleased over all with its growth, but of course, I would like to step it up even more. I blog at http://www.nancyspoint.com about breast cancer and have found it to be tremendously gratifying as well as a really big help in my personal growth as a writer. Hope you’ll visit sometime! Thanks again for the great advice.

  3. Holly Bowne says:

    This was GREAT! I especially appreciated all your LinkedIn tips. I may not be able to apply all your wonderful advice yet, but someday…

    Thank you!!

  4. Deanna says:

    Thank you for providing such a detailed, informative article. I’m not sure why, but it never occurred to me to attach my URL to my email signature. I think we always assume we’re just emailing people we already know anyway, but that isn’t really the case. In fact, I think I email more people I don’t know. Thanks for the eye-opener.

  5. Thumbs up for this great article !
    Eventually I was looking for a way to get more traffic for my new blog, and I think I just found the answer, thanks to you.
    I just might add up that the word of mouth is one essential key for marketing your site, whether someone has a lot of public relations, if the content is interesting people will get attracted to it anyway.
    And as you said I’m keeping my blog for you guys to check http://clickofyourlife.wordpress.com/

    Thanks for the help again

  6. Tara Tyler says:

    Thanks for responding! Let me clarify. I’m not worried about my writing or content – have at it! I’m worried about my identity and computer. A few years ago I had a problem with identity theft and soon after got a virus through facebook…I am dipping my toes into the pool, but most people I know want to watch from their lounge chairs. Thanks again for the help =)

  7. Maria Orr says:

    Thank you Jane for ALL our helpful advice, I just discovered you and you are a beacon!
    Sincerely Maria Orr (www.mariasdaisies.com)

  8. Great comments & tips everyone, thank you so much!

    @Colleen – I wouldn’t worry too much about StumbleUpon unless your particular community/audience has a high adoption rate of it. (It’s not a big presence in the writing community, that’s for sure.) It sounds like your biggest challenge is finding a focus for your blog—a generalist approach is a significant barrier to getting more traffic.

    @Tara – Info stealers? I think the potential dangerharm is so minimal that it’s not worth your time to worry about. I like how the blogger who runs Zen Habits has been confident enough to say to his half million followers: "Sure, go ahead, you can have my content and reuse it if you like. I don’t care." He doesn’t say this in a snarky way; he thinks that, in the end, his information, talent, and voice can’t be duplicated/replicated/stolen. He’ past the fear. This is a helpful attitude to take, in general, toward many things in our online lives.

    That said, if you are really concerned, Michael Hyatt has helpful tips:
    http://michaelhyatt.com/how-to-protect-your-intellectual-property-online.html

  9. Tara Tyler says:

    I always get good info from you, Jane. Especially from the weekly twitter report. Thanks!

    The thing about the blog, while I really like maintaining it and faithfully post daily, I’m wary of info stealers. This is why many of my friends and family won’t follow it or comment, tho they read it regularly (they send me emails and tell me in person). Midwestern mentality?

    I am slowly branching out and joining Absolute Write has been a big help. I will try harder to promote myself once I get my book finished! Would love it if your savvy eye would take a look!

  10. Colleen Fong says:

    As always I appreciate your information and encouragement. My biggest stumbling blocks are in figuring out how to use some of the tools you discuss, such as stumble upon and in finding "like-content" blogs upon which to comment, since my posts are about whatever catches my fancy on a given day.

  11. Thanks so much Jane for the personal examples. I have been feeling guilty about not getting around to my stumble upon profile, and a few other I just can’t keep up with. Although I had noticed on a couple of posts involving the word ‘reefer’ , stumble had sent me good traffic.

    I still haven’t invested in a comment tracking community like disqus. I’m not sure I understand how they send traffic. But I guess there are plenty of other things to focus on.

    Thanks again.

  12. I’ve been running my blog for about eighteen months now and there are two ways I score significant traffic raise.

    1) Play the community card like you said, which is now known as "Pull a Talli Roland". Not being a spamming douchebag and taking interest in other people’s opinion will get them to care in a similar way. From there it snowballs since comments on blogs are public. Other people see you’re an interesting person, etc.

    2) The Linkwithin gadget http://www.linkwithin.com/learn. It’s the friendliest way to propose the readers to get involved with your stuff. Because if the Linkwithin, some readers took more time to know me and then started to link me from their blogs, to tell their friends to read me , etc.

    Great advice, just hrough I’d share my two cents.

    Benoit Lelievre
    http://www.deadendfollies.com
    ;)

  13. Super informative post, thanks much. I’ve been exploring the linking potential between LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and am awed at how easy it is…once you figure it out and set things up. Your comments clarified a few things which is helpful.

  14. Thank you for not only sharing general tips but also what works for you. A lot of times we get info on what we should be doing when it comes to traffic but not necessarily how it actually works. Definitely going to put these into play with my blog. :)

    Margaret McGriff
    http://www.visualadjectives.com/blog

  15. Thank you so much, lots of good info here, Jane. I will say that after using Google Analytics for just a couple weeks it is an awesome tool and gives you a good idea of where your marketing is working and where it isn’t. I was surprised to see how much traffic we’re getting from LinkedIn… no where near the traffic generated from Facebook but significant nonetheless.

    Bryan
    http://www.astraeapress.com/

  16. Thanks for all the pointers! While I knew most of them practicing them is another thing.

    So starting with this post I will start leaving comments on the blogs I read!

    Pattie
    http://everydaygenealogycalendar.blogspot.com/

  17. This is a really informative post. It took me a long time with a lot of trial and error to figure some of this out. I still don’t do all of this, so I may need to step it up!

  18. Meg Mims says:

    Fabulous info! I needed to read this. Thanks!

  19. Sherry Gloag says:

    I am going to have to keep coming back to read this again and again until I absorbit all. You make it sound so simple but to an IT challenged individual like me it takes time to sink in! But thanks for putting all this info out there for people/me to study

  20. In the past month or so, I’ve made a conscious effort to post everyday. Scheduling my blog posts is not as easy. I read and comment on blogs daily. I just increased my followers and my traffic has improved. Visitors comment numbers are lower than I would like, but I’m sure in time that will improve as well.

    I currently use Twitter and Facebook. I "ping" my posts as well. I just signed up with Linkedin. It looks like I need to make some changes to have that site working for me as well.

    Thanks for the post.

  21. Lots of good info here, Jane. I’m big on Numbers 1-6, but wary of Number 7, the "link trade," for the reasons you mentioned. Also haven’t tapped into StumbleUpon. So here I am, making use of Number 1 by commenting on your blog. And while I’m here, I’ll invite folks to check out the site I just put up for the 2011 Memphis Creative Nonfiction Workshop I’m organizing for September 23-25, 2011: http://susancushman.wordpress.com/ Great faculty, venue, manuscript critique sessions, craft talks, and social events here in Memphis!

  22. Thank you for the pointers, Jane. I spend a lot of time on my writing and virtually no time on actively trying to grow traffic, aside from my Facebook postings. Starting now, I’m turning the page…

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